Tag "Brian Whitmore"

Brian Whitmore: Putin unmasked

By Brian Whitmore, for CEPA In the midst of an abysmally managed crisis, the Russian leader argues that he should rule forever. Why? Because he should. Vladimir Putin got caught telling the truth. In an interview with state television this weekend, the Kremlin leader said constitutional amendments that would effectively make him president for life were necessary because if he left office on schedule in 2024 it would disrupt “the normal rhythm”

Brian Whitmore: Propaganda labs

By Brian Whitmore, for CEPA Covid-19 Has Revived the Freddy Krueger of Kremlin Disinformation Narratives  For years, Kremlin-backed media and surrogates have been vilifying laboratories in former Soviet countries participating in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Biological Threat Reduction Program, which helps partner countries counter the threat of infectious disease outbreaks. Regime mouthpieces at home and abroad have persistently, and incorrectly, characterized such facilities as “biological weapons laboratories.” A perennial target

The Kremlin’s numbers racket

By Brian Whitmore, for CEPA A Persistent and Prolific Propaganda Machine Meets a Deadly Global Pandemic. Now What Happens? Despite sharing a 4,200-kilometer (2,600-mile) border with China, the site of the initial outbreak, Russia reported a remarkably low number of infections in the early days of the pandemic. That story soon unraveled though — and in a way that bodes ill for the Kremlin. Doctors and journalists pointed out that the country was simultaneously experiencing

Brian Whitmore: A viral Victory Day

By Brian Whitmore, for CEPA The subdued Victory Day celebrations in Russia this weekend were an apt metaphor for the state of Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine as it struggles with a global pandemic.  No military parade on Red Square. No columns of soldiers and veterans. No World War II-vintage Red Army vehicles. And no modern military hardware to showcase for the world. But May 9 did feature fireworks, a flyover

The desanctification of Putin

By Brian Whitmore, for CEPA The Political Costs of COVID-19 Are Beginning to Mount  After weeks of indecision, the Kremlin bowed to reality last week and postponed a much-hyped parade on Red Square to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The Defense Ministry quarantined troops that had been rehearsing for the ceremony after scores of them became infected.   This was a big setback. The event

For the Kremlin, COVID-19 is not just a crisis, it’s an opportunity

By Brian Whitmore, for CEPA A longstanding goal of Vladimir Putin’s regime is to replace the liberal rules-based international order with one based on spheres of influence, great power imperialism, and limited sovereignty for small states. Now a Kremlin-connected pundit is arguing that the pandemic, and the havoc that it is unleashing, could advance that goal. In a commentary for the Kremlin mouthpiece Izvestia, provocatively titled “Coronavirus Instead Of War,”

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

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