The Guardian’s former Moscow bureau chief provides a firsthand account of the kleptocratic spy state that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Prior to his posting in Moscow in 2007, British journalist Harding was stationed in Berlin; in a final, chilling chapter of this delineation of the pernicious post-Soviet security system, he compares what he experienced with the spying and terror routinely practiced by the former East Germany Stasi. Soon after the author arrived in Moscow, the flat where he lived with his wife and children was broken into, the window left open and objects subtlety moved. This sneaky psychological exercise would be repeated over the four years Harding managed to stick it out, especially after he and his newspaper had revealed embarrassing information about the corruption and repression practiced by the Putin regime. The author knew the identities of the “ghosts” who broke into his flat, bugged his phone and routinely followed him, because he was summoned to Lefortovo prison for interrogation by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB where Putin cut his teeth. Deemed an enemy of the state, Harding was also in a unique position to observe up close the machinations of Putin’s paranoid, anti-Western Russia, run by siloviki, or “power guys” intent on protecting their interests at all costs and repressing any opposition. The author was on the frontlines of coverage of the Georgian insurrection in 2008, the Chechen terrorist attacks in the Moscow metro of 2010 and the rise of anti-ethnic thuggery. He proves a keen, sensitive chronicler of the growing chasm between Russia’s haves and have-nots.
An astute testimony of a regime grown intractably dastardly.