Monday, February 08, 2016


Video The Daily Vertical: Will Yakunin Be Putin's Fall Guy?

The Daily Vertical: Will Yakunin Be Putin's Fall Guy?i
X
February 08, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.

A transcript of today's edition of The Daily Vertical can be found here.


The Briefing: Yakunin's Fall From Grace

Will Vladimir Yakunin be Vladimir Putin's sacrificial lamb?

Brian Whitmore

Reports have surfaced that Vladimir Yakunin, a longtime crony of Vladimir Putin, is being investigated by Russian law enforcement.

Russia's Interior Ministry officials are not confirming the reports, which first appeared on the blog of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. But they are not denying them either.

On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we try to unpack the issue and look at what it might mean.

Joining me are senior RFE/RL editor Steve Gutterman and Pavel Butorin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian-language television program Current Time.

Also on The Briefing, Steve, Pavel, and I look at the historic meeting scheduled this week between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill.

Enjoy...

Power Vertical Briefing, February 8, 2016
Power Vertical Briefing, February 8, 2016i
|| 0:00:00
...    
 
X

NOTE: The Power Vertical Briefing is a short look ahead to the stories expected to make news in Russia in the coming week. It is hosted by Brian Whitmore, author of the Power Vertical blog, and appears every Monday.


Audio Podcast: The Importance Of Being Ramzan

Welcome to the strange and scary world of Planet Ramzan.

Brian Whitmore

It's pretty much impossible to ignore Ramzan Kadyrov -- and he knows it.

And he's not going anywhere. Whether Kadyrov is Vladimir Putin's loose cannon or his loaded pistol, the rambunctious Chechen leader has become an indispensable part of Russia's political system -- regardless of who is in the Kremlin.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we pay a visit to the strange and scary world of Planet Ramzan and try to unpack the Kadyrov factor.

Joining me are Mark Galeotti, a professor at NYU, an expert on Russia's Security Services, author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows, and author of the book Russia's Wars In Chechnya; and journalist Oliver Bullough, author of the book The Last Man In Russia And The Struggle To Save A Dying Nation and of an in-depth profile of Kadyrov that was recently published in The Guardian.

Also on the Podcast, Mark, Oliver, and I discuss the new leadership in the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service, and what it portends.

Enjoy... 

Podcast: The Importance Of Being Ramzan
Podcast: The Importance Of Being Ramzani
|| 0:00:00
...    
 
X

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


Video The Daily Vertical: Putin's Bodyguards

The Daily Vertical: Putin's Bodyguardsi
|| 0:00:00
...  
 
X
February 05, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


The Tao Of Ramzan

Like a cartoon villain -- except that he's real

Brian Whitmore

He's like a cartoon villain, except that he's real. 

He can be pretty amusing, except when he's terrifying. 

He's a bit of a clown and more than a bit childish, but he's also one of the most powerful men in Russia.

It's pretty much impossible to ignore Ramzan Kadyrov -- and he knows it.

And the rambunctious Chechen strongman seems to be getting more brazen by the day.

Kadyrov was at it again this week, posting a video on Instagram showing opposition figures Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle.

This comes just weeks after he called Vladimir Putin's foes "enemies of the people" and suggested in an article in Izvestia that they be placed in a psychiatric hospital in Chechnya -- where he promised to double their injections.

And, of course, he's widely believed to be behind the assassinations of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, human rights activist Natalia Estimirova, and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

There is little consensus, but a lot of speculation, about whether Kadyrov's antics indicate that he's jumped the shark or is right on message, whether he's Putin's loose cannon or the Kremlin leader's loaded pistol.

And there is also little consensus about which is worse.

"So, if you’re worried that Ramzan is murdering with impunity and Putin can’t control him, consider the alternative: What if Ramzan is murdering with impunity and Putin does control him?" the British journalist Oliver Bullough, author of the book The Last Man In Russia And The Struggle To Save A Dying Nation, wrote in The Guardian.

Putin's Frankenstein Monster

When Kadyrov began burning down the homes of family members of suspected Islamic militants, which is prohibited by Russian law, Putin appeared to give his protege a rare rebuke.

"In Russia, everyone must obey the existing laws and nobody is considered guilty until this is proved by court," Putin said in his year-end press conference in December 2014, adding that "nobody has the right, including the head of Chechnya, to resort to extrajudicial reprisals."

