Out in 11.09: CHANGE IN PUTIN’S RUSSIA, by Simon Pirani

A new book now on sale – Change in Putin’s Russia: Power, Money and People (published in November by Pluto Press) by Simon Pirani (this blog’s author) – covers themes I’ve mentioned here.


You can order it online from Pluto Press’s web site (cover price £17.99 – Pluto’s on-line discount takes it to £13.99, and they also display prices on Amazon, which are below £15.00) …


… or from Amazon.com here …


 … or place it on order at any decent bookshop.


“In this moving and well-researched popular introduction to contemporary Russian politics, Simon Pirani provides a picture of Russian society at the elite level, complemented by powerful descriptions of how life is lived by the country’s workers and the poor. This is a useful antidote to much of the literature that concentrates on elite intrigues and factional conflict, let alone the transitological genre whose focus is endless scholastic debates about regime typology and classificatory systems. Pirani eschews these discussions; instead, with a series of deft portraits he brings the reader into the front room of some of the most important issues facing Russia today.” – Richard Sakwa in International Affairs

“Simon Pirani has written a terrific book. His careful dissection of modern Russia moves from those at the top to the fate of the masses of Russian people in the last two decades. Few can equal Pirani’s expertise gained as a political activist, a semi-academic, and a jobbing journalist whose interviews stretch from striking car workers to oil oligarchs.” – Mike Haynes in Socialist Review

“If the Russians ever had any illusions about the nature of capitalism, they must have shed them now. Their basic industries are in dire trouble, or have been stolen by oligarchs whose wealth, obscene even by tsarist standards, is poured into mansions in  London or spent on chasing football dreams. Who would have thought that the great experiment would end in such lumpen devastation? Not the Russians themselves, if Simon Pirani’s new analysis is anything to go by. ‘People reasoned that capitalism could not be worse than what they had lived under’, he argues. ‘Now, the false dichotomy between Soviet “socialism” and Western capitalism is receding further into the past, and the monstrous destructive power of 20th century capitalism is staring us in the face.” – Paul Routledge in Tribune

“If you want a detailed account of the background and possessions of the oligarchs who are tolerated or otherwise by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, Simon Pirani’s book is an important source of information. […] He also shows his prejudice against the former USSR by describing it as a dictatorship which crushed people’s ability to organise for their own interests.” – Jean Turner in The Morning Star


  • List of figures and tables
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Glossary of Russian words and abbreviations
  • Introduction: Putin’s Russia in Deep Focus
  • 1. From Gorbachev to Yeltsin
  • 2. From Yeltsin to Putin
  • 3. Power and money: the economic foundations
  • 4. Power and money: the state, oligarchs and oil
  • 5. Power and money: from oil boom to bust
  • 6. Power and people: how Russia is ruled
  • 7. People and money: human development dilemmas
  • 8. People: parties, unions and NGOs 
  • 9. People: grass-roots movements
  • Conclusions
  • Chronology
  • Further reading

Paperback, 221 pages.



  • A BOOK LAUNCH on Thursday 3 December, at the Calthorpe Arms, 252 Grays Inn Road, London, was packed with friends and colleagues and was great fun. I gave a talk about the book, followed by discussion, at Housmans Bookshop in Kings Cross on Wednesday 2 December: that was a good evening too.
  • On 29 November I gave a presentation at the Historical Materialism conference in London on “Russia’s Oil: Curse? Weapon? Both?” in which I talked about some of the economics themes in the book. More info, agenda etc., here http://mercury.soas.ac.uk/hm/conference2009.htm
  • I’ve accepted invites from universities, activists’ groups and elsewhere to talk about these themes. Email me at smpirani@hotmail.com if you’d like to arrange something.



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