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The Daily Vertical: Leninphobia (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

This is Part One of a special Daily Vertical series on Vladimir Putin and the ghosts of Kremlin's past. (The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.)

Vladimir Vladimirovich is afraid of Vladimir Ilyich.

Vladimir Putin is terrified of Vladimir Lenin.

He's afraid of how Lenin came to power. He's afraid of how he led a street uprising that toppled an empire.

And he's afraid that a 21st-century Lenin could be lurking in the shadows. This isn't about communism, but it is about revolution.

Putin understands that the first colored revolution wasn't orange and it wasn't rose. It was red.

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And he understands that it happened not in Kyiv or Tbilisi but in his own hometown of St. Petersburg.

He understands that Russians basically invented colored revolutions.

And Putin's Leninphobia will only increase as the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution gets nearer.

And as he suppresses dissent, harasses the opposition, and builds up an apparatus of repression, Putin appears obsessed with not allowing a 21st-century Lenin to emerge.

This is why the Kremlin cracked down hard on the Bolotnaya protesters and why inconvenient NGOs have been branded as foreign agents.

This is why opposition figures are either neutralized, like Aleksei Navalny, forced into exile, like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or simply eliminated, like Boris Nemtsov.

Putin's Leninphobia is something of a neurosis.

Even as the Kremlin leader seeks to re-create the power and glory of the Soviet Union, even as he resurrects the Soviet Union's forms and methods, he nevertheless remains absolutely petrified of the specter of the Soviet Union's founder.

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