bookshelves: winter-20142015, journalism, nonfiction, politics, gangsters, games-people-play, filthy-lucre, published-2014, slavic, sleazy, slit-yer-wrists-gloomy, lifestyles-deathstyles, true-grime, under-500-ratings, tbr-busting-2015
Description: In the early 2000s, Peter Pomerantsev (Kiev-born, raised in England; the son of Russian political exiles) came to Moscow to work in the fast-growing television and film industry. The job gave him first hand access to every nook and corrupt cranny of the country. He was perfectly placed to witness the transformation of the New Russia on its journey from communist collapse to a new form of dictatorship.
In a series of character studies, the subjects of Pomerantsev's reality TV documentaries, we glimpse the ways in which the Russian people have responded to and acted upon the opportunities (as well as terrible injustices) of Putin's new world order. Including, Oliona, professionally trained 'gold digger', escaping a bleak upbringing in Siberia; Vitaly, gangster-turned-filmmaker who studied his favourite American mafia movies and then made his auto theft crimes the subject of a hit six part drama series; and, Mozhayev, an architectural and urban historian who fights in vain to save what remains of the buildings of the Moscow that existed before the Soviet experiment.
Russia's journey from communism to a new form of dictatorship.
Vitaly, a notorious gangster-turned-film director summons Peter to a private audience.
The nightmarish ordeal of a business woman falsley accused of drug trafficking.
Peter meets a 'guardian spirit' of Old Moscow, defender of its historic architecture.
Pondering the new dictatorship.
If you are strapped for time just listen to episode three to get a handle on Putin's way of taking over industries.
Written by Peter Pomerantsev
Read by Justin Salinger
Abridged by Robin Brooks
Produced by Kirsteen Cameron.
Kamufliazh - camouflage
Demonstrativnye manevry - manoeuvres intended to deceive
Skrytie - concealment
Imitatsia - the use of decoys and military dummies
Dezinformatsia - disinformation, a knowing attempt to deceive
"This isn't a country in transition but some sort of postmodern dictatorship that uses the language and institutions of democratic capitalism for authoritarian ends."
" 'We believe Russia is a great empire that other powers want to tear away parts from. We need to restore our power, occupy our lost lands, grab Crimea from the Ukrainians,'
This has always been the paradox of the new Russia nationalism: on the one hand wanting to conquer all regions around, on the other wanting an ethnically pure great power. And all that comes out of this confusion is an ever-growing anger."
"TV is the only force that can unify and rule and bind this country. 'The nuclear weapon of politics' as the President of Russia puts it, the cultural mechanism of a new type of authoritarianism far subtler than twentieth-century strains. And as a TV producer I would be directed right into the center of its workings."
"Dinara skipped up to me with a squeal. She bought me a drink. Her hair was longer. She hadn't been able to get a proper job or resume her studies. Her face looked puffy.
'How's your sister?'
'Great,' said Dinara. 'Great.'
'Is she still with the Wahhabis?'
'The nightmare's passed. I went back home and convinced her to join me here. Thank God, she loves Moscow, she doesn't want to do jihad any more. Now we work together, we're both pro-sti-tutes.'
Dinara was delighted. Thank God. A story with a happy ending.”
"Girls from the Soviet bloc are particularly fragile. Six of the seven countries with the highest suicide rates among young females are former Soviet republics; Russia is sixth in the list, Kazakhstan second. Emile Durkheim once argued that suicide viruses occur at civilizational breaks, when the parents have no traditions, no value systems to pass on to their children. Thus there is no deep-seated ideology to support them when they are under emotional stress. The flip side of triumphant cynicism, of the ideology of endless shape-shifting, is despair."
"One day we will reach into the cupboard, and reach for our clothes, and they will turn to dust in our hands because they have been eaten by maggots."