"There is a gentleness/naiveness worse than a murder." Russia needs a strong leader in order to be free and prosperous, like France needed De Gaulle or Spain needed General Franco. Sorry, such is life.
Khodorkovskiy's crimes are well-documented, what got him busted is that he broke the Putin commandment: If businessmen don't mess with politics, than politicians won't mess with business.
It displeases several on this site that Russia seems to side with North Korea/China/Iran/France/whomever against the US. That's their perogative as an independent nation.
I don't see Russia becoming a great friend or enemy of the US. As Disraeli said: "Nations have no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent national interests."
Russia will probably settle down to be a big, cold France eventually.
My primary loyalty, however, will always remain with the US, whose constitution I have given a sacred oath to defend. Against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.
My constitutionally-elected president states that Mr. Putin is a friend of the US. Until Mr. Bush says otherwise, that is sufficient for me.