The New Nobility: The Restoration Of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy Of the KGB Hardcover – Sep 10 2010
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Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2010
“A relentless investigation that demonstrates how, with Putin’s rise, the KSB has taken its place ‘at the head table of power and prestige in Russia.’ ”
Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2010
“Few people are better placed than Mr. Soldatov and Ms. Borogan to write with authority on this subject. They run the website Agentura.Ru, a magpie's nest of news and analysis that presents a well-informed view of the inner workings of this secret state. Given the fates that have befallen other investigative journalists in Russia in recent years, some might fear for the authors' safety. But the publication of the "The New Nobility" in English is welcome; it should be essential reading for those who hold naïve hopes about Russia's development or who pooh-pooh the fears of its neighbors.”
Foreign Policy, September 17, 2010
“The authors bring hard-digging, fact-based journalism to an aspect of Russia that has been hard to document and understand… Sober and probing.”
Basil and Spice, September 14, 2010
“A non-fiction book that reads like a spy thriller… The New Nobility is an important book, well written and meticulously researched by two journalists with the right sources, both inside and outside the FSB.”
Sunday Times (UK), September 19, 2010
“This compelling book is a distillation of [Soldavov & Borogan’s] work on the website. Drawing on considerable research it describes how the KGB, for decades at the violent vanguard of the communist dictatorship, switched effortlessly after the fall of the Soviet Union, preserving the stability of the new ultra-capitalist Kremlin; same people, many of the same methods, different name and economic system.”
The Guardian, September 25, 2010
“Because every page in this book gainsays his claim in the most forceful fashion imaginable that democracy is now decisive in defining Russia's political direction…. It is the product of two profoundly courageous Russian journalists who are meticulous about their reporting…. It is because they are Russian and superbly professional journalists that this book offers dozens of insights that no outsider could provide.”
“If all of this still feels too frivolous, turn to The New Nobility, an inside look at the KGB by a pair of fearless Russian journalists, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan. Charting the organisation's heyday, decline and creeping return to power, it promises to raise the hairs on your neck as effectively as Ackroyd's ghost stories.”
Financial Times, October 18, 2010
“A detailed dissection of the FSB, the heir to the KGB, which still casts a long shadow over Moscow. For more than a decade the two authors have run the website Agentura.ru, a gold mine of information on the inner workings of the security services, particularly the FSB. In a country where many journalists have been attacked or killed for speaking truth to power, their reporting has been brave.”
Mother Jones, November 2010
“The New Nobility is an unnerving look at the real power behind the new Russia.”
“For those looking for yet more evidence that the security services are pulling the strings in modern Russia, look no further than this extraordinary new book from the fearless journalists at agentura.ru. Soldatov (who has written for Russian Life) and Borogan have compiled a history of FSB activities and operations over the past decade that paint a very vivid picture of a security service that has become Russia’s new ruling class… With amazing accounts of some of the most significant security crises and counter-terrorist activities of the past decade, Soldatov and Borogan offer insights into FSB operations that have not been offered anywhere to date… A must read.”
“Fortunately there are inquisitive and intrepid journalists like Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan to bring nuance, analysis and old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting to the subject of the revival of Russia’s security services…. The authors pull no punches in their criticism of endemic corruption and incompetence in the country’s security forces. But they do so with a refreshing lack of hysteria, drawing conclusions from facts they were able to document and refusing to indulge in conspiracy theory.”
Literary Review, December 2010
“This important monograph, written by a brave and talented team, is a history of the KGB (now called the FSB) over the last fifteen years.”
“Drawing on extensive investigations, the two journalists have written a gripping account of how veterans of the KGB seized control of the Russian state… This book paints a chilling picture of a country dominated by a power-hungry clique. Anyone who wants to understand Putin’s brave new Russia should read it.”
“As it has in earlier contests over leadership, the country’s all-powerful Federal Security Service (FSB) is bound to have a crucial part in deciding who will be the next president. (This agency made the original arrests in the Khodorkovsky case, discussed below, which has great significance for the presidential succession.) This is why The New Nobility, which explains how the FSB has evolved over the past decade into an organization with enormous political and economic influence, is such an important and timely book…. Using anonymous sources from within the security services and the Kremlin, along with on-the-spot reporting, Soldatov and Borogan have uncovered new and significant information on the FSB and its relations with the Russian leadership.”
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Top Customer Reviews
However it is easy to sit on the sideline and tell police and soldiers who were risking their lives how it could have been done better particularly when they were faced with suicide bombers who may explode taking hundreds of victims with them at any threat of being captured. Furthermore, in a world where the United States has waged several undeclared wars starting with Vietnam (does the word infamy spring to mind?), France has killed an opponent of hydrogen bomb tests in the ironically named Pacific Ocean, Britain executed unarmed Irish citizens in a Gibraltar street, to say nothing of murderous Mossad - all in the name of state security is Russia any different?
