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Podcast: Kremlin Kabuki

  • Brian Whitmore

The ritual is more important than the result.

The ritual is more important than the result.

Will Russia's State Duma elections be good political theater or bad political theater? (The views expressed on this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.)

They're fixed and they're falsified. They're far from free and fair. And their results are painfully predictable.

But despite all of this, elections to Russia's State Duma nevertheless matter.

Just as Russian presidential elections under Vladimir Putin have been turned into coronations, Duma elections have become the regime's principal legitimization ritual.

When the Kremlin gets the political theater right, the ritual is a success. But when it gets it wrong, as was the case five years ago, the result is a disaster.

So will the September 18 State Duma elections be good theater or bad theater?

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we preview the elections and what they portend. Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows; and Moscow-based journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult.


Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to The Power Vertical Podcast on iTunes.

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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