Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Power Vertical

The Anti-Putin Manifesto

Increasingly, battle lines are being drawn in Russia. Yesterday, an online petition appeared calling for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's removal from power and it has been signed by virtually all active members of the Russian political opposition and a growing rank of ordinary citizens.

The sites where the petition has been posted (here and here) have been frequently inaccessible today, so The Power Vertical decided to translate the entire manifesto in full for the record. It represents a clear and impassioned presentation of the opposition's indictment against Putin. And, by focussing dissent so personally and directly on Putin himself, the authors of the declaration could be significantly raising the odds of a violent crackdown.

Here is the anti-Putin manifesto in its entirety:

Citizens of Russia! The recognition that the ruling elite has led our country into a historical dead end has prompted us to issue this statement.

The transfer of virtually unlimited power by the [Yeltsin-era] Family, which was trying to guarantee its own security, to a man of dubious reputation who was distinguished neither by talent nor by the requisite life or professional experience has resulted predictably in the serious degradation of all institutions of state governance.

Even a significant portion of the ruling “elite” feels that a change is necessary, as attested by the loud reaction to [President Dmitry Medvedev’s] opus “Forward, Russia!” But Medvedev’s modernization project bears a distinctly artificial character and is aimed at a single goal – to redo the decorations while maintaining the nature of an authoritatian-kleptocratic regime.

We state that the sociopolitical construction that is killing Russia and has now bound the citizens of our country has one architect, one custodian, and one guardian. His name is Vladimir Putin.

We declare that no essential reforms can be carried out in Russia today as long as Putin controls real power in the country.

We declare that the dismantling of the Putin regime and the return of Russia to the path of democratic development can only begin when Putin has been deprived of all levers of managing the state and society.

We declare that during the years of his rule, Putin has become the symbol of corrupt and unpredictable country that is pitiless in its treatment of its own citizenry. It is a country in which citizens have no rights and are for the most part in poverty. It is a country without ideals and without a future.

If, as the Kremlin propagandists love to repeat, Russia was on its knees during the Yeltsin period, then Putin and his minions have pushed its face into the filth.

In the filth of the authorities’ contempt we find not only individual rights and freedoms, but human life itself as well.

In the filth of a false and feeble imitation of political and social institutions – from the bureaucratic phantom of United Russia to the Nazi-like Putin Youth.

In the filth of soul- and mind-warping televised obscurantism that is turning one of the most educated nations in the world into a soulless, amoral mob.

In the filth of total thievery and corruption emanating from the very pinnacle of Russian power. If not for the years in which Putin roamed the galleries of the Kremlin, the billionaires of his inner circle –Abramovich, Timchenko, the Kovalchuks, Rotenberg – would not exist. Nor would the parasitical state corporations of his friends – these black holes of the Russian economy.

Having begun his rise to power with the epical statement about “wiping them out in their outhouses,” Putin over the course of nearly 11 years has used this universal “tool” of ruling the country, and it has proven particularly effective in regard to his political opponents and business competitors.

Any political, social, or economic dissent is immediately suppressed: in the best cases, by administrative restrictions, but often by the bully clubs of the riot police, by criminal prosecution, by physical violence, and even by murder. Putin has proven that he is willing to destroy his personal opponents by any means available.

During the time that Putin has been at the pinnacle of state power, everything that could be ruined has been ruined. Pension and administrative reforms have been undone. There has been no reform of the armed forces, the secret services, or the law enforcement and judicial systems. The health-care system remains in its previous, pathetic condition.

The decline of education and science, which has been farmed out to the Ozero cooperative group, has reached the point where the “titans” of Russian scientific thought must be considered people like Petrik and Gryzlov.

Ten whole years have been lost – years when a boom in hydrocarbon and metals prices could have been used to modernize the country and carry out a structural reorganization of the economy. That is why the blow of the global economic crisis hit Russia so mercilessly, and it is far from over for us.

Having been named prime minister by Yeltsin, Putin not only was unable to correct the fatal mistakes made by his predecessors and put out the flames in the Caucasus, but his policies managed to raise that conflict to a new level that is capable of destroying the integrity of the country.

