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The Daily Vertical: When The Kremlin Plays The Nazi Card ... (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

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

It's a pretty surefire sign the Kremlin is afraid of something when it pulls out the Nazi card.

When Vladimir Putin's regime compares somebody to Adolf Hitler, it's a pretty clear signal it views that someone as a serious -- if not existential -- threat.

Three years ago, the Kremlin was spooked by Ukraine.

When a popular middle-class uprising overthrew Moscow's corrupt client regime in Ukraine, Putin and his cronies feared the contagion could spread to Russia.

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And sooner than you could say "Joseph Goebbels," out came the Nazi card as Kremlin-backed media launched an over-the-top campaign smearing Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders as a fascist junta.

I hadn't seen so many swastikas since the last time I watched the History Channel.

Today, of course, the Putin regime is spooked by Aleksei Navalny and his ability to tap into populist anger about official corruption and put tens of thousands of people on the streets.

So this week they played the Nazi card again with a slick online video -- one that has all the hallmarks of a Kremlin-backed production -- comparing Navalny to Hitler.

The video is a clear sign that the Kremlin does indeed fear Navalny and takes him seriously.

But it's also a sign of something more ominous.

Because when Putin and his cronies play the Nazi card, it doesn't just mean that they are afraid.

It's also a harbinger. It's also a signal that something drastic is coming.

After the Kremlin demonized Ukraine's leaders as fascists, it followed up with the forceful annexation of Crimea and the invasion of the Donbas.

And now that it's played the Nazi card on Navalny, one has to wonder what the Kremlin has in mind for him.

Keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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