Putin Has Been Good For Russia

Thursday 23 May 2013, 9.49pm | VIDEO NOW ONLINE

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There’s not a lot to like about Vladimir Putin: he’s autocratic, vain and runs a corrupt government. And he doesn’t give a fig for human rights. The repression in Chechnya, the jailing of the businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the Pussy Riot protestors, the murders of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and of Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy – all this happened on Putin’s watch. Who would not be on the side of the 100,000 people who turned out on Moscow’s streets last winter to protest against Putin’s election to a third term as president and to demand fair elections and an honest government? Russia would be better off without Putin – who would argue otherwise?

As a matter of fact, millions would. Talk to many Russians and they’ll tell you that life under Putin is vastly better than under Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin let a handful of oligarchs hoover up Russia’s wealth while ordinary Russians were reduced to selling their possessions on the street. Putin, by contrast, has quelled the economic mayhem – inflation is down, pensions have increased. Even more importantly he has restored Russia’s sense of self-worth – crushing the Chechen revolt, refusing to play along with the West over Syria. Living in Notting Hill you might not find Putin to your taste, but for those facing the realities of contemporary Russia he is a godsend, the strong leader that the country needs at this crucial time of transition and uncertainty.

An apology for tyranny? Or a realistic appraisal of modern Russian realities? That’s the line that fiercely divides opinion and over which the experts from Russia and elsewhere battled on at the RGS on 23rd May 2013.

 Speakers for the motion

Christopher GranvilleChristopher Granville

Managing Director and Director, Russia/FSU Research at consultancy Trusted Sources


Boris JordanBoris Jordan

American businessman of Russian origin. President and CEO of the Sputnik Group. Author of the article “He Delivers. That’s Why They Like Him” at The Washington Post


Speakers against the motion

Masha GessenMasha Gessen

Russian journalist and author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, sacked as editor of a nature magazine for refusing to cover President Putin’s hang-glider flight with Siberian cranes. Director of Radio Liberty’s Russian Service

Luke HardingLuke Harding

Senior international correspondent at the Guardian, and the first western journalist to be expelled from Moscow since the Cold War. He is the author of Mafia State: How one journalist became an enemy of the brutal new Russia



Jonathan FreedlandJonathan Freedland

Guardian columnist, author and broadcaster



All speakers are subject to change.