Vladimir Putin has become enormously because of the Chechen war, and way he has run it (steady progress, low casualties.) Because of this, Putin is likely to be elected president in the upcoming election. Putin has also gained popularity by paying back wages and pensions and cracking down on corruption. Putin is in his 40s and was a KGB foreign service officer before the Cold War ended. That part of the KGB attracted the best and the brightest in Russia, much like Wall Street and consulting firms do in the US. Throughout the 1990s, Putin worked for a series of reform minded politicians. Although many Western Russian specialists are leery of Putin for his advocating strong, centralized rule in Russia, this approach is very popular in Russia. While most Russians have embraced democratic freedoms, they do not care for the corruption and anarchy that have come with the demise of centuries old totalitarian rule.