Close Shaves in Ukraine
The Well-Groomed Autocrat

To understand what makes a dictator tick—and what separates today’s tin-pots from the tyrants of the past century—imagine you’re the man who cuts his hair.

Published on: March 30, 2014
George M. Guess is an adjunct professor in the department of public and international affairs at George Mason University. He worked in Ukraine during the late 1990s for a USAID macroeconomic reform project, and in Armenia on multiple missions in projects during the early 1990s and early 2000s for the IMF, World Bank, and the Open Society Institute.
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  • Joseph Blieu

    Now that you opened the door you can’t stop me from telling my own favorite authentic Soviet Russia joke. Two Soviet prisoners are digging a canal. First says “How long are you in for?” Second says “20 years.” They dig. First says “What did you do?” Second says “I did nothing.” They dig. First says ” You are Lying! everyone knows that for nothing you get only 10 years!”

    • Andrew Allison

      I can’t resist adding that Putin shares a first name with both the original Dracula and Lenin, and that the latter was a nom de plume. Lenin’s real surname was Ulyanov, and the first name of his mistress Ylena. The diminutive of Ylena (Russian for Helen) is Lena, and Lenin means belonging to Lena. Ylena is also my wife’s name, and I get a kick out of introducing myself to her Russian friends as Lenin.

      • Curious Mayhem

        Are you balding, with that pointy beard?

  • Andrew Allison

    Oh, please! Putin does what he does because he can, just as our own President flouts the Constitution and uses the Executive Branch as partisan political attack dogs.

  • Jim__L

    So can we please investigate the quality of Levitt’s sources, and his degree of faithfulness to them? Fiction is only useful in explaining anything to the extent that it stays true to reality.

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