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The Daily Vertical: Russia Is Not Immune (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

For years, Vladimir Putin's regime has been exploiting and manipulating the antiestablishment wave sweeping across the West.

The Kremlin has been piggybacking on the angst and anger of the dispossessed and the disenfranchised to hobble Western governments and undermine faith in democratic institutions.

It's been using the West's democratic institutions as a blunt weapon against democratic governance.

As Peter Pomerantsev noted in a recent article, Putin has turned himself into the Che Guevara of the antiestablishment right.

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But here's the thing. The weapon the Kremlin regime has been wielding so effectively is, in fact, a double-edged sword. Because Russia itself is not necessarily immune to the antiestablishment tide.

Labor unrest and social protests are on the rise as working-class Russians see their standard of living deteriorate and their social benefits diminish.

From truckers to farmers to factory workers, more and more people see dwindling prospects for the future and believe the system is rigged against them.

They feel powerless and helpless against an oligarchic system.

Sound familiar?

But unlike in the West, Russians don't have the possibility of voting their rulers out of power.

For the time being, Putin's been able to float above this rising discontent.

He's been able to rely on the Russian people's famous reverence for a strong leader and their capacity to endure hardship for the sake of the motherland.

But for how much longer?

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