No one would call Vladimir Putin a good guy. In 2014 he strong-armed his way into possession of Crimea and waged an ugly proxy war in neighboring Ukraine, during which an almost certainly Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile downed a civilian jetliner. But as the undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head of an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped state, no one would ever call him weak.
So who’s more powerful: the omnipotent head of a feisty former superpower or the handcuffed head of the most dominant country in the world? For the second year running, our votes went with the Russian president as the world’s most powerful person, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
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