New York Times columnist Simon Montefiore devoted an article to Putin's phone call to Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen from the same newspaper, during which Putin invited Gessen for a personal meeting and offered to reinstall her to the post of editor-in-chief of Moscow geographic magazine Vokrug Svete/Around the World.
Gessen previously reported in detail this story in the same New York Times. Montefiore asks the main question in this issue: why was it necessary for Putin to call Gessen?
The journalist points that the Russian tsars - from Romanovs to Stalin - constantly poke their nose in the matters of literature, which does not concern them, and occasionally show their "fatherly care".
He recalls famous Stalin's calls to Russian writers Bulgakov and Pasternak and writes in his article "Please Hold for Mr. Putin":
"So why, really, do these czars make the call? The outcome of the conversation is irrelevant. The point isn't the call itself but the myth of the call, spreading like ripples in the pond of the intelligentsia. (That's why Stalin's secretary told Pasternak he could recount the story.)
It showed the president had heard of Ms. Gessen's plight and reached down, with imperial magnanimity, to a hostile writer to correct an injustice.
He was also able to prove that though he may been mocked for his adventures - when it emerged that a tiger he "captured" was from a zoo and that ancient amphorae he "discovered" on a dive were planted - he was not deceived.
"There are excesses", he admitted jovially, but only in the cause of saving nature. His candor, thus reported by Ms. Gessen, disarmed ridicule. The good czar showed he despised the preposterous sycophancy of his pettifogging officials just like ordinary Russians did. He saw all. He knew.
Today's oppositionists are bloggers, not poets, but an autocrat of the Internet age still paid a compliment to the old-fashioned written word. As Bulgakov wrote, "Manuscripts don't burn", says Montefiore in New York Times.
It is to be recalled that Gessen believes that Putin did not know about her anti-Putin's book and she questions his mental adequacy amid strange Putin's tears at a pro-Putin's rally in a Moscow square this March.
Whatever it was, no one is likely to challenge Putin's desire to promote himself in a Stalin's way, using Gessen for it,.
In the meantime, experts on Russia do not stop to be impressed by the fact how easily the KGB thugs manipulate Western journalists. Reporting this story of the Putin's call, Kavkaz Center Russian Service first of all deleted Putin's self-promotion. Gessen somehow did not realize, or she was afraid of the KGB. to do the same with Putin's idle talk about "saving nature".
Department of Monitoring