The “Kursk,” the Nord-ost theater, Beslan, the tens of thousands who died in the internecine second Cacasus war, the thousands who have lost their lives in infrastructure disasters, who burned in homes for the elderly and the handicapped that were unfit for human habitation, the dozens of murdered journalists and human rights activists and political opponents of the regime, and the ordinary victims of sadistic police lawlessness – these are the gravestones of the years of Putin’s rule.

These are the unexposed secrets of the Putin regime: the [1999] entry of [Shamil] Basayev into Daghestan; the explosions of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk; the so-called training exercise in Ryazan.

People have long since stopped being surprised by Putin’s incapacity for strategic thinking. He is unable to see what the world will be like in 10-15 years and what place Russia can and must occupy in it. He is not capable of evaluating the real threats and risks facing the country, and that means he is in no position to correctly plan possible moves or identify potential allies and rivals.

A clear illustration of these short-sighted polices are the recent surrender agreements with China, in which Putin lightly erased the Russian Far East and Siberia off the map.

Further evidence of Putin’s lack of understanding of the future is his maniacal passion to build gas and oil pipelines in all thinkable and unthinkable directions; his initiation of expensive, ambitious projects (like the Sochi Olympics and the bridge to Russian Island), which are absolutely wrong for a country in which a large portion of the population lives below the poverty line.

Having temporarily moved form the presidential chair to the prime minister’s offices and having left in the Kremlin an obedient placeholder who is “of the same blood” – a modern Simeon Bekbulatovich – Putin has created an openly unconstitutional construction for governing the country for life.

It is obvious that Putin will never voluntarily relinquish power in Russia. His fierce intention to rule for life is no longer based on a thirst for power itself so much as on the fear of being held responsible for what he has done. For the Russian people, this is humiliating. But for the country it is fatally dangerous to have a ruler like Putin. This is a cross that Russia can bear no longer.

As the Putin grouping feels it the ground falling from under its feet, it could at any moment move from targeted repression to mass repression. We are warning law enforcement and security agency officers not to stand against their nation, not to carry out criminal orders from corrupt officials when they send you out to kill us for Putin, Sechin, and Deripaska.

Now the national demand at demonstrations from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad must be the call “Putin Must Go!” Ridding ourselves of Putinism is the first, obligatory step on the path to a new, free Russia.

-- Robert Coalson


Tags: dissent,politics,Russia

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Irene
March 11, 2010 21:15
Looks like a new Surkov's initiative to identify and to take under control the most brave dissidents to the regime...
In Response

by: Kingston from: London
March 13, 2010 11:54
Surkov has gone beyond his imagination.Why cant he contribute instead of spoiling Russia.Has he been bribed by the west?of been playing chess?

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
March 11, 2010 22:03
Very nice words, some of them true. Democracy, however, is less about deposing the tsar than paying your taxes, getting an education and voting during elections. Your average Russian likely understands that should they storm the parliament building and run Putin out of town, his place will likely be filled with someone much worse from the gutter.

by: rkka from: USA
March 12, 2010 23:00
The best indication of this Putin-inflicted degradation since 1991 is that wages have increased vastly and are actually paid instead of being stripped off by Oligarchs to offshore bank accounts, male life expectancy is up by over three years, and Russians once again believe that Russia is a fit place to have and raise children.

Really, Coalson, giving clueless buffoons like the authors of this bloviation a platform is doing them no favors. All you're doing is showing their cluelessness and buffoonery to a larger audience. Thanks!

by: Kingston from: London
March 13, 2010 11:53
This is real mockery of politics.The whole world knows although Putin is a authoritarian he unpredicatbly got Russia out of trillion dollar debt much to the expectations of the west afte Gorbachev toppled Soviet Union.I feel none of the world leaders are doing good viz, Italy, UK, USA and no PM enjoys such a popularity among public.High time people started thinking about what they can do rather than playing chess and playing blame games.Imgaine where Russia was when it was born and where it is now.It all goes to Putin..any doubts?Indeed he was voted as Times Man of the year once...and by the way which politician is clean.Iraq had millions of civilians killed, Afghanistan has been totally displaced all because of ambitious NATO plans digging into others pocket.Now they are aiming in middle east.Hope not an other war.

