In January, during the run-up to Russia’s March 4 election, the front-runner, Vladimir Putin, proposed “a canon of 100 Russian books that every school leaver will be required to read at home . . . and then write an essay about one of them.” Reading, according to Putin, is not just an elective individual activity, but one that has decisive implications for the nation. “State policy with regard to culture must provide appropriate guidelines,” he wrote in an essay in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, and culture shapes “public consciousness and . . .