Mafia State: How One Reporter Became an Enemy of the Brutal New Russia

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Guardian, 2011 - Crime - 310 pages
In February 2011, in scenes that evoked the chilliest moments of the Cold War, journalist Luke Harding was expelled from Moscow. His offence? To have reported on aspects of contemporary Russia that the authorities would have preferred to remain hidden from view. Moscow Ghosts is a clear-eyed and unflinching chronicle of Luke's often terrifying experiences in Russia in the months leading up to his expulsion. It describes his encounters with Russia's sinister FSB security service, the leather-jacketed agents who tailed him, and his summons to Lefortovo, formerly the KGB's notorious Moscow prison. It also details the secret psychological war the FSB waged against the journalist and his family. Emails were intercepted. Break-ins at his flat were routine and calculated. Luke might well return home to find that the smoke alarm had been tampered with, or a sex manual left by his bed, or a teddy bear left in his young son's room. But then, as Harding shows, intimidation of anyone who asks awkward questions is commonplace in today's Russia, and he goes on to explore the climate of fear that currently prevails. He talks to journalists who have been harassed and bullied.He includes accounts of interviews with human rights workers - among them Natalia Estemirova, who was brutally murdered in 2009. He reports from Chechnya and Dagestan, in Russia's troubled Caucasus region, and from the frontline on Moscow's 2008 war with Georgia. And he looks at news stories that the Kremlin would prefer journalists not to cover, including allegations made in the WikiLeaks cables that under the rule of Vladimir Putin Russia has become a 'virtual mafia state'. This is a frank and deeply disturbing portrait of contemporary Russia, written by someone who knows what it is like to be on the wrong side of those in power.

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About the author (2011)

LUKE HARDING is an award-winning foreign correspondent with the Guardian. He has reported from Delhi, Berlin and Moscow and has also covered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the co-author of two previous books, written with David Leigh, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy (2011) and The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken (1997), nominated for the Orwell Prize. The Hollywoodstudio DreamWorks has bought film rights to WikiLeaks. He has also written for the magazine Granta.He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, the freelance journalist Phoebe Taplin, and their two children.

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