Putin, scourge of the US, named person of the year by Time Luke Harding in Moscow Thursday December 20, 2007 The Guardian The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, watches an airshow during the opening ceremony of the International Aviation and Space salon MAKS-2007 outside Moscow. Photograph: Natalia Kolesnikova/EPA He has derided US power, raged against the Pentagon's missile plans, and recently described Americans as "snotty" But yesterday Vladimir Putin received an unlikely accolade from Time magazine, naming him its 2007 person of the year. The Washington-based journal said that Putin had returned Russia from chaos "to the table of world power". It conceded that he had squashed democratic principles along the way, but singled out Putin as the person who had had the greatest impact on events, for better or worse. "He's not a good guy. But he's done extraordinary things," Time's managing editor, Richard Stengel, said. He added: "He's a new tsar of Russia and he's dangerous in the sense that he doesn't care about civil liberties; he doesn't care about free speech; he cares about stability. But stability is what Russia needed and that's why Russians adore him." Putin, who intends to become Russia's prime minister when his stint as president ends in May, will appear on the cover of a special Time issue. The magazine said that Putin had beaten four other contenders to the title: former US vice-president Al Gore, the writer JK Rowling, the Chinese president Hu Jintao, and the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. The Kremlin yesterday made little effort to hide its rapture at the award, which it will feel gives Putin the one thing he craves above all - international respectability. In a hastily arranged conference, Putin's chief spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Putin had helped Russia get back its national pride. "Under Putin's leadership Russia re-emerged as a constructive and reliable partner in shaping international relations," he said. In its tribute, Time said Putin had led Russia with dauntless persistence. He had "sharp vision" and a sense that he embodied the spirit of "Mother Russia". There was no mention of Russia's recent parliamentary elections - condemned by the EU as unfair - or the systematic suppression of the country's liberal opposition.