March 10, 2008

Is Vladimir Putin a despot?

The Russian leader’s career since 1975 is the subject of The Age of Assassins: the Rise and Rise of Vladimir Putin, a new book by Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky. But the book is, of course, also a history of Russia over the past 17 years. Furthermore, Felshtinsky and Pribylovsky try to to draw parallels between the Putin phenomenon and … some other familiar, old phenomena such as Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Zedong. We want to know, they say, whether Putin is a despot or not, whether the world will see a new cold—or perhaps even nuclear—war.

From Oleg Gordievsky’s review in The Times of Friday, March 7, 2008:

The authors state that it should have become obvious by now that Russia's Government “would henceforth be run and be controlled by people who hated America and Western Europe, who had no experience in building anything, who acted in secrecy while belonging to an organisation of which - as with the Gestapo in Nazi Germany - not a single good word can be said in its defence”. It is difficult to disagree with this judgment.

Hat tip: David McDuff (A Step At A Time)