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DATE=5/5/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / PUTIN NUMBER=5-46268 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Vladimir Putin will be inaugurated as Russia's second post-Soviet president this Sunday, May seventh. Many Russians are studying his accomplishments as president-elect for signs of how the 47-year-old Mr. Putin plans to lead their country for the next four years. Correspondent Eve Conant in Moscow filed this report. TEXT: There was little doubt that Vladimir Putin would win when Russia held presidential elections in March. The only questions were whether the former K- G-B agent would win in a first round, and secondly, what he would do with his power once elected. Since his meteoric rise from prime minister to president-elect, Mr. Putin has pushed Russia's parliament to ratify long-delayed nuclear arms reduction treaties, overseen a bloody "anti-terrorist" offensive in Chechnya, and signed into law a new security doctrine that envisages the possible first use of nuclear weapons in response to a full-scale conventional attack. What is still vague is how Mr. Putin plans to prop up Russia's ailing economy, and if he might use some Soviet-era methods to get the job done. Russian media in recent days have been awash with rumors that Mr. Putin plans to create something akin to an "elected monarchy" by strengthening presidential control over political processes, stifling the opposition and weakening Russia's parliament. Some analysts fear his promised "dictatorship of the law" will simply be a dictatorship of Mr. Putin. The deputy director of Moscow's U-S-A-Canada Institute, Viktor Kremenyuk, says there are few who doubt Russia's new leader will not at least try to fulfill his pledge to strengthen the state. /// Kremenyuk Act /// Mr. Putin's philosophy is the increase of state control over everything, everything -- including people's personal lives, their income, even their contacts with foreigners. He adheres to the old-style rules of the K-G-B in Soviet times -- that the state has the right and the duty to control everything its citizens do. /// End Act /// But many Russians say they want law and order after years of economic decline under the leadership of former President Boris Yeltsin. Opinion polls show Russians are more concerned about their finances than wider issues such as the conflict in Chechnya. But it is unclear how Mr. Putin plans to improve the living standards of the millions of Russians who voted him into office, says Lilia Shevtsova of the Moscow Carnegie Center. /// Shevtsova Act /// I bet that we'll see the same Putin who tries to look tough and macho, who tries to force the audience -- to force society -- to believe that he knows the solution. But in fact he doesn't know. /// End Act /// /// Opt /// What is known is that Mr. Putin has hired a team of liberal economists to draft a 10-year plan on Russia's economy to be unveiled in June. Many point to the fact that he has hired liberal economists as a sign he plans to stick with market reforms. He has also promised to increase welfare benefits and has already raised pensions throughout the nation. Mr. Putin promises to fight high-level corruption and streamline a bloated government bureaucracy. There is also hope he will force changes in what many view as Russia's unfair and poorly administered tax code. /// End Opt /// Another area where Mr. Putin's aims are unclear are in foreign relations. On the one hand, Mr. Putin has successfully pushed the quick ratification of START- Two arms reduction treaty with the United States. But on the other hand, says Ms. Shevtsova, he has barely blinked at Western criticism over alleged human rights abuses committed by Russian troops in Chechnya. /// Shevtsova Act /// He wants to look civilized and he wants to ease the tension that has been existing, especially after Kosovo, in our relationship with NATO and the West. So in this sense, he is much more pro-Western than (President) Yeltsin was at the end of his career. /// End Act /// /// Begin Opt /// Political analyst Viktor Kremenyuk says Mr. Putin may succeed in improving ties with the West by turning the spotlight of Russian-Western relations away from thorny issues such as debt repayment and conflicts in Kosovo and Chechnya, toward nuclear arms issues. /// Kremenyuk Act /// I think that by making this move, Mr. Putin simply switched the focus of relations between the United States and Russia into the arms control area. Maybe a bit too late, maybe with some strong doubts, but nevertheless this is an area were we could very easily gain some common interest. /// End Act /// /// End Opt /// But arms control and international issues aside, Russians are still mostly concerned about their own welfare, says 59-year-old Yevgenny Baskakov. /// Baskakov Act in Russian in full and fade under /// He asks, "Have you ever heard Mr. Putin say anything about the economy? Journalists occasionally try to ask him about it, but he is silent." But teacher Natasha Simakova says the most important thing to her is that Mr. Putin -- unlike his predecessor Boris Yeltsin -- is energetic and healthy. /// Simakova Act in Russian in full and fade under /// She says, "I was more concerned when Mr. Yeltsin, who was incapable of doing anything, was in power. At least I know Mr. Putin is really in charge, that makes it easier to predict what he'll do." (Signed) NEB/EC/GE/JP 05-May-2000 10:12 AM EDT (05-May-2000 1412 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .