Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia

Article excerpt

A RUSSIAN DIARY: A JOURNALIST'S FINAL ACCOUNT OF LIFE, CORRUPTION, AND DEATH IN PUTIN'S RUSSIA by Anna Politkovskaya Random House, 400 pages, $25.95

We may be witnessing the dying gasps of Russian democracy. Vladimir Putin has won two overwhelming electoral victories: absolute control over Russia's parliament and reelection to the presidency. One of his pretexts for centralizing power is the threat of Chechen terrorism. Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated before this book was published, tracks developments, particularly in Chechnya. She records interviews with everyone from its thuggish, Russian-backed president to the families of the children killed in the Beslan school siege.

When she turns to domestic politics, her flair is for showing the effect autocracy and corruption have on everyday Russian life. …

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