by: Ozzy from: UpstateNY
March 15, 2010 01:43
RFE/RL are nothing more than prop ads for the State Dept's lofty goals. We have a a lot of nerve advocating the overthrow of an elected leader who stabilized Eurasia for us. That is why Time Mag named him the man of the year, who do you think approved NATO's overland routes through Russia and former Soviet States to the Afghan Help Us Project in 2009? - Putin did, grow up kiddies and decide what ya want OIL or Corporate Democracy!
In Response

by: Eoin from: Dublin
March 15, 2010 23:28
People seem to have a very skewed view of the criteria for winning Time Person of the Year. It is not awarded due to a person's calibre but their impact on the media (largely linked to the amount of Time Articles that they feature in).

For the record, I think Putin is dangerous dangerous character with a serious authoritarian bent.
In Response

by: God from: Heaven
March 16, 2010 14:28
So true. Hitler made Time's Person of the Year.

by: tegwyn johns from: england
March 18, 2010 17:35
is it not time he looked after his people, not go chasing dreams,

by: Pat from: Chicago
March 20, 2010 03:30
From the Russians I know I hear it has become a dangerous country for outsiders.
The average person struggles tremendously in much poverty with difficulty finding food or fresh food and medications which in their ability is too expensive to buy. The people, many of them kind and hopeful people are giving up hope. Let us pray for the Russia and her people that they may find hope, peace and a little sanity in government. With a change they might have a fighting chance to improve things.

by: XanKregor from: Motherland!
March 21, 2010 10:08
Manifesto failed! We choose Putin next time. No more revolutions in Russia. Putin go go go! We know some enemy of our land scare Putin, thats why they regulary typing BS like this. Just leave us, go home u have anough trobles at urs countrys.

by: Ozzy from: UpstateNY
March 21, 2010 17:33
Well EURO/INTL folks, come to the America you discovered some 400yrs and founded and you will find the worst in yourselves X a factor of 1000, greed, manifest destiny, slaughter of innocence, corporate democracy and million's of poor living on the streets of the inner city. Poor Russians, how about Poor Americans (we are 10 Trillion USD in debt, `worse than Greece or the so-called PIGS of the Eurozone.' Go out on the streets of DC after the `Power Brokers' are in after 10p and you will find Churchill's weak underbelly of American Society. By the way ... the Mr. Putin is dangerous and Time Mag comments w/most media exposure (aka Hitler paradody), well Mr. Bush and now Mr. Obama (Time Mag Man) are technically responsible for the deaths of 1.5 Million Iraqi and about 20-50,000 Afghan civilians (according to Lancet and others) since the highly dubious Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. And they are also directly responsible for the death of around 10-15,000 American Servicemen/women. I would consider that a much larger infraction on humanity, BUT you too are drowned in Russophobia by SKYNews, and the BBC Regionals, ITN, - just like we are with CNN, and FOX. Wake up and smell the Java or your Tea! I don't see Putin and Medvedev blatantly harming their people at all, except that Mr. Putin has been there 10yrs now and the West does not like it, has not the Queen and her family ruled the British Isles for some 100yrs ??? I see `NO one screaming there?'
In Response

by: Drivel from: Europe
March 26, 2010 17:53
It`s the decline of former empire and its influence the Kremlins are worried about. They can`t handle it. They want it back and want it soon, using different methods - revisionism, propaganda, lies, bullying and using force against smaller non-equal neighbours, building direct oil pipelines to some bypassing others to extort later using energy as weapon, you name it and it`s probably there.
And that`s why alina below is willing to die for Putin, cos she`s insured by the man (through putin controlled TV stations of course) that as long as i`m your czar i`m going to provide you stability and imperial greatness in the future. Like stalin. at the expense of others- but don`t think, don`t stick your nose to my business and surely any moral and ethical valuations leave to me (there`s none btw).
Without Putin- with the passed decade of strong oil and raw material prices and with modern leadership, the RF would have probably been in different place by now. but its not, that`s why this petition.
In Response