In the following days, Kadyrov burned down still more homes -- and wasn't reprimanded again.

The incident seemed to suggest that Putin is simply unable -- or unwilling -- to control Kadyrov.

Why?

"I have no idea if it is fear or a man crush," Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and an expert on Russia's security services, said on a recent Power Vertical Podcast.

The Kremlin leader does, indeed, appear to have a lot of affection for Kadyrov and has said he is like a son to him. But he also has reason to fear him.

Putin has essentially made a Faustian pact with Kadyrov. He's given him a license to kill -- and torture -- as many people in Chechnya as he pleases, and has bestowed lavish federal subsidies for him to use as he wishes, as long as the restive republic remains quiet and loyal.

And there is palpable fear in the Kremlin that if Kadyrov is removed, then Chechnya could again descend into chaos.

But over the past year, the bargain is now being put to the test, with Kadyrov taking his act beyond Chechnya to the streets of Moscow.

Putin's Willing Executioner

In the days following Nemtsov's assassination in Moscow, when suspicion -- and evidence -- appeared to be pointing to Kadyrov, Putin was reportedly refusing to speak to the Chechen leader.

"Orkhan Djemal, a journalist with extensive sources inside Chechnya, told me he had heard that for days Putin wouldn’t take Kadyrov’s calls, which caused Kadyrov to panic," Joshua Yaffa wrote in a recent article in The New Yorker.

This was during that bizarre week when Putin disappeared from public view, causing a minor panic in Moscow.

But apparently Putin and Kadyrov managed to kiss and make up. In fact, in the months following Nemtsov's killing, Kadyrov was given so many medals he needed a second chest to wear them all.

And despite the best efforts of investigators to pin the Nemtsov hit on Kadyrov's close associates, they were rebuked.

What this suggests, according to some Kremlin critics, is that Kadyrov hasn't gone rogue at all. Instead, he is Putin's willing executioner -- the leader of a death squad that can eliminate Putin's opponents with impunity, and with plausible deniability for the Kremlin.

Kadyrov, after all, is crazy, right? Nobody, not even Putin, can control him. In this way, Kadyrov is Putin's own personal boogeyman.

In his profile of Kadyrov in The New Yorker, Yaffa quotes Aleksei Venediktov, editor in chief of Echo Moskvy, as saying that for the Kremlin leader, Kadyrov is a way to show that "anytime he wants, like Freddy Krueger, he can put on a clawed glove, a glove covered in spikes, and use it as a weapon." 

The Extortionist

Weeks before Kadyrov started openly threatening the Russian opposition, Putin agreed to turn over ownership of Chechenneftekhimprom, the subsidiary of the state-owned oil giant Rosneft that controls Chechnya's refining infrastructure, to the republic.

But Kadyrov reportedly wants more -- specifically, the construction of a new oil refinery in his Chechnya. 

"It is important to follow the oil," Karen Dawisha, director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at the University of Miami, Ohio, and author of the book Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? said on The Power Vertical Podcast.

Moreover, Kadyrov's latest antics come at a time when low oil prices are forcing Russia to dramatically cut its budget -- something that could cause a lot of pain in Chechnya. 

And they could be a not-so-subtle hint that Kadyrov is willing and able to make trouble if his share of the pie is cut.

"Things are bad, they're going to get worse, and there are going to be some very tough choices about where the money is going," Bullough said on the podcast. "And frankly, the only reason Chechnya was pacified was because they gave Kadyrov a blank slate to kill as many people as he wanted and gave him as much money as he wanted. And if suddenly the money isn't available, then we're in uncharted territory."

Of course, Kadyrov the Frankenstein monster, Kadyrov the Kremlin's boogeyman and willing executioner, and Kadyrov the extortionist are not mutually exclusive. 

In fact, he's probably all of the above. 

And, according to Moscow-based political analyst Nikolai Petrov, he may have made himself an indispensable part of Russia's political system -- regardless of who is in the Kremlin.

"Kadyrov has the potential to be a tsar-maker," Petrov told The New Yorker's Yaffa"Not because he has more men at his disposal than, for example, the minister of defense, but because his men -- tens of thousands of them -- will carry out his orders without thinking twice. If the minister of defense tells his troops to storm the Kremlin, he can’t be sure that all of them will actually do it. But Kadyrov can."

