Masha Gessen Quotes
6 Sourced Quotes
Like the Soviet regime before it, the Putin government spreads fear by destroying the illusion that one can protect oneself... People who work at two Moscow restaurants have warned me, separately, about the precise locations of listening devices at the eateries. The warnings came unbidden. The food at both places was, incidentally, not only very good but also apparently safe. That, along with the springtime sun, helps maintain the bizarre sense of normalcy that has a way of going hand in hand with the mortal danger that has become a fact of everyday life.
Russian activists and journalists who get enough death threats and take them sufficiently seriously to hire bodyguards are also usually careful about what they ingest. Soon after the chess champion Garry Kasparov quit the sport to go into politics full time, in 2004, he hired a team of eight bodyguards, who not only accompanied him everywhere but also carried drinking water and food for Kasparov to eat at meals shared in public. Three years ago, Kasparov told me that what he liked most about foreign travel was being able to shed his bodyguards for a while. A year after that, threats drove him to leave Russia permanently.
Attacks by poisoning are possibly even more common in Russia than assassinations by gunfire. Most famously, Alexander Litvinenko, a secret-police whistle-blower, was killed by polonium in London, in 2006. Last week, British newspapers reported that a Russian businessman who dropped dead while jogging in a London suburb in 2012 had been killed by a rare plant poison. He had been a key witness in a money-laundering case that had originally been exposed by the Moscow accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured to death, in 2009, in a Russian jail.
After nearly fifteen years of systematic destruction of public space, engineered by Putin, the normal ways by which regular people absorb information about the state of their country are gone. Only a person who had lost his livelihood or half his savings would have been able to report that the economy was failing.