by: Ozzy from: UpstateNY
March 30, 2010 16:49
Dude ... the RF an CCCP had strong revenue in the 1990s and 1980s and it was squandered away, if she needs to be mad, then suggest Gorby, the CPSU or The Yeltsin Clique that you suggest would have provided more Democracy ... really ... did you see the T-80s firing on the RF's White House/Duma in 1993 on CNN, and the arrest of all his Westernized supposedly Pro-Russian Democrats who tried to depose him ... that brought your wanted Neo-liberal Western Democracy to its `death knees,' not the Duo of Medvedev/Putin!

by: Alina from: Russia
March 24, 2010 17:03
You on what argue?
The people of Russia DIE of benefactors Putin and Medvedev.
It is told to you by the person Soviet and Russian.
Anything similar was not since fascism and Stalin.
Comments page of 2

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In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

17:49 October 24, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of escalating conflicts around the world by imposing what he called a "unilateral diktat."

Putin made the remarks in a combative speech to political experts at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin said the United States has been "fighting against the results of its own policy" in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

He said risks of serious conflicts involving major countries have risen, as well as risks of arms treaties being violated.

He also dismissed international sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine as a "mistake," saying they aimed at pushing Russia into isolation and would end up "hurting everyone."

We did not start this," he added, referring to rising tensions between Russia and the West.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, TASS)


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call to push for a quick resolution of the ongoing gas dispute with Ukraine as winter looms.

The call by Merkel to Putin on October 24 comes as representatives of the EU, Russia, and Ukraine are due to meet again next week in EU brokered talks aimed at solving the gas dispute between Kyiv and Moscow.

Merkel also underlined that upcoming elections in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists must respect Ukrainian national law.

Pro-Russian insurgent leaders are boycotting a parliamentary snap poll on October 26 in Ukraine and are holding their own election in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, home to nearly three million people, on the same day instead.

(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)



The United Nations says the conflict in Ukraine has forced more than 800,000 people from their homes.

Around 95 percent of displaced people come from eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been battling pro-Russian separatists.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, told a briefing in Geneva that an estimated 430,000 people were currently displaced within Ukraine -- 170,000 more than at the start of September.

It said at least 387,000 other people have asked for refugee status, temporary asylum, or other forms of residency permits in Russia.

Another 6,600 have applied for asylum in the European Union and 581 in Belarus.

The agency said it was "racing to help some of the most vulnerable displaced people" as winter approaches.

It also said the number of displaced people is expected to rise further due to ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine.


Three alleged militants have been killed by security forces in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee says that two suspects were killed in the village of Charoda in Daghestan on October 24 after they refused to leave an apartment and opened fire at police and security troops.

One police officer was wounded.

Also on October 24, police in another North Caucasus region, Kabardino-Balkaria, killed a suspected militant after he refused to identify himself, threw a grenade towards police, and opened fire with a pistol.

A police officer was wounded in that incident.

Violence is common in Russia's North Caucasus region, which includes the restive republics of Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and Chechnya.

Islamic militants and criminal groups routinely target Russian military personnel and local officials.

(Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS)


A lawyer, who represented an alleged victim of the notorious Orekhovo criminal group in Moscow, has been assassinated.

Police in the Russian capital say that Vitaly Moiseyev and his wife were found dead with gunshot wounds in a car near Moscow on October 24.

Moiseyev was representing Sergei Zhurba, an alleged victim of the Orekhovo gang and a key witness in a case against one of the gang's leaders Dmitry Belkin.

Belkin was sentenced to life in prison on October 23 for multiple murders and extortion.

Last month, another of Zhurba's lawyers, Tatyana Akimtseva (eds: a woman), was shot dead by unknown individuals.

The Orekhovo group was one of the most powerful crime gangs of the Moscow region and in Russia in the 1990s. Its members are believed to be responsible for dozens of murders.

(Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax)

17:27 October 24, 2014


17:26 October 24, 2014


17:00 October 24, 2014
08:29 October 24, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is warning that Russia could attempt to disrupt Ukraine's parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26.

Yatsenyuk told a meeting of top security officials and election monitors on October 23 that "It is absolutely clear that attempts to destabilize the situation will continue and will be provoked by Russia."

Yatsenyuk said "we are in a state of Russian aggression and we have before us one more challenge -- to hold parliamentary elections."

The prime minister said Ukraine needs the "full mobilization of the entire law-enforcement system to prevent violations of the election process and attempts at terrorist acts during the elections."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said authorities have ordered some 82,000 policemen on duty for election day.

He said 4,000 members of a special reaction force would be among those maintaining order during polling hours and would be concentrated in "those precincts where there is a risk of some terrorist acts or aggressive actions by some...candidates."

The warning by Yatsenyuk comes on the heels of three violent attacks on parliamentary candidates in the past week.

The latest, against Volodymyr Borysenko, a member of Yatsenyuk's People's Front Party, occurred on October 20 when Borysenko was shot at and had an explosive thrown at him.

He allegedly survived the attack only because he was wearing body armor due to numerous death threats he had recently received.

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, will be held despite continued fighting in the eastern part of the country between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Voting will not take place in 14 districts of eastern Ukraine currently under the control of the separatists.

Those separatist-held areas -- in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- are planning on holding their own elections in November.

Additionally, Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March means the loss of 12 seats from the 450-seat parliament.

Polls show President Petro Poroshenko's party leading with some 30 percent of respondents saying they would cast their vote for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

It that percentage holds on election day it would mean Poroshenko's bloc would have to form a coalition government, likely with nationalist groups who oppose conducting peace talks over fighting in the east.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax)



Moscow has denied claims of an incursion by a Russian military plane into Estonia's airspace.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Interfax news agency on October 23 that the Ilyushin-20 took off from Khrabrovo airfield in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on October 21.

The spokesman said the reconnaissance plane flew "over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea" while on a training flight.

On October 22, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Tallinn, Yury Merzlakov, after the Estonian military said the Russian plane had entered its air space.

In a statement, NATO said the Ilyushin-20 was first intercepted by Danish jets when it approached Denmark, before flying toward non-NATO member Sweden.

Intercepted by Swedish planes, the alliance said the Ilyushin entered Estonian airspace for “less than one minute” and was escorted out by Portuguese jets.

NATO has stepped up its Baltic air patrols and Moscow has been accused of several recent border violations in the region amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict.

Last month, Estonia accused Russia of abducting one of its police officers on the border.

Russia claims Eston Kohver was seized inside Russia on September 5, while Estonian officials say he was captured at gunpoint in Estonia near the border and taken to Russia.

The European Union and United States have called for the immediate release of the Estonian security official, who is facing espionage charges in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Navy has been searching for a suspected submarine sighted six days ago some 50 kilometers from the capital, Stockholm, although it said on October 22 it was pulling back some of its ships.

Swedish officials have not linked any particular country to the suspected intrusion and Moscow has denied involvement.

(With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and the BBC)


A Moscow court postponed to next week a ruling on a move to take control of Bashneft, an oil company from tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The judge said on October 23 that the next hearing will take place on October 30 after the prosecution requested more time to prepare its case.

Prosecutors filed the suit in September to regain state ownership of Bashneft, citing alleged violations in the privatization and subsequent sale of the company to AFK Sistema investment group.

Yevtushenkov, the main shareholder of the conglomerate, is under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering during the firm's acquisition in 2009.

Yevtushenkov, 66, was arrested on September 16.

He is ranked Russia's 15th richest man by U.S. magazine Forbes, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

11:11 October 23, 2014


According to a report in the pro-Kremlin daily "Izvestia," deputy Kremlin chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi that Western politicians "do not understand the essence of Russia."

"Volodin stated the key thesis about the current state of our country: As long as there is Putin there is Russia. If there is no Putin, there is no Russia," Konstantin Kostin, head of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, told "Izvestia."

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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