The French political class has treated Giuliano da Empoli’s fictional insider account of the Putin regime as a handbook for dealing with the Russian leader. This is unfortunate. Not only is the novel full of inaccuracies, it also reproduces the Kremlin worldview.
Ukrainian–American art historian, curator and journalist. He is an expert on art expropriated during World War II. His books include Beautiful Loot: The Soviet Plunder of Europe’s Art Treasure (1995, with Grigorii Kozlov and Sylvia Hochﬁeld). In 2022, he initiated the exhibition ‘In the Eye of the Storm. Modernism in Ukraine 1900-1930s’, which was shown in the Museo Nacional Thyssen Bornemizsa, Madrid, and will travel to Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, the Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, and the Royal Academy, London.
The removal of Potemkin’s remains from St Catherine’s Cathedral in Kherson was not without irony, given the flimsiness of Putin’s version of history. On the meaning of Russia’s macabre new ideology.
In true Stalinist manner, Russian culture is being weaponized in the war against Ukraine. But instead of cancelling Russian writers, should we read them with a critical eye – just like other European classics?