Best-Selling Novel In Europe Fictionalizes Putin's Spin Doctor
“No one ever escapes his fate, and the fate of the Russians is that they are ruled by descendants of Ivan the Terrible,” says Vadim Baranov, the main character in Le mage du Kremlin, a novel that is all the rage in France and Italy this summer.
Photo Insert: For two decades, Surkov shaped Putin’s thinking along with the autocrat’s Rasputin clone and he may very well arm those who despise Putin with a window into his troubled mind and toxic ideas.
“You can invent whatever you like—a proletarian revolution or unfettered liberalism—but the result is always the same: The oprichniki, the tsar’s elite watchdogs, are at the top.”
The novel, which was published in French in April and in Italian at the end of June, is a must-read for anyone wondering what Russian President Vladimir Putin is up to and what the Russian people have had to go through during his tenure, Caroline de Gruyter, a columnist at Foreign Policy and a Europe correspondent for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, wrote.
It is not that the author, Giuliano da Empoli, a Swiss Italian political scientist who teaches at Sciences Po in Paris, has a lively imagination.
The opposite, rather: Most of the book, whose title translates into English as “The Wizard of the Kremlin,” is one long monologue by Baranov, who is modeled on Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s longtime spin doctor.
Surkov, who was a close advisor of Putin for almost two decades, is one of the oprichniki who seems to have fallen from grace recently—although that may well be spin, too.
The novel is a cinch to be a best seller in Kyiv once a Ukrainian edition is published, as well as in the English-speaking world, since millions are interested in understanding Putin, who has become the modern-day version of Ivan the Terrible rather than Peter the Great.
For two decades, Surkov shaped Putin’s thinking along with the autocrat’s Rasputin clone and he may very well arm those who despise Putin with a window into his troubled mind and toxic ideas.