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Fathers and Sons

John Lloyd, 6 March 1997

Informer 001: The Myth of Pavlik Morozov 
by Yuri Druzhnikov.
Transaction, 200 pp., £19.95, February 1997, 1 56000 283 2
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... This is the story of the Soviet Union’s most famous informer, one of the great hero-monsters of the century, and of the pressures which made it possible for a young boy in the North Urals to denounce his father to the secret services and to become an icon for doing so. Crucially, too, it is the story of the dramatic transition in the early Thirties from the relatively relaxed period of the New Economic Policy to the strenuous years of the Five-Year Plan ...

Mr Poland throws a party

John Lloyd, 27 July 1989

... many Western governments; close relations with the foreign media; and a unique relationship with John Paul II, whose third Papal visit to his native country in June 1987 was the occasion for a sustained defence of human rights, and a plea for Solidarity’s legalisation. By the time the Round Table process began earlier this year, Walesa was a powerful ...

Claiming victory

John Lloyd, 21 November 1985

The Miners’ Strike 
by Geoffrey Goodman.
Pluto, 213 pp., £4.50, September 1985, 0 7453 0073 1
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Strike: Thatcher, Scargill and the Miners 
by Peter Wilsher, Donald Macintyre and Michael Jones.
Deutsch, 284 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 233 97825 9
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... The consensus since the miners’ strike ended in March has been overwhelming: it was a disaster, most of all for the miners themselves. It is irresistible, in the interests of fairness at least, to look at the possibility that that verdict is wrong. Let us suppose – as Arthur Scargill invites us to – that it was forced upon them: that, as he also claims, it was a victory ...
Ablaze: The Story of Chernobyl 
by Piers Paul Read.
Secker, 478 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 436 40963 1
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... The explosion at Chernobyl in the Northern Ukraine on 26 April 1986 was less of a disaster for the surrounding inhabitants than for the Communist system. Though far from being the most serious nuclear accident that can be imagined, it suggested that humanity and the environment were less at risk from a catastrophe of this kind than might have been supposed ...

Ruslan’s Rise

John Lloyd, 8 April 1993

The Struggle for Russia: Power and Change in the Democratic Revolution 
by Ruslan Khasbulatov, translated by Richard Sakwa.
Routledge, 256 pp., £19.99, April 1993, 0 415 09292 2
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... Mr Ruslan lmranovich Khasbulatov must be taken seriously, though it isn’t always easy to do so: he can be so self-regarding and flatulent, so biased in his handling of the Russian Parliament, of which he is the Speaker, and so contradictory in everything he says. But he has become one of the most important men in Russia; and because of the state of that country, and the great danger it will pose for the rest of the world if its reform movement implodes and sets off a chain of internal and external conflicts, he is a critically important world figure ...

In Fear and Trembling to the Polls

John Lloyd, 30 November 1995

... Liberals and democrats are fearful about next month’s elections in Russia. Their expectation since 1990 – when Boris Yeltsin became leader of Russia’s Parliament – had been that elections would bring administrations and personalities committed in the main to liberal and democratic programmes. That expectation lasted until the results of the December 1993 elections showed the winner to be Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ironically named Liberal Democrats, a party of extreme authoritarian nationalism ...

How have they made it so soon?

John Lloyd, 21 November 1991

The Soviet Mafia 
by Arkady Vaksberg, translated by John Roberts and Elizabeth Roberts.
Weidenfeld, 275 pp., £19.99, September 1991, 0 297 81202 5
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... A recent interview I had with the chairman of the Russian Central Bank exemplifies the dangerously tense atmosphere within which the politics of the Soviet Union have been conducted since the August putsch – and underscores the importance of what Arkady Vaksberg writes in his uneven, irritating but critically important book. What Georgy Matiukhin wanted to say was that a large part of the developing business culture of the Soviet Union was criminal ...

The best one can hope for

John Lloyd, 22 October 1992

Soviet Politics, 1917-1991 
by Mary McAuley.
Oxford, 132 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 19 878066 4
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What went wrong with perestroika? 
by Marshall Goldman.
Norton, 282 pp., £12.95, January 1992, 0 393 03071 7
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Boris Yeltsin: A Political Biography 
by Vladimir Solovyov and Elena Klepikova.
Weidenfeld, 320 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 297 81252 1
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... Yet there is something in the book which seems to capture more of the essence of the man than John Morrison’s much more balanced biography, published last year. Yeltsin is clearly a more ‘natural man’ than the garrulous, self-regarding Gorbachev. Though incurably populist and rough of tongue, he has also, so far, stood behind reform in the ...


