Vladimir Putin: the KGB President?

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

When I checked in at the Gros Ventre Campground last Thursday and picked up a copy of the Jackson Hole Daily I noticed an ad for a 'Russian Club lecture'  by 'Scholar and Author Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution' with the interesting title: ' Vladimir Putin:  the KGB President?'  
Some of you will know that I was in Moscow with my family during 1991-97 working for IBM.  So I have an abiding interest in this country, and I decided to attend the lecture, even though it meant staying in Jackson a few days more than I had intended.  
Fiona Hill is of British origin, daughter of a coalminer, and during one of the great coalminers' strikes in the 1980s, she went to the Soviet Union at age 19 to learn Russian.  The initiative, one of several similar, came from Soviet coalminers who wanted to show solidarity with their British 'comrades'.  Now at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., she has written a book with a co-author, Clifford G. Gaddy.  The title of the book is:  'Mr. Putin.  Operative in the Kremlin' - not quite as sexy as the announced lecture but probably more appropriate for a scholarly book.  
Her lecture lasted little over an hour and was structured around several Putin 'profiles' (just like the book):  The Statist, The History Man, The Survivalist, The Outsider, The Free Marketeer, and The Case Officer.  Afterwards there was a Q & A session.  There were probably 150 people in attendance (amazing considering that Jackson has a population of less than 10,000).  Someone in the audience wanted to know how rich Putin is.  Nobody (except Putin) knows, of course  But he is probably very rich.  He is also proud of the fact that Russia has more billionaires per capita than any other country.  This position is strange to me.  When you go 100 miles outside Moscow or Saint Petersburg into the countryside, it's like going back into the 19th century.  After the lecture I purchased the book.  We spoke briefly, and I had her write a dedication in it.  I didn't know her name beforehand, but she seems to be a frequent commentator on Russian affairs in the media.
I've enjoyed a couple of relaxed days in the Jackson Hole area.  The Tetons are fantastic - morning, afternoon, evening, and night.  When I'm finished with today's travelblog, I'll head north in the direction of Yellowstone.  I doubt that WiFi signals can be intercepted inside the park, so you will probably hear from me next time, when I'm out of the park and somewhere in Montana.            
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Gina on

I love Jackson! Thanks for sharing the pictures of the town. It brought back such good memories! What a facinating lecture!

P Tanzy Maxfield on

Places I especially enjoyed in northwestern Montana: the church at St. Ignatius, MT on the Flathead Reservation. A beautiful place, Hwy 93. And the Ross Creek Cedars on Hwy 56. Quiet sacred places open to all. Each stunning in its own way.I already know once is not enough for me.

Marilyn Lee on

The Grand Tetons is one of the most gorgeous sights, hope you got lots of time in this popular national park. Let us know what wild life you see -- antelope, moose, bears, bald eagles? Happy Camping!

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