Donald Rayfield

Russia’s Special Rules

Russian Conservatism and Its Critics: A Study in Political Culture


Yale University Press 216pp £17.95 order from our bookshop

Russian autocracy has a history of a thousand years, and today, though nobody would have predicted so fifteen years ago, it is as deeply entrenched as ever.

The civic society that Gorbachev brought to life (and that outweighs all his political blunders) lasted barely seven years before Yeltsin ordered his army’s tanks first to destroy an obstreperous parliament and then to lay waste a rebellious Chechnya. Now the Russian media, judiciary and intelligentsia are, but for just a few brave relicts, unanimously cowed, and the public which once was glued to politics and satire on television has deserted the political field and yielded it to an alliance of secret policemen and gangsters perhaps even more repulsive than any of the Tsarist regimes.

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