Ben Judah: The ruthlessness of Vladimir Putin

From Ben Judah, author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out Love With Vladimir Putin:

In the summer of 2012, Vladimir Putin returned as Russia’s president, after four years of playacting as a pliant prime minister. I spent time in St Petersburg trying to sift through his murky myth. Everyone who knew him, everyone who had worked with him – I wanted to track them down. My calls usually rang unanswered. When old voices picked up they abruptly hung up on hearing my requests. It was like chasing a ghost. The old, hard-bitten police chief who worked with him in St Petersburg in the 1990s was still a little stunned by Putin’s rise. “I thought he was just an insignificant official at the time.” The city’s town-hall orator, another former colleague of Putin’s, also remained baffled. “When he became president I threw open my photo album to see us together. But he wasn’t in a single one. He’d slipped out of every frame. I sometimes wonder if he even has a reflection in the mirror.”

….Putin acknowledges that the KGB evaluated him as a man with stunted emotions. His instructors concluded he was at risk, not of succumbing to the temptations of women or drink, but because of his pervasive “lowered sense of danger”. He was also classified as a man unhelpfully unsocial…. This, I fear, is what makes him so ruthless.

Read more at:Ben Judah: The ruthlessness of Vladimir Putin

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