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    Putin Promises Higher Living Standards in Pre-Election Speech

    But will he deliver? That’s the question on everyone’s mind after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual state-of-the-nation address today, in which he pledged to cut poverty in half, improve infrastructure, and strengthen an array of social services from health care to education. While he’s all but certain to sweep the March 18 presidential election — his approval rating hovers above 80 percent — Russia’s been hobbled by a recent economic downturn, and many of its far-flung regions suffer from a low standard of living.

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