Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder

Amy Knight. Thomas Dunne, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-11934-6
Knight (How the Cold War Began), a veteran Russia expert and historian of its security services, provides a grim, relentless compilation of seemingly state-sponsored murders, suggesting that the abstract threat that Russia poses to the U.S. pales in comparison to the very real, often fatal threat the Russian government poses to its most vocal critics. She opens with a crisp summary of Russia’s long record of political assassinations, followed by an exploration of President Vladimir Putin’s past as a KGB officer and of the connections among Russia’s business elites, vast security apparatus, and political establishment. Then she starts her compendium of the gruesome fates of the state’s critics. Familiar and obscure names populate her roll call of the dead: journalists Paul Klebnikov and Anna Politkovskaya, opposition politicians Galina Starovoitova and Boris Nemtsov, central bank deputy director Andrei Kozlov, and former security officer Alexander Litvinenko, whose poisoning in London prompted uncomfortable levels of global scrutiny. In each case, one dissident notes, it appears a blueprint was being followed: while alleged killers were arrested, prosecutions languished, witnesses recanted, and the state showed little interest in pursuing justice. Knight observes that the West’s need to see Putin as an anti-terror ally has guaranteed a weak international response. This is a vital work for understanding modern-day Russia. Agent: Philip Turner, Philip Turner Book Productions. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 09/19/2017
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