IMO this type of content is where Vox really excels. Really interesting and well-crafted primer on Putin's rise. It doesn't pretend to be in-depth, and it doesn't need to: it's a youtube video. Regardless, seems worth the while.

ThatFanficGuy: would be interested to hear your perspective on this, especially in light of corruption protests in the past few days.


In my opinion, this is the sort of infotainment that's most dangerous - you see a bunch of facts and think you learn something but it never actually explains the rise of Vladimir Putin. If you watch this, you will think that Russia is this hunky-dory democracy being hoodwinked by a sneaky spy and that it's all the work of this pesky Putin character. It's deeply offensive to the fundamental intelligence and sensibilities of the Russian people and dismissive of the complex web of personality and tradition that makes up the modern Russian state. If you interview journalists and scholars, rather than summarizing Wikipedia, you get something more like this:

The perspective put forth by Vox is that Russia was a mess after the fall the Soviet Union and then suddenly a minor apparatchik from the KGB becomes deputy mayor of St. Petersberg and does a whole bunch of stuff (that a deputy mayor can't do), rallies support in ways a deputy mayor can't, is suddenly thrust to premiership after Yeltsin resigns for some reason, and then proceeds to send troops everywhere. It even uses footage from RT to talk about Pussy Riot because you've heard of it, Youtuber, not because Pussy Riot are somehow important.

The perspective put forth by serious scholars of Russia (my personal favorite) is that Vladimir Putin is an intelligent, self-interested man who wanted to be KGB from the time he was little, remained KGB during the coup, was assigned by the (then underground) KGB to mind Yeltsin, coordinated KGB cointelpro against Yeltsin for the KGB, was selected by the KGB as the KGB's mouthpiece once Yeltsin was no longer useful and now runs Russia for the KGB.

Obviously this sort of thing makes it look like we didn't quite win the Cold War and that all that stuff we didn't do for Russia when we had the chance had consequences but that requires a lot more attention span than you can really throw at a 9 minute Youtube video.

posted by galen: 392 days ago