Karen Dawisha

FYI: A documentary on Putin sheds light on Orbán’s Hungary

This is an extra post, actually just a note, calling readers’ attention to a fascinating documentary, Putin’s Way, aired on Public Broadcasting Corporation’s weekly program “Frontline” on January 13. PBS is the American public television station, funded for the most part by corporate donors, foundations, and ordinary viewers. It is, unlike MTV, decidedly not a state TV station.

The documentary is based on a recently released book by Karen Dawisha, Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014) which is hailed as brilliant. A review in The New York Times summarizes the main points of the book. Dawisha, who received her Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, is currently the Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Political Science and Director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

The book has quite a history. Originally, it was supposed to be published by Cambridge University Press, but in the last moment the publisher, fearing stringent British libel laws, changed its mind. The details, including an exchange of letters between CUP and Dawisha, were published in The Economist.

The documentary is available on PBS’s website as well as on YouTube. The former is in larger format and, I think, of better quality.

Anyone who’s interested in the workings of the political system developed by Viktor Orbán should find this documentary educational. Russian kleptocracy and the Hungarian mafia state seem to have a lot in common.