Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy

Anna Politkovskaya, Author . Holt/Metropolitan $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7930-2

At a time when many Westerners are ambivalent about Russian President Vladimir Putin, famed war correspondent Politkovskaya (A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya ) argues that there is little to admire about the man or the country he has remade in his image. By recounting stories of the winners and losers in today's Russia, Politkovskaya portrays the country as a place where decency is punished, corruption rules and murder is simply a means of getting to and staying at the top. "Putin may be God and Czar in Chechnya, punishing and pardoning, but he is afraid of touching... Mafiosi," Politkovskaya writes. She's an attentive and compassionate storyteller, and the stories she tells are worth reading. The same cannot be said of her simplistic analysis. Politkovskaya's claims that Russia is more corrupt than ever before and that it's reverting to Stalinism, for example, may strike readers as provocative exaggerations. As someone frustrated with the Putin regime and furious about the war in Chechnya, which she argues is an omen of the state's future inhumane treatment of all its citizens, Politkovskaya is passionate and sometimes convincing. But she never adequately explains why, if life under Putin is so awful, 70% of Russian voters chose him for their president in 2004. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/14/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-1-84343-050-6
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-0-8050-8250-0
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-3915-7
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4464-4837-3
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