Russian Studies specialist says Russian people favor President Putin


As news stories report on the 90th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Dr. David McFadden, professor of history and director of the Program in Russian and East European Studies at Fairfield University, says many are missing the larger context of the story, that in fact President Vladimir Putin is very popular in Russia.

"Putin is running a new 21st century, managed, limited democracy in Russia and 80 percent of the Russian population approves because there has been a surge in the economy and they feel more secure." He says the statistics are backed up by a Johns Hopkins University study which started tracking this information in the 1980s.

And while McFadden sympathizes with Russian intellectuals who question Putin's desire to close down the past and rewrite history, the fact remains that the average Russian is grateful for the improved living conditions, he says.

Calling Putin "a Catherine the Great, an enlightened despot," McFadden said he does not expect Putin to try to change the constitution to remain in power. "He is manipulating the system and will run for Parliament. He is heading the ticket for United Russia and wants to be Prime Minister."

McFadden has been developing the program in Russian and East European Studies since 1990. In 1995 he initiated a partnership with Herzen University in St. Petersburg. In 2003 Fairfield University became the first university in the United States to partner with Russia's most prestigious university of economics, finance and business, the St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance. This year he is the principal investigator for a U.S. Department of Education grant that will expand studies in Chinese, Russian and central Asian language and culture. Among his writings is a book, "Alternative Paths: Soviets & Americans 1917-1920, published by Oxford University Press.

"Russia and China are two countries that have to deal with each other - and we in the United States need to communicate with them both as well," he said.

Dr. McFadden may be reached on his cell phone at (203) 414-9588. He only has voice mail on his office phone at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2871.

For further assistance in arranging an interview, please contact Nancy Habetz, director of media relations at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2647 or (203) 451-1725.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 7, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 103