Vladimir Putin as a ‘Real Russian Man’


Some years ago when I lived in Moscow, I remember being startled by a comment a friend of mine made about Russian chauvinism.

I was—and still am—good friends with a youngish, smart and very self-possessed Russian lady, who had spent a long time in the United States and understood both Russian and Western ways of managing interpersonal relationships. I was sitting one afternoon in her kitchen on Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) and discussing a sense of unease that I detected she felt at the time.

She was worried, she said, because she was being pursued by a Russian man who she knew but did not like. She had tried to deflect his advances, but had failed. The following short bit of dialogue ensued:

“Well, if you don’t like him,” I said, “just tell him that he is not wanted in your life.”

“It is not as simple as that,” she replied uneasily.

“But you can look after yourself.” That was indeed true.

“You don’t know this guy,” she said, looking slightly rattled. “He’s not like most of the people I know here, who are civilised.”

I asked who he was but got no specific answer beyond the fact that he was rich and forceful. So I said, “What exactly is the problem with him?”

“He’s a real Russian man!”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

She thought carefully for a moment then said,

“He always gets what he wants – and if he doesn’t get it, he takes it.”

This conversation came back to me recently when I watched Putin, the ultimate short chauvinist, venting his anger on Ukrainians and any others who prevent him taking what he wants. He will brook no refusal. The only hope is that he does not have the strength to succeed in Ukraine. If he had, the outcome of the current war would only be a matter of time.

It is therefore up to us all to try to give Ukraine whatever we can to increase its strength to resist “a real Russian man”, but without making the mistake of thinking that all Russian males are like that.

Ian Mitchell is the author of The Justice Factory: Can the Rule of Law Survive in 21st Century Scotland? (2020) The Foreword is written by Lord Hope of Craighead, ex-Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court and Alan Page, Professor of Public Law at Dundee, who is the author “Constitutional Law of Scotland”, the main reference work, has written an Introduction to Part II. Details of the book are here.