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A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia

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4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  598 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia’s most fearless journalists, was gunned down in a contract killing in Moscow in the fall of 2006. Just before her death, Politkovskaya completed this searing, intimate record of life in Russia from the parliamentary elections of December 2003 to the grim summer of 2005, when the nation was still reeling from the horrors of the Beslan schoo ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 23rd 2009 by Random House (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Geoff
Feb 07, 2014 Geoff marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My response to Putin's Olympics was to order three books by Anna Politkovskaya.
Mark
Feb 27, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: Dutch friend
I feel like I have a much better understanding of what is happening in modern day Russian politics having read this book. Putin is calling the shots and stifling both political opposition and a free press. Generally speaking, the Russian people are relatively apathetic for two reasons: fear of the current regime combined with the fact that many of them are economically better off than they were in earlier times.

The irony: Putin seems to be building a fairly right leaning, facist state while the
...more
Lindsey
May 20, 2008 Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While reading this book, you already know that Anna was gunned-down in her apartment building. An assassination most in the anti-Putin camp will point in his direction. This book was finished before, although maybe not completely, her death. Because of that prior knowledge, this book feels like you're reading her death warrant. The closer you creep to the end of the book, the more you want to go back in time and warn Anna to leave!

Stop!

Get out!

...But she knew the whole time. She wasn't caught
...more
Declan
Oct 22, 2013 Declan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, political
I expect little has changed since Anna Politkovskaya wrote about the extent of the corruption, and the bullying, that was, when she wrote for the newspaper Novaya gazeta, an everyday feature of Putin's Russia. Exposing the use, and more often the abuse, of power was the very reason for being a reporter as far as Politkovskaya was concerned. She was brave to an extent that is almost difficult to comprehend because she must have known that her life was at risk and yet - a terrible question this - ...more
Ren
Jan 04, 2008 Ren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. Very very sad. I don't really have the words to capture the emotions contained within this book. If you think the US sucks, check this out. I mean, I know it's useless to compare apples to oranges, but it certainly helps to put things in perspective.
Diane
Jan 18, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is indeed Anna Politkovskaya's diary; a depressing story of life in Russia during the Putin years. Politkovskaya was a journalist prior to her assassination (which occurred shortly after this book was published). She details the break down of democracy in Russia, with close attention to the role of both state-sponsored and terrorist violence. She includes much detail not available elsewhere about life in Russia in the early 21st century.
Linda
In trying to describe this book and the work of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the first thing that came to my mind was the words of poet Dylan Thomas. Watching Russia’s barely-worthy-of-the-term democracy steadily crumble, Politkovskaya stubbornly refused to let it go gentle into that good night. A Russian Diary is a rage against the dying of the light. It is a brilliant and sobering piece of work that should be required reading for anyone with an interest in current world politics, and ...more
Kim M-M
Oct 24, 2008 Kim M-M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, europe
It is her diary that spanned the time period December 2003 to summer 2005. She barely speaks about herself, only about the policies and its effects, the people crushed under a heartless regime. One by one she speaks about the disappearing freedoms and a return to the political tactics of the USSR.

Unbelieveable, the extreme that the russian people live under. It is not a democracy, it is a farce. The sad part is, it is the grim truth.
It also covers the period of time during the Beslan school mass
...more
Ava Anderson
Oct 07, 2008 Ava Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a global conscience
This book is horrifying and deeply tragic. It is also a lucid, intelligent account of the unravelling of the future of Russia. A must-read, and it is even more relevant now that we are a few years further into Putin's takeover.
Irisheyz77
When I read the back of this book I was intrigued. A Russian Diary is a non-fiction work by a journalist who lived, worked and was murdered in Russia. As Russia is not a place that I know too much about I was eager to learn more of its history and politics.

This work was set up in the form of a diary. However, once you start to read it its clear that this is no actual diary. While I wasn't expecting any fluffy words along the lines of 'had tea with Aunt Svetlana today' I was expecting more real t
...more
Sydney
Oct 18, 2007 Sydney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political Science Nerds
The Russian Diaries chronicles the declining political situation in Russia. After Politkovskaya’s violent death in October 2006, her editor published her personal journal documenting Russian political developments; presumably these notes were reference points for her various articles and projects.

