Novel About Corruption May Be Kremlin Official's Work

Close to Zero portrays bribes, fraud as commonplace in contemporary Russia
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2009 4:15 PM CDT
Dmitry Medvedev and the Kremlin's deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov confer while meeting members of the Federation Council in the Moscow Kremlin on Tuesday Jan. 15, 2008.    (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service, Vladimir Rodionov)
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(Newser) – A novel about a publisher navigating Russia’s complex web of political favors and payoffs may have been written by a top Kremlin official, the Moscow Times reports. Sources at Russky Pioner magazine, which published excerpts of Close to Zero before its release last month, say Vladislav Surkov, a powerful aide to Vladimir Putin, wrote the novel under a pen name.

Surkov is widely considered the Kremlin’s chief ideologist, creator of the “sovereign democracy” doctrine. The Kremlin says Surkov “definitely didn’t write” the novel, Reuters reports, and even opposition figures have dismissed the information as a PR move. But the author's pen name, Natan Dubovitsky, is close to the family name of Surkov’s wife, Natalya Dubovitskaya.