Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin

February 2018 9781849049337 208pp
Available as an eBook


The Russian president’s landmark speeches, interviews and policies borrow heavily from great Russian thinkers past and present, from Peter the Great to Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. They offer powerful visions of strong leaders and the Russian nation: they value conservatism and the Slavic spirit. They root morality in Orthodoxy, and Russian identity in the historic struggle with the West.

Today, Putin manages and manipulates those same ideas in his ‘defence’ of 130 million ethnic Russians against the world. With the annexation of Crimea, the war in Syria and shock election results across the West, the challenge of decrypting his worldview has become more pressing than ever. From a Eurasian Union to a new Russian Empire, this is a revealing tour of Kremlin doctrine and strategy, viewed through its philosophical roots.


‘[A] slender but sizzling book . . . essential reading for anyone who wants to know where the regime in the Kremlin is heading – and what it means for the rest of the world.’ — The Times

‘Drawing on interviews with many of the politicians and thinkers . . . close to . . . Putin [Eltchaninoff] . . . persuasively show[s] how ideas that have shaped the culture [of Putin] have in turn shaped [him].’ — The Financial Times

‘The book’s strength is . . . its mapping of the wider intellectual climate in which Putinism has thrived. . . Eltchaninoff manages to sketch an evolution in Putin – or at least in Putin’s self-portrayal – from westward-looking moderniser to unapologetic conservative, a shift traced through the increasing presence of chauvinist, anti-western thinkers in his writings.’ — The Irish Times

‘Intriguing.’ — New Statesman

‘Enlightening.’ — Le Monde Diplomatique

‘Uncovers a fascinating truth … The real interest in this book lies in its unstinting analysis of the ideological sources of Putin’s conservatism. … Notably rigorous [it is] a must-read for those wanting to understand the Russian leader’s ideological roots — disturbing and fascinating in equal measure.’ — Le Figaro

‘On the plane to Moscow, Francois Hollande tucked into a short new book this week: Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin. The author, Michel Eltchaninoff, traces the political and spiritual education of the Russian chief.’ — Midi Libre

‘Expertly explores the intellectual influences on Russian President Vladimir Putin . . . Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the book is the way it easily moves from philosophical interpretation to discussion of geopolitical realities. This book is necessary to understand Russia and its influence in the world today.’ — Choice

‘Eltchaninoff provides a detailed discussion of the origins of Putin’s philosophy.’ — Survival

‘Here is the paradox: Putin is no philosopher-king, yet he overtly and repeatedly evokes a series of Russian thinkers and writers and expects his people to know them. In this thought-provoking book, Michel Eltchaninoff explores Putin’s philosophical pantheon and the ways he appropriates and sometimes simply misunderstands them, in pursuit of his political and ideological programme for Russia.’ — Mark Galeotti, author of The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia



Michel Eltchaninoff is Editor-in-Chief of Philosophie magazine and a former lecturer in philosophy at the University of Burgundy and Pantheon-Sorbonne University. His Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin won the Prix de La Revue des Deux Mondes in its original French edition.

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