A review of The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB by Irina Borogan and Andrei Soldatov. The case of the infamous Russian arms trader Victor Bout — who has supplied guns, ammunition, and material to groups ranging from the FARC in Colombia to the Afghan Taliban — has raised many questions. It started with the launch of Sputnik and ended with the Cuban missile crisis, but for a moment it looked as if the Russian dream of unrivalled prosperity would be realised. In their remote forest republic 400 miles east of the Moscow, the pagan Mari people are once again being harassed by the authorities. An interview with Francis Spufford on 20th-century Russia. Anatol Lieven on reexamining Russian history. From elegant modernism to Stalinist kitsch, the history of the Soviet Union’s journey is written all over its facades. How does Ekho Moskvy manage to survive in a country which is thought to be authoritarian and where the regime tramples on the press? A look at why Putin is the biggest badass in world politics. Guided by Medvedev, Russia appears to be slowly refashioning its foreign policy to favor better relations with the West. Moscow would like to exchange closer ties for investment and technology — a trade that the US would be wise to support. A review of Lonely Power: Why Russia Has Failed to Become the West and the West is Weary of Russia by Lilia Shevtsova.