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THE COMPATRIOTS: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia's Exiles, Émigrés, and Agents Abroad

The Compatriots: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia's Exiles, Émigrés, and Agents Abroad - Andrei Soldatov, Irina Borogan

A few days ago, I first became aware of "THE COMPATRIOTS" from an interview I saw on TV with its authors, Russian journalists Andrei Soldatav and Irina Borogan. I became fascinated with the interview, which was focused on the history of Russian émigrés in Europe and the United States and the influence and control the motherland exerted on them from the Bolshevik Revolution to the rise of Putin's Russia in the present era (since 2000). Shortly thereafter, I put in an order for this book.

In reading this book, I received a thoroughgoing education about the evolution of the complicated relationships between, first, the Bolshevik/Soviet government and the émigré communities abroad. In the early days, influence and control from Moscow on these communities through espionage and assassination (e.g. the brutal murder in Mexico in August 1940 of Leon Trotsky, Stalin's rival, by a Soviet trained agent). Then in the later stages of the Soviet Union, from the Brezhnev era to Gorbachev's era of glasnost and perestroika, Moscow's way of dealing both with its dissidents and the émigré communities abroad involved forced external exile (for its dissidents regarded as too much of a nuisance to be allowed to remain in the USSR), as well as espionage - and when judged necessary and expedient: poisoning of opponents (as evidenced by the murder of Bulgarian dissident/journalist Georgi Markov in London in 1978.

The sections of the book that dealt with the post-Soviet era under both Yeltsin and Putin were highly illuminating as well as fascinating. I LEARNED SO MUCH. In that era, from the breakup of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991, thru the rest of the 1990s - which witnessed Russia's struggle to develop a capitalist, Western-like economy, the rise of the oligarchs, and a democracy all the while Russia itself was in flux --- to the rise of Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent, and his consolidation of control and power in Russia to the present day.

For anyone who wants to have a better understanding of today's Russia and its expatriate community's relationship to it, by all means read "THE COMPATRIOTS."