NOTE TO READERS: Be sure to tune in to this week's Power Vertical Podcast, where I will further discuss the Kadyrov phenomenon with Mark Galeotti and Oliver Bullough.


Video The Daily Vertical: Don't Mention The Baltic War!

The Daily Vertical: Don't Mention The Baltic War!i
X
February 04, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Video The Daily Vertical: Lies, Damn Lies, And Kremlin Statements

The Daily Vertical: Lies, Damn Lies, And Kremlin Statementsi
X
February 03, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Virtual Stalinism

Putin's willing executioner (cartoon by Sergei Elkin, RFE/RL)

Brian Whitmore

Russian officials seem to have developed an execution fetish of late.

One example, of course, is the disturbing video Ramzan Kadyrov posted on Instagram showing opposition figures Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle.

Another is the bizarre series of animated clips Vladimir Putin's All-Russian Popular Front posted on their website showing the Kremlin leader personally executing several officials accused of corruption.

One is beheaded with an ax. One is cut in half with a buzz saw. One has his head removed by a crane. One is eaten by piranhas. One is vaporized with a laser gun. And another is eaten by rabid dogs.

Putin is no Josef Stalin -- but apparently he likes to play him on the Internet.

"So welcome to the theatre of tyranny. A style of governance which actively encourages the appearance of being tougher and nastier than it really is, and at the same time enthusiastically telegraphs that it could be tougher and nastier still," Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and expert on Russia's Security Services, wrote recently.

The aim, Galeotti adds, is to make the Kremlin appear "ruthless, unpredictable and downright crazy, so it seems easier to accommodate than challenge it."

Kadyrov's menacing antics and the Popular Front's creepy execution cartoons are the latest illustrations that Putin's regime has indeed fine-tuned the art of creating a virtual Stalinism, a hybrid form of low-intensity terror designed to intimidate and sow fear.

It's a massive psy-op. It sends signals on social media that repression could be on the way -- without really crossing over the line into full-blown tyranny. 

But it passes laws, like the one allowing the security services to open fire on crowds, that indicate that it might just cross that line someday.

And it reinforces this message through a stream of statements from mid-level officials

In an interview this week, for example, Kremlin aide German Klimenko, who advises Putin on the Internet, said Russians should be forced to switch from foreign operating systems like Windows to Russian-made software -- under threat of being shot. "And yes, I am quite serious," he added.

And Igor Kholmanskikh, Putin’s representative to the Urals Federal District, said the Kremlin needs to eliminate Russia's "fifth column" and suggested that opposition leaders should be "flogged in the kitchen."

And sometimes it all goes beyond the virtual and gets very real -- like with the assassination of Boris Nemtsov nearly a year ago. 

Taking out an internationally known former deputy prime minister whom Boris Yeltsin once touted as his potential successor as president suggests that -- just as in Stalin’s Great Terror of the 1930s -- nobody is immune.

And nobody knows who will be next.

And it appears to be working.

In a recent interview with Ekho Moskvy, the respected Russian sociologist Lev Gudkov said that for the first time since the 1980s, "fear dominates society," limiting the ability of many to express their true opinions even to family and close friends.

According to a recent poll by Gudkov's employer, the Levada Center, 26 percent of Russians say they are afraid to express their true opinions to pollsters -- and more than half say they believe others are afraid to express honest opinions.

Russians, Gudkov said, have developed something similar to Stockholm Syndrome, the tendency for hostages to identify with their captors rather than oppose them.

Back in 2012, the venerable human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva told Reuters that Putin "would probably like to use exclusively Soviet methods, but that's impossible in the 21st century."

It appears that he thinks he has found a virtual equivalent. 


Video The Daily Vertical: It's Weird. It's Creepy. It's Sick.

The Daily Vertical: It's Weird. It's Creepy. It's Sick.i
X
February 02, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Video The Daily Vertical: Russia's Baltic Exiles

The Daily Vertical: Russia's Baltic Exilesi
|| 0:00:00
...  
 
X
February 01, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Audio The Briefing: The Ukraine Deadlock

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris in October.

Brian Whitmore

As Western powers push for a final settlement to the conflict in Donbas, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko heads to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

But the diplomacy is hitting the same snag it always has. 

