‘Putin’s Brain’ and the Future of Russia

Fyodor Tyutchev, a father of Russian poetry, was both a lover of the West and a Russian nationalist. He was not alone in his belief that his vast homeland of harsh winters and horizons of golden grain, defied simple understanding—or that, whatever Russia was, its definition was somehow tied up in perpetual, circular conflicts like “East versus West” or “despotism versus humanism.” As one clique of rulers after another has attempted to impose its own vision of order, an additional characteristic of the Russian people becomes clear: their capacity for endurance in the face of inscrutable, harsh fates. As Tyutchev wrote, “In Russia, one can only believe.”