John Lloyd: The Russian reformers’ new party, 15 July 1999

... time with the air of a man unfazed by his boss’s enthusiasm, then said: ‘Boris Yefimovich, Mr Lloyd wants to ask you some questions.’ Nemtsov reluctantly disengaged himself, and greeted me in a friendly fashion, inviting the protocol officer as he did so to ‘come back later’, while winking at me. He was Bill Clinton without the need for ...

Perestroika and its Discontents

John Lloyd, 11 July 1991

Moscow and Beyond: 1986-1989 
by Andrei Sakharov.
Hutchinson, 168 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 09 174972 7
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Fatal Half-Measures: The Allure of Democracy in the Soviet Union 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, edited and translated by Antonia Bovis.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1991, 0 316 96883 8
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... The Soviet Union might be represented in caricature as the Michelangelo Laocoön, hands clutching desperately at a future freedom while the serpents of the present twine around its trunk, and its feet remain embedded in the marble of the past. Such a state, where the imperatives of past, present and future are all equally powerful, is very hard to inhabit: which is why we should not dismiss the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report on Chernobyl when it says that stress caused by perestroika was responsible for more illness than the side-effects of the meltdown ...

How frightened should we be?

John Lloyd, 10 February 1994

Russia 2010 
by Daniel Yergin and Thane Gustafson.
Random House, 302 pp., $32, October 1993, 0 679 42995 6
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What About the workers: Workers and the Transition to Capitalism in Russia 
by Simon Clarke.
Verso, 248 pp., £34.95, September 1993, 0 86091 650 2
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After the Soviet Union: From Empire to Nation 
edited by Timothy Colton and Robert Levgold.
Norton, 208 pp., $24.95, November 1992, 0 393 03420 8
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... On the matter of Russia’s future there can be no such thing as idle speculation. Now the Russian Prime Minister, Iosif Dozhdev, launches the New Economic Programme, eventually known to history as the Dozhdev line. The time is finally right for a currency reform, which at one blow eliminates state debt and converts enterprise and farm debt at a steep rate ...

Off with her head

John Lloyd, 24 November 1988

Office without Power: Diaries 1968-72 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 562 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 09 173647 1
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... of this year Tony Benn took part in a radio discussion on the working of Parliament, together with John Biffen and Roy (Lord) Jenkins. Asked by the chairman, Peter Hennessy, if he did not think that the Lords now functioned as a ‘focus of opposition’, Benn responded that it was, instead, ‘part of an attack on democracy. After all, why bother to vote in ...

What happened to Gorbachev

John Lloyd, 7 March 1991

Gorbachev: The Making of the Man who Shook the World 
by Gail Sheehy.
Heinemann, 468 pp., £16.99, December 1990, 0 434 69518 1
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Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin 
by Dusko Doder and Louise Branson.
Macdonald, 430 pp., £14.95, December 1990, 0 356 19760 3
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The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union 
edited by Graham Smith.
Longman, 389 pp., £22.50, January 1991, 0 582 03953 3
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... This is written in Moscow as the Soviet Union trembles on the brink of its next period of trembling on the brink. Brink-trembling has been the Soviet leadership’s main stance over the issues on which its subjects judge it – supply, production, civil peace. It is commonly assumed that it cannot go on for ever, that the brink will finally collapse from the effect of all that trembling ...

Praise Hayek and pass the ammunition

John Lloyd, 24 February 1994

The Fate of Marxism in Russia 
by Alexander Yakovlev, translated by Catherine Fitzpatrick.
Yale, 250 pp., £19.95, October 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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Politics and Society in Russia 
by Richard Sakwa.
Routledge, 518 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 415 09540 9
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... Pessimism over Russia was not always as fashionable as it is now. Western commentators still refer automatically to the upheaval in the former Soviet Union as a ‘transition’, as though Russia and the former Soviet Republics were following a well defined and orderly course leading from one form of state to another. But in recent conversations with British, German and, above all, American policy planners, officials and scholars, I have found only a dogged determination to go on hoping for the best, while very much fearing the worst ...


John Lloyd: In Romania, 15 April 1999

... On travelling to the mining region of the Jiu Valley in Romania earlier this year, I found myself once more facing a difficulty that had become familiar to me in a decade of reporting from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union: how to reconcile my sense of shock at the misery and deprivation of the people about whom I was writing with my conviction that few of their demands, which mostly came down to a plea for things to stay as they were, could or even should be granted ...

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