In late December, an unsigned piece posted on a popular Russian-language blog, headlined “Companions in the Fight,” caused a stir on the Russian Internet by shedding light on a largely unexamined facet of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s background.
While many analysts who try to understand and explain Putin’s worldview tend to focus on his KGB past, the “Companions” article suggests that Putin’s early exposure to the criminal underworld exerted considerable influence in shaping his way of thinking.
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Alexei Sobchenko is an independent analyst and translator based in Washington, DC. He has worked at the US Department of State and for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Born in Russia, he holds an MA in Modern History from Moscow State University.