David Satter arrived in the Soviet Union in June, 1976 as the correspondent of the Financial Times of London and entered a country that was a giant theater of the absurd. After 1982, he was banned from the Soviet Union but allowed back in 1990, and finally expelled in 2013 on the grounds that the secret police regarded his presence as “undesirable.” From 1976 to the present, he saw four different Russias, which differed from each other radically while remaining essentially the same. From 1976 to 1982, the Soviet Union was at the height of its world power and its people were in thrall to an absurd ideology. With the advent of Gorbachev’s perestroika, the Soviet population was liberated from the ideology and the state hurtled to its inevitable collapse. When independent Russia emerged from the wreckage, the failure to replace the missing ideology with genuine moral values led to Russia’s complete criminalization.
The articles in this unique collection are a chronicle of Russia from the day David Satter arrived in the Soviet Union until the present. Emigres from the states of the former Soviet Union often despair of their inability to convey the true character of their experiences to the West. Penetrating the veil of Russian mystification requires effort and the ability to understand that seeing is not always believing. The Russians have created an entire false world for our benefit. This collection reflects David Satter’s 40-year attempt to see them as they are.