Five questions for Masha Gessen

by Guy Somerset / 17 May, 2013
"The Russian government is completely incompetent and dysfunctional."
Throughout the festival, we will be posting various Five questions for podcast interviews - which, true to the spirit of the Listener's Take Five column, may actually contain more than five questions. (But hey, who counts supplementaries anyway?)

First up is Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, for the recent new edition of which Gessen has written an afterword that reveals (notwithstanding all the references to bravery and courage in the reviews on the cover) her scathing 2012 biography had surprisingly little impact on her career in Moscow as editor of a popular science magazine, although a run-in with the authorities and eventually Putin himself does take place, but over her refusal to publish a puff piece about one of his self-aggrandising publicity stunts involving Russian wildlife.

Even if you read the book when it first came out, I do recommend the afterword in its own right. It is, in all sorts of ways, very revealing.

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