Twice in the winter of 1999-2000, citizens of the Russian Federation flocked to their neighborhood voting stations and scratched their ballots in an atmosphere of uncertainty, rancor, and fear. This book is a tale of these two elections—one for the 450-seat Duma, the other for President. Despite financial crisis, a national security emergency in Chechnya, and cabinet instability, Russian voters unexpectedly supported the status quo. The elected lawmakers prepared to cooperate with the executive branch, a gift that had eluded President Boris Yeltsin since he imposed a post-Soviet constitution by referendum in 1993. When Yeltsin retired six months in advance of schedule, the presidential mantle went to Vladimir Putin—a career KGB officer who fused new and old ways of doing politics. Putin was easily elected President in his own right. This book demonstrates key trends in an extinct superpower, a troubled country in whose stability, modernization, and openness to the international community the West still has a huge stake.