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Thursday, 19 November 2009 09:45

Putin Named World's 3rd Most Powerful Person

By Maria Antonova

MOSCOW, Nov 13 (The Moscow Times) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gesturing during a news conference with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann in Moscow Wednesday. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is the world’s third-most powerful person, far ahead of President Dmitry Medvedev and outranked only by the U.S. and Chinese presidents, according to a list released by Forbes magazine Thursday.

 

Medvedev, who was basking in the spotlight of his state-of-the-nation address Thursday, was ranked in 43rd place, a spot lower than the only other Russian politician on the list, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin at No. 42.

 

The list of 67 people — “one for every 100 million people on the planet” — is topped by U.S. President Barack Obama, who won “by a wide margin,” said Forbes, which compiled the ranking for the first time this year.

 

Powerful People

1. U.S. President Barack Obama

2. Chinese President Hu Jintao

3. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

4. U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke

5. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page

6. Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu

7. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch

8. Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke

9. Saudi Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud

10. Microsoft founder Bill Gates

11. Pope Benedict XVI

37. Al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden

42. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin

43. President Dmitry Medvedev

— Forbes

 

Power is measured by four criteria: the number of people whom the person exerts power over; the financial resources that the person controls, with a country’s gross domestic product used for heads of state; the number of spheres in which the person is influential; and the extent to which the person exercises his power.

 

Putin scored points in the latter criteria because, unlike IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, he “likes to throw his weight around by jailing oligarchs, invading neighboring countries and periodically cutting off Western Europe’s supply of natural gas,” Forbes said in an article accompanying the power list.

 

The magazine refers to Putin as “anti-Obama” for his dislike of change and “tsar, emperor and autocrat of all the Russians” — a sharp contrast to Medvedev, who is described as Putin’s “hand-picked, doe-eyed successor” who is facing an uphill battle after he “went Jerry Maguire” with recent liberal pronouncements. Forbes said Sechin outranked Medvedev because he is the “Kremlin oil man,” pushing natural resource deals on various continents.

 

The only other Russian on the list is Google co-founder Sergey Brin, ranked with his U.S. partner in fifth place.

 

Maxim Kashulinsky, editor of Forbes Russia and a collaborator on the new list, said preparation took several months and the timing of the publication on the same day as Medvedev’s speech was a mere coincidence.

 

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov brushed off the idea that the government should be worried that Medvedev is perceived as being less influential than even Putin’s deputy Sechin.

 

“What is perceived is less important than what is reality, and the reality was shown in today’s address,” Peskov said, describing Medvedev’s speech as “a good, strong, conceptual address.”

 

Peskov also confirmed that Putin was planning to hold his customary, live call-in show later this month, for the eighth time in total and second time as prime minister. But Putin’s talk will “certainly not” overshadow the impression left by Medvedev’s address, Peskov said.

 

Putin and Medvedev have said they work in tandem. Many Russians, however, believe that Putin holds the reins, according to several recent opinion polls.

 

A survey by the independent Levada Center in September found that only 13 percent of Russians believe that Medvedev holds power, while 32 percent said power was in Putin’s hands and 48 percent said power was divided equally between the two.

 

Forbes is not the first Western magazine to note Putin’s power. While he was still president in 2007, Putin was named Time magazine’s person of the year in a feature article titled “A Tsar is Born.”
 
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