If you’ve been following our blog, then you’re likely aware that we spent the month of February, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, dedicated to exploring “All Things Russia.”
While we had originally wrapped “things” up last week, the news of Boris Nemtsov’s murder and Putin’s prominence in the international media has inspired us to continue “exploring” Russia just a bit longer.
Naturally, questions have arisen as to the motives behind 55-year-old Nemtsov’s death. As a Russian democracy activist, he was an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin, and served as a co-chair of the Republican Party of Russia-People’s Freedom Party. (He rose to national prominence in the 1990s during his six-year governship of the Nizhny Novgorod region and was once seen as a possible successor to former President Boris Yeltsin after being named first deputy prime minister in 1997-98).
Interestingly, Nemtsov didn’t receive much favor from the general Russian public and never built a substantial following; a 2013 poll found that only 6 percent of Russians approved his actions, while 48 percent disapproved and 46 percent claimed to know nothing about him.
The below essay may provide some insight into why the Russians didn’t approve of Nemtsov – and why Nemtsov’s “Western-style liberalism” failed to attract the support of the Russian populace.Read more
*Given Russia’s prominence in the news and the murder of Boris Nemtsov, we have a few more “All Things Russia” posts for this week! See links below.
If it hadn’t been for the Cold War, Darra Goldstein’s A Taste of Russia (1983) would likely have received a favorable review in The New York Times.
In fact, the Times had scheduled to run a piece doing just that, until, Goldstein writes, “as luck would have it, the Soviets shot down the KAL jetliner on publication day, accelerating hostile sentiments”, thereby halting publication of the review.
Published during Ronald Regan’s presidency in 1983, when the U.S. and Soviet Union were “still locked in the Cold War”, Goldstein’s book provides a plethora of historic information and recipes on Russian cuisine, featuring everything from borsch to blini. Read more
As we wrap up our month of featuring “All Things Russia,”* we note with due attention, and perhaps a bit foreboding, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled: “Putin the Improviser” (Feb. 20, 2015).
Boldly declaring that “the Ukraine crisis is even scarier than you think”, WSJ reporter Andrew Weiss reports that Western leaders are struggling to “get inside the head of” Mr. Putin in an attempt to understand a man who seems set on “dragging much of the West into a new Cold War.” Read more
With President Obama turning toward the mirror in the White House and Russian President Vladimir Putin turning toward Ukraine, in an apparent attempt to reinstate Russia’s “sphere of influence”, we at ATG turn to the book, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (2003), an entertaining historical account of one of Putin’s earlier, yet equally unpredictable and erratic predecessors: Nikita Khrushchev.
Written by William Taubman, it won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2004 and has been referred to as “one of the best books ever written on the Soviet Union” (Ian Thomson, Irish Times). It is a book that has retained a prominent position on our bookshelf, not only for the light it sheds on the fascinatingly complex character of Nikita Khrushchev, but for its easily accessible insight into the Bolshevik ideology and depiction of a communist society. Read more