Yesterday Russia elected a new president, Vladimir Putin. The former KGB agent is just 47 and is best known for his harsh tactics in dealing with rebels in Chechnya. Putin has been acting president since January, when Boris Yeltsin resigned. He got 52 percent of the vote yesterday, and in a surprise, a Communist candidate received nearly 30 percent of the vote in the former Communist nation. In a midnight press conference Putin interpreted the sizable Communist vote as a protest by the Russian people. He said they are displeased by the current state of life in Russia. In his campaign, Putin made no promises about what he will do to improve their lives, but the nation's social welfare system is in trauma, with high levels of alcoholism, prostitution, and a very high death rate. The nation's banking and judicial systems are dysfunctional and corruption is widespread.