Russia is insisting on its interpretation of the Minsk agreement -- meaning reintegrating the separatist-held areas into Ukraine as autonomous republics with the current leadership in place.

But such an outcome is unacceptable to Kyiv.

On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we put Poroshenko's Berlin trip into context and look at the state-of-play in the Ukraine diplomacy.

Joining me is RFE/RL Senior Editor Steve Gutterman and Pavel Butorin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian-language television program Current Time.

Enjoy...

The Briefing: The Ukraine Deadlock
The Briefing: The Ukraine Deadlocki
|| 0:00:00
...    
 
X

NOTE: The Power Vertical Briefing is a short look ahead to the stories expected to make news in Russia in the coming week. It is hosted by Brian Whitmore, author of the Power Vertical blog, and appears every Monday.


Audio Podcast: The World According To Moscow

The view from Putinland.

Brian Whitmore

The international community should thank Russia for forcefully seizing Crimea. The United States seeks the dismemberment of Russia so it can take over its natural resources. And European leaders take their orders from Washington.

These are just a few of the comments Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev made this week in an interview with the mass-circulation tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets.

And Patrushev, it is worth noting, is one of Vladimir Putin's closest confidants.

It's tempting to dismiss the nuttier statements of Kremlin officials as disingenuous and largely designed for domestic consumption.

But a recent report by veteran Kremlin-watcher James Sherr of Chatham House suggests that top Russian officials actually believe much of their own hype.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, I'm joined by Sherr and Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov, a columnist at Slon.ru, to discuss how Moscow's world view is driving policy.

Also on the Podcast, James, Vladimir and I look at the current state of play in the diplomacy surrounding the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Enjoy... 

Power Vertical Podcast: The World According To Moscow
Power Vertical Podcast: The World According To Moscowi
|| 0:00:00
...    
 
X

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


Video The Daily Vertical: Cue That Laugh Track

The Daily Vertical: Cue The Laugh Tracki
X
January 29, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Video The Daily Vertical: A Comprehensive Threat

The Daily Vertical: A Comprehensive Threati
X
January 28, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
The Daily Vertical: A Comprehensive Threat
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Video The Daily Vertical: Lavrov's Cost-Free Reset

The Daily Vertical: Lavrov's Cost-Free Reseti
|| 0:00:00
...  
 
X
January 27, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Why Putin Is Afraid Of Lenin

Talkin' about a revolution.

Brian Whitmore

The first colored revolution was neither rose nor orange -- it was red. 

It didn't originate in Tbilisi or in Kyiv and it wasn't planned in Washington or Brussels. In fact, it started in Vladimir Putin's own hometown.

Nearly a century ago, Russia pretty much invented colored revolutions.

And as the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution approaches -- and approaches with Russia's economy heading into a tailspin -- this uncomfortable historical fact is very much on Putin's mind.

Speaking to pro-Kremlin activists this week in the southern city of Stavropol, the Kremlin leader raised eyebrows by denouncing Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks for executing Tsar Nicholas II along with all his family and servants, killing thousands of priests, and placing a "time bomb" under the Russian state.

Putin's comments expanded on remarks he made in Moscow on January 21, the 92nd anniversary of Lenin's death.

"Letting your rule be guided by ideas is right, but only when these ideas lead to the correct results, not like it did with Vladimir Ilyich. In the end that idea led to the fall of the Soviet Union," he said.

"We did not need a global revolution." 

The Kremlin leader's flurry of anti-Lenin comments is only the most recent example of the regime's skittishness and schizophrenia about how to approach next year's big anniversary. 

They also illustrate palpable fears among the Russian elite that 2017 could turn out to be a revolutionary year.

Putin's Kremlin fears any revolution "regardless of its color or meaning" because "the present-day Russian authorities subconsciously fear an analogous outcome for themselves," political commentator Alina Vitukhnovskaya wrote recently.

We got an early hint of the Kremlin's anxiety a couple months ago.

Instead of marking the 98th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution on November 7, Russia commemorated the 74th anniversary of a parade that marked the 24th anniversary of the revolution. 

Confused? Well that's sort of the point.

Thousands gathered on Red Square for a reenactment of the massive November 7, 1941 military parade that both marked the revolution -- and also sent Russian soldiers off to fight in World War II.

