Inside Putin's Russia: Can There Be Reform Without Democracy?

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Inside Putin's Russia: Can There Be Reform Without Democracy?

By Andrew Jack
Oxford University Press, 2004
384 pp. $30.00
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Inside Putin's Russia is as much about getting inside Putin himself, at least insofar as intelligent, informed speculation can penetrate a naturally closed personality. Jack, The Financial Times' Moscow bureau chief, focuses on five critical areas that Putin has shaped (and they him): the war in Chechnya, media relations, trimming the oligarchs, institutional reform, and foreign policy. These are twice-told tales, but Jack reconstitutes them very well, adding fresh detail and a reporter's keen eye. Jack sees Putin as a "liberal chekist like his Soviet mentor, [Yuri] Andropov," who has presided over a decreasingly troubled but increasingly troubling Russia: less troubled because of the stability he has brought, more troubling because of his methods. He also sees Putin as a "'fair-weather leader,' yet to prove himself in more difficult circumstances." Given recent events, that may be about to change.