Poltergeist Economics

The Russian revolution of the nineties brought economic phantasmagoria, not reform. The leadership's hands are dirty, and so are the West's.

Issue: Summer 2001

Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinsky, The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2001), 745 pp., $29.95.

Paul Klebnikov, Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia (New York: Harcourt Brace, 2000), 400 pp., $28.

Stephen F. Cohen, Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000), 304 pp., $21.95.

The Russian revolution of the 1990s was rather like a Hollywood poltergeist movie. Mysterious, hidden forces moved enormous quantities of property from place to place, spectacularly destroying much of it and the surrounding landscape in the process. Colossal industries and vast sums of money vanished into thin air. So too did millions of lives, but since these mostly belonged to unimportant extras--pensioners, children, workers, soldiers, Chechens--the Western audience could gasp with pleasurable horror while continuing to munch its popcorn.

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