December 09, 2006


When I travel, I try to get a book from that particular place (country/city) as I am usually so fascinated by what I see around me that I am desperate to know more about it. (Usually I also decide that I have to live there for some time to really grasp the place. So far that hasn't actually happened for many places!).

Back to the books.

When I was in Moscow in June I came across a book by Andrew Meier, Black Earth (weirdly enough, currently en route between Frankfurt and Washington DC) which describes his journey to the far extremes of the country. He travels to all directions - south to Chechnya, east to Sakhalin, north to Siberia (Norilsk), west to St. Petersburg and of course to his homebase Moscow. It's been a fascinating read as he combines a historical background with political developments, amongst others through descriptions of the Russians and others he meets on the road and of the places he visits.

Russia has been moving to the front of international politics more and more over the last few years - reclaiming its previous position of power - and amongst all the news coming from the Kremlin this book has made me quite fascinated by this huge country.

So, besides following the plot around Litvinenko (but also Scaramella, Loegovoj, Kovtoen, etc etc) I've also started reading the book of late Russian journalist Anna Politskovskaya, Putin's Russia, which should be quite interesting. I'm very curious to see how critical she really is of Putin and his policies.

Politkovskaya was shot in October 2006. The murder of Litvinenko happened after he allegedly started his own research into the Politkovskaya assassination. In Meier's book, the chapter on St. Petersburg is in large part dedicated to a description of events surrounding the death of journalist Galina Starovoitova. The Politkovskaya death seems to have a lot of similarities.

The more I read about the whole polonium-210 plot, the more Russia is starting to sound like a proper maffia state.... Freaky stuff, but all the more interesting because of it!


For the Dutchies, these are some of the sites with some interesting stuff on Litvinenko, Politkovskaya, Polonium-210 etc.:
NRC article - chronology of events
Moscow blog
and another Moscow blog
plus an hour-long Tegenlicht documentary on Putin's re-election in 2004


Jules said...

There is a Paul Theroux book which is really good that I think you would enjoy. Its called "Riding the Iron Rooster" and is about his train trip from London across Europe and then across Russia and through China (on the Trans-Mongolian train).

machiruda said...

Jules, thanks for that tip. It does sound like a book that I'd enjoy! Although I've been trying very hard to avoid the bookshops in an effort to save money.... :-/