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Bring on the hypnotist

Neal Ascherson, 12 March 1992

After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism 
edited by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 327 pp., £32.95, November 1991, 0 86091 540 9
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... ukase will stifle trade unions and representative institutions. A year or two from now Boris Yeltsin may be able to stand atop the converted mausoleum and view the parade of new times: Soviet lumbermen under the command of Georgia Pacific and the Japanese: oil drillers bearing the standard of Conoco; long battalions of unemployed under the ...

The firm went bankrupt

John Barber, 5 October 1995

Lenin: His Life and Legacy 
by Dmitri Volkogonov, translated and edited by Harold Shukman.
HarperCollins, 529 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 00 255270 1
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Lenin: A Political Life. Vol. III: The Iron Ring 
by Robert Service.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £45, January 1995, 0 333 29392 4
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... when he was head of the Institute of Military History, and later as a special military adviser to Boris Yeltsin. But revealing though these materials may have been, Lenin’s flaws were hardly invisible before access became possible. Volkogonov is quite candid about the main reason for his and others’ loss of faith in Lenin. ‘We began to doubt his ...

How Tudjman won the war

Misha Glenny, 4 January 1996

The Death of Yugoslavia 
by Allan Little and Laura Silber.
Penguin, 400 pp., £6.99, September 1995, 0 14 024904 4
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... he immediately gave his support to the putschists, guaranteeing inter alia the undying hatred of Boris Yeltsin. Germany’s persistent defence of Croatia internationally ensured that sanctions were never imposed on the country even when it was obviously complicit in the violation of Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Dayton Agreement was prefaced by active ...

Bill and Dick’s Excellent Adventure

Christopher Hitchens, 20 February 1997

Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties 
by Dick Morris.
Random House, 382 pp., $25.95, January 1997, 9780679457473
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... to read him when he takes credit for leaving the Bosnians to their fate, or for covering up for Boris Yeltsin, or for liberating Haiti, or for building a bridge (to coin a phrase) to Richard Nixon. It is ghastlier still to reflect on the germ of truth that lurks in each conceited anecdote. Of the White House staffers who did not trust him and with whom ...


Christopher Hitchens: In Washington, 20 August 1992

... his anti-war convictions and joined up. Ross Perot took a huge step in public esteem when Boris Yeltsin – one populist helping out another – came to Washington and said that perhaps there were still missing Americans in Communist hands. This in turn gave extra zip and sap to the poor, exploited, deluded families of the ‘Missing in ...


Christopher Hitchens: In Washington, 7 February 1991

... Gulf crisis’. Signed by the presidents of the republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and by Boris Yeltsin on behalf of the Russian Federation, it ended very simply by saying: ‘We hope we will be understood.’ Here is another ‘linkage’ which George Bush can scarcely affect not to comprehend, though it seems he took no notice at the ...


Vadim Nikitin, 21 February 2019

Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back 
by Oliver Bullough.
Profile, 304 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 1 78125 792 0
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Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future 
by Louise Shelley.
Princeton, 376 pp., £24, October 2018, 978 0 691 17018 3
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... action. Behind that scheme were Aeroflot’s CFO, Nikolay Glushkov, and his patron, the oligarch Boris Berezovsky – éminence grise to Boris Yeltsin. The capital flight facilitated by Andava via Swiss and other offshore entities was illegal in Russia, which had instituted strict capital controls. However, shortly ...

Lukashenko’s Way

Jonathan Steele, 27 September 2012

Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship 
by Andrew Wilson.
Yale, 304 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 300 13435 3
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The Last Dictatorship in Europe: Belarus under Lukashenko 
by Brian Bennett.
Hurst, 358 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 1 84904 167 6
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... Kebich, the prime minister, opposed it. Without informing Gorbachev, Shushkevich invited Boris Yeltsin, then the Russian president, and Leonid Kravchuk, the Ukrainian president, to a meeting at a dacha in the Belarusian forest on 7 December. There they declared an end to the USSR. With the main Slavic republics gone, Gorbachev had no choice but ...

The Operatic Theory of History

Paul Seabright: A new Russia, 26 November 1998

Rebirth of a Nation: An Anatomy of Russia 
by John Lloyd.
Joseph, 478 pp., £20, January 1998, 0 7181 3862 7
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Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia 
by David Remnick.
Picador, 412 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 330 36916 4
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... done otherwise than they did). At times the narrative comes uncomfortably close to opera: Tsar Boris, who has come to power heroically atop a tank in defence of the common people, finds himself surrounded by courtly intrigue and tragically succumbs to vanity, vodka and a sense of his own invincibility; from time to time, a chorus of workers and peasants ...

