Tuesday, 26th May 2020

This Month's Magazine
The Man

The Man

By Masha Gesen - Paperback - ÂŁ11

Bearing in mind the recent elections in Russia this makes an interesting read.

When protesters denounce Vladimir Putin’s puppet political party, United Russia, as “the party of crooks and thieves”, who is it they’re thinking of and who, in the party of crooks and thieves, is the chief thief?

The Russian protesters think they know. As a service to the rest of us, Masha Gessen makes their belief (which she shares) quite clear. GessenÂ’s clear, brave book makes a strong case that Putin is not merely turning a blind eye to embezzlement and skimming. He is, an arch-practitioner.

ItÂ’s that image of the street-fighting, motherland-loving tough guy that Putin cultivates, and Gessen offers intriguing details of the scratching, biting, hair-tearing, undersized, brawling boy Putin, refusing to be bullied in the grubby back yards of Leningrad, nursing grievances.

He remains proud of his youthful violence – he often picked fights in the street as a young KGB officer – and it’s that yearning for noble vor-like toughness that unites his obsession with posing stripped to the waist in PR shots with his penchant for public displays of scatological menace – threatening to “wipe terrorists out in the toilet” or to have a French journalist castrated.


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