The Northern Threat
It's probably worthwhile to keep keep and eye north of the border. Peter Baker and Susan Glasser have written a new book, Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin's Russia and the End of the Revolution, that details Putin and his path to power. James M. Goldgeler of George Washington University reviews it:
In their brilliant study of Vladimir Putin’s rule over contemporary Russia, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser come back again and again to the current Russian president’s eerily Stalinist rhetoric about the need to avoid looking weak so as not to be beaten and his resulting Bolshevik-like obsession with control. Putin’s aim has been to pursue economic growth and recreate a strong state to rebuild Russia’s place in the world.And those vacationing in Hovsgol for that matter, too.
...At the heart of this tale is “Project Putin,” the president’s crusade to remove all challenges to his authority. It includes the elimination of independent TV networks and elections for regional governors, as well as the jailing of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the destruction of his private company, Yukos. To get a sense of how obsessive Putin can be, consider his behavior in the run-up to his re-election in 2004. After he ensured that he faced no serious opposition, Putin’s only fear was that turnout might be below the 50-percent threshold required to validate the results – which would trigger a new election, making Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who had served as Boris Yeltsin’s finance minister, acting president in the interim. So Putin fired Kasyanov and gave the job to Mikhail Fradkov, who was unknown and unthreatening.
...Methodical in its approach, as riveting as a novel in its depiction of modern Russian life, “Kremlin Rising” is a powerful indictment of Putin’s years as president. In his quest for control and a stronger Russian state, Putin is undermining Russia’s future just as Soviet leaders did in their own repressive days. Given how often President Bush has spoken of Putin’s commitment to democracy, one can only hope that this book is on the must-read list for those vacationing in Crawford, Texas, this summer.