Book Review: ‘Kicking the Kremlin’

kicking-the-kremlin-9781780743486Charting the dual rise of Putin and the anti-Putin protest movement.

By Alexander H. Maurice.

When you’re one of the most powerful leaders in the world, where do you go from there? And how does an increasingly dissatisfied public, with little hope for democratic change or history of protest, challenge that leader? These are two of the prominent questions Marc Bennetts asks in his new book, Kicking the Kremlin: Russia’s New Dissidents and the Battle to Topple Putin.

Kicking the Kremlin charts the course of Vladimir Putin’s quick rise to power from ex-KGB agent and small-time city politician to virtual tsar of post-Soviet Russia. Bennetts’s book then shifts focus to examine the various protest movements that were formed, among other causes, to counter Putin’s return to a third term as president after four years in the background of the Russian Federation. Bennetts notes the wide variety of protesters rallying against Putin and profiles several of the most notable and loudest voices drawn from all of alleys of the political road map—among them eco-activist Yevgenia Chirikova, blogger/activist-turned Moscow mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny, “hard-core” political activist and Marxist Sergei Udaltsov, various Occupy activists, and the feminist punk-protest group Pussy Riot. Kicking the Kremlin provides intimate and thoroughly interesting profiles of these inspiring voices of dissent in Russia.

Marc Bennetts reveals his experience as a journalist as his portrayal of some of the top political actors in Russia is based on his extensive interviews with both protesters and top Kremlin officials. Bennetts is a British journalist who’s been based in Russia for the past fifteen years where he reported for a variety of publications, among them The Times, The Observer, The New York Times, as well as Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. His first book, Football Dynamo, is an in-depth examination of Russian culture approached from the novel perspective of its national sport. Kicking the Kremlin, his second, is to be published early this year by the international independent publishing house One World.

Kicking the Kremlin begins by charting Putin’s rise from relative obscurity to one of the most powerful figures in modern Russia, and indeed the world. As Bennetts narrates, Putin was …

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