Putinburg by Polina Hasin

Putinburg

Crime. Corruption. Murder. Betrayal. The 2022 invasion of Ukraine might have caught most of the world by surprise – but not those familiar with President Vladimir Putin’s gangster state and its inner workings. From stealing national resources to implementing a mafia-style hierarchy within the Kremlin, both Putin’s rise and Russia’s downfall can be traced back to a single point of origin: the city of Saint Petersburg.

In Putinburg, acclaimed St. Petersburg journalist Dmitriy Zapolsky gives a hair-raising account of the infamous Russian leader’s rise to power and the impossible, gaudy cast of characters responsible for turning contemporary Russia into a new imperial monster.

With his dynamic and realistic style, Zapolsky paints a riveting portrait of St. Petersburg in the late 90s and early 2000s. Through his intimate knowledge and access to the people closest to the soon-to-be-president, Zapolsky reveals how, over the span of that single decade, Putin and his allies—dubbed “The St. Petersburg guys”—took over Russia’s national resources, implemented a mafiaesque government, suppressed their opposition, and began exerting their influence both domestically and abroad. The result is a chilling insider’s exposé of Russia’s transformation during the Putin regime’s formative years of corruption and violence.

More than a gonzo documentary, more than a thrilling political story—Putinburg is an authoritative, damning document made all the more relevant in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is a story of true journalism, insight, and a cautionary tale from one of the last brave Russian journalists.

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