Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Back – sort of…

And a slightly new look for the blog to boot – largely because a) the back-end code with the old template was a bit dodgy in places and b) I needed to work out how Wordpress works a bit more thoroughly for some real-world work. If anyone notices any problems, let me know…

Actual content at some point soon, I hope. I’m still a bit drained from the last few weeks, and have a load more work to get shifted this week to boot. What I’ve been up to below the fold, for those who are interested…

It was doing an extensive re-edit of Alexander Litvinenko‘s book Blowing Up Russia – the one he was supposedly killed for writing – ready for the paperback edition. The original was, it must be said, rather poorly translated (so I had to re-write the thing in parts), plus had been written by someone with little writing experience – no concept of how to use paragraphs, and seemingly little idea of how chapters are meant to work. It also assumed far, far too much prior knowledge about Russian politics for a non-Russian readership, so I had to clear that up too, making sure it’s actually explained who the likes of Soskovets and Stepashin are, and precisely where Ryazan is in relation to Moscow, and so on.

Add to that the fact that the book is effectively an extended conspiracy theory, written in typical conspiracy theory style (an excess of information chucked together with little consideration for the reader’s ability to keep track of who’s who and what’s what), and it made for heavy work…

Still – fascinating stuff. Well worth a read, as well – there’s a very strong case in there to suggest that Russia’s even more screwy than we all thought. Nonetheless, the anti-Putin bias is such that there’s no way you can trust this as a reliable guide to post-Soviet Russian politics – I’d suggest seeking out Richard Sakwa’s (rather pro-Putin) Putin: Russia’s Choice to get the other side of the story. Sakwa is particularly dismissive of one of Litvinenko’s central contentions – that Putin is merely a tool of the former KGB.

3 Comments

  1. i'd quite like to read it, actually. but i never buy current affairs books, so probably i wont.

    i was very impressed by the footage of litvinenko speaking out to the press against his organization, with everyone around him wearing balaclavas

    he made a living out of providing information, so he probably cant be trusted (im referring to Prodi), but that footage makes you think of a bigger man.

  2. I'm reading it now.

  3. Yucca – Litvinenko's a fascinating character, no doubt about it. He may even be on to something with his theories. But one thing's for certain – he wasn't the principled hero he made himself out to be. He had his own motivations, and happily skips over the dodgy pasts of some of the people he identifies as being on his side.

    In short: it's Russia – they're all crooks. Some may well be worse crooks than others, but it's practically impossible to tell…

    Alex – you should have waited for the paperback… heh… It's good stuff, mind – just rather more inpenetrable than it needed to be.