The end of the USSR created several democracies in countries that had previously known only autocracy of one form or another.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For example,there is no mention about the FSB's role in the Yukos affair and this is important as this was a turning point for Russia where Putin and his hardline allies in the siloviki were victorious in their control of Russia over the oligarchs.There is no mention of the FSB and Organized crime or of any possible role it played in information sharing with the CIA in the invasion of Afghanistan.No mention either of the role it played in the assasinations of Chechen warlords like Khattab,Arbi Barayev,Maskhadov and Basayev.The authors also make the claim that Nord Ost was a disaster but given the fact that the rebels attempted to attain some kind of victory,that many lives were saved and that by the authors own admission ,the operation was thought to be impossible ,I dont see how this could be so.
In conclusion,if you want to get a glimpse to how Russian politics works or of the role the FSB plays in modern Russia this book will be a great guide.If you were expecting details like how Christopher ANdrew has detailed the KGB and MI5,you will be sorely disappointed.
Liberty and domestic spying are polar opposites, as Americans are slowly discovering. Russians were promised by Western journalists and Russian liberals alike, far more than democratic elections, they were promised freedom. And for a few years, they got it, but as Putin's internal security services were strengthened, Russians have lost much of their freedom, particularly freedom of speech.
It is risky now to demonstrate against the Putin government or even complain about some their policies. It is extremely risky to criticize local Russian officials in any form of media. State secrets seem to exist everywhere now. This may explain why some online Russian websites refuse to accept comments from readers in the West. Some, such as Pravda Online, seem to have closed down their forum permanently, while others have forums but Western IP addresses cannot register to comment. The FSB is watching everything, just as in America, the NSA is watching and listening and collecting data on everyone. And what good is all that information unless it is used?
What is striking are the parallels between Russian internal security services and American internal security services, virtual clones of each other, and perhaps designed by the same people? Alternative news media reported that Homeland Security hired at least one former East German Stazi official to design their structure and programs.
Could it be possible that in the near future, the vast databases of U.S. citizens will merge with those of Germany, France, Canada, Australia, U.K., and Russia, into one world-wide control system?
Will innocent U.S. citizens be hunted like Snowden for dissenting against the loss of freedom? Better read this book to see how bad things can get, because our government is on that exact path.
Today's FSB, the authors show, is careerist, clannish, suspicious and inward looking. Oh, and ruthless and absolutely unaccountable to any democratically governed body.
With amazing accounts of some of the most significant security crises and counter-terrorist activities of the past decade, Soldatov and Borogan offer insights into FSB operations that have not been offered anywhere to date, outside perhaps the FSB and the CIA. Certainly the Russian press has offered little in this realm since Putin, Edinaya Rossiya and the FSB stepped in to fill the power vacuum left behind when the Communist Party was sucked out into space. A must read.
As reviewed in Russian Life
It takes considerable bravery for two Russian reporters to write a book about the FSB, especially one in English. After all, at the time that Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that since the year 2000, twelve reporters had been killed in Russia in what were described as "contract-style" murders. The killings have not abated since.
The pre-9/11 Christopher Hitchens once wrote an essay on the CIA entitled "The State within the State", emphasising that the agency is not only exempt from having to account for its receipts and expenditures, but that "the CIA, citing national security, has managed to exempt itself from all manner of scrutiny, be it from the Congress, the press, or ordinary citizens." The hermetic secrecy of the FSB is surely far worse: as the authors point out on page one, the FSB enjoys "expanded responsibilities and immunity from public oversight or parliamentary control". In addition: "the FSB's budget is not published; the total number of officers is undisclosed." (And Vladimir Putin, whom the agency effectively reports to, is ex-KGB.) It is bad enough when a spy agency lacks accountability in a strong democracy, but in a weak democracy such as today's Russia, the potential for abuse proliferates.
Yet the harm done by a bad example sometimes flows in the opposite direction. Two interesting anecdotes from "The New Nobility" serve as a warning to the West in this respect:
1. In a bit of sharp practice that resembled the US government's Guantanamo Bay exceptionalism, in 2006 the FSB got around the Ministry of Justice's requirements that it surrender the prisons under its purview. A year after Putin signed the decree to do so, he issued another decree allowing the FSB to establish "temporary" detention centres - and this was three years after the FSB had already swallowed one of the few other agencies allowed to do so: the Federal Border Service. Thus Russia now has "temporary" (i.e., indefinite) detention powers bolted onto a state agency with zero transparency.
2. A darkly amusing aside in the chapter on the FSB's alleged foreign assassinations notes that this increasingly ruthless force now looks to Israel for inspiration on performing mafia-style hits abroad.
Thus both these instances corroborate the recent findings of Mary Robinson's juridical inquiry into torture and abuse abroad: that when standards of human rights loosen at the centre of the democratic world, that's the cue for them to fall apart at the periphery.
The writing style in "The New Nobility" is a little matter-of-fact, and after a certain amount of chewing through it, it does begin to feel a bit dry. But the authors are modest enough in their Acknowledgments to credit colleagues with "polishing their English", and, after all, it's fair to ask how many Anglophone journalists write good prose in Russian.
Overall, this is an important contribution to Kremlin-watching from two journalists who have been on the scene of the Nord-Ost siege and the Beslan massacre (both events are well-explained herein), and have undergone interrogation and harassment from the FSB for their efforts to expose the recrudescence of a police state within their own country. Their courage - which comes at no small risk to themselves - should be rewarded with a broad readership.