Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced late last month that he will increase military spending in 2000 by 56 percent, to 146 billion rubles. That is about US$5.6 billion, or 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. (The U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 2000 is $275 billion, about 3 percent of GDP.) Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Klebanov says the navy will get 20 percent of the total, up from 9 percent in 1999. But the boost will all go to coastal defense, defense of the 200-mile economic zone, and maintenance of the existing fleet of nuclear submarines. Klebanov says “practically no new ships will be built” until 2007-2008… The public identifies Putin with the popular war in Chechnya and makes him the leading candidate in presidential-preference polls. A mid-November poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), gives Putin 36 percent, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov 14 percent and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov 11 percent.