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The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult [Kindle Edition]

Anna Arutunyan
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Putin Mystique takes the reader on a journey through the Russia of Vladimir Putin, named by Forbes magazine in 2013 as the most powerful man in the world. It is a neo-feudal world where iPads, WTO membership, and Brioni business suits conceal a power structure straight out of the Middle Ages, where the Sovereign is perceived as both divine and demonic, where a man’s riches are determined by his proximity to the Kremlin, and where large swathes of the populace live in precarious complacency interrupted by bouts of revolt. Where does that kind of power come from? The answer lies not in the leader, but in the people: from the impoverished worker who appeals directly to Putin for aid, to the businessmen, security officers and officials in Putin’s often dysfunctional government who look to their leader for instruction and protection.

About the Author

Anna Arutunyan’s work has appeared in USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Foreign Policy in Focus, and The Moscow News, where she is an editor and senior correspondent. She is author of The Media in Russia (McGraw- Hill, 2009), and is the co-author (with Vladimir Shlapentokh) of Freedom, Repression and Private Property in Russia (Cambridge University Press, 2013). She has lectured on Russian power, politics and media at Tampere University in Finland and at Michigan State University.

A bilingual Russian-American, she was born in the Soviet Union in 1980 but grew up and received her education in the United States. In 2002 she returned to Moscow to write about Russia.

Anna Arutunyan lives in Moscow with her husband and daughter.

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"Why do so many Russians go on giving uncritical support to Putin? Arguing that Russians hold a quasi-religious respect for the state and its leader, this illuminating book delves into the intertwining of the sacred and the political in history and today. Fresh vignettes of Putin in action illustrate both the supreme leader's attitude to his subjects and their needs, desires and fears that make him the kind of leader he has become." Caroline Humphrey, University of Cambridge "Anna Arutunyan's book is an excellent description of Putinland, where corruption and the abuse of power makes Russia fall even further down the international corruption list, to Latin American levels." Gavle Dagblad, Sweden "Arutunyan gives the reader a fascinating history of Russian identity, with extensive use of the long strands of literature and history. - Arutunyan's collection of stories is a dramatic eye opener on the Russian soul, with poignant stories about her own experiences during the large demonstrations since the Duma elections in December, when fear gave way to popular action" Politiken, Denmark "The Putin Mystique makes us wiser about a significant phenomenon in Russia's past and present." Berlingske Tidende, Denmark "A great experience - lively and interestingly written" Leif Davidsen, Danish writer and journalist

About the Author

Anna Arutunyan, a journalist and writer, was born in the Soviet Union in 1980, but grew up and was educated in the United States. She returned to Russia in 2002 and is an editor and senior correspondent on The Moscow News. She has written for various US publications, is the author of two previous books on Russia and has lectured widely.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3152 KB
  • Print Length: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscraper Publications (30 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I5IY1BS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #85,614 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top quality journalism 15 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a first class book and I feel much more informed about both Russia and Putin for reading it. I lived and worked in Ukraine (Kiev) for a number of years with fairly frequent trips to Moscow, so I'm not ignorant about the country or the people. The authoress (Armenian judging from the family name) clearly knows the country and analyses and explains it well. I do not miss the place and have no wish to return there any time soon !!

Another critique states that the book is more about the Russia that created Putin, and I think I would agree with that. However, I don't think anything is going to change in the near future and that may well be because the Russians themselves do not want it. One thing I am convinced about and that is that even with change, Russia will never adopt "democracy" as we understand the word. Its not in their psyche.

I recommend this book as a read that will educate the reader into a better understanding of what makes the Russia of today tick and, as importantly, how it came to be what it is today.
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By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
A Moscow-based Russian-born journalist who was raised and educated in the States, Anna Arutunyan seems unusually well-placed to interpret Putin’s mystique in a way that Western readers can readily grasp. Although this book contains some fascinating information if you are prepared to make the effort to glean it, I was disappointed to find that the disjointed journalese makes for an often confusing and laborious read.

We are familiar with photographs of a macho Putin displaying his muscular torso as he rides on horseback through the wilderness, or wades in a river to catch salmon, of him diving in the Black Sea to retrieve ancient Greek urns in what proved to be a staged stunt, or co-piloting a plane to dump gallons of water to extinguish a forest fire. This personality cult which began in around 2001 is partly a top down process of which Anna Arutanin provides further examples: Kremlin ideologist Surkov’s organised demonstrations of support by the activist youth group “Nashi” whose members were rewarded with payment or career opportunities; the elaborate charade in which Putin showed his concern for alumina factory workers demanding their pay by berating on film the oligarch Deripaska who had halted production at their workplace. This included forcing him to sign a probably fake contract and even throwing a pen at him, for which humiliation Deripaska was compensated by some massive monetary bail-outs. The author also identifies more spontaneous actions with commerce in mind, such as the “pin-up” calendar showing the twelve moods of Putin or the erotic calendar of obligingly posed girls presented to him for his birthday.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Scatching analysis of the Russian soul 13 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sometimes the story is a little bit confusing, you have to struggle to keep all the threads in mind. But the analysis of the Russian people, the need for a tsar is revealing and I believe correct. Makes you understand why things are the way they are in Russia. Gives also the sad reason for the Crimean crisis after Sochi Olympics. We other Europeans can only pray that things would change over there, but we need also something to concrete to defend us with should our prayers fail.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Feudal" Russia 19 May 2015
Format:Kindle Edition
The description of this book states that Russia under Putin is like something out of the Middle Ages. Actually you only have to go back to Stalin's reign to see exactly the same set-up, as described in Simon Sebag-Montefiore's "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar". There seems to be an intrinsic longing among the vast majority of Russian people for a strongman to shape Russian society and its aims internal and external.
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