Shaun Walker reports: Revered, even feared, to the point where no one will contradict him; aloof, isolated, a digital hermit who is never out of touch; broadly supported, but very narrowly advised by an ever-tighter group of confidantes. This is the picture of Vladimir Putin and his leadership style painted by a number of people with knowledge of the inner workings of the Kremlin, at a time when such things matter more than at any time since the collapse of communism.
Putin’s Ukraine actions this year have turned him once again into arguably the world’s most fascinating leader. But just as Kremlinology comes back into vogue, the walls of Putin’s central Moscow redoubt are becoming as opaque as they were during the time of Brezhnev.
One anecdote about Putin’s Kremlin reveals a tantalising glimpse of what it is to be a presidential adviser. Putin himself receives briefing information on printed sheets inside red folders; he very rarely uses the internet. According to one source, requirements for his briefing notes have changed significantly in recent months. The president now demands notes on any topic to be no more than three pages long and written in type no smaller than 18 point. [Continue reading…]