LUKE Harding was the Guardian’s correspondent in Moscow for four years until 2011, when his accreditation was withdrawn by the Russian government. No reason was given, but his reporting on Chechnya, the war with Georgia and the state of Russia under Vladimir Putin’s administration clearly did him no favours. It is a failed state in which the boundaries between government, business and criminality have become fatally blurred, with corruption at the highest levels of the Kremlin. For the political elite, or siloviki, the state functions only too well. Putin is reckoned to be a prime beneficiary. For the South African reader, Harding’s book constantly raises the question: to what extent is our country like this?