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Putin's Russia Paperback – 14 Oct 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; Reprint edition (14 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843430509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843430506
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A hero among hacks" (Guardian)

"If you haven't done so yet, read Politkovskaya's books" (Independent)

"Anna Politkovskaya refused to lie, in her work; her murder is a ghastly act, and an attack on world literature" (Nadine Gordimer)

"We will continue to learn from her for years" (Salman Rushdie)

"Her eye for detail was unfailing" (Financial Times)

Book Description

A devastating appraisal of the policies of Putin and the Kremlin, by Anna Politkovskaya, who was the leading radical journalist of Russia until her tragic murder in Moscow, 2006.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This was a very depressing read. The author was a famous Russian journalist who was assassinated two years after writing this book. She is extremely cynical about Putin's style of rule, and the book is written in a rather unstructured and slightly shrill tone, that is a little reminiscent of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. While the horrors catalogued in this book are not as widespread and appalling as what happened under Stalin, they strike home with great force as they are very recent and took place while Russia was nominally a democracy and accepted, broadly speaking, as more of an intentional partner than was the case under Stalin, except during the war. The corruption she describes in the armed forces, police and judiciary; the treatment of experienced professionals and new military recruits alike; the barbaric and racist treatment meted out to all Chechens by Russian officials and soldiers on the morally perverse notion that the whole of their nation must be terrorist due to the actions of a few; the use of poison gas killing nearly 200 of the hostages during the Nord Ost theatre siege; all of these combine to leave a very nasty taste in the mouth. Putin has destroyed Russia's post-communist hope, flickering and inconsistent under Yeltsin, but definitely present, through his cynical and callous disregard for many basic human values, and most Russian citizens appear not to care. For the sake of the future of that great nation, let there be some grounds for some optimism and hope for the development of a pluralist and less cynical society in the years ahead.
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Format: Paperback
Politkovskaya's book is important in the sense as it gives a voice to people that is not heard in other books about contemporary Russia. Especially the chapter "Tanya, Misha, Lena and Rinat - Where are they now?" where she is contacted by people that she used to know in the past, gives a remarkable description of personalities that anyone that gets to know Russian's personally will be able to recognize. As (for the least some of) these people contracted her because she for the first time appears on National television after the Beslan crisis, adds symbolism to the story, as Anna Politkovskaya's way from a nieche newspaper for the Moscow intelligentsia to National televistion arguably also made her visible on the Russian political establishment's radar...

A weakness of this approach is that it is difficult to recognize and appreciate these personality-types without personally knowing enough Russians to see what she is talking about. Unless you know Russians personally it will also be difficult to experience and take in, how many simply will refuse to read, know and take in her story either because it is something they have decided to act as if these things never happened - focusing on this is negative, or simply because they are very emotionally difficult to discuss. This attitude and feelings among ordinary Russians is in my view far more important than the authorities attitudes towards her writing.

I agree with the other reviews that claim her writing is very emotional. This is a problem because it makes me suspicious of her writing, even when what she tells is probably completely true. By being less emotional she would without doubt come through as more trustworthy, that is especially important because we to a large degree only have her side of the story to hold on to.
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By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
The brave Anna Politkovskaya revealed the reality of Russia today in this sad, sometimes horrifying book. After a brief window period of freedom under Yeltsin, Russia has rapidly become a vast swamp of corruption, oppression and deception under Putin. Anna paid with her life for her courageous opposition to the ruling class.

Politkovskaya tells of the trouble and suffering of ordinary people who are humiliated and exploited by the criminal nomenklatura. For example Nina Levurda, who in trying to establish the truth about her son's death in the Chechen War, became a victim of this system that when not cruel, is completely indifferent to the individual. This and other cases are discussed in the chapter My Country's Army And Its Mothers.

In Russia, people imitate the man at the top, thus Putin is the one who shapes Russian society. It is mainly he who is to blame for the brutality and extremism prevalent in the army and the state apparatus. There are sections dealing with war criminals, brutality against privates in the military, government complicity in crime, the corruption in the judiciary, the struggle to survive in places like Kamchatka, and racism against people with a non-Slavic appearance.

Russia's stability is of a monstrous type, where power means everything, few people hold the law in any regard, bribes keep business and the state running, and a free press has almost disappeared. Putin's bureaucrats have taken corruption to new records, unheard of even under Yeltsin or the Communists.
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