Friday, November 28, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: Russia's Gathering Storm

The Kremlin against the backdrop of a stormy sky.
The Kremlin against the backdrop of a stormy sky.
It's the last day of August. Summer is over. And there are storm clouds on the horizon.

Russia's political season is set to resume after a summer recess that was anything but quiet. And with local elections, opposition primaries, antigovernment demonstrations, and social reforms in the offing, the autumn promises to be even more turbulent.

In the latest edition of the Power Vertical podcast, I speak with special guest host Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows"  about the upcoming political season.


Power Vertical Podcast -- August 31, 2012
Power Vertical Podcast -- August 31, 2012i
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Listen to or download the podcast above, or subscribe to The Power Vertical Podcast on iTunes.

Tags: Vladimir Putin,Russian politics,Dmitry Medvedev,Russian opposition,Power Vertical podcast

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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
August 31, 2012 20:29
Aha, beware, Putin, your last days are coming - just like the last days of Bashar al-Assad (who was removed from power last July, just as Hillary Clinton was promising), of Hugo Chávez (who died from cancer, as we know from a number of Western media outlets) or of Fidel (who died like several thousand times over the last 50 years). Stay tuned, because a lot more science fiction stories are coming on the web-site of the RFE/RL soon!!!

by: Jack from: US
September 01, 2012 13:51
by RFE/RL propaganda the storms are gathering over Russia every day ever since Stalin shot almost all US-sponsored bolshevik commissars

by: Mark from: Victoria
September 01, 2012 20:03
Gathering political storms in Russia is an arguable point, although there is no evidence at present of anything particularly ominous: "opposition primaries", for example, will be online, and it's hard to imagine they will keep the Kremlin awake nights while there is every possibility they will dissolve into farce. But it's just conceivable somebody could actually venture something like a plan which suggests otherwise than, "I would do things exactly like Putin (such as relying heavily on energy returns to grow the economy), only the leader would be different and we would have lots less corruption", and that would be interesting. Similarly, there is no evidence whatsoever that the "antigovernment" movement is more alive than Elvis, and huge "antigovernment demonstrations" is just a wistful dream. I'm not trying to be a jerk about it or to suggest that life in Russia is dreamy - I'm just pointing out that the edgy atmosphere portrayed here exists largely in the author's imagination and I have seen no facts to contradict that reality, while the situations offered as evidence of a stormy political climate are unsubstantiated.

And the photograph actually features the Kremlin at night, while the full moon suggests it is not stormy at all.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 02, 2012 09:31
Wheather Russians like Eugenio and Jack are lying strait,
Or ironizing, they can't help it - sounding like lie-drop-outs.
If one lies, using double-negations, it doesn't make it right.
Are they think they can pass as Academicians, or doods?
For Her? To kill my mother - as Her wish is their comand?

Jack, are you lying that Stalin was killing the Americans?
Or confirming that Russia staffed USA with aparatchics?
Are you lying again that Aparatchics, sponsored by USA,
And that they are also Bolshevik-Commissar-hlopchiks?
Isn't it Her Canada and Obama's Russian Grandmother?

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 02, 2012 10:09
You Russians like symbolic killings.
Like some most talented Bashkiria children,
Killed over German Sweetzerland, Romanov's village.
Like Litvinenko, descandent of UNIA of Litvania and Polland,
Killed by "Polonium". Like Polish government, killed for Katyn'.

My mother was murdered at the end of blackmailing me CIA,
Staffed and instigated by Russia, including lying on me staff,
Eugenio and Jack. I defended her two weeks, but on 7th July
They killed her. Killing started before my birthday, three days.
It ended three days after birth of America, fourth of July - raff.

Russia is Great in its symbolic far going evil. God also Great.
After 1941 Christmus, as mutneous Russians joined the war
And Germans had total superiority in arms, Stalin asked pray.
All nations and religions prayed. Same night land was frozen,
German army superiority dezarmed, battle was lost for them.

I only ask Justice. Vengance is of God - sometime symbolic.
Wasn't it 7th July, just small reminder to Russian Cossacks?

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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

15:34 November 26, 2014


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


12:33 November 26, 2014


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.


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


12:18 November 26, 2014


From RFE/RL's News Desk:


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, 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.


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 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 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


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