Putin’s Russia

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Putin’s Russia by Anna Politkovskaya 

translated from the Russian by Arch Tait

published by Harvill Secker

A devastating appraisal of the policies of Russia’s head of state by that country’s leading radical journalist
Internationally admired for her fearless reporting, especially on the Chechen wars, award-winning journalist Anna Politkovskaya turns her steely gaze on the man who, until very recently, was a darling of the western media.  A former KGB spy, Vladimir Putin was named President of Russia in 2000.  From the moment he entered the public arena, he marketed himself as an open, enlightened leader eager to engage with the West.  Unlike many European and American journalists and politicians, Politkovskaya never trusted Putin’s image.  From her privileged vantage point at the heart of Russian current affairs, she set out to dismantle both Putin the man and Putin the brand name, arguing that he is a power-hungry product of his own history and so unable to prevent himself from stifling civil liberties at every turn. 

This is not, Politkovskaya argued, the kind of leader most contemporary Russians want.  To prove her theory, she told the story of Putin’s iron grip on Russian life from the point of view of individual citizens whose situations have been shaped by his unique brand of tyranny.  Mafia dealings, scandals in the provinces, military and judiciary corruption, the decline of the intelligentsia, the tragic mishandling of the Moscow theatre siege – all are subject to Politkovskaya’s pitiless but invariably humane scrutiny.  This intimate portrait of nascent civil institutions being subverted under the unquestioning eyes of the West could not be more timely.


Anna Politkovskaya was a journalist, author and human rights activist. She received her Diploma in Journalism from Moscow State University in 1980 and worked on a number of newspapers as a correspondent and editor, including as special correspondent for the Russian twice-weekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta.  She had a particular interest in Chechnya, and wrote extensively on the subject, including the book A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya (Harvill, 2001).  She acted as a mediator in the Nord-Ost theatre siege in Moscow in 2002, and was the recipient of numerous international honours, including:  

  • First Prize of the Lettre Ulysses Award (2003)
  • Hermann-Kesten Medal, PEN Germany (2003)
  • Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation (2002)
  • Most Courageous Defence of Free Expression from Index on Censorship (2002)
  • Special Award of Amnesty International (2001)

On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building. English PEN were hugely saddened by the news of her assassination. We continue to campaign for the right to freedom of expression.

Arch Tait studied Russian, German and Swedish at at Cambridge University and wrote his PhD thesis for Cambridge on the plays of Lenin’s Commissar of Enlightenment, Anatoly Lunacharsky.  He has taught Russian language and literature at the Universities of East Anglia, Norwich and Birmingham for many years, and is the UK editor of the translation series Glas New Russian Writing (see www.russianwriting.com).  He has translated novels by Peter Aleshkovsky, Vladimir Makanin, Ludmila Ulitskaya and Andrey Volos, and short stories by many other Russian authors, including Victor Pelevin and Anatoly Kurchatkin.

Writers in Translation supported a series of events to mark the book’s publication:

Anna Politkovskaya was in conversation with Jonathan Steele, Misha Glenny and also spoke at the Writers in Translation launch party.


Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersintranslation/supportedtitles/putinsrussia


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