Published by Hurst Publishers in the UK, and Oxford University Press in the US. A Financial Times Politics Book of the Year 2021 A Foreign Affairs Best Book of 2022 Shortlisted for the 2022 Pushkin House Book Prize. Translated in: Dutch (Xander); Finnish (Bazar) French (Tallandier); Hungarian (Alexandra Kiadó); German (Hoffmann und Campe); Polish (Zysk […]
In 2008 I read about a double murder in Russia. It made such a strong effect on me that I talked about it with friends and thought about it for some time. It described how two men, one from Dagestan, the other from Tajikistan, were abducted by a neo-Nazi group and taken to an unknown forest.
When the life and limb of Navalny were under threat, many could not but ask: what will happen with what Navalny has built, if anything happens to him? In spite of all the talks about his talent, personality, leadership or charisma, Navalny has turned into something bigger than himself.
When anything bad happens in Russia, you’ll usually find there are two types of Russia-watchers: the ‘believers’ and the ‘sceptics’. The believers will immediately see the hand of Vladimir Putin, his direct, personal involvement, his orders. The sceptics will not rule out his involvement, but like Yana Gorokhovskaya, they’ll argue that Russia is not ‘a highly centralised system that he controls manually’, that Putin is ‘certainly Russia’s most important decision-maker’, but ‘the political system is not his personal well-oiled machine’. There are many groups and individuals with political agency, operating without Putin’s knowledge, and sometimes against his own interests.
‘Democratically oriented’ Russians had basically three strategies left to them in these elections. To vote for one of the two liberal candidates: Ksenya Sobchak or Grigori Yavlinsky. To boycott the elections. To rally around the main opposition candidate, the communist Pavel Grudinin. The results are in and Max Katz, a political organizer and consultant , has nailed it: ‘Nothing has worked’: