Review: Russians; the People Behind the Power

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6 comments

  1. Another book has just come out from an NPR reporter on Russia. Her focus was on the area of Chebyalinsk (may not have spelled that correctly).over the course of many years, starting from the end of the Soviet era to the present. I read an NPR interview with her about the book and it sounded like she was repeating a lot of the same distorted tropes as the author of this book is. What’s up with NPR?

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    • I have no idea.
      I believe that (a) the book you are referring to is Putin Country by Anne Garrels (which I will be reviewing soon) and (b) if what you say is correct, it will be the 3rd lousy Russia-related book written by an NPR journalist that I will have read this year. I’ll try to keep an open mind, though.

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  2. Wow, I think I confused this book with a different one. I thought I meant to read this one, but I actually meant to read something else! (The one I want to read is Russia and the Russians, not this one, LOL.) Anyway, I may put this one on my list just to have a laugh at… because seriously, anyone who says Putin doesn’t have popular support is just kidding themselves! I think there are many valid criticisms of Putin and the way he runs his country, but one thing you can’t deny is the man is REALLY popular. Western leaders wish they could be that popular! Some of these so-called “journalists” are ridiculous!

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    • I know, right? Putin ain’t no saint, but he ain’t Satan either. You said it yourself on your own blog – never underestimate how much the anti-Russia crowd wants to discredit Putin. May I ask what do feel is the most valid criticism of the Putin government? I’m just curious.
      ‘Russia and the Russians’, by the way, is a pleasant and authoritative guide to Russian history. I hope you enjoy it.

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      • Most valid criticism? I guess I’d have to say corruption. Though there are countries that are actually more corrupt than Russia (Nigeria, for one—Misha Glenny has a ton of interesting info about this in his excellent book McMafia, which I HIGHLY recommend if you’re as fascinated by global crime as I am), Russia does have a ton of problems with corruption. I chose corruption because I think it creates a whole other host of problems: for example, capital flight. You can’t blame wealthy businessmen for stashing their money abroad, ill-gotten or not. Another criticism (I know you asked for one, but I’m going to give another) is the reliance on oil and gas revenues in the economy. Look, I love the energy industry, but such a heavy over-reliance on it can cause problems when prices fall, and oil and gas are notoriously volatile commodities. Though I’m not a fan of the left-leaning Nordic countries in general, I think Norway has done something right by creating a sovereign wealth fund after their oil reserves were discovered. And wow, that comment turned out way longer than I intended!

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        • Very valid points. I find it interesting that excessive reliance on oil and gas revenue can also feed corruption within the state-owned corporations (possibly other areas of the gov’t as well), which in turn influences selective and arbitrary use of the law, which is one of my main criticisms of the current Russian government.
          By the way, don’t ever ever worry about comment length. I’m one of those people who really doesn’t mind if comments are longer than normal, as long as there is something in them!

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