Despite brokering a massive arms deal with Iran, illegally annexing the Crimean peninsula, engineering a civil war in Ukraine, and plunging his own nation into economic chaos, Russian president Vladimir Putin remains one of the world’s most powerful leaders and TIME 100’s most influential figure.
Ian Bremmer, president of political-risk consultancy Eurasia Group, explains the world’s fascination with the unpredictable president for Time 100.
“No leader arouses more fascination around the world, because his actions speak a language of defiance that so many of his people want to hear, lifting him to levels of popularity that other leaders can only envy,” Bremmer writes.
“‘Behave or else,’ say leaders of the world’s most powerful countries, and Vladimir Putin continues to choose ‘else,'” Bremmer explains of the world’s fascination for Putin (emphasis added).
Putin’s indisputable top spot in the annual TIME 100 reader’s poll outpaces fellow political figures like President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, and China’s Xi Jinping. The five most influential figures after Putin were all entertainers.
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