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Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Luke Harding
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29. September 2011

In 2007 Luke Harding arrived in Moscow to take up a new job as a correspondent for the British newspaper the Guardian. Within months, mysterious agents from Russia's Federal Security Service - the successor to the KGB - had broken into his flat. He found himself tailed by men in cheap leather jackets, bugged, and even summoned to Lefortovo, the KGB's notorious prison.

The break-in was the beginning of an extraordinary psychological war against the journalist and his family. Vladimir Putin's spies used tactics developed by the KGB and perfected in the 1970s by the

Stasi, East Germany's sinister secret police. This clandestine campaign burst into the open in 2011 when the Kremlin expelled Harding from Moscow - the first western reporter to be deported from Russia since the days of the Cold War.

Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia is a brilliant and haunting account of the insidious methods used by a resurgent Kremlin against its so-called "enemies" -

human rights workers, western diplomats, journalists and opposition activists. It includes unpublished material from confidential US diplomatic cables, released last year by WikiLeaks, which describe Russia as a "virtual mafia state".

Harding gives a unique, personal and compelling portrait of today's Russia, two decades after the end of communism, that reads like a spy thriller.

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  • Taschenbuch: 320 Seiten
  • Verlag: Guardian Books (29. September 2011)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0852652488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852652480
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 23,1 x 15,2 x 2,5 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 711.611 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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A courageous and explosive exposé (Orlando Figes )


A journalist expelled from Russia in February 2011 tells his story

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Luke Hardings, Mafia state 11. Mai 2014
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Der Gute Luke hat was mitgemacht.diese Staat verhöhnt alle Andersdenkende. Im Prinzip ist es reiner Terror.
Die derzeitigen Ereignisse in der Ukraine sprechen für sich selbst. Es wird in Russland alles so weitergen wie
Bisher. Oder mindestens 20-25 Jahre. Schade eigentlich.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen Luke Harding -everything that is wrong with Journalism 1. März 2012
Von Bezdomny - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Luke Harding represents the epitome of hack journalism. And despite being an ad hominum attack, it is one based in fact. An interesting thing happened on August 20 2007, when the daily he works for (the Guardian) was forced to apologize for Hardings blatant plagiarism of a popular and well respected alternative weekly the Exile. The article in question was entitled 'The richer they come', which serves as doubly ironic in Hardings case. Firstly, the Exiled was actually targeted by the Russian Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage and shut down the following year. Secondly, Hardings plagiarism of the Exile is less indicative of his dishonesty than it was an example of laziness on Hardings part.

You see, Harding is of the trickle down school of foreign correspondents. That is to say, being an individual with a poor grasp of Russian, he fed off of the regurgitated bits of news that had first passed through the Russian press, only to be translated by the English language press operating in Russia. Harding was three steps removed from every story he wrote, so he became a cut and paste warrior. That is to say, Harding needed google to do his job, living in Russia was superfluous in real terms. Except of course, for the refried turd of a book with its tabloid-esque title and its megalomaniacal blurb about becoming an enemy of the Russian state. In that sense, this book is a complete work of fiction. To save myself the effort of doing what Richard de Lacy already brilliantly did in his article for Spiked-online entitled 'Face it, the FSB is just not that into you," I'll quote de Lacy at length to discuss the paranoid fantasy Harding engaged in:

"For example, one very common `welcome to Russia' phenomenon which often does drive us expats mad (albeit usually only figuratively) is returning to your rented flat to find that the landlady has charged in uninvited to nose about, rearrange something, theatrically move the ashtray outside to the balcony, etc. Fortunately, mine always telephoned the day before to give advanced warning, but I can sympathise with Harding when in 2007, after just three months in Russia, he came home to find someone had been in his tenth-floor flat. His reaction, however, invites comment. `Everything appeared normal... And then I saw it. The window of my son's bedroom was wide open... almost provocatively, defiantly so... The dark symbolism of the open window in the children's bedroom was not hard to decipher: take care, or your kids might just fall out.'

So his first thought is not of some overly fastidious landlady wanting some air in her flat, but of a threat from the Federal Security Service (FSB) to throw his children to their deaths. And why does he think the FSB, the KGB's successor organisation, would be after him? Because his paper, the Guardian, had carried an interview earlier that year with Russian fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

Thankfully, it was only Harding's grip on reality which went hurtling out of the window.

Soon after, he says, `a middle-aged woman, casually dressed and with - I noted - a rather bad 1970s-ish haircut, appeared outside my front door at 7am. When I opened it, she just examined me and left.' Now most of us would assume it was a typically brusque Russian lady looking for someone, and deciding against having a tricky early-morning conversation with an obvious foreigner. But no, Harding is convinced it's the evil FSB.

Then, after - sorry, because of - the Guardian's Berezovsky scoop, Harding even believes he is being targeted at the airport on his way to London. That is, a man slaps his shoulder and tells him there is something wrong with his jacket. This behaviour is familiar to everyone living in Russia. Whether it is a shoelace undone, stitching falling apart, ladders in ladies' tights, dust or dirt, the Russians cannot help pointing it out.

