#11 - JRL 2009-149 - JRL Home
Moscow Times
August 13, 2009
Surkov Writes Novel About Corruption
By Natalya Krainova / The Moscow Times

Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s powerful first deputy chief of staff, has written a novel about corruption among senior officials under a pen name, and excerpts have been published to mixed reviews.

Russky Pioner magazine, edited by Kremlin pool reporter Andrei Kolesnikov, published fragments from the novel "Okolonolya," or "Around Zero," by Natan Dubovitsky in late June.

A source in Zhivi media group, which owns the magazine, said Dubovitsky was in fact Surkov, widely seen as the Kremlin’s chief ideologist, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

Surkov's wife is Natalya Dubovitskaya.

A Kremlin spokesman said Thursday that he could not confirm or deny Surkov's authorship. No one was available for comment at Zhivi during repeated calls to its office Thursday.

When Russky Pioner published excerpts from the novel in June, Kolesnikov wrote in a commentary that the novel was written by a columnist for the magazine. In December, the magazine published an article by Surkov about Spanish painter Joan Miro.

The novel "explains a lot about why Russia's modern history is going the way it is going and not any other way," Kolesnikov wrote.

Surkov coined the term "sovereign democracy," which has been introduced in a manual for history teachers.

The novel has received mixed reviews by Russky Pioner readers, from "boring [expletive]" and "trash with pretensions" to "talented writing" and "really cool."

Marina Litvinovich, an aide to opposition leader Garry Kasparov, expressed doubt on her LiveJournal blog on Thursday that Surkov had authored the book, calling the information "a PR move."

In addition to contributing to Russky Pioner, Surkov has written several songs for the rock band Agata Kristi.

Among Russky Pioner's other columnists are Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and presidential economic adviser Arkady Dvorkovich.

Kolesnikov, a reporter with Kommersant, has compiled two books based on articles he wrote during Putin's first presidential term in 2000 to 2004. The books, titled "I Saw Putin" and "Putin Saw Me" were published in late 2004.

In 2000, Kolesnikov co-authored a book titled, "In the First Person: Conversations with Vladimir Putin."

Repeated calls to Kolesnikov's work phone went unanswered Thursday.

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