Join Professor Oleg Manaev for a discussion of The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladmir Putin by Masha Gessen on Wednesday, September 27 at noon in the East Tennessee History Center auditorium.
"I’m really impressed by how Gessen's book flows on multiple tracks, tracing Putin’s life back to boyhood, the story of his hometown of St. Petersburg, his KGB experience, and finally the last quarter-century of Russian history," Manaev said. "Even though many interpretations remain controversial, this book helps to understand modern Russia."
The "man without a face" is Vladmir Putin, who had been a former deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and briefly a director of the secret police, but had very little governmental or administrative experience. When the “family” surrounding Boris Yeltsin went looking for a successor to the ailing and increasingly unpopular president, Putin nevertheless seemed the perfect choice: a “faceless” creature whom Yeltsin and his cronies could mold in their own image.
Manaev, Global Security Fellow at the University of Tennessee Institute for Nuclear Security, has an insider's perspective of Eastern European politics. When in 2010 the leadership of the Belarusian State University—on order from the KGB—pressured Manaev to resign, 130 well-known scholars from 30 countries sent a letter of protest to the Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, preserving his position. Manaev was arrested the following year by the Minsk Riot Police and called “a pawn of the West” by President Lukashenko. Finally, Manaev's contract with the University was cancelled, ending his 40 year tenure. Manaev has held visiting professorships at universities in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Europe and Japan. He has authored 200 scholarly articles and 20 books on media, political process, and democracy.