Why Do Russians Have No Power Over Putin? Top Historian Has the Answer

Alexander Etkind, one of the most influential Russian thinkers, explains why it's impossible to remove the Putin regime right now, why the country's intellectual class is becoming extinct and how COVID-19 can actually benefit the planet

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Alexander Etkind
Alexander EtkindCredit: PAVEL MARKELOV
Liza Rozovsky
Liza Rozovsky
Liza Rozovsky
Liza Rozovsky

“In 1930, Grigory Etkind was arrested in his apartment in Leningrad. Five months later, his son came home from school one day and asked a gray-bearded man, who was sitting on the staircase, ‘May I pass, please?’ ‘Fima, it’s me,’ said the man, using his son’s nickname.”

This shocking episode, in which a son couldn’t recognize his father after the totalitarian Soviet machine had finished with him, is recounted by Alexander Etkind in his book “Warped Mourning: Stories of the Undead in the Land of the Unburied” (Stanford University Press, 2013). Grigory Etkind was Alexander’s grandfather; the son who didn’t recognize him was Alexander’s uncle, Efim Etkind, who went on to become a well-known scholar of literature and Russian dissident.

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