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The Power Vertical

Podcast: The Ghosts Of Crackdowns Past

A still from the film "I Served the Soviet Union."A still from the film "I Served the Soviet Union."
A still from the film "I Served the Soviet Union."
A still from the film "I Served the Soviet Union."
This week, many in Russia and much of the former Soviet Union marked the Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression.

Do past periods of repression in Russia teach us anything about the Kremlin's current crackdown on dissent?
In the latest edition of "The Power Vertical Podcast," I discuss this issue with two guests: historian Sean Guillory, a fellow at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and author of Sean's Russia Blog; and New York University professor Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russia's security services and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows.

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Power Vertical Podcast: The Ghosts Of Crackdowns Pasti
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Tags: repression,dissent,Power Vertical podcast

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Comment Sorting
by: Mark from: Massachusetts
November 04, 2012 14:31
One question - or perhaps one request - I would like to see some Russian expertise commenting on this issue. I often find the viewpoints of Russians, who are still in Russia, to be much different from what we see.
In Response

by: Frank
November 04, 2012 18:24

There has been a faulty mafia like element, in terms of who is and isn't considered worthy to offer a promoted commentary on the subjects covered.
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
November 04, 2012 21:56
To Mark from Massachusetts - here's one, lifted directly from the comments on my blog, by an Englishman who has lived in Moscow for nearly 20 years;

"The first thing they did with the November 7 national holiday after 1991 was to rename it “The Day of