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Courtesy The Economist

"Seventeen years after Vladimir Putin first became president, his grip on Russia is stronger than ever," The Economist writes in its cover editorial.

"The West, which still sees Russia in post-Soviet terms, sometimes ranks him as his country's most powerful leader since Stalin. Russians are increasingly looking to an earlier period of history. Both liberal reformers and conservative traditionalists in Moscow are talking about Mr Putin as a 21st-century tsar."
  • How he got here: "Putin has earned that title by lifting his country out of what many Russians see as the chaos in the 1990s and by making it count again in the world. Yet as the centenary of the October revolution draws near, the uncomfortable thought has surfaced that Mr Putin shares the tsars' weaknesses, too."
  • The fear is growing "that, as with other Russian rulers, Tsar Vladimir will leave turbulence and upheaval in his wake."
  • Why it matters: "Putin is hardly the world's only autocrat. Personalised authoritarian rule has spread across the world over the past 15 years — often ... built on the fragile base of a manipulated, winner-takes-all democracy. It is a rebuke to the liberal triumphalism which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union."

Go deeper

14 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.