Russia has been both our ally and mortal enemy this century. Americans breathed a sigh of relief as the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union disintegrated and Russians embraced elections and capitalism. But reforms have stumbled badly and Russia has been plunged into economic chaos. Still a military superpower, Russia again finds itself at a crossroads as the world watches nervously.
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Crisis of Capitalism
Russians pursue capitalism with vigor, but a punishing tax code and the lack of fundamental property rights hold back progress. Western businesses are still reluctant to invest heavily because they fear a government shift will lead to nationalization.
Learning the Hard Way
Education in Russia has fallen on hard times. In Moscow, where the situation is brightest, teachers are still getting paid. But in other parts of this vast country, teachers have gone months without being paid; some have been forced to take goods in trade.
Corruption, red tape, a tax system that makes no sense, a terrible banking system and a crumbling infrastructure are just some of the problems that make Russia a tough place to do business.
High Price of Freedom
Few Russians express a desire to return to the days of Soviet rule and a planned economy. They cherish their newfound personal freedoms and cling to the hope that capitalism will improve their lives. But prosperity is a long way away.