Friday, November 28, 2014


The Power Vertical

Podcast: Khodorkovsky At 50 -- Man, Myth, Symbol

Mikhail Khodorkovsky's fate has long been a bellwether for Russia's direction.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky's fate has long been a bellwether for Russia's direction.
He spent his 30s flying high as an oil executive and one of the magnificent seven, the group of Kremlin-connected oligarchs who controlled the commanding heights of Russia's economy during Boris Yeltsin's rule in the 1990s.

He spent his 40s in a prison colony, a convenient fall guy as President Vladimir Putin's entourage took control of Russia's energy sector.

But even as he was derided by the Kremlin-controlled media as an example of the crony capitalism that marked the decade following the Soviet collapse, Mikhail Khodorkovsky also became a liberal martyr -- a defiant and dignified symbol of the vindictive selective justice and legal double standards that mark Putin's Russia.

Khodorkovsky turned 50 this week and thousands of well wishers from Russia and around the world sent him letters of support.

But even as marked that milestone, there were indications that the authorities are preparing a fresh set of charges that would keep him incarcerated indefinitely.

For many, Khodorkovsky's October 2003 arrest was the point when it became crystal-clear where Putin's Russia was headed -- and his fate has since been seen as a bellwether.

In many ways, Khodorkovsky's story is Russia's story. So what is his story telling us now?

On the latest "Power Vertical Podcast," I discuss the Khodorkovsky phenomenon and its larger meaning with co-hosts New York University's Mark Galeotti, author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows," and Kirill Kobrin of RFE/RL's Russian Service, a contributor to the online magazine Polit.ru.

Enjoy...

Podcast: Khodorkovsky At 50 -- Man, Myth, Symbol
Podcast: Khodorkovsky At 50 -- Man, Myth, Symboli
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by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 28, 2013 18:14
May I use this widely respected forum for sending my greetings to Mr. Khodorkovsky on the occasion of him turning 50 year old! How many of these 50 years did he spend in a labour camp? I think it was something like 10. So, dear Mr. Khodorkovsky, I wish you to spend some 20 years more in this camp - to learn the real meaning of the term "labour" :-)).
As a matter of fact, one of the founders of the Marxist theory Friedrich Engels claimed that "labout trasformed a monkey into a human being". Well, I would say that the example of Mr. Khodorkovsky demostrates clearly that Engels was kind of wrong on this one :-)))))))).
Happy birthday, Michail :-)))!!!

by: La Russophobe from: USA
June 30, 2013 14:06
The comments of Serge and Eugenio accurately reflect Russia. Most Russians either don't know who Khodorkovsky is or don't care that he's the victim of injustice or are glad he's suffering, maybe on racist grounds like Serge. They don't care that Khodorkovsky's treatment evinces a Russia in regression, headed backwards into the failed Soviet past. The same is true of Navalny. We heard not long ago that Russia was headed in another direction, had a fresh new liberal leader who would pardon Khodorkovsky. All that was just nonsense and lies, propaganda churned out by Putin to get us to drop our guard, which many fell for.

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15:34 November 26, 2014

SIBERIAN AVIATION FOLLIES

So by now, we've all seen how passengers in Krasnoyarsk had to get out and push their flight out of the snow...

...and we've all seen the snarky Twitter memes this has inspired...

...but have you heard about onboard drunken onboard brawl that grounded a flight in Novosibirsk?

12:41 November 26, 2014

MIKHAIL ZYGAR OF DOZHD-TV HONORED

12:33 November 26, 2014

NO MISTRAL, NO FRENCH WINE!

Via The Moscow Times:

A lawmaker on the State Duma's Defense Committee has proposed banning the import of French wines in response to Paris' decision to suspend delivery of the first of two helicopter carriers to Russia.

"Let's ban the sale of French wine in Russia," Deputy Vladimir Bessonov told Russian News Service radio on Tuesday. "Even talking about this can bring about desired results," he said, without specifying what these would be.

France, under pressure from its Western allies to cancel a 1.2 billion euro contract ($1.58 billion) with Russia for Mistral-class warships, said earlier Tuesday that it was suspending delivery of the first of two carriers because of Russia's meddling in eastern Ukraine.

MEANWHILE, IN UKRAINE...

12:21 November 26, 2014
12:20 November 26, 2014

BAD NEWS AT SBERBANK

12:18 November 26, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST ESCAPES RUSSIA, SEEKS ASYLUM IN U.S.

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

The editor-in-chief of an independent Russian news website says he will seek political asylum in the United States.

Oleg Potapenko told RFE/RL on November 26 that he has arrived in the United States despite efforts by Russian authorities to prevent him from leaving the country.

Potapenko is editor of Amurburg.ru, a news site in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk that has reported about the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

On November 12, the openly gay Potapenko and his partner were prevented from boarding a flight from Khabarovsk to Hong Kong after border guards said a page was missing from Potapenko's passport.

Potapenko says the page was cut out by a police officer who requested his passport for a check earlier that day.

He told RFE/RL that he had managed to leave Russia from another city, Vladivostok, on November 16.

MERKEL SAYS RUSSIA TRAMPLING ON INTERNATIONAL LAW

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Russia's actions in Ukraine are a violation of international law and a threat to peace in Europe.

Speaking bluntly in an address to Germany's parliament on November 26, Merkel said, "Nothing justifies the direct or indirect participation of Russia in the fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk."

She told the Bundestag that Russia's actions have "called the peaceful order in Europe into question and are a violation of international law."

But she suggested there was no swift solution, saying, "Our efforts to overcome this crisis will require patience and staying power."

Germany has become increasingly frustrated over Moscow's refusal to heed Western calls to stop supporting pro-Russian separatists who have seized control of large parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine.

Close ties between Russia and Germany have been strained by the Ukraine crisis.

(Based on reporting by Reuters)

UKRAINE SAYS MORE RUSSIAN MILITARY IN EAST

Ukraine has leveled fresh charges that Russia is sending military support to pro-Russian separatists in the east.

A foreign ministry spokesman said five columns of heavy equipment were spotted crossing into Ukrainian territory on November 24.

Evhen Perebyinis told journalists on November 25 that a total of 85 vehicles had been detected in the five columns that entered at the Izvaryne border crossing point from Russia.

"The Russian side is continuing to provide the terrorist organizations of the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics with heavy armaments," said Perebynisis.

Separately, the Ukrainian military said one soldier had been killed and five others wounded in the past 24 hours as a shaky cease-fire declared on September 5 continued to come under pressure.

The six-month conflict in the east of Ukraine has left more than 4,300 people dead, according to the United Nations.

(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)

RUSSIA SAYS IT WON'T ANNEX ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA

By RFE/RL

Russia has rejected accusations that it is planning to annex Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told RFE/RL’s Current Time program on November 25: “There can be no question about any annexations.”

Georgia and the West have criticized a "strategic partnership" agreement between Russia and Abkhazia signed on November 24.

Tbilisi condemned the pact as an attempt by Moscow to annex the region.

Karasin also said Russia will “continue sparing no effort, nerves, financial expenses” to make sure its neighbors “do not feel endangered.”

"As a large state and a powerful country, Russia is constantly responsible for stability on its borders and everything that is under way along its borders," he added.

Under the "strategic partnership," Russian and Abkhaz forces in the territory will turn into a joint force led by a Russian commander.

 

19:16 November 21, 2014

POWER VERTICAL PODCAST: A YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we use the one-year anniversary of the Euromaidan uprising to look at how it changed both Ukraine and Russia. My guests are Sean Guillory and Alexander Motyl.

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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