The nature of Putin's Russia, and Litvinenko's murder, with Oliver Bullough

Oliver Bullough will take us deep into the nature of Putin's Russia, and into the corruption that lies at its core.


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Litvinenko, the murdered ex-spy turned dissident, through his work for Russia's security services, had a unique insight into how Putin's friends and associates had allied with the mob to their mutual benefit: how Russia had become, in effect, a "mafia state."

Oliver will examine the enquiry into Litvinenko's murder and discuss why Kremlin insiders decided that the ex-spy had to die...

Oliver's website

Oliver's Guardian page

In January, Sir Robert Owen ruled that President Vladimir Putin probably ordered the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. It was an unprecedented statement for a British judge to make, never before had a foreign head of state been directly accused of murder...

In the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, and with Putin's bombardment of Syria – so recently and surprisingly halted - understanding how Russia works has rarely been more important. Thanks to Litvinenko, we have insights we could not possibly otherwise have.


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Oliver Bullough

Oliver writes for the Guardian, GQ magazine, the New York Times, and others. He has made documentaries for Radio 4 and television.

Oliver has reported from, and written about, the ex-Soviet block since the late 1990s. He worked first for local newspapers in St Petersburg and Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), then for Reuters. He stayed in Moscow, mainly reporting on the war in Chechnya, until 2006.

Since leaving Reuters, he has written two books. The first -- Let Our Fame be Great -- is about the peoples of the North Caucasus, their conquest by imperial Russia in the 19th century, their subsequent treatment - and his travels to find their scattered communities. The second -- The Last Man in Russia -- is a biography of a dissident Orthodox priest, whose life closely mirrors that of the Russian nation in the 20th century, and sheds light on the demographic tragedy of modern Russia.

Oliver's current focus is on corruption and international financial crime, with a particular emphasis on Ukraine. He lives in London with his wife and two children, and spends possibly too much time worrying about Welsh rugby.

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John le Carré: 'If you want to know why international crooks and their eminently respectable financial advisors walk tall and only the little people pay taxes, this is the ideal book for you. Every politician and moneyman on the planet should read it, but they won't because it's actually about them.'

2016Martin Keeley