ISBN: 9780374238711

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Putin’s People

How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West

by Catherine Belton

A journalist’s unsettling account of graft, corruption, and intrigue in post-Soviet Russia, and the one man at the heart of it all: Vladimir Putin

The hacking of American elections. The sponsorship of extremist politics in Europe. War in Ukraine. In recent years, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has waged a concerted campaign to expand its influence and undermine Western institutions. But how and why did all this come about, and who has orchestrated it?

In Putin’s People, the investigative journalist Catherine Belton recounts the untold story of how Vladimir Putin and the small group of KGB men surrounding him rose to power and looted their country. Delving deep into the workings of Putin’s Kremlin, Belton reveals how Putin replaced the freewheeling tycoons of the Yeltsin era with a new generation of loyal oligarchs, who in turn subverted Russia’s economy and legal system and supported efforts to compromise Western democracies. The result is a chilling and revelatory exposé of the KGB’s revanche—a story that begins in the murk of the Soviet collapse, when networks of operatives were able to siphon billions of dollars out of state enterprises and move their spoils to the West. Putin and his allies subsequently completed their agenda, reasserting Russian power while taking control of the economy for themselves, suppressing independent voices, and launching covert influence operations abroad.

Putin’s People ranges from Moscow and London to Switzerland and Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, and assembles a colorful cast of characters to match. Here is the definitive account of how hopes for the new Russia went astray, with stark consequences for its inhabitants and, increasingly, the world.