Politkovskaya assesses the Putin regime and how it survives, detailing its political ploys and strategies. She analyzes the Russian political environment that gave rise to the Putin and his power base.
...more
Petra
Mar 05, 2013 Petra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can tell that the book is written by a journalist, and what a journalist she was! Reading this book I can only conclude that unlike many other journalists she understood and valued the importance of really good journalism. In a state where power is being used against the own population she dared to question and criticize an elite that most people don't dare to stand up againt. This is the moost needed and important kind of journalism for sure. All I wonder is "how did she dare?"
Karen
Sep 05, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. She did not pull any punches, she was so brave. This is an eye-opening account of Putin's Russia, of the heinous crimes committed under his rule, the horrors inflicted upon the Russian people themselves and, the pervasiveness of corruption & fear that keeps Putin in power.
I am keen to try to read Anna's other books on Russia, though I imagine they will also be hard going. You seriously can't believe what people have turned a blind eye to, until you read this yourself.
Alla
Oct 11, 2009 Alla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ah the great Anna Politkovskaya, a paragon of journalist's integrity... Puts to shame her so-called colleagues on both sides of the ocean - both in America for reporting on irrelevant crap like home tanning and calling it news, and in Russia for selling their souls to the devil VVP. Funny that this book is still not sold in Russia..
Susa
Jul 12, 2012 Susa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Hengästyttävä kuvaus siitä, mitä Venäjällä tapahtuu. Uskomatonta, että meininki ei tunnu muuttuneen Neuvostoliiton ajoista mihinään - päinvastoin. Sai kiinnostuksen itänaapuria kohtaan kasvamaan. Haluaisin nyt hirveästi ottaa selvää siitä, mitä on tapahtunut Putinin toisen presidenttikauden alettua. Onko mikään muuttunut mihinkään?
Martinxo
Oct 27, 2015 Martinxo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Horrifying and depressing and nothing has changed since the book was published. Anna Politkovskaya was murdered shortly afterwards.
Cornelia Ghetu
Apr 27, 2013 Cornelia Ghetu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You cherish more your liberty when you remember some don't have it.
Nikki
Jan 22, 2017 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, this type of book needs to be read close to the time of publication. The diary entries are from 2003 - 2005 and many of the players and events I was unfamiliar with. Despite that, the major theme of corruption comes through loud and clear. The extent of the corruption under Putin, that she describes is shocking--assassinations, voter fraud, a state-controlled press, state capitalism, corruption in the court system, etc. etc. The most disheartening entries are her discussions of th ...more
Robert
Dec 08, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Russian Diary by Anna Politkovskaya takes us into the Russia dominated by Vladimir Putin between 2003 through August 2005. Politkovskaya was a distinguished journalist by the time she began keeping this diaries, and she was murdered before the pre-publication editing process was complete.

These are not self-oriented diaries in the least; they more closely resemble a reporter’s notebooks. The dominant theme is how Putin turned Russia into a FSB-state; the FSB, of course, is the successor to the
...more
Ugnė
Nov 20, 2016 Ugnė rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rusai
Anna aprašo tik faktus, beveik be jokių papildomų epitetų, nukrypimų, emocionalių aprašymų. Tačiau faktai patys tokie iškalbingi, kad skaitydama tai pykau, tai bijojau, tai vėl pykau ir vėl bijojau.
Nick
Jul 30, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The late Anna Politkovskaya stares out from the photo on the cover the edition I read with a stare that is hard to gauge. In that photo, she has clear eyes, sensible glasses, gray hair combed in a functional way, and a certain tightness to the mouth that makes it look as if it had been a long time since she smiled. There was certainly not much to smile about in the years covered by the book--the steady march of Vladimir Putin and the party he created toward an electoral triumph: despite the bung ...more
Jean
Mar 27, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four stars not because of the particularly fantastic writing (it's a diary obviously), but because of the level of consistent coverage of Putin's and his mafia-like government's contempt for human life, and critique of the Russian political scene.

After having read the book, I can only imagine the enormous political and social pressure Anna must have been under throughout her career. The book reveals some of the most heinous crimes committed against the people, especially the poor and ethnic min
...more
Mari
Apr 01, 2016 Mari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every time I meet a person who supports Putin I will shove this book at their face.

