Russia is a land of magic and wonder, with more than a thousand years' history that reads like the most unlikely of fairy tales. Straddling Europe and Asia, with its scarce and incredibly diverse population, nearly one-sixth of the dry land on Planet Earth transforms constantly to remain itself. Ruled by oligarchs, spies and monarchs - allegories that keep being reborn in one form or another. In the first of a pair of talks, resident Russia expert, host of Understand Russia Daniel Veksler presents the life and career of Russia's current hybrid monarch Vladimir Putin, set in the context of late-Soviet and post-Soviet history.
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