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The rise of Putin
on 21 December 2014
This is an illuminating look at Putin- his background, how he rose to the presidency of Russia and from then how he led Russia. His corruption and criminality seem to have been in evidence from day one during his time in St Petersburg, the fact that such a man could continue to get promoted upwards says a lot about the sickness running through the Russian establishment.
At times this book can drag on a bit when the authors document the repressions of the regime in arguably too much detail, for instance the chapter on the rigging of elections goes through so many different examples from all across Russia that while the case is made very strongly I did find myself thinking that I had got the point twenty pages earlier.
However this thoroughness has an upside too, the evidence presented for the security services involvement in crimes like the apartment bombings, election rigging and murder is overwhelming.
The final chapter about the way Putin's Russia, like the Soviet Union before, has embarked on a widespread use of murder against critics at both home and abroad was especially disturbing. The use of poisoners to take out enemies or sometimes just inconvenient former friends is particularly sinister as it's only when it goes wrong as with Litvinenko's murder that we can even be sure that it's happened.
Rather poignantly the book finishes on a rare promising note, praising Putin for standing aside from the presidency in 2008 in line with the constitution- suggesting there may be some people who still believed in the rule of law. Since then he's back and worse than before.