On December 13, 2007 there was an interesting opinion piece on The Myth of Putin's Success http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/13/opinion/mcfaul.php
The blog Russia in the media: Reviews of Russia coverage in English language media http://fkriuk.blogspot.com/2007/12/brave-kremlinologist-too-bad-for-him.html
takes exception to the piece and provides an alternative view, accusing the two 'Kreminologists of lies' in their use of statistics.
Equally interesting are the postings in defence of the two contributors to the IHT's piece. Here's a flavour of them:
I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "source." First of all, you can't just say "Rosstat." You have to give a link to the specific published information you cite, only then does it become a "source." Most high school students are aware of this requirement. Second, if I'm not mistaken "Rosstat" is part of the Russian government, which would have a motive to fudge data that makes them look bad. So it's quite possible that the author you discuss is relying on some other source, and you give no explanation as to why you think the Russian government can be believed.People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Your claims are at least as shoddy as those you purport to expose.