Recent Russian history?
June 15, 2017 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Seeking books and articles on how Russia changed from a parliamentary democracy (if a weak one) to a presidential dictatorship.

With the recent protests and the Russia investigation in the US, I'm interested in books or online articles that go into the recent political situation in Russia and in particular how Putin gained such a stranglehold over politics, media, etc. there.

Most of it happened before I was born, I have little understanding of the subject, and I'd like to put things in context of the country's history - especially between the fall of the Soviet Union and when Putin was first elected, as well as why he was elected in the first place and how he gained such complete control over what was presumably supposed to be a democratic system.
posted by thedarksideofprocyon to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Someone in one of the potus45 threads commented that they attended this talk. I listened to it on YouTube and found it to be very informative. This episode of This American Life was also helpful for understanding how Putin came to power.
posted by compartment at 8:28 PM on June 15, 2017

Best answer: You might take a look at this long article by Perry Anderson. It's ten years old, but makes a number of important points about the rise of Putin and the first seven years of his rule.

A short quotation goes some of the way towards explaining Putin's basic appeal: "Prosperity, stability, sovereignty: the national consensus around Putin rests on his satisfaction of these primordial concerns. That there may be less in each than meets the eye matters little, politically speaking, so long as their measure is memories of the abyss under Yeltsin." To this must be added--as Anderson does--the importance of the Putin regime's reassertion of national sovereignty and regional influence after the widely perceived collapse of both in the 1990s.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 9:07 PM on June 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Armageddon Averted is a good book about this, though it doesn't go into great detail about Putin, focused moreso on what came before him.
posted by smoke at 9:24 PM on June 15, 2017

I'm currently reading - The Crimean nexus: Putin's war and the clash of civilizations . It's mainly about the Crimea and Ukraine from pre-history to now in order to tease out how modern Russia sees the region but Putin's rise is explored in some depth. Definitely a book I'd read twice, and I haven't finished it yet.
posted by unearthed at 12:29 AM on June 16, 2017

Seconding smoke's recommendation of Armageddon Averted; Kotkin is a brilliant historian (and I'm currently breathlessly awaiting the second volume of his bio of Stalin, which is as good as Caro's of LBJ). I still recommend all the books I listed here. Also, read Masha Gessen.
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on June 16, 2017

Whatever else you read, don't miss Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich.
posted by Corvid at 12:55 PM on June 16, 2017

Seconding Secondhand Time.
posted by ck49 at 3:26 PM on June 16, 2017

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