Putin Plays it Safe

Vladimir Putin gave his annual state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly today, and while announcing some interesting (if empty) promises to pass laws requiring Russian officials to declare their overseas assets, he mostly played it safe.

From The Moscow Times:

 The address was neither saber-rattling nor aggressive, balancing careful self-criticism with a new ideological impetus on boosting the nation’s moral values.

The president kicked off by saying that Russia and the world were facing “epochal change, maybe even upheaval,” only to go on to say that the country’s rising “civil activism” should be based on responsibility and patriotism.

“No society can survive without civil responsibility,” he said, quoting Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The president added that the country’s leadership had to be responsible and transparent.

“The government must not be an isolated caste,” he said.

It must be difficult to say this with a straight face, as the Russian government has probably never been more isolated with fewer allies since he rose to power in 2000.