Killer in the Kremlin Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Brought to you by Penguin.
A gripping and explosive account of Vladimir Putin's tyranny, charting his rise from spy to tsar, exposing the events that led to his invasion of Ukraine and his assault on Europe.
In Killer in the Kremlin, award-winning journalist John Sweeney takes listeners from the heart of Putin's Russia to the killing fields of Chechnya, to the embattled cities of an invaded Ukraine.
In a disturbing exposé of Putin's sinister ambition, Sweeney draws on thirty years of his own reporting—from the Moscow apartment bombings to the atrocities committed by the Russian Army in Chechnya, to the annexation of Crimea and a confrontation with Putin over the shooting down of flight MH17—to understand the true extent of Putin's long war.
Drawing on eyewitness accounts and compelling testimony from those who have suffered at Putin's hand, we see the heroism of the Russian opposition, the bravery of the Ukrainian resistance, and the brutality with which the Kremlin responds to such acts of defiance, assassinating or locking away its critics, and stopping at nothing to achieve its imperialist aims.
In the midst of one of the darkest acts of aggression in modern history—Russia's invasion of Ukraine—this book shines a light on Putin's rule and poses urgent questions about how the world must respond.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 39 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.co.uk Release Date||21 July 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 89 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
1 in Russian History (Audible Books & Originals)
1 in Geopolitics
1 in Russia & Former Soviet Union Politics & Government
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 August 2022
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Putin is considered bad, not mad, possibly damaged from his early experiences. He is probably a sociopath lacking empathy. Those who think Putin is medically ill have suggested that his level of aggression has increased due to steroids.
THE BOOK is divided into twenty chapters† spread over 279 pages plus Acknowledgements (3 pages), Notes on Sources (8 pages) and About the Author* (½ page). There is no Index and there are no illustrations.
† THE CHAPTERS
1. The Killing Machine
The first chapter is John Sweeney reporting from Kyiv at the start of the Russian invasion. As a freelancer he lacks that backup provided by a large organisation. There are bombs overhead and in the distance and for a short time he is detained for taking photos of Ukrainian soldiers. Is he a Russian spy? Later, he visits the bombed TV Tower. Behind the destruction is a Russian army with low morale that does not bury its dead and feeds its soldiers on out-of-date rations, sometimes even relabelled dog food. “Corruption is killing Russia’s killing machine”. He goes to nearby Bucha. There are many stray dogs. They are stray because their owners are dead. There are also rows of burnt out Russian tanks. There is talk of war crimes. “I still don’t understand why Vladimir Putin started this idiot war”.
2. Rat Boy
Putin grew up poor in Leningrad. He says in his ghosted autobiography, First Person , that he used to chase the rats in his apartment building with sticks, but if they were cornered they would turn on you. He was coached at a martial arts club by a local gangster. Many of his friends from this club are still part of his gang now, and some are billionaires.
3. Once and Future Spy
Putin joined the KGB in Leningrad. Later he was posted to Dresden in East Germany, where he made useful contacts in the Stasi , the secret police. Returning to Leningrad, he joined his old law professor, who was by then was mayor of the city, and was made one of his deputies. Putin claims that he resigned from the KGB.
4. A Bomb Made of Sugar
The black operation where the security service bombs Russian apartment blocks and blames it on the Chechens.
5. War Without Pity
The author films in Chechnya.
6. The Poisonings Begin
The Kremlin is not new to poisoning, as detailed in Toxic Politics - The Secret History of the Kremlin's Poison Laboratory - Putin’s former boss in Leningrad, Anatoly Sobchak, and his two bodyguards all suffered heart attacks at the same time. - Chechen terrorist held hostages in a Moscow Theatre. Russian special forces gassed the theatre and executed all the terrorists on the spot. There is speculation that this was a black operation. – Yuri Shchekochikhin, an outspoken opposition MP, started to feel unwell. His skin turned red and then started to peel. His hair fell out. He was unrecognizable when he died.
7. A Death of No Significance
A Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, is poisoned but survives. She was on her way to report on the hostage situation in a school in Belan. It later turned into a massacre and may have been a black operation.
8. One Lump or Two?
The poisoning with Polonium of Litvinenko in London.
