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This article compares Russian and Western perspectives on Russia's democracy, and its presidency, since 1991. The topic is addressed through a study of assessments by Western scholars, and evidence from opinion polls about the state of Russian public opinion. The author finds that while the Russian public has lost much of its trust in democracy, it has maintained its trust in the presidency as an institution. Western scholars studying Russian politics have generally treated the presidency as a given. It is in their assessment of democracy that Russian citizens and Western scholars diverge the most: the Russians? response to President Yeltsin?s failures has not been to call for more democracy, or a better democracy - but rather to call for something that looks more like the opposite.
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