Una biografia di Putin
di Geoff Crocker
This is certainly a very readable and interesting chronicle of Vladimir Putin’s rule. But it’s entirely journalistic. There is nothing in the book that isn’t available in the regular press, and already well known to any interested follower of Russian politics. Robert Service offers no interpretation, or intellectual thesis to explain the Putin phenomenon. His account is entirely behavioural. He omits, for example, mention of the catastrophe wreaked on Russia by the 1990 IMF and World Bank insistence on immediate radical economic surgery, rather than effecting a careful transition. This criminal act of economic sabotage resulted in an immediate 40% collapse of the USSR GDP, widespread deprivation, and many early deaths as male life expectancy plummeted, a result predicted by Gorbachēv and independent western consultants. This ranks as a justified complaint at western interference and mismanagement in Russia, to which Putin and others can rightly object. Service also doesn’t consider why Russian social structure has remained feudal and continually failed to embrace the Enlightenment, so that autocratic power still overwhelms logic, image exceeds content, and status overshadows function. Russia’s intelligentsia compromised with the ‘we don’t touch him and he doesn’t touch us’ deal in order to retain their privileges. Now repression extends to losing a job if caught on video at a Navalny rally, being forced to remove critical comment on social media, getting a one-month imprisonment for a critical Tweet. Commonplace corruption extends to the need to bribe doctors and nurses for hospital treatment, university lecturers for admission, and doctors for exemption from military service. Although segments of the domestic economy such as retail, construction and agriculture are flourishing, economic justice is non-existent. How can Putin be surprised that other eastern European nations choose to look west? As Service does mention, a civil airliner is shot down, a UK city is poisoned, senior professionals flee Russia for their lives. For all his bluster, or smug cynicism, Putin has painted Russia into a corner. He has won a few skirmishes, but totally lost the war. There are many senior Russians who are decent, experienced, and qualified to become a far more effective president than Putin. Alone they will be squashed, but acting in concert they can succeed. It is time for them to regain control of their country.