Yes, it can.
The R8, which was the first slr that Leica itself built since the Leicaflex SL2 in the early '70s, cost the company lots of R&D dollars. It never sold well, being large, heavy, expensive and initially plagued with lots of electronics problems. (Most new model Leicas have electronics problems for the first year or so.) Many feel the R9 is an attempt to increase sales of a "fixed" camera, with none of the bad word of mouth associated with the R8.
The R8/R9, has a beautiful big, bright focusing screen and can be coupled with either a 80mm f 1.4 lens, which is one of the best portrait lenses ever made or a 90mm f2, which is the sharpest lens known to man. I considered upgrading my old Leicaflex SL (1969) to a used R8 but bought a medium format slr, instead.
Both the R8 and R9 will accept the new 10 megapixel digital back, coming out in the fall, making it the first 35mm camera which is both film and digital capable.