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The Neo-Soviet Empire,
This review is from: Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy (Hardcover)The brave Anna Politkovskaya reveals the reality of Russia today in this sad, sometimes horrifying book. After a brief window period of freedom under Yeltsin, Russia has rapidly become a vast swamp of corruption, oppression and deception under Putin.
Politkovskaya tells of the trouble and suffering of ordinary people who are humiliated and exploited by the criminal nomenklatura. For example Nina Levurda, who in trying to establish the truth about her son's death in the Chechen War, became a victim of this system that when not cruel, is completely indifferent to the individual. This and other cases are discussed in the chapter My Country's Army And Its Mothers.
In Russia, people imitate the man at the top, thus Putin is the one who shapes Russian society. It is mainly he who is to blame for the brutality and extremism prevalent in the army and the state apparatus. There are sections dealing with war criminals, brutality against privates in the military, government complicity in crime, the corruption in the judiciary, the struggle to survive in places like Kamchatka, and racism against people with a non-Slavic appearance.
Russia's stability is of a monstrous type, where power means everything, few people hold the law in any regard, bribes keep business and the state running, and a free press has almost disappeared. Putin's bureaucrats have taken corruption to new records, unheard of even under Yeltsin or the Communists. As a lieutenant-colonel who never made it to the rank of colonel, he has the mentality of a Soviet secret policeman. The Yukos affair and the imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky demonstrate what a vindictive little man Putin is and how he is steering the country towards fascism.
This process of crushing dissent and stifling freedom has been escalating throughout Putin's first presidential term and shows no sign of abating during the second. The Western press has mostly not showed great interest in this slide to oppression in Russia. It is hard not to write Russia off when confronted by the experiences in this book: the deliberate cruelties, the cold indifference and the manipulation of the media. Politkovskaya gave her life for the truth. This disturbing book concludes with explanatory notes containing references.