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Opinion | I wrote a book on the end of dictatorships that became a bestseller in Russia

In days gone by, such topics could be brought up, albeit benignly.but behind Because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent, the space for frank discussion has been blocked. For example, the Carnegie Moscow Center, where I worked and was able to speak with members of the ruling elite, was closed by the authorities last spring. Most of its academics have left the country and are now creating another think tank in Berlin.

Those who remain in Russia have lost the opportunity to have an open dialogue about the country’s future. Yet the unusually high level of interest in the book is evidence that Russians have not stopped asking questions about what comes next, despite state propaganda trying to reinforce a fictional consensus. Given the focus of the book, readers do not seem to be thinking about the continuation of the regime, as the authorities would like, but about how it might end.

For many, the simple act of buying a book is a political statement that many bookstores use to quietly make a stand. The main store near the infamous Lubyanka, the headquarters of Moscow’s FSB (and formerly the KGB), puts a copy of “End of the Regime” next to “Putin’s Way,” a film dedicated to the Russian leader Biographies of saints, and a book on Stalin. The meaning is clear.

Unlike many writers in the USSR and Tsarist era, who were denied the opportunity to directly discuss their country and future, overshadowing these discussions by focusing on other peoples and times, I did not set myself the goal of writing a book Mr. Putin : This is not a book about Russia masquerading as a book about Spain, Portugal and Greece. However, unlike many Western works on similar themes, this book was written by residents of one authoritarian country for residents of other authoritarian countries. This connects both author and reader to a peculiar, almost conspiracy-theoretic subject.

Most importantly, the book offers readers a new and more accurate perspective on the country in which they live. Both Russian and well-informed international readers know that the analogy to the collapse of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union is misleading. It is difficult to imagine the defeat suffered by Germany as experienced by a nuclear power like Russia. Likewise, the number one reason for the collapse of the Soviet regime was its sclerotic economic system, which left the people behind the Iron Curtain without food and consumer goods.

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