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Mafia state: how one reporter became an…
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Mafia state: how one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia (2011)

by Luke Harding

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A good read, not necessarily the most in depth or possibly balanced; as other reviews have pointed out: there is a very good case for foreign powers having sponsored the 'Orange revolution' and fellow Brits who follow such things will have winced slightly at the recent admission from a former Downing street official that "..The spy rock was embarrassing. They had us bang to rights" as a good example.

Of course none of the above could ever remotely justify the deaths of journalists and human rights activists that happen with painful regularity in Russia today, and the author does a a great job of drawing us into this chilling world without descending into anything remotely resembling melodrama.

It's easy sometimes to let the names of people killed in 'suspicious circumstances' in some far flung part of the globe, wash over you; just another victim or a statistic on a news report in a land so (hopefully) alien, that we can't really relate and you need one persons close viewpoint to give you a glimpse of what it must really be like to be there. ( )
  Hubster | May 12, 2013 |
A good read, not necessarily the most in depth or possibly balanced; as other reviews have pointed out: there is a very good case for foreign powers having sponsored the 'Orange revolution' and fellow Brits who follow such things will have winced slightly at the recent admission from a former Downing street official that "..The spy rock was embarrassing. They had us bang to rights" as a good example.

Of course none of the above could ever remotely justify the deaths of journalists and human rights activists that happen with painful regularity in Russia today, and the author does a a great job of drawing us into this chilling world without descending into anything remotely resembling melodrama.

It's easy sometimes to let the names of people killed in 'suspicious circumstances' in some far flung part of the globe, wash over you; just another victim or a statistic on a news report in a land so (hopefully) alien, that we can't really relate and you need one persons close viewpoint to give you a glimpse of what it must really be like to be there. ( )
  Hubster | May 12, 2013 |
Disappointing effort from a Guardian journalist. The book covers the topics you would expect - Chechnya, Litvinenko, Georgia, oligarchs etc. - but the information is nothing that is not already available in the public domain or widely known. The original research on the other hand is mostly fluff and padding of little insight or relevance.

Take this for example, upon turning up at Manchester United's hotel the morning after their Champions League final win, too late to see the team bus depart, he interviews those cleaning up:

'"It was a great party", one of the waiters, Sergei, tells me. "There was a live three piece band. We had a disco, with a mixture of 80s and modern songs. I was pouring the wine. The players danced and sang. We also laid on a buffet." Others recount how Rio Ferdinand, the United defender, appeared on the balcony; he started clapping and cheering the fans gathered outside, chanting:"Manchester, la, la, la".' [p.128]

I wasn't expecting this level of investigative journalism. ( )
  clevinger | Feb 18, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 085265247X, Hardcover)

In 2007 Luke Harding arrived in Moscow to take up a new job as a correspondent for the British newspaper the Guardian. Within months, mysterious agents from Russia's Federal Security Service - the successor to the KGB - had broken into his flat. He found himself tailed by men in cheap leather jackets, bugged, and even summoned to Lefortovo, the KGB's notorious prison. The break-in was the beginning of an extraordinary psychological war against the journalist and his family. Vladimir Putin's spies used tactics developed by the KGB and perfected in the 1970s by the Stasi, East Germany's sinister secret police. This clandestine campaign burst into the open in 2011 when the Kremlin expelled Harding from Moscow - the first western reporter to be deported from Russia since the days of the Cold War. Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia is a brilliant and haunting account of the insidious methods used by a resurgent Kremlin against its so-called "enemies" - human rights workers, western diplomats, journalists and opposition activists. It includes unpublished material from confidential US diplomatic cables, released last year by WikiLeaks, which describe Russia as a "virtual mafia state". Harding gives a unique, personal and compelling portrait of today's Russia, two decades after the end of communism, that reads like a spy thriller.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:44 -0400)

In February 2011, in scenes that evoked the chilliest moments of the Cold War, journalist Luke Harding was expelled from Moscow. His offence? To have reported on aspects of contemporary Russia that the authorities would have preferred to remain hidden from view. Moscow Ghosts is a clear-eyed and unflinching chronicle of Luke's often terrifying experiences in Russia in the months leading up to his expulsion. It describes his encounters with Russia's sinister FSB security service, the leather-jacketed agents who tailed him, and his summons to Lefortovo, formerly the KGB's notorious Moscow prison. It also details the secret psychological war the FSB waged against the journalist and his family.This is a frank and deeply disturbing portrait of contemporary Russia, written by someone who knows what it is like to be on the wrong side of those in power.… (more)

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