Harding, however, claims that the man's leather jacket is `the unmistakable uniform of the KGB spook'. In that dull, boring real world that the rest of us inhabit, leather jackets are as common in Russia as Manchester United shirts are in Surrey. But this is when Harding really loses the plot: `After takeoff, I made my way to the loo. I took off my jacket and shirt. There was nothing on them. But then, I wouldn't actually know what a bugging device looked like, I reflected.' Well, as a former radio engineer, I can help him here: it needs an aerial, a power source, and you cannot place it invisibly on a target by slapping it on to their shoulder.

There is a lot more of this manic conspiracy theorising in Harding's piece. When his screensaver at work is changed, it is the FSB. When his press accreditation is withdrawn, it is part of the FSB plot - despite his admission that he had broken the terms. When the Russians show leniency and extend his visa to enable his children to finish school, he reflects that this `was always part of the (FSB) plan'. Like the BBC attributing all possible weather conditions to climate change, one wonders what combination of events would not constitute an FSB plot.

One side-effect of Harding's paranoia seems to be an aversion to facts. He launches into a lengthy rant about the nature and recent history of the FSB, but does not even know the name of the organisation behind his torment, calling them the Federal Security Bureau instead of Service (FSB is a transliteration from Russian, with the B standing for Bezopasnosti, or security).

There are other inaccuracies in Harding's piece. He says Russia's media covered the 2008 war in South Ossetia as a `peacekeeping operation' when in reality they covered it, incessantly, as a genocide of innocent Ossetians by Georgians. I am told Harding does not know Russian, which could explain a lot of his confusions. Less forgivable is his claim that many subjects - `corruption in the Kremlin, activities of Russia's intelligence agencies... human rights abuses by federal security forces... speculation about Putin's personal wealth' - are taboo in the Russian media. He may not be aware that such issues are frequently covered in Russian, but he should at least know that the state-owned English language newspaper, the Moscow News, regularly touches on these themes, since his wife was a regular contributor to the paper."

All in all, this is what I will say about Harding, he is a second-rate writer who pretends to be a fifth-tier journalist. He has no interest in reporting the facts, rather he wants to tell a story, especially if he can put himself at the center of that story. He came to Russia, did zero real investigative journalism that could have shed a fractured beam of light on this dark corner of the human experiment we call Russia, and then went home after a few years to sell snake oil and wolf tickets in the form of a spy thriller that he never lived. In fact, in a February 22 2012 article called 'Confessions of a KGB Spy', Harding finishes as such:

"We part in Hyde Park. No one appears to have been tailing us. There are no figures skulking behind the trees. But I find myself glancing over my shoulder, just in case."

Harding is turning the mundane into the strange through the power of his imagination. If this is your idea of journalism, God be with you. But to those who have something new to say without egotistically putting themselves at the center of a paranoid fairytale, Mafia state is little more than a pathetic joke on the reader. Harding doesn't deserve to make a cent off of this thing, unless he rightly moves it to where it belongs: the fiction section.

P.S. The first reviewer Kevin O'Flynn writes for the second stage in Hardings trickle down process, The Moscow Times.
3 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A frightening tale of of a "near-totalitarian" state 3. November 2013
Von Tore Softing - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
This book is an amazing and frightening tale of how a state that borders on the totalitarian can do as it pleases to just about anybody, even a realtively high profiled person like the correspondent Luke Harding. "If you don't play by the book, you pay the price"!
2 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen A few interesting stories, but poorly written 24. Dezember 2013
Von Sarah N. Hurst - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
My main problem with this book is that it's written in the present tense. "I see him in Moscow in 2008... he is killed in 2009..." gets irritating after the first couple of paragraphs. Although Luke Harding draws attention to real and important issues in Russia, he's also very focused on himself and telling us which billionaires he met and what they ate at which restaurant, as well as his most humiliating moment, playing in a football match against Russian journalists. It was never entirely clear why this was so humiliating. Most of the serious problems of Kremlin corruption and human rights abuses have been covered in far more depth by other reporters, notably Anna Politkovskaya and Masha Gessen, although the chapter about the war between Russia and Georgia was good. Harding jumps around chronologically, so it's a mishmash. He frequently reminds us that he speaks Russian, emphasising this by including comments such as "he used the Russian word for deputy, zam". Why do we need to know that someone speaking Russian used a random Russian word? The Guardian's editing is substandard, too. The impression left is that his main aim is to boast about being considered a threat by the FSB.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen "mafia state" luke harding 18. Oktober 2013
Von ann patricia coleman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Luke Hardings book "Mafia State" in England and titled "Expelled "in the United States,is brilliant and an important reminder to all journalists internationally,organized crime in politics as in Putins Russia,leads to private property bugging,direct threats,stalking and eventually politically backed "zersetzung." As Hillary Clinton stated long ago when George W. Bush was getting cozy with Putin,"Putin does not have a soul he was in the KGB." It is time for Russia to put a stop to state sponsored terrorism by Putin against journalists and it is time for Russia as well as Bulgaria to stop sending their hoods over to the United States targeting freelance journalists and photographers.
ann patricia coleman
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Great book 24. Juni 2013
Von Roberto Azevedo Cossich Furtado - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
A great book for those who have interest in Russia's day by day life of a foreign correspondent. Few forced situations by the writer and many facts.
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