It took me a long time to read this book but I'm glad I did. It was a very, very hard read. Mostly for the fact that Anna was a human rights activist who was killed for writing these words. I have such a huge respect for this woman and everything she went through for exposing these truths. I will for sure read everything she's written.

It is a known fact that Russia is corrupted. Very, very corrupted. But wait till
...more
J.T.
I had a little difficulty getting through this book. Politkovskaya may have been a journalist but it's clear that she eschewed all objectivity when writing this book. The negative tone of the diary updates continue throughout. Everything is bad and getting worse. There is no silver lining and no light at the end of the tunnel. The writing is filled with so much hate against President Vladimir Putin and his regime that it was almost impossible to separate the facts from Politkovskaya's personal b ...more
Monty
Apr 13, 2012 Monty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
I read this book when it was first published, and I was reminded of this recently with the passing of Mike Wallace. Anna Politkovskaya seemed to be attempting to immitate the investigative style of Wallace in Putin's Russia. The Russian government was not amused. She was murdered in her apartment by a contract killer on Putin's birthday. So much for Glasnost. Politkovskaya's last journal reveals the Russia of 2005-2006 as one of great cynicism and corruption. The old Communists merely took off t ...more
Matt
Nov 13, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
Politkovskaya joins the unfortunate but distinguished company of Malcolm X as being the second author (that I've read) who was killed in the process of writing a book, the content of which sheds much light on who might have killed her and why. (She was killed on Putin's birthday.) Russian Diary is Politkovskaya's reflections of two years in Russia's political life including the parliamentary elections in 2003, Putin's re-election campaign, the aftermath of the Beslan school massacre, the ongoing ...more
Niels-jørgen
Politkovskaya describes the myriad of events that one should know about to understand the problems in Russias political life and the military interventions it has carried out. It's an ugly picture - but is it convincing? Not always. The negative tone of the diary updates continue throughout. Everything is bad and getting worse. The lack of distanced jounalistic description, documentation and reasoning gives it a sence of unbalanced rambling. But it is a personal diary, not a collection of news a ...more
Bruscolino
Jan 24, 2012 Bruscolino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Da molto volevo leggere un libro di Anna Politkovskaja e quando quest'estate m'è capitato fra le mani Diario Russo l'ho letteralmente divorato.
La Politkovskaja unisce straordinaria lucidità a un impegno fuori dal comune, creando pagine appassionanti tanto da sembrare un romanzo a pezzi, quando invece sono mera cronaca (vera, normale, agghiacciante) di un biennio vissuto in una nazione a pezzi, tenuta insieme dal collante della corruzione più diffusa, della povertà indotta e del silenzio forzato
...more
Shea Mastison
This is a relatively fascinating book about the sociopolitical situation in contemporary Russia. There are some eye-opening accounts about the government/crime syndicate connections that exist in Putin's Russia that really hit at the core of Russia's "managed democracy."

However, the observant reader can pick up a lot of shared characteristics between Putin's United Russia and the American two party system. This is really the most fascinating aspect of the book for an occidentally oriented perso
...more
Laura Edwards
Dec 20, 2014 Laura Edwards rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian-history
An excellent book and an amazing woman. Anyone interested in the real workings of today's Russian society and its president, Vladimir Putin, must read this book. I admired Politkovskaya even before she was murdered. I can still remember the shock and real sadness I experienced when hearing of her death. I love the journal format of the book. The reader is privy to Ms. Politkovskaya's innermost thoughts and feelings toward the regime and the future which might be awaiting. Unfortunately, little p ...more
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Russian journalist and human rights activist well-known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and Russian president Putin.

Politkovskaya made her name reporting from lawless Chechnya, where many journalists and humanitarian workers have been kidnapped or killed. She was arrested and subjected to mock execution by Russian military forces there, and she was poisoned on the way to Beslan, but sur
...more
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“Maintaining the territorial integrity of the state was recently one of our own main problems and priorities. By and large that task has been accomplished. Following these principles, we cannot refuse to apply them to our neighbors.” 0 likes
“VLADIMIR BYKOVSKY, Chuvashia: “Do you allow yourself emotions?” PUTIN: “Unfortunately, I do.” DOBROSLAVA” 0 likes
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