- Save 10% on selected children’s books, compliments of Amazon Family Promotion exclusive for Prime members .
- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
The Putin Mystique Hardcover – 16 Jan 2014
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
"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.
Top customer reviews
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.
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. Having been groomed by the oligarch Berezovsky to take over as a President who would provide some stability and order after the chaos of Yeltsin’s regime, Putin adapted readily to mirror the kind leader many Russians wanted to look up to.
The Russians have a history of developing a cult round their leaders as a means of keeping control in a vast, often harsh land of scattered and ethnically diverse people. “Russia may never have had the close-knit communities that foster democracy and legal institutions”. So, we see the persistence of a “patrimonial” rather than a legal-rational state. The Tsars were often venerated like gods, with their subjects literally prostrating themselves in their presence; the Stalinist cult was developed by his inner Bolshevik circle before “spilling out” in a nationwide adulation which in a form of "doublethink" was not incompatible with viewing him as a "bloody tyrant".
This book was published too late to cover the shocking murder of the charismatic Boris Nemtsov, but the failure to analyse the recent annexation of the Crimea and the issues raised by the poisoning of Litvinenko, along with the murder of a number of investigative journalists critical of the regime, are glaring omissions. Perhaps there are boundaries the author prefers not to cross: although her portrayal of Putin is negative, precise accusations of a serious nature are avoided and charges often veiled. It is suggested, for instance, that widespread financial corruption and human rights’ violations are often beyond Putin’s control, despite the “myth of his omnipotence”, because they are conducted by people on whom he depends to keep order – as in the case of the Chechnyan strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. In reporting recent middle-class protests against Putin’s “corrupt, authoritarian and self-serving regime”, the author suggests that Putin’s opponent, rising star Navalny has himself shown signs of developing a personality cult, including an aggressive stance and the favouring of questions from supporters, as if this somehow weakens criticisms of “the Putin mystique”.
One of Putin’s reactions to the recent backlash has been to align himself more closely with the Church, a respected institution since its recent revival. This may explain the harsh crackdown on “Pussy Riot”, the girl band who performed their blasphemous anti-Putin ditty in a Moscow Cathedral.
Anna Arutunyan's Putin Mystique is unusual because it does not dwell on top down stories of Putin's actions, but on bottom up historical and cultural pressures that explain the underlying affection of Russians for Putin and other authoritarian leaders. Combining journalism (contemporary) with historical and cultural analysis makes this book accessible, unusual and involving. It takes a few chapters to hit stride, but once you get where she is coming from the ride becomes worth the read. Once you see how the actions taken at the top reflect needs within the Russian people, you realise she is on to something big.
It seems the Russians are so divided by the size of their land, and disparate personal objectives, that the move to authoritarianism and collectivism becomes inevitable. There is no law by contract, but only submission. There is freedom to roam but no obligation from the powerful to reciprocate. So different from Europe (as Marx contended), Russians seem to demand authoritarian leaders like Putin.The Tsar links the faith to the state in a way that never existed in the West, and Putin has embraced the Orthodox church - which supports him slavishly - to its shame.
In the last few chapters, written at the end of 2013, she speculates on Alexander Navalny, then the new challenger on the horizon, and wonders what Putin would do next to stay popular. The answer was, invade Ukraine, take Crimera, kill Navalny and try to annex Eastern Ukraine.
Could anyone have guessed? This is a compelling, unusual read that bares its teeth slowly but once bared, changes your point of view.