The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder review – chilling and unignorable

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This persuasive book looks at Putin’s favourite Russian political philosopher and the template he set for fake news

Even presidents who don’t believe in history need a historian to rely on. When asked, in 2014, by a delegation of students and history teachers for his chosen chronicler of Russia’s past, Vladimir Putin came up with a single name: Ivan Ilyin. 

Ilyin is a figure who might have been easily lost to history were it not for the posthumous patronage of Russia’s leader. Putin first drew attention to him – Ilyin was a philosopher, not a historian, a Russian who died in exile in Switzerland in 1954 – when he organised the repatriation of Ilyin’s remains for reburial in Moscow in 2005. Ilyin’s personal papers, held in a library in Michigan, were also brought “home” at the president’s request. New editions of Ilyin’s dense books of political philosophy became popular in Kremlin circles – and all of Russia’s civil servants reportedly received a collection of his essays in 2014. And when Putin explained Russia’s need to combat the expansion of the European Union, and laid out the argument to invade Ukraine, it was Ilyin’s arguments on which the president relied.

The more outrageous the official lie was, the more it allowed people to demonstrate their faith in the Kremlin

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Link : The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder review – chilling and unignorable

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