Carnegie Senior Associate Michael McFaul takes on the conventional wisdom that Vladimir Putin's tight-fisted rule has been behind the economic growth and stability over the past seven years. "The emergence of Russian democracy in the 1990s did indeed coincide with state breakdown and economic decline, but it did not cause either," McFaul writes. "The reemergence of Russian autocracy under Putin, conversely, has coincided with tremendous economic growth but did not cause it. If anything, Putin's autocratic turn over the last several years has reduced gains from what they would have been had democracy survived."

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