Look Inside '90S Russia

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The Struggle for a New Russia

By David Remnick 396 pages, Random House, $25.95 `POWER in Russia now is at once adrift, unpredictable and corrupt," concludes David Remnick. But that sad nation may yet witness a resurrection, just as the massive Cathedral of Christ the Savior, dynamited in 1931, is rising again on the Frunze Embankment of the Moscow River. The future holds promise because Russia's "citizens show every indication of refusing a return to the maximalism of communism or the xenophobia of hard-line nationalism." Although Russians traditionally yearned for all-embracing ideologies, as post-Soviet voters they seem prepared to reject most forms of extremism, anti-Semitism, national bolshevism, crude racism and internal imperialism. What remains unclear is the name of the political leader who will gather, channel and empower these tolerant and potentially democratic forces. The last 50 years of the Soviet Union were dedicated to quieting, exiling or eradicating the independent-minded people who might today provide moral authority and democratic leadership. Much of the nation's "moral and intellectual capacity" fell victim to Soviet authoritarianism, and now to a market economy that has precious little time for fine literature or lofty ideals. David Remnick won the Pulitzer Prize for "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire" (1993). He writes lengthy, fresh and quotable essays on contemporary Russia for The New Yorker. …


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