Pessimism about Russia
I'm pessimistic. Putin is an authoritarian, who will gladly misuse state media or start a war to hold power; and unfortunately there doesn't seem to be anyone who can standa against him. Worse, the Russian people are willing to tolerate it.
However, I think NZPundit's fantasies of "a new Soviet block" are just that - fantasies. Putin is no communist (well, not any more), and has no need of ideological props to support his rule. And the electorate aren't communists either - in fact, the communist vote has collapsed, with voters turning to "national and socialistic" parties (an unfortunate combination there...) This resurgent Russian nationalism might lead to an effort to regain past glory and empire - but the only way communism is coming back to Russia is if there's another revolution.
Meanwhile, it seems that NZPundit's commenters have gone been reading way too many Left Behind novels. Next they'll be talking about Kofi Annan in a blue turban...