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Putin treads warily on road to reform

President Putin’s has pushed through a swathe of reforming laws, spearheading his drive to liberalization. But implementation will not be easy. Nor can it be assumed that the liberals will stay in the ascendancy. Business oligarchs and the conservatives are asserting themselves as Putin struggles to pick a way through conflicting interests.

Duma: the Russian parliament worked overtime earlier
this year, passing a flurry of reform measures

President Vladimir Putin must be feeling pleased with himself. By the time the Duma broke up for its summer holidays this year more than 140 laws touching on virtually every aspect of day-to-day life had whizzed through.

In his April state-of-the-nation speech, Putin said that he wanted to push through reform of the legal system, cut red tape and liberalize land ownership. All these goals have been at least partly met and many more as well, dealing with improving the efficiency and accountability of government. Some outdated Soviet laws, such as the labour code which has been untouched since the fall of the iron curtain, have been ditched.

"The pace of economic reform seems to be right, and certainly can be accelerated in some areas," says Ariel Cohen, research fellow with the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

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