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Putin: Prisoner of Power

Length: 2 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,260 ratings)

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About the author

Misha Glenny is an award-winning journalist, historian and academic. As the BBC's Central Europe Correspondent in the late 80s and early 90s, he covered the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the wars in the former Yugoslavia. In 1993, he won the Sony Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting. Among his six books are McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld which maps the globalisation of organised crime after the collapse of communism in Russia, and has since been adapted into a successful TV drama. He has also written the only single volume narrative history of the modern Balkans which is required reading in history courses across the world.

Episode descriptions


Episode 1: Rise of the Oligarch
The seeds of Putin’s rise to power lie in a slightly unusual place: 1990's Moscow where, after 70 years of communism, “gangster capitalism” arrived. Here we tell the story of how a young graduate student at The Institute of Controlled Sciences became one of the richest men in Russia and the Kremlin’s power broker - Boris Berezovsky.

Episode 2: Operation Successor
In 1998, a big financial crash hit Moscow. President Yeltsin’s popularity plummeted. Boris Berezovsky and Yeltsin’s family started the search for a successor. Why did they choose Putin and how did they mould Putin into a President the nation could get behind?

Episode 3: The President vs. The Power Broker
As soon as Putin became President, he started eliminating his immediate rivals. First, Putin went after the very man who helped anoint him — Boris Berezovsky. Along the way, he seized control of the TV stations.

Episode 4: The Octopus State
In his quest to consolidate power, Putin went head to head with the richest man in Russia — the Oil Tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The battle that followed would determine what was more important in Putin’s new Russia: power or money?

Episode 5: The New Nobility Faces a Crisis
When Putin came to the Presidency, he didn’t leave his KGB past entirely behind him. The secret services quickly became “the new nobility” of Russia. When the biggest terrorist attack in Russia happened - hundreds of children held hostage at a school — this new nobility was put to the test.

Episode 6: Little Green Men
In 2014, a revolution started in neighbouring Ukraine. Months later, Putin’s man in Ukraine, President Yanukovich, fled the country in the middle of the night. This left Putin with a power vacuum he desperately had to fill and put him in conflict with the West.

Episode 7: What next?
Misha Glenny talks to former Russia advisor to President Bill Clinton, Mark Meddish, about the country’s political future. Where has Putin’s long rule left Russia today? How long will Putin hold on to power? Can he find a successor?

Critic reviews

"A polished, rigorous and sober account." (Esquire)

"A vivid portrait of a gauche ex-KGB civil servant who was transformed into a feared autocrat and one of the most powerful men in the world." (Financial Times)

"Glenny is a serious man, and this is serious stuff, told well." (The Observer)

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What listeners say about Putin: Prisoner of Power

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More of a short story than a documentary.

This was interesting. It’s a really quick listen and doesn’t really get into detail about anything really. It’s like driving through a city quickly without any stop streets, you get to see the landmarks and a few People flashing by so quickly you can say you’ve been there. But you haven’t really. It’s enough though to get you interested enough to read something with proper content. Oh and Audible - there’s WAY to much music without narration - sometimes it feels like this might be a classical song with a story about Putin thrown in. Too many parts of the show is just music without anything else. Kinda feels like you’re padding the time. Nudge nudge.

12 people found this helpful

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Fascinating political insight.

Presents a strong political argument why Putin remains in power today. Controlling TV broadcasts has allowed him to spread disinformation and confusion and appointing his own Oligarchs to facilitate being unopposed. I highly recommend this audio show. It is both gripping and disturbing at the same time.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Through Putin, understand every world leader

I haven't been following Russian news very much, so this has been a fascinating story. The journalism had an obvious Western bias, for example interviewing protesters extensively but not interviewing any Putin supporter at all. Typical Western propaganda. But most of the facts about Putin's actions seem accurate.
As you listen, you have to use your own judgement and remember this is not just a tyrant, but a highly intelligent political strategist. The tactics he uses for power are being mirrored by Trump, Xi, and so forth.
I'm inspired to wonder if having a strong leader in power for a long time is actually a good thing for the people, as opposed to the other option which is puppet leaders controlled by the oligarchy.

8 people found this helpful

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Compelling

I still can remember some of the storyes related here, living in a country influenced by russian authoritarians can not be forgotten even as a child.

7 people found this helpful

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The politics of power

Unturnoffable. An excellent analysis of the former Soviet Union's descent into the abyss; the rise of the oligarchs; then Putin's rise from securocrat obscurity. An often heart-breaking journey through the tragedies of the Kursk submarine disaster; the Beslan school massacre; and the Ukraine. Just a pity that the Litvinenko and the Salisbury novichok poisonings were not covered. The great people of Russia - that beautiful, bitter, wormwood country - deserved better than this. Misha Glenny and team deserve an award for this work.

7 people found this helpful

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  • 14-10-19

Typical BBC type propaganda

Half thruths twisted lies wont make a good peice of journalism. I'm not a Russian. Not a Putin supporter too. But prejudice and opinionated propaganda can't help to create public opinion nowadays you should remember.

10 people found this helpful

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OK except the music

it's ok, covers a lot in a short amount of time. But the unnecessary music drags on too long and becomes annoying. Also it would be better if it was one download. That way it could effortlessly move from episode to the next.

2 people found this helpful

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An interesting but biased story

First of all three hours is quite a short time to overview the last twenty years of Russian history.
Secondly, opinions are biased, all interviews are from people opposite to Putin. To put things straight, some important details are missed, like that Khodorkovsky wasn't an innocent billionaire, he and his companions were sentenced for serious crimes like contract kills and fiscal frauds. Nothing has been said about the improvements for ordinary people compared to USSR and 90s.
Otherwise, it was a good documentary on key persons in Russian politics.

13 people found this helpful

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Micha Glenie at his shining best. <br />

Excellent interviews, real people, and a story which explains chillingly how a KGB bureaucrat, placed in power by oligarchs in a kleptocracy, came to master the game of gaining and keeping power.

13 people found this helpful

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Putin Prisoner of Powet

Misha Glennys insight in to the modern Russia and how Putin has sculpted its progress is fascinating.
Having visited the country twice in the last 18 months it’s now like any leading western country trying to put its ethnic people first and make them self serving and independent from larger country’s

4 people found this helpful