Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

Brookings Institution Press
3
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Vladimir Putin has his own idealized view of himself as CEO of “Russia, Inc.” But rather than leading a transparent public corporation, he runs a closed boardroom, not answerable to its stakeholders. Now that his corporation seems to be in crisis, with political protests marking Mr. Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012, will the CEO be held accountable for its failings? “For more than a dozen years—the equivalent of three American presidential terms— Vladimir Putin has presided over the largest nation on the planet, the second most powerful nuclear arsenal, and massive natural resources. Yet there is still debate about who he really is. Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy have gone a long way in answering that question, starting with the title, which makes a crucial point: even though ‘Mr. Putin’ was, in his upbringing and early career, a prototype of the Soviet man, he’s no longer ‘Comrade Putin.’ His aim is not the restoration of communism. He has made a deal with the capitalists who have thrived in Russia over the past two decades: they support him in the exercise of his political power, and he supports them in amassing their fortunes.”—from the foreword by Strobe Talbott
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About the author

Fiona Hill is director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, where she is the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy.

Clifford G. Gaddy is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development programs at the Brookings Institution.

Hill and Gaddy are the coauthors of The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold (Brookings).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Nov 27, 2012
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Pages
390
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ISBN
9780815723776
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / World / Russian & Former Soviet Union
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The stunning story of Russia's slide back into a dictatorship-and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen.

The ascension of Vladimir Putin-a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB-to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years-as America and the world's other leading powers have continued to appease him-Putin has grown not only into a dictator but an internationalthreat. With his vast resources and nuclear arsenal, Putin is at the center of a worldwide assault on political liberty and the modern world order.

For Garry Kasparov, none of this is news. He has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the farcical 2008 presidential election. Yet years of seeing his Cassandra-like prophecies about Putin's intentions fulfilled have left Kasparov with a darker truth: Putin's Russia, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world.

As Putin has grown ever more powerful, the threat he poses has grown from local to regional and finally to global. In this urgent book, Kasparov shows that the collapse of the Soviet Union was not an endpoint-only a change of seasons, as the Cold War melted into a new spring. But now, after years of complacency and poor judgment, winter is once again upon us.

Argued with the force of Kasparov's world-class intelligence, conviction, and hopes for his home country, Winter Is Coming reveals Putin for what he is: an existential danger hiding in plain sight.
Can Russia ever become a normal, free-market, democratic society? Why have so many reforms failed since the Soviet Union's collapse? In this highly-original work, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy argue that Russia's geography, history, and monumental mistakes perpetrated by Soviet planners have locked it into a dead-end path to economic ruin. Shattering a number of myths that have long persisted in the West and in Russia, The Siberian Curse explains why Russia's greatest assets––its gigantic size and Siberia's natural resources––are now the source of one its greatest weaknesses. For seventy years, driven by ideological zeal and the imperative to colonize and industrialize its vast frontiers, communist planners forced people to live in Siberia. They did this in true totalitarian fashion by using the GULAG prison system and slave labor to build huge factories and million-person cities to support them. Today, tens of millions of people and thousands of large-scale industrial enterprises languish in the cold and distant places communist planners put them––not where market forces or free choice would have placed them. Russian leaders still believe that an industrialized Siberia is the key to Russia's prosperity. As a result, the country is burdened by the ever-increasing costs of subsidizing economic activity in some of the most forbidding places on the planet. Russia pays a steep price for continuing this folly––it wastes the very resources it needs to recover from the ravages of communism. Hill and Gaddy contend that Russia's future prosperity requires that it finally throw off the shackles of its Soviet past, by shrinking Siberia's cities. Only by facilitating the relocation of population to western Russia, closer to Europe and its markets, can Russia achieve sustainable economic growth. Unfortunately for Russia, there is no historical precedent for shrinking cities on the scale that will be required. Downsizing Siberia will be a costly and wrenching process. But there is no alternative. Russia cannot afford to keep the cities communist planners left for it out in the cold.
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history The Dead Hand comes the riveting story of a spy who cracked open the Soviet military research establishment and a penetrating portrait of the CIA’s Moscow station, an outpost of daring espionage in the last years of the Cold War
 
