Russia's President Putin strengthened the presidency over the legislature, where he undermined the position of the Communists, a move that may facilitate economic reforms. He also moved against the oligarchs who control much of the economy. Putin has made the economy his main priority, but the trends are not optimistic, and a long-term improvement cannot be predicted yet. In terms of foreign policy, Putin's turn to the West in 2001 in response to the threat of international terrorism allowed the U.S. a role in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Russia's influence over these areas is waning, as they go their separate ways.
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Errata: In the September/October 2016 issue (volume 56 number 5, pages 836 and 849), there was a technical printing error in Figures 1b and 2 of the article by Ajay Raina that resulted in a loss of data on the graphs. This online article contains the restored figures in their original, correct state. The error is regretted.