Putin's People

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

by Catherine Belton

Number of pages: 640

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BBB Library: Booklets

ISBN: 978-0374238711

About the Author

Catherine Belton is the former long-serving Moscow Correspondent for the Financial Times. She has previously reported on Russia for Moscow Times and Business Week. In 2008, she was shortlisted for Business Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. She lives in London.


Editorial Review

Delving deep into the workings of Putin’s Kremlin, Belton accesses key inside players to reveal 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 extended the Kremlin's reach into the United States and Europe. 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 into the West. Putin and his allies subsequently completed the agenda, reasserting Russian power while taking control of the economy for themselves, suppressing independent voices, and launching covert influence operations abroad.

Book Reviews

“Putin’s People tells the decades-long story of how the security services and government-friendly Oligarchs usurped any meaningful attempts at democracy and instead created a state where corruption and parasitic behavior became the norm and any hopes for a democratic Russia went flying out the window. It was a state built on the back of false realities to a great extent.”Michael Griswold

"In the years that it took the journalist Catherine Belton to research and write “Putin’s People,” her voluminous yet elegant account of money and power in the Kremlin, a number of her interview subjects tried various tactics to undermine her work. One of them, “a close Putin ally” apparently alarmed by her questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s activities as a K.G.B. agent in Dresden in the 1980s, emphatically insisted that any rumored links between the K.G.B. and terrorist organizations had never been proved: “And you should not try to do so!” he warned."

"The world is still in a state of shock as it seeks to analyse and understand Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the tragic war underway. Catherine Belton’s book,Putin’s People, is of great interest as it provides well-researched and troubling insights into the nature of Russian politics on the eve of the invasion."

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Wisdom to Share

A faction of the KGB had long been aware of the changing tides in Russia’s political sphereand had long been preparing for it.

In the days after the Communist Party’s dissolution, Russia’s new management was shocked to find that their accounts, estimated to hold billions of dollars, were almost empty.

The transfer of the Communist Party’s money created a new class of elite– new- rich tycoons who would also serve as shelters for many senior KGB operatives.

Putin has been portrayed as Russia’s “accidental president” for a long time. But very little about his rise to power has been left to chance.

As the nation’s sense of fear and emergency grew, Vladimir Putin took the stage.

In line with the pro-market stance he’d used to appeal to the Yeltsin Family, Putin announced a series of liberal reforms that earned him praise from economists worldwide and convinced investors of his credibility.

Putin’s men launched a series of raids on some of the country’s largest business empires, like Lukoil, Media Most, and AvtoVAZ, the nation’s largest car manufacturer.

Russia was turned away from integrating with the rest of the world, and onto a collision course with the West.

In line with all of this, Putin’s KGB men proposed a new ideology that was intended to restore the former greatness of the Russian stateand establish their imperial ties with former Soviet republics.

As a former senior KGB officer puts it: you can’t use a nuke every day, but you can use black cash as much as you want.