In what’s expected to be his final award of a very busy year, Al Gore was named first runner-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, followed by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. This year’s winner is Russian President Vladimir Putin who, the magazine says, “is not a boy scout. He is not a democrat in any way that the West would define it. He is not a paragon of free speech. He stands, above all, for stability — stability before freedom, stability before choice, stability in a country that has hardly seen it for a hundred years.” A large part of that stability lies in his continued personal presence in the halls of power. After a 17-year career in the KGB, he became president some eight years ago and is widely regarded as having secured the position of prime minister when he steps down. That is, he hasn’t Putin for retirement just yet.

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