Vladimir Putin

Kicking the Kremlin by Marc Bennetts & Putin and the Oligarch by Richard Sakwa

by
August 2014, no. 363

Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in March was a dramatic sign of Russia’s sense that it had recovered from its post-Soviet weakness. Viewed in the West as an outrage, in Russia the seizure was portrayed as a triumph, the culmination of a national resurgence under Vladimir Putin. It remains to be seen how long this mood of triumph will last. 

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On 18 July 2013the Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was sentenced to a five-year jail term on corruption charges. Navalny, in a speech to the court castigating the dispensation which has emerged in Russia since Vladimir Putin first became president in 2000, attacked a ‘system of power in which 83 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of half of one percent of the population’. Widely held to be the result of political persecution by the Kremlin, Navalny’s conviction was condemned inside and outside Russia.

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The Western stereotype of the Russian bear has been reborn over the past decade, and Vladimir Putin can take much of the credit. If Hollywood decides to make a movie of John Le Carré’s Smiley’s People, the Russian president, a German-speaking KGB officer, would make an excellent Carla, the master spy.

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