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The Daily Vertical: A Reality Show With Real Consequences (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

So it appears that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov will get his own reality show modeled on the U.S. hit The Apprentice, in which the winners will be given a spot in his government.

No, really, I'm actually serious.

And when you think about it, this is actually pretty appropriate.

It's appropriate because politics in Vladimir Putin's Russia is a reality show.

It's appropriate because from the very beginning, the popularity of the Putin regime has depended on keeping the public distracted and entertained with staged real-life television dramas that pit the regime against a series of enemies, both foreign and domestic.

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They could be oligarchs, they could be fifth columnists, they could be fascists and Banderites.

It's appropriate because set-pieces like Putin's annual call-in program and press conference are considered seminal political events and are hyped as if they were Hollywood blockbusters.

It's appropriate because Russia's political institutions exist in a state of virtual reality. There's fake elections, fake political parties, a fake parliament, fake courts, and fake NGOs.

And it's appropriate that Kadyrov is hosting a reality show because Russia is becoming Kadyrovized as his brutal, repressive, and unaccountable governing ethos in Chechnya is becoming the dominant vibe in the country as a whole.

So, yeah, Russian politics is a reality show. But the disturbing thing is that it is a reality show that has real consequences: real wars, real prosecutions, real assassinations, and real suffering.

But hey, at least it's entertaining.

The Daily Vertical will not appear for two weeks as I will be traveling to the NATO summit in Warsaw and a postsummit conference in Estonia. But we'll be back in action on July 18.

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