Putin has long used Soviet symbolism and nostalgia to bolster his rule.

But which Soviet past the Kremlin has chosen to glorify speaks volumes about the regime's thinking -- and its fears. 

The idealism and upheaval of 1917 is out. The military discipline of Josef Stalin's Soviet Union is in. Revolution is out. Repression and mobilization are in. Lenin the revolutionary out. Stalin the state builder is in.

As longtime Kremlin-watcher Paul Goble wrote on his blog, Putin took the "revolution" out of the revolution's anniversary.

The move, he added, "reflects both his fear of revolutionary change" as well as "his desire to keep the Soviet inheritance, which he values, as far removed from its revolutionary origins as possible." 

In other words, the last thing Putin's Kremlin wants the Russian people thinking about is revolutions -- lest they get any ideas.

Better, of course, to keep their minds focused on war -- preferably victorious ones.

And just a few months before the Kremlin turned the revolution's anniversary into a celebration of Stalin's victory in World War II, Putin denounced the Bolsheviks for causing Russia to lose World War I.

In 1917, "some were shaking Russia from within, and shook it to the point that Russia as a state collapsed and declared itself defeated," Putin said in August at the Seliger National Youth Forum, a summer camp for pro-Kremlin activists.

The Bolsheviks, he added, were responsible for the "betrayal of the Russian national interests" and "wished to see their fatherland defeated while Russian heroic soldiers and officers shed blood on the fronts of the First World War."

In a recent column in Snob, political commentator Artem Rondaryev noted the paradox facing Putin and his ruling clique as next year's centennial approaches. 

"Love for the USSR is combined in a paradoxical hatred to everything that the revolution which created this very USSR initially brought with it – the avant-garde, feminism, free morality, and social transformation," Rondaryev wrote.


Video The Daily Vertical: The Mask Is Off

The Daily Vertical: The Mask Is Offi
X
January 26, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Video The Daily Vertical: The Fear Regime

The Daily Vertical: The Fear Regimei
X
January 25, 2016
The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
Brian Whitmore

The Daily Vertical is a video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.


Audio The Briefing: Moscow's Disobedient Client

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) greets Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow in October 2015.

Brian Whitmore

It appears that Russia can't deliver the one and only thing the West wants from it in Syria -- the orderly exit of Bashar al-Assad.

According to a report in the Financial Times, late last year Putin dispatched General Igor Sergun, head of Russia's military intelligence. to Syria to persuade Assad to step aside. And Assad refused.

On the latest Power Vertical Briefing, we take a look at how Moscow's lack of influence over Assad influences efforts to resolve the Syria conflict.

Joining me are RFE/RL Senior Editor Steve Gutterman and Pavel Butorin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian-language television program Current Time.

Enjoy...

The Briefing: Moscow's Disobedient Client
The Briefing: Moscow's Disobedient Clienti
|| 0:00:00
...    
 
X

 

NOTE: The Power Vertical Briefing is a short look ahead to the stories expected to make news in Russia in the coming week. It is hosted by Brian Whitmore, author of the Power Vertical blog, and appears every Monday.


Audio Podcast: A Toxic Trail

(Cartoon by Oleksiy Kustovskyi, RFE/RL)

Brian Whitmore

What has long been suspected now has an official imprimatur.

Nine years ago, Russian agents assassinated a U.K. citizen in the heart of London, most likely with the explicit approval of Vladimir Putin.

That was the conclusion of a British inquiry into the death of Russian spy-turned-whistleblower Aleksandr Litvinenko, who was poisoned in London in November 2006 after drinking tea laced with polonium, a rare radioactive isotope.

So what happens now?

On the new Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss the fallout and implications of the Litvinenko investigation.

Joining me are Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, an expert on Russia's security services, and author of the blog In Moscow's ShadowsKaren Dawisha, director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at the University of Miami, Ohio, and author of the highly acclaimed book "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?"; and journalist Oliver Bullough, author of the book, The Last Man In Russia and the Struggle to Save a Dying Nation.

Also on the Podcast, Mark, Karen, Oliver, and I look at Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's latest antics and what they signify.

Enjoy...

The Power Vertical Podcast: The Toxic Trail.
The Power Vertical Podcast: The Toxic Trail.i
|| 0:00:00
...    
 
X

 

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

Latest Podcasts

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers 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