Russians Are Reading Book on How to Remove Dictators

(p. A24) . . . the book, “The End of the Regime: How Three European Dictatorships Ended,” is not about Russia or Vladimir Putin. It’s about three dictatorships — those of Francisco Franco in Spain, Antonio Salazar in Portugal and the colonels in Greece — and how those countries became democracies, returning to the global fold. A large number of Russians haven’t suddenly taken an interest in the history of 20th-century Southern Europe. Rather, discussions of the book have common themes: How do prolonged right-wing dictatorships end? And can Russia become a democracy?

As one might expect, the book is being widely discussed by opposition groups and those calling for an end to the war. More surprisingly, it is also being read by the Russian nomenklatura — those at the apex of the Russian state. It seems that the book has become a pretext for discussion of taboo topics, such as political transition, the health and death of the leader, defeat in a colonial war, the end of isolation and, indeed, the end of the regime.

. . .

Russian readers have found much that is resonant in the book. How the Greek dictatorship, for example, collapsed after an attempt to annex Cyprus, which it regarded as a historical part of the country. Or how the Portuguese regime caved in as a result of a colonial, imperialist war that dragged on for years. Or how Salazar, plagued by health problems, was removed from power but continued to think that he was ruling the country. (To maintain the illusion, a special newspaper was published just for him.) And then there is the story of how in Spain, the idea of a transition to democracy slowly took hold and was brought about by the ruling elite itself.

For the full essay, see:

Alexander Baunov. “Russians Are Still Asking Questions About What’s Next.” The New York Times (Thursday, April 27, 2023): A24.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the essay has the date April 26, 2023, and has the title “Russians Seem Very Interested in My Book About How Dictatorships End.”)

Baunov’s essay discusses his Russian-language book:

Baunov, Alexander. The End of the Regime: How Three European Dictatorships Ended.

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