Vladimir Putin and his tsar quality

571f664d-b185-44e1-bff9-385d0c23aee8John Thornhill at the Financial Times:

The portrait of Putin that Dawisha and Browder paint is so damning that one wonders how any sane Russian voter could possibly support him. Yet even if Russian opinion polls are to be partly discounted, Putin evidently remains popular among many voters for restoring a sense of national pride.

Peter Pomerantsev helps explain this phenomenon in Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, his mesmerising account of the nine years he spent in Russia as a television producer. During that time, Pomerantsev recorded some remarkable human stories about life in modern Russia as well as observing first-hand the brilliant but cynical way that state television cast its spells over the population. The goal, as he put it, was to “synthesise Soviet control with Western entertainment”, turning Russia into a country of canned laughter.

Along the way, Pomerantsev recounts his meetings with retired gangsters put out of business by the predatory state, a successful businesswoman sucked into the criminal quicksand, glamorous models who fall prey to scary sects, and nationalist bikers called Night Wolves, who style themselves on the Hell’s Angels.

more here.