Praise Hayek and pass the ammunition

John Lloyd, 24 February 1994

The Fate of Marxism in Russia 
by Alexander Yakovlev, translated by Catherine Fitzpatrick.
Yale, 250 pp., £19.95, October 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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Politics and Society in Russia 
by Richard Sakwa.
Routledge, 518 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 415 09540 9
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... proclaiming the closeness of the US, and by extension the other major Western powers, to the Yeltsin Presidency and Government. But this policy has come under increasing attack, first from outside the Administration and now from within, in the aftermath of the Clinton-Yeltsin summit which saw Clinton trumpeting his ...

Is the Soviet Union over?

John Lloyd, 27 September 1990

Moving the Mountain: Inside the Perestroika Revolution 
by Abel Aganbegyan, translated by Helen Szamuely.
Bantam, 248 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 593 01818 4
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Gorbachev’s Struggle for Economic Reform: The Soviet Reform Process 
by Anders Aslund.
Pinter, 219 pp., £35, May 1989, 0 86187 008 5
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... have been Gorbachev’s closest supporters are turning away from him. Some are going over to Boris Yeltsin, attracted by what they see as his consistent support for democracy and market reform. (The populist bluster that characterised his time ‘in the wilderness’ is held to be a thing of the past.) Some have moved to a frankly neo-liberal ...

Russians and the Russian Past

John Barber, 9 November 1989

The Long Road to Freedom: Russia and Glasnost 
by Walter Laqueur.
Unwin Hyman, 325 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 04 440343 7
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Glasnost in Action: Cultural Renaissance in Russia 
by Alec Nove.
Unwin Hyman, 251 pp., £15, September 1989, 9780044453406
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Soviet History in the Gorbachev Revolution 
by R.W. Davies.
Macmillan, 232 pp., £29.50, July 1989, 0 333 49741 4
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Beyond Perestroika: The Future of Gorbachev’s USSR 
by Ernest Mandel, translated by Gus Fagan.
Verso, 214 pp., £34.95, May 1989, 9780860912231
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Perestroika in Perspective: The Design and Dilemmas of Soviet Reform 
by Padma Desai.
Tauris, 138 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 1 85043 141 8
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... humiliatingly rejected and their radical critics endorsed by voters in dozens of constituences. Boris Yeltsin, expelled from the Politburo sixteen months earlier, won the all-Moscow seat with 89 per cent of the vote; while Yuri Soloviev, a Politburo member, lost in Leningrad. Popular Fronts and ‘informal associations’, embryo parties in all but ...

Dun-Coloured Dust

Thomas de Waal: Russia’s war, 15 July 1999

Russia's War 
by Richard Overy.
Penguin, 416 pp., £8.99, July 1999, 0 14 027169 4
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by Antony Beevor.
Viking, 512 pp., £12.99, May 1999, 0 14 024985 0
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... a new tone in 1995, when it organised the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the German surrender. Boris Yeltsin paid tribute at last to the millions of Soviet prisoners of war who returned from captivity in Germany only to be arrested and sent to the Gulag. But then, like any Communist Party General Secretary, he repaired to Lenin’s mausoleum in Red ...

How have they made it so soon?

John Lloyd, 21 November 1991

The Soviet Mafia 
by Arkady Vaksberg, translated by John Roberts and Elizabeth Roberts.
Weidenfeld, 275 pp., £19.99, September 1991, 0 297 81202 5
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... to have sufficient support and force of character to establish the rudiments of a new order was Boris Yeltsin, acting in concert with Gorbachev. They may yet decide to implement the measures of reform they have promised – Mr Yeltsin’s speech of 28 October was the most serious of these promises but, as this is ...

Was it better in the old days?

Jonathan Steele: The Rise of Nazarbayev, 28 January 2010

Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Continuum, 269 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 1 4411 5381 4
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... one of the coup leaders, to urge him to withdraw his tanks from the Russian parliament, where Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev’s rival, was holding out. Yazov did so. Once the coup collapsed, it soon became obvious that Yeltsin was determined to weaken Soviet institutions to the point where they would exist only on ...

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