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Leonid Bershidsky

Poroshenko Makes Putin Look Like a Wimp

Ukraine's president makes the speech his Russian counterpart should have made.
Telling it like it is.

Telling it like it is.

Photographer: Sergei Supinsky / Getty Images

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in his first state of the nation address, offered an impressively concrete plan for turning his country's economy around. Difficult as it may be to convert his vision into reality, it's a speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin should have had the courage to make.

In December, when Putin made his address to the Russian parliament, he had little to say about an economy in which bribe-seeking officials and an oppressive state are crushing the dynamism needed to get out of a deepening slump. All he offered was a cut in the number of inspections that businesses have to endure from all kinds of regulatory bodies and a four-year freeze on the existing tax regime. In speech that stretched to more than 8,000 words in English translation, he didn't speak a word about corruption or address how his billionaire friends have enriched themselves on government contracts.