Now that Russia has entered the new millennium with a new leader and a new parliament, it is time to take stock of the democratization process in Russia. This memo addresses two questions:
• How far has Russia come? The answer is that Russia merits a grade of B in democratization. The progress has been immense since 1985, but its elections have not been satisfactorily free or fair. The greatest abuses, however, have taken place not at the federal but at the regional level and not on voting day but during and even before the campaign.
• Where is Russia likely to go? While it is too early to pass judgement on Vladimir Putin himself, it is evident that there are few "barriers to backsliding" in Russian political institutions and society to keep Putin on a democratic track if he tries to do otherwise. Since we can't change Putin, the West should focus on building such barriers, which include clear legal codes, a free press, multiple centers of economic power, political parties, and civil society.