9. Russia’s Greatest Love Machine
The dangers of reporting on Putin’s private life.
10. Mr Pleonexia
The oligarch Khordorkovsky makes the mistake of meddling in politics.
In Marsha Gessen’s biography of Putin, The Man without a Face , she rejects the term kleptomania (the pathological desire to possess things for which one has little use) and uses the term pleonexia (the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others) to describe Putin.
11. “So, sir, do you regret the killings in Ukraine, sir?”
After the downing of Malaysian aircraft MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014, the author stands in a line of people presented to Putin and asks him an awkward question.
12. The Leader of the Opposition has been Shot
Boris Nemtsov is shot dead outside the Kremlin.
13. Taking On Putin
14. The View from the Spire
The Salisbury poisonings.
15. A War We Didn’t Know We Are Fighting
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the author had talked with Chris Donnelly, a retired senior official from the Ministry of Defence and a Russia expert. Chris Donnelly noted then that “We are at war with Russia and the Russians understand that. So at a Russian point of view, we are at war with them. From a British or a Western point of view, we most certainly are not. And that is the disparity between the attitudes and in the relationship.” (p206)
16. The Kremlin Candidate?
17. Useful Idiots
Max Borodin was a young investigative journalist who died after falling out of a window in 2018. John Sweeney reported a short film on his death for the BBC and dedicated his novel The Useful Idiot to him. – The Russian secret state succeeded in getting close to many political leaders in the West. For example, the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder got a job with Gazprom and Marine Le Pen’s political party National Rally took a loan from a Russian entity. – Alexander Lebedev was a KGB spy in London. His son is now Baron Siberia in the House of Lords. Alexander Lebedev gives parties in his palazzo in Italy, inviting a mixture of celebrities and politicians.
18. The Underpants Poisoner
In August 2020 opposition leader Alexei Navalny collapsed on a plane flying from Siberia to Moscow. Fortunately, the plane landed at Omsk and he was taken to hospital. After an intersession by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to was flown to Germany, where it was found that he had been poisoned with Novichok, the same nerve agent used in the Salisbury poisoning. Navalny survived, but he knew that he would never evict Putin from the Kremlin is he remained an exile. He returned to Russia, was arrested and jailed. He remains in prison. - DVD Navalny , book Navalny: Putin’s Nemesis, Russia’s Future? and YouTube Putin’s Palace.
19. The Kremlin Patient
Is Putin unwell? There are lots of rumours, but no facts. The author notes that when he challenged Putin in 2014 (Chapter 11), Putin was “a different man, subtle, supple, willing to engage with a difficult BBC reporter, albeit only to lie so calmly. The Putin of 2022 was hyper-aggressive. But the reason I felt fear was something else. The Putin I met in 2014 looked like a ferret or a reptile, thin-faced, lean. The 2022 Putin looks like a hamster, his cheeks stuffed, unhealthy. He looks like a man on steroids and that made me full of fear.”
20. This Ends in Blood
“I predict that Vladimir Putin has not long left for this world. The rouble is being pumped up high by Russian reserves, but when the Western sanctions bite hard the Russian economy will tank and then the Russian people will rise up, again. Or one of his generals will may reach for his revolver. Or one of his doctors may see to it that he never wakes up after surgery. Or he may die of a tumour triggered by too many steroids.”
Notes on Sources
About the Author
* About the Author
“John Sweeney is a writer and journalist who, while working for the BBC, has challenged dictators, despots, cult leaders, con artists and crooked businessmen for many years. As a reporter, first for the Observer and then for the BBC, Sweeney has covered wars and chaos in more than eighty countries and been undercover to a number of tyrannies, including Chechnya, North Korea and Zimbabwe. Over the course of his career, John has won an Emmy, two Royal Television Society Awards, a Sony Gold Award, a What the Papers Say Journalist of the Year Award, an Amnesty International Award and thee Paul Foot Award.”
By Ivan on 3 August 2022
I purchased because I heard Sweeney being interviewed on the radio yesterday. Im going to stick with it, but im struggling!
Chapter 2 - is where I expected the book to start. Sadly I fell asleep, so I’m going to have to rewind again. John Sweeney narrates the book himself and he does go rather fast, seeming to expect his reader to keep up the pace.