Vladimir Putin: His Supporters, His Enemies, His Rise to Power

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Sept. 14 2013 7:15 AM

The Longform Guide to Vladimir Putin

His supporters, his enemies, his rise to power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fishes in the headwaters of the Yenisei River of the Russian Tuva republic on the border of Mongolia in 2007.

Photo by Dmitry Astakhov/AFP/Getty Images

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None Dare Call It a Conspiracy
Scott Anderson • GQ • September 2009

Banned in Russia and cut by Conde Nast from the GQ website, Anderson’s piece details the intrigue behind the Moscow apartment bombings, blamed on Chechens, that allowed Putin to rapidly ascend to power.


“It is a riddle that lies at the very heart of the modern Russian state, one that remains unsolved to this day. In the awful events of September 1999, did Russia find its avenging angel in Vladimir Putin, the proverbial man of action who crushed his nation's attackers and led his people out of a time of crisis? Or was that crisis actually manufactured to benefit Putin, a scheme by Russia's secret police to bring one of their own to power? What makes this question important is that absent the bombings of September 1999 and all that transpired as a result, it is hard to conceive of any scenario whereby Putin would hold the position he enjoys today: a player on the global stage, a ruler of one of the most powerful nations on earth.”

The Accidental Autocrat
Paul Starobin • Atlantic • March 2005

A character study.

“Understanding Putin requires exploring three core aspects of his political and personal character: the fighter, the Chekist, and the believer. These roughly correspond to Putin's instincts, his professional training and methods, and his religious and patriotic convictions. The parts may seem not to fit, but that is often the case with Russia's rulers. (After all, Stalin, the ‘Red Czar,’ was trained in a Georgian seminary.) Putin is best understood not as a divided character but as an integrated if complicated one: the Russian in the Kremlin.”

Power: The Vladimir Putin Story
C.J. Chivers • Outdoor Life • May 2011

Putting Putin in context.

“Vladimir Putin is a national savior and hero, a man, sober and exceptionally smart, who stepped from shadows to resuscitate a proud country that others had run aground, looted, and left for dead. After eight years as president, a period marked by a surging economy and an unexpectedly victorious war in Chechnya, he surrendered one of the most seductively powerful offices on earth voluntarily and according to Russia's constitution, with Moscow's influence in the world restored and with a large fraction of Russia's citizens better off than they ever had been. He has been a bridge from postcommunist chaos and hardship to national stability, freer markets, individual economic choice, and the possibility of democracy.