Tag "Brian Whitmore"

The Daily Vertical: Russia’s real debate (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL The most interesting thing that happened during yesterday’s so-called election was a heated debate between a candidate who received less than two percent of the vote and one who wasn’t even on the ballot. One of the few things that wasn’t choreographed and stage managed; the only thing that appeared spontaneous on an utterly predictable day was a bitter argument webcast live on YouTube by

Putin’s Brezhnev Moment

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL So, Vladimir Putin just had another Leonid Brezhnev moment. Last year, the current Kremlin leader surpassed the longtime Soviet ruler in longevity in power. And now, after winning a fourth term with well over 70 percent of the vote, Putin has just matched Brezhnev in the number of times he was “elected.” During Putin’s rule, Russian elections may not have become quite as choreographed as

The Daily Vertical: Putin’s image police (transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL Like any head of state, Vladimir Putin has an army of bodyguards to protect him. But unlike most heads of state, he now seems to also have guards protecting pictures of him as well. Police have apparently been deployed in Kuzbass and Yakutsk to guard Putin’s campaign billboards. According to a report by RFE/RL’s Russian Service, the billboard bodyguards were dispatched after somebody wrote the

The Daily Vertical: More Than One Way To Undermine Your Neighbor’s Sovereignty (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL There’s more than one way to steal your neighbor’s territory. There’s more than one way to undermine your neighbor’s sovereignty. There’s more than one way to violate your neighbor’s independence. You can do it Crimea-style, quickly and forcefully — sending in your little green men, staging a referendum at gunpoint, and following up with the pomp and circumstance of a formal annexation ceremony. Or you

The Daily Vertical: Russia’s Worst-Kept Secret (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL Well, it looks like TASS just spilled the beans. Russia’s state news agency has apparently just revealed one of the Kremlin’s most closely held secrets. In a report on November 24, the lede of a TASS news item read as follows: “Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plan to meet in May 2018.” A separate TASS report said Abe would be

The Daily Vertical: Putin And The Paradox Of The Polls (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL Vladimir Putin receives incomplete and distorted information about conditions in Russia and he is often deceived by his aides. The Kremlin leader is also highly dependent on the security services. And he acts largely in the interests of the security services, oligarchs, bankers, and business tycoons. Now, just to be clear, these are not my opinions. They are the findings of a new poll by

The Daily Vertical: Putin’s Hybrid Repression (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL Vladimir Putin made all the right noises yesterday when he spoke at the opening of the Wall of Sorrow, a new monument to victims of Stalinist repression. He said Russia’s “horrific past must not be stricken from the national memory, nor justified in any way.” He said we “must remember the tragedy” of Stalin-era repressions “and their causes.” And he said that this memory serves

The Daily Vertical: Correcting History In Lithuania (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL The battle over history is about more than just history. The struggle over memory is about more than memory. Correcting the historical record about what happened in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states seven decades ago is more than just an academic exercise. And the northern Lithuanian town of Birzai has just come up with a simple, creative, and elegant way to deal with the

The Daily Vertical: Farewell, Russian World (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL Just one more sign that ethnicity and language don’t necessarily translate into political loyalty. Just one more signal that Moscow’s grip on ethnic Russians and Russian speakers abroad is not all it’s cracked up to be. Just one more indication that the so-called Russian World is largely a fiction manufactured by Kremlin spin doctors. Latvian media reported last week that the center-left party Harmony, led

The Daily Vertical: True Extremism (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL It could happen if you say true things. Like that Russia’s forceful annexation of Crimea was a violation of international law. Or that the conflict in Donbas is not a civil war, but a war of aggression carried out by Russia against Ukraine. Or that Moscow should decentralize more power to its regions and give ethnic groups like the Tatars greater autonomy. Or that Russian

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