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Vladimir Putin has been Russia's dominant political figure for more than a decade, but he is a man of many identities. He likes to play roles. The images that his public relations team has orchestrated range from big game hunter to scuba diver to biker, even night club crooner. It is reminiscent of the British cartoon character Mr. Benn. Observers have...
Vladimir Putin has been Russia's dominant political figure for more than a decade, but he is a man of many identities. He likes to play roles. The images that his public relations team has orchestrated range from big game hunter to scuba diver to biker, even night club crooner. It is reminiscent of the British cartoon character Mr. Benn. Observers have variously said, he has no face, no substance, no soul; he is "the man from nowhere" —a nobody, yet a man who can appear to be anybody. Of course, Putin is not a "nobody"; he only wants the world to see him that way, and he has gone to extraordinary lengths throughout his life to conceal who he really is.In this book, Russian experts Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy answer the question, "Who is Mr. Putin?" Drawing on many sources, including their own personal encounters with him, they argue that there are, in fact, several "real Putins." His outlook has been shaped by many influences —a combination of archetypical Russian mentality, a very close reading of Russian history and literature, his own early life, his KGB training, his time in East Germany, his experiences in St. Petersburg in the 1990s, his early days behind the scenes in Moscow, and his time at the helm of the Russian state. Understanding his multidimensional nature is and should be important for U.S. and other policymakers trying to decide how to approach and interact with him.While uncovering the many real identities of Mr. Putin, the authors concentrate on five essential ones: Putin the Statist, Putin the Survivalist, Putin the Outsider, Putin the Free Marketeer, and Putin the Case Officer. For each of these identities, they explain what it is, why it is important for understanding Putin, and trace its roots and evolution. Finally, they examine the nature of the personalized system that Putin has built up and why it can be understood as a logical result of his personality. He has an idealized view of himself as CEO of "Russia, Inc." In reality, his leadership style is more like that of the don of a mafia family. The system is personalized, private, informal; enforcement is not by positive incentives but by threats. Putin the CEO has not been the executive of a transparent public corporation; he's been one who operated in the closed board room of a privately held corporation, feeling no need to disclose the shareholders or motivate any decisions. And now his corporation is in crisis. The public is demanding that Putin the CEO be held accountable for its failings.
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