A brief list of suggested readings:
- recommended by Anne Applebaum + Sarah Kendzior on Twitter
- broken into broad sections:
- Back in the USSR
- The Wild, Wild East
- The Election of 2016
- Active Counter-Measures
- “This reading list is an attempt to plug holes, it is by no means comprehensive nor does it claim to be. It is an attempt to provide a brief selection of readings following key themes of the last century of Russian/Soviet history as it is still relevant today given the Russian leader’s training as a KGB spy and deep background in the Russian state and rise in the wake of a period of profound national humiliation of the 1990s.”
Masha Gessen’s “Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” in The New York Review of Books (November 10, 2016).
- Believe the autocrat.
- Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
- Institutions will not save you.
- Be outraged.
- Don’t make compromises.
- Remember the future.
Timothy Snyder’s “20-Point Guide to Defending Democracy Under a Trump Presidency,” in Quartz (November 28, 2016).
- Do not obey in advance.
- Defend an institution.
- Recall professional ethics.
- When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.
- Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
- Be kind to our language.
- Stand out.
- Believe in truth.
- Practice corporeal politics.
- Make eye contact and small talk.
- Take responsibility in the face of the world.
- Hinder the one-party state.
- Give regularly to good causes, if you can.
- Establish a private life.
- Learn from others in other countries.
- Watch out for the paramilitaries.
- Be reflective if you must be armed.
- Be as courageous as you can.
- Be a patriot.
- Now available as a pocket paperback book (highly recommended!) as On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.
FROM MY OWN WORK:
Foreign Policy, “Seven Questions: A Little KGB Training Goes A Long Way,” (July 25, 2007).
- interview with the former Director of Counterintelligence for the KGB, General Oleg Kalugin, conducted at the Spy Museum in Washington in the spring of 2007.
- Kalugin was the former supervisor of Vladimir Putin and Nikola Patrushev, now Secretary of the Russian Security Council. Of Putin, Kalugin said:
Putin was too small to report to me directly. He was an operative; he was five steps below, so he never reported to me. He was one of 3,000 guys. He was just a gray, nonentity walking in the corridors. He was like all subordinates who had no confidence in themselves.
- And of Patrushev:
Nikolai Patrushev was my subordinate for years in Leningrad. One day he brought a report about one dissident in his district and said, We must take care of him, maybe arrest him. I said, Why? Give me the case. I read the file of this man, and it showed that he was honest about the lack of food, long lines you have to stand in for food, the bureaucracy of the Soviet party and government institutions. When Patrushev brought it, I said, Why do we have to put him in jail? What is this case? Patrushevs first desire was to put the guy in jail because he would spread his discontent and unhappiness among his friends and colleagues and that was dangerous.
Quartz, “Russia’s Meddling to Get Donald Trump Elected Is Straight Out of the Old KGB Playbook,” (December 19, 2016).
- Breaks down the KGB’s “active measures” into really simple Washington-ready three phases:
The first phase of this strategy is to bombard a nation with propaganda, usually of a racist, anti-Semitic nature. The point of this propaganda is to sow the seeds of discord among a population. The second phase is the instigation of incidents that can be used and broadcast widely for the purposes of demoralization. In phase three, Russia installs a friendly leader and leverages the economy according to Moscow’s will.