   While driving out of the American embassy in Moscow on the evening of February 16, 1978, the chief of the CIA’s Moscow station heard a knock on his car window. A man on the curb handed him an envelope whose contents stunned U.S. intelligence: details of top-secret Soviet research and developments in military technology that were totally unknown to the United States. In the years that followed, the man, Adolf Tolkachev, an engineer in a Soviet military design bureau, used his high-level access to hand over tens of thousands of pages of technical secrets. His revelations allowed America to reshape its weapons systems to defeat Soviet radar on the ground and in the air, giving the United States near total superiority in the skies over Europe.
   One of the most valuable spies to work for the United States in the four decades of global confrontation with the Soviet Union, Tolkachev took enormous personal risks—but so did the Americans. The CIA had long struggled to recruit and run agents in Moscow, and Tolkachev was a singular breakthrough. Using spy cameras and secret codes as well as face-to-face meetings in parks and on street corners, Tolkachev and his handlers succeeded for years in eluding the feared KGB in its own backyard, until the day came when a shocking betrayal put them all at risk. 
   Drawing on previously secret documents obtained from the CIA and on interviews with participants, David Hoffman has created an unprecedented and poignant portrait of Tolkachev, a man motivated by the depredations of the Soviet state to master the craft of spying against his own country. Stirring, unpredictable, and at times unbearably tense, The Billion Dollar Spy is a brilliant feat of reporting that unfolds like an espionage thriller.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A symphonic oral history about the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia, from Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY • LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Wall Street Journal • NPR • Financial Times • Kirkus Reviews

When the Swedish Academy awarded Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel Prize, it cited her for inventing “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions—a history of the soul.” Alexievich’s distinctive documentary style, combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, records the stories of ordinary women and men who are rarely given the opportunity to speak, whose experiences are often lost in the official histories of the nation.

In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres—but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world.

A magnificent tapestry of the sorrows and triumphs of the human spirit woven by a master, Secondhand Time tells the stories that together make up the true history of a nation. “Through the voices of those who confided in her,” The Nation writes, “Alexievich tells us about human nature, about our dreams, our choices, about good and evil—in a word, about ourselves.”

Praise for Svetlana Alexievich and Secondhand Time

“The nonfiction volume that has done the most to deepen the emotional understanding of Russia during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union of late is Svetlana Alexievich’s oral history Secondhand Time.”—David Remnick, The New Yorker
Imagine a hot zone in which Ebola is being spliced—using the latest techniques of genetic engineering—with smallpox, the most infectious disease known to man. Now imagine that cocktail is meant for you.
        
For fifty years, while the world stood in terror of a nuclear war, Russian scientists hidden in heavily guarded secret cities refined and stockpiled a new kind of weapon of mass destruction—an invisible weapon that would strike in silence and could not be traced. It would leave hundreds of thousands dead in its wake and would continue to spread devastation long after its release. The scientists were bioweaponeers, working to perfect the tools of a biological Armageddon. They called it their Manhattan Project. It was the deadliest and darkest secret of the cold war.
        
What you are about to read has never before been made public. Ken Alibek began his career as a doctor wanting to save lives and ended up running the Soviet biological weapons program—a secret military empire masquerading as a pharmaceutical company. At its peak, the program employed sixty thousand people at over one hundred facilities. Seven reserve mobilization plants were on permanent standby, ready to produce hundreds of tons of plague, anthrax, smallpox, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, to name only a few of the toxic agents bred in Soviet labs. Almost every government ministry was implicated, including the Academy of Sciences and the KGB.
        
Biohazard is a terrifying, fast-paced account of tests and leaks, accidents and disasters in the labs, KGB threats and assassinations. The book is full of revelations—evidence of biowarfare programs in Cuba and India, actual deployments at Stalingrad and in Afghanistan, experiments with mood-altering agents, a contingency plan to attack major American cities, and the true story behind the mysterious anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk. But beyond these is a twisted world of lies and mirrors, and the riveting parable of the greatest perversion of science in history.
        
No one knows the actual capabilities of biological weapons better than Dr. Alibek. Many of the scientists who worked with him have been lured away from low-paying Russian labs to rogue regimes and terrorist groups around the world. In our lifetime, we will most likely see a terrorist attack using biological weapons on an American city. Biohazard tells us—in chilling detail—what to expect and what we can do. Not since Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon has there been such a book—a report from inside the belly of the beast.

Praise for Biohazard
 
“Harrowing . . . richly descriptive . . . [an] absorbing account.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Remarkable . . . terrifying revelations . . . [Ken Alibek’s] overall message is ignored at great national peril.”—Newsday
 
“Read and be amazed. . . . An important and fascinating look into a terrifying world of which we were blissfully unaware.”—Robin Cook, author of Contagion
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