Kremlinology: The art of observing, deducing and guessing what is really happening within a secretive organization. (So called from the Kremlin, headquarters of the top government leaders in the Communist era Soviet Union.) This discipline has often distracted from the analysis of the data really defining the strengths and interestests of Russia. The PR offensive by Vladimir Putin is originates exactly from the popularity of this exercise: by conquering foreign and domestic public by nurturing his own image as tsar of the federation, he managed to sweep the effects of the country’s kleptocratic and rotten political system under the rug. But what Kremlinology giveth Kremlinology taketh away: Mikhail Zygar’s inquiry is so thourough and deep into the lion’s den that it manages to dive beyond the smokes and mirrors of “political technologists” and media companies on Moscow’s payroll. Numerous interviews with security men, oligarchs and Soviet bureaucrats-turned-opportunists outline the nature of Putin’s grip over the country, despite never charging head-on the strongman himself. It’s a sobering view: it could be compared to how astronomists determine the presence of black matter through its gravitational effects and not through direct observation, but it would give too much credit to the sorry state of the Russian constellation of power.
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