Recentering Putinism

  • Kate C. Langdon
  • Vladimir Tismaneanu


The “Putin Phenomenon” is the term coined in reference to the remarkable popularity and political effectiveness of both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin he controls. But is Putin truly the all-powerful sovereign of Russia, as he is often presumed to be in today’s mainstream opinions? Langdon and Tismaneanu highlight the pitfalls of such opinions and instead argue for the need to study the cultural and societal factors that are disastrously absent from popular discourse on Putin’s Russia. They emphasize the significance of the population’s desire for authoritarianism, nationalist ideology, and historical trends. Understanding Putin’s Russia, the epitomizing example of twenty-first-century ideological authoritarianism, and its (re)production by the masses are imperative to comprehending the increasingly global spread of extreme political movements.


  1. Albats, Yevgenia. 2017. Russia’s Protests Show That a New Generation Is Finding Its Voice. The Washington Post, March 28. Accessed 28 March 2017 at
  2. Amnesty International. 2016. Annual Report: Russian Federation 2015/2016. Amnesty International. Accessed 18 January 2017 at
  3. Arendt, Hannah. 1968. Men in Dark Times. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1978. The Life of the Mind. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  5. Arnsdorf, Isaac, and Benjamin Oreskes. 2016. Putin’s Favorite Congressman. Politico, November 23. Accessed 4 June 2018 at
  6. Arutunyan, Anna. 2015. The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia’s Power Cult. Northampton: Olive Branch Press.Google Scholar
  7. Baker, Peter, and Susan Glasser. 2005. Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russian and the End of Revolution. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  8. Briançon, Pierre. 2017. Billionaire Paid Fillon $50,000 for Meeting with Putin: Report. POLITICO Europe, March 21. Accessed 4 June 2018 at
  9. Cohen, Stephen. 2017. Stop the Pointless Demonization of Putin. The Nation, May 7. Accessed 20 April 2016 at
  10. Committee to Protect Journalists. 2009. CPJ Testimony Focuses on Russian Impunity. Committee to Protect Journalists, June 25. Accessed 2 February 2018 at
  11. Dawisha, Karen. 2014. Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.Google Scholar
  12. Eltsov, Peter. 2015. What Putin’s Favorite Guru Tells Us About His Next Target. Politico, February 10. Accessed 20 September 2018 at
  13. Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation. 2016. Informacija o Social’no- Jekonomicheskom Polozhenii Rossii: Janvar’ 2016 Goda [Information on the Socio-Economic Position of Russia: January 2016]. Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, January. Accessed 18 January 2017 at
  14. Forbes. Profile: Vladimir Putin. Forbes, 2017. Accessed 30 March 2017 at
  15. Fukuyama, Francis. 1989. The End of History? The National Interest 16 (Summer): 3–18.Google Scholar
  16. Gessen, Masha. 2012. The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. New York: Riverhead Books.Google Scholar
  17. Gorbachev, Mikhail. 2016. The New Russia. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hagan, Lisa. 2018. Rohrabacher Under Fire over Russia Ties. The Hill, March 8. Accessed 4 June 2018 at
  19. Hill, Fiona, and Clifford G. Gaddy. 2013. Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  20. Human Rights Watch. 2016. Russia—World Report 2016. Human Rights Watch. Accessed 18 January 2017 at
  21. Judah, Ben. 2013. Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kaczynski, Andrew, Chris Massie, and Nathan McDermott. 2017. 80 Times Trump Talked About Putin. CNN, February. Accessed 22 June 2018 at
  23. Kara-Murza, Vladimir. 2017a. Democracy Challenged. In Panel at 21st Annual Forum 2000: Strengthening Democracy in Uncertain Times, Prague, October 9.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2017b. Putin Is Not Russia. Journal of Democracy 28 (4): 110–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. ———. 2018. If Putin Is So Popular, Why Is He So Afraid of Competition? The Washington Post, January 12. Accessed 2 July 2018 at
  26. Knight, Amy. 2017. Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder. New York: Thomas Dunne Books.Google Scholar
  27. Kovalik, Dan. 2017. The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.Google Scholar
  28. Laqueur, Walter. 2015. Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West. New York: Thomas Dunne Books.Google Scholar
  29. Levada Center. 2018. Odobrenie dejatel’nosti Vladimira Putina [Vladimir Putin’s Approval Ratings]. Levada Center: Yuri Levada Analytical Center, May. Accessed 4 June 2018 at
  30. Lewin, Moshe. 1988. The Gorbachev Phenomenon: A Historical Interpretation. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  31. Lourie, Richard. 2017. Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash. New York: Thomas Dunne Books.Google Scholar
  32. Morin, Rebecca. 2018. After Rand Paul Meeting, Russian Lawmakers Agree to Washington Visit. Politico, August 6. Accessed 6 August 2018 at
  33. Mosse, George L. 1999. The Fascist Revolution: Toward a General Theory of Fascism. New York: Howard Fertig.Google Scholar
  34. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 2018. Income Inequality (Indicator). Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Accessed 2 July 2018 at
  35. Panetta, Leon. 2016. Welcoming Remarks and Plenary I – Navigating 21st Century Security Challenges. Speech at Global Security Forum 2016, Washington, DC, December 1. Transcript available at
  36. Petro, Nicolai. 2017. Are We Reading Russia Correctly? Lecture at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, February 16.Google Scholar
  37. Pifer, Steven. 2018. U.S.-Russia Relations and a Second Trump-Putin Summit. The Brookings Institution, July 27. Accessed 27 July 2018 at
  38. Shevtsova, Lilia. 2008. Vladimir Putin. Foreign Policy 164 (January–February): 32–40.Google Scholar
  39. ———. 2012. Implosion, Atrophy, or Revolution? Journal of Democracy 23 (3): 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Snyder, Timothy. 2018. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America. New York: Tim Duggan Books.Google Scholar
  41. Stone, Oliver, dir. 2017. The Putin Interviews. Docuseries. Moscow and Sochi: Ixtlan Productions.Google Scholar
  42. Talmon, Jacob L. 1952. The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy. London: Secker and Warburg.Google Scholar
  43. Tamkin, Emily. 2017. Oliver Stone’s ‘Putin Interviews’ Will Teach You Little About Putin, and Even Less About Russia. Foreign Policy, June 7. Accessed 4 June 2018 at
  44. The United Nations. 2016. Third Committee Takes Up 7 Draft Resolutions on Situations in Syria, Iran, Crimea as It Concludes Discussion of Human Rights Council’s Report. The United Nations, November 8. Accessed 18 January 2017 at
  45. The United States Congress. 2017. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, H.R. 3364. 115th Congress. Washington, DC: United States Government Publishing Office, August 2. Accessed 9 January 2018 at
  46. The World Bank. 2018. Russia: GDP Growth (Annual %). The World Bank. Accessed 5 January 2019 at
  47. Tismaneanu, Vladimir. 2012. The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  48. Tucker, Robert C. 1987. Political Culture and Leadership in Soviet Russia: From Lenin to Gorbachev. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  49. van Prooijen, Jan-Willem, and Paul A.M. van Lange. 2014. Power, Politics, and Paranoia: An Introduction. In Power, Politics, and Paranoia: Why People Are Suspicious of Their Leaders, ed. Jan-Willem van Prooijen and Paul A.M. van Lange, 1–14. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Voice of America. 2017. ‘Terrible Crimes’ Made Putin World’s Richest Person, Financier Testifies. Voice of America, July 27. Accessed 2 July 2018 at
  51. White, Stephen, and Ian McAllister. 2008. The Putin Phenomenon. Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 24 (4): 604–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zakaria, Fareed. 2017. Why Putin Is the World’s Most Powerful Man. CNN, March 14. Accessed 30 March 2017 at
  53. Zubarevich, Natalia. 2013. Perspektiva: Chetyre Rossii: chto dal’she [Perspective: Four Russias: What’s Next]. Vedimosti, September 24. Accessed 5 September 2016 at

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate C. Langdon
    • 1
  • Vladimir Tismaneanu
    • 2
  1. 1.CroftonUSA
  2. 2.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations