One of the greatest modern- day disasters has been that of the former Soviet Union. The former super power now has probably one of the poorest living standards and has seen perhaps for the first time in a century, a real decline in population- contrary to world wide trends.Now it seems that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel- if one were to go by yet another book on the misfortunes of Russia. You will need to have a login id for the NYT to read this review of “Kremlin Rising”.
Like many other observers, the writers seem to feel that Putin is the man who will deliver- he seems to be in the image of the patriarch, bringing about “managed democracy”. That he happens to be in the image of the former czar, in line with the personality cults of Lenin and Stalin is a point often made about him. A man of strong and decisive actions- like the one during the Chechnya hostage crisis, he surely seems to have reined in some of the mafia operatives, though not the overall system, which is weaning towards a controlled form of capitalism. Though at least this article argues that Russia today resembles Iran, a democratic election returning a conservative dark horse to power.
A significant change has also been the decline of the voice of the left and nationalist groups during the last few years and their reduced popularity.
What is obviously missing in the review and probably also the book is the role of the IMF and the “free world” in leading the transition to near disaster. A better account is provided by a lesser known book by the historian Roy Medvedev, “Post- Soviet Russia” published a few years back. Unfortunately I did not get down to review this very impressive and the only Marxist analysis of post- Soviet Russia that I have read.