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Behind the Scenes in Putin's Court: The Private Habits of a Latter-Day Dictator


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I don't know why I am so fascinated with such an unfascinating person!

He sometimes reads after the sweat. This is because he likes to work late into the night. He summons his men at the hours that suit his mental clarity – the cold hours where everything is clearer. The books he finds most interesting, are history books. He reads these attentively. Heavy, respectable tomes: about Ivan the Terrible, Catherine II, Peter the Great.

But there sometimes fly rumours: that he has read a novel. In 2006, the President is said to have read a thriller in which working class men beat up Chechens and cops and seize the governor’s office from corrupt thieves with machine guns – Sankya by Zakhar Prilepin.

Now those that claim to know his bedside, say he has much enjoyed The Third Empire, a fantasy about an imaginary Latin American historian from 2054, who recounts the exploits of Tsar Vladimir II, the in-gatherer of all Russian lands. But his courtiers are at pains to make it clear – the President is no reader.

He spends time completing his cleanse. He immerses himself into both hot and cold baths. Then the President dresses. He chooses to wear only ­tailored, bespoke suits in conservative colours. His choice of ties is usually dour.

And now power begins. The early afternoon is about briefing notes. This mostly takes place at his heavy wooden desk. These are offices without screens. The President uses only the most secure technologies: red folders with paper documents, and fixed-line Soviet Warera telephones. (This made me smile...)

.............................................

The President rarely uses the internet. He finds the screens within screens and the bars building up with messages confusing. However, from time to time, his advisers have shown some satirical online videos: he must know how they mock him. His life has become ceremonial: an endless procession of gilded rooms. His routine is parcelled up into thousands of units of 15 minutes and planned for months, if not years ahead. Following his morning review the schedule folders embossed with the eagle are presented to him. After glancing at them, he follows the plan: without a smile or a joy.

An office without screens. In 2014. It's gotta put him at a disadvantage, right?

I don't know how much he relies on advisors, who might have extensive screeen time.

When reading the article, you do get a sense that Putin lives a lonely life, except for the occasional ice hockey game with his posse.  He probably could use a hug!

Putin does look like he needs a hug!

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