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The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult Kindle Edition
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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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The description of this book states that Russia under Putin is like something out of the Middle Ages. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Miketang
I bought this as I was keen to read a Russian's (well an Armenian's!) point of view of Putin. I was bitterly disappointed. Read morePublished on 16 July 2014 by Jeamus
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