Vladimir Fedorovski, Michel Gurfinkiel

The Russian Comeback Publication date : October 1, 2001

It was just ten years ago that the collapse of the Soviet Communist regime resulted in the breakdown of the U.S.S.R. Since the end of the Gorbachov era, Russia has undergone a period of economic and political confusion. According to the authors, previous eras of breakdown in Russian history have been followed by a cultural and political renaissance. Will it be the case this time? Or is the present situation the beginning of a fatal, hopeless crisis?
Michel Gurfinkiel and Vladimir Fedorovski examine these questions in a new light, interweaving past and present, political analysis and personal accounts. In czarist Russia, every aspect of the Absolutist state was constantly in competition with free countercultures. According to the authors, the history of modern Russia began in 1953, when Stalin’s former collaborators began dividing the remains of his Empire among themselves. One single driving force led first to perestroika in the 1980s and then to the collapse of the regime and the privatisations of the Yeltsin era. In 1999, Vladimir Putin, formerly of the KGB, was brought to power by a neo-nationalist wave, and his aim today is to restore a powerful state. But he is aware that the vitality of Russia in the twenty-first century will depend on maintaining the personal and social freedoms that Russians fought for in the 1990s, and that the country will have to compete not only with Europe and the United States, but also with a rapidly developing China.
The authors, who had access to previously unpublished documents, offer a series of vivid portraits of Lenin, Stalin, Beria (chief assassin, but also, in 1953, initiator of the first liberal reforms), Brejnev and Andropov. He unravels Gorbachov’s and Yeltsin’s political histories, the murky areas in their pasts, the intrigues of the post-Communist era, the “creation” of Putin, the games played by the new Russian capitalists and the scandals of the Mafia. The authors frequently refer to Alexander Yakovlev, Gorbachov’s right-hand and the “inventor” of perestroika, who was a key figure during these years and is the last direct witness of the Red Empire at its height.

Michel Gurfinkiel is a writer and journalist specialising in geopolitical issues, and the author of Israël, géopolitique d’une paix. He is the editor in chief of Valeurs actuelles and an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal.
Vladimir Fedorovski is a writer. He was a diplomat during the upheavals in Eastern Europe and the spokesperson for the movement for democratic reforms in Russia during the August 1991 putsch. He is the author of Le Département du diable, Histoire secrète d’un coup d’État, Le Triangle russe and a novel, Les Deux Sœurs. He also writes for Le Figaro and the New York Times. He holds a doctorate in history and teaches at HEC.