Under Putin, the siloviki have amassed a vast slush fund that serves both personal avarice and geopolitical strategy. The soaring fortunes of Putin’s inner circle, glimpsed in the revelations of the Panama Papers, are indistinguishable from the vast off-the-books war chest that the Kremlin draws on to finance its subterfuge and interventions abroad. And if there is an ideological glue that binds the siloviki together, it is their dream of a restoration of Moscow’s imperial might...
A groundbreaking and meticulously researched anatomy of the Putin regime, Belton’s book shines a light on the pernicious threats Russian money and influence now pose to the west. Deepening social inequality and the rise of populist movements in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis have “left the west wide open to Russia’s aggressive new tactics of fuelling the far right and the far left”. Kremlin largesse has funded political parties across the continent, from the National Front in France to Jobbik in Hungary and the Five Star movement in Italy, which are united in their hostility to both the EU and Nato. The Kremlin’s “black cash”, former Kremlin insider Sergei Pugachev laments, “is like a dirty atomic bomb. In some ways it’s there, in some ways it’s not. Nowadays it’s much harder to trace.” Putin’s People lays bare the scale of the challenge if the west is to decontaminate its politics."
"This riveting, immaculately researched book is arguably the best single volume written about Putin, the people around him and perhaps even about contemporary Russia itself in the past three decades." —Peter Frankopan, Financial Times