Tag "The Daily Vertical"

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

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: 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: 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

The Daily Vertical: Back To Article 70 (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL So don’t look now, but Russia may be about to get yet another law that will allow Vladimir Putin’s regime to prosecute its own citizens for just about anything. According to a report in this morning’s edition of the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia, which is one of the regime’s key mouthpieces, the Federation Council is working on legislation to deal with “undesirable behavior.” The details of

The Daily Vertical: The Ghosts Of August 1939 (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL It happens every August, almost without fail. As the summer winds down, you can count on the annual controversy about the events and repercussions of August 1939. Every August, the ghost of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact — the specter of the Soviet Union’s collaboration with Nazi Germany — comes back to haunt Europe. And this year was no exception. To mark the anniversary of the pact

The Daily Vertical: Best frenemies forever (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL They’re arguing about milk. They’re quarreling about customs. And they’re squabbling about ports. For two countries that are supposed to be close allies, who are part of a “union state,” and who are about to hold massive joint military exercises, Russia and Belarus sure do seem to be bickering a lot. As Russian troops arrived in Belarus for next month’s Zapad-2017 war games, Russia banned

The Daily Vertical: The Kremlin’s anti-Navalny? (Transcript)

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL He’s a bare-knuckled street brawler. He’s a firebrand leftist. And he’s an unapologetic Stalinist who wants to restore the Soviet Union. For nearly five years, Sergei Udaltsov has been Russia’s most invisible political prisoner. The public didn’t read his prison letters. Rights groups didn’t take up his cause. He didn’t become a media star. But with his release from prison last week, Udaltsov has suddenly

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