This is an angry book: angry at the ‘toxic combination of chauvinism and criminality’ for which Edward Lucas holds the Kremlin responsible, and at the willingness of the West to turn a blind eye in the hope of better relations with the Russian Federation. ‘In no other country’, claims Lucas, ‘have gangsterism and state power overlapped to such a threatening extent.’
Deception begins with a well-researched account of the horrifying fate of Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer working for a foreign investor who exposed a $230 million fraud by a Russian criminal group, which Lucas claims was led by the FSB (successor to the domestic arm of the Soviet KGB) and ‘backed at the highest level in the regime’. In November 2009 Magnitsky died from appalling mistreatment in prison. Though the case caused a public outcry, there is little sign that posthumous justice will be done.
Lucas argues that those responsible for Magnitsky’s death are leading members of the Russian intelligence community past and present, and that we do not know how to respond to their operations in the West: ‘For most of the past decades, the Kremlin’s spymasters have run rings around their Western adversaries.’