In 1990, thirty-eight-year-old Vladimir Putin, a mid-level Soviet spy, returned to his hometown of Leningrad, from an overseas posting in East Germany. His dreams were crushed, his career ruined. East Germany no longer existed, the Soviet Union was about to dissolve.
Ten years later he was president of one of the world’s great powers.
Lena Einhorn’s documentary novel Chameleon follows the unlikely story of how a seemingly unassuming and colorless civil servant navigates – and is by his surroundings guided – through the treacherous waters of torn post-Soviet society towards absolute power.
It is a story that is in equal parts about smartness and naivety, about cunning and adaptability, about determination and stupidity, about unscrupulousness and intuition. It is a story that is as much about Vladimir Putin as it is about those who carried him on their shoulders.
Published in Sweden on February 22, 2024.