After taking over from Boris Yeltsin in 1999, and then being elected president in a landslide three months later, Vladimir Putin traveled to almost two dozen countries and a quarter of Russia’s eighty-nine regions to connect with ordinary Russians all within his first year in office. Putin’s travels inspired the idea of a rousing New Year’s Eve address to demonstrate the nation’s greatness and restore pride within the country. He would deliver his speech every hour at midnight throughout Russia’s eleven time zones. The idea was beautiful, but quickly abandoned as an impossible feat to accomplish in just one night.
In the spring and summer of 2017, Nina Khrushcheva, great-granddaughter of Former Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and journalist Jeffrey Tayler wanted to find out how Putin’s idea of restoring pride to Russia had been playing out across the country. Over the course of a few months, they set out and traveled what would have been this New Year’s Eve trip.
In Putin’s Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia’s Eleven Time Zones follows the authors as they travel across Russia’s eleven time zones and examine how a town in each time zone is defined by certain factors – politics, natural resources, educational institutions, society, ethnic and religious diversity, and strategic geographic assets – to create a portrait of Russia. They ultimately argue that these factors make Russia one of the two indispensable nations on Earth, the other one being the United States.
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA is the author of Imagining Nabokov and The Lost Khrushchev, and a Professor of International Affairs at New School University, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times among others. Khrushcheva was born and raised in Moscow within a family in a position of political power. She later moved to the United States as a young adult to attend graduate school and has since made New York her home.