Vladimir Putin: Emperor of the World

Russia's Prime Minister more powerful than ever, despite rebukes

Vanity Fair named Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the head of the world's New Establishment, riding high after incursions into neighboring Georgia and re-establishing his country as a potent world power.

The European Union admonished Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to abide by a French-brokered cease fire Monday, but for all intent and purposes Medvedev is still playing second fiddle to his predecessor Putin. The former president was forced to leave office due to a term limits condition in Russia, but the one-time head of the KGB simply moved to the position of prime minister and appears to wield ultimate authority in the country.

A month after Russia occupied its southern neighbor Georgia in reaction to the latter's military action in Southern Ossetia, many fear that Putin may be initiating a revival of the Cold War. Vanity Fair placed Putin at the top of their list of New Establishment power brokers, citing his overwhelming domestic popularity, resurgent Russian military, and swaggering bravado in the face of international condemnation. Putin's antics occasionally border on farce, as when he was acclaimed for rescuing a television film crew from an escaped tiger by sedating it with a crack shot from a tranquilizer gun.

U.S. president George Bush failed to make Vanity Fair's list, which judged his lame duck status as less important than that of actor George Clooney and eco-warrior Al Gore, who Bush defeated in the 2000 election.

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