The Literary Intrigues of Putin’s Puppet Master

What really triggered the sensation over Okolonolya, or Almost Zero, was the identity of its author, an unknown named Natan Dubovitsky. Dubovitsky was soon suspected, courtesy of an anonymous tip to the St. Petersburg newspaper Vedomosti, of being a pseudonym for Vladislav Surkov. It was this elite Kremlin adviser, variously called a “political technologist,” the “gray cardinal,” or a “puppet master,” who had created and orchestrated Putin’s so-called sovereign democracy—the stage-managed, sham-democratic Russia, the ruthlessly stabilized, still-rotten Russia that Almost Zero was savaging.

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