A 1986 dystopian Russian novel basically predicted Vladimir Putin


In 1986, near the end of the Soviet Union, a Russian satirical novelist tried to imagine the future of his homeland. He envisioned a head of state who had risen through the ranks of the KGB, used a war to cement his power, elevated his former security colleagues into positions of influence, claimed to derive authority from the Russian Orthodox Church and ruled Russia for decades.

In other words, he predicted Vladimir Putin.

The writer was Vladimir Voinovich, and his novel was “Moscow 2042,” a dystopic satire about a man who takes a journey into the next century.

The protagonist, a freelance writer named Vitaly Nikitich Kartsev, boards a Lufthansa space flight in 1982, consumes a dozen-plus in-flight vodkas, and lands in the year of the title. He finds little in the way of future tech to marvel at (“People with an interest in such things should read science fiction,” narrates Kartsev), and in Voinovich’s version of postmillennial Russia, the U.S.S.R. is still going strong.


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