Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Russian Enigma

Nina Khrushcheva

Was Russia's return to authoritarian rule under Vladimir Putin inevitable? How have media, culture, and technology become new tools of Kremlin propaganda? Is Russia's economy and society capable of withstanding the demands of Putin's foreign policy? Can Russia ever become a "Western" country?

Winston Churchill famously said that Russia "is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." More than 75 years later, Russia continues to perplex the world. Russian Orthodoxy is the official foundation of a state run by an ex-KGB agent. The public regards corruption and official mendacity as an immutable feature of daily life. Imperial ambition sits atop a creaky, resource-based economy and a shrinking population.

To understand Russian thinking and behavior requires a perceptive guide, and no one is better equipped by background and training than Nina Khrushcheva. The granddaughter of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who repudiated Stalin and ushered in the country's first political thaw, Khrushcheva is a cultural historian and political commentator of rare depth and sensitivity – and one who is frequently denounced in Russia for the independence of her views.

Every month in The Russian Enigma, written exclusively for Project Syndicate, Nina Khrushcheva, the author of Imagining Nabokov and a penetrating family chronicle, The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind, probes Russia's contemporary challenges and explains how its history shapes – and often distorts – Kremlin policy. By comprehending Russian decision-making in terms of its distinctive roots, Khrushcheva identifies the broader implications that others miss.

Don't your readers need to unravel The Russian Enigma?

Read More Read Less

Commentaries available in 12 Languages

Recent commentaries


Profiles in Cowardice

As President Donald Trump and a majority of Congressional Republicans attempt to pass a tax bill that benefits America’s wealthiest households at the expense of everyone else, political courage on the… read more


The Last Silovik?

Igor Sechin, the head of the state-owned oil giant Rosneft and Russian President Vladimir Putin's long-time "number two," is now embroiled in a very public legal squabble. Putin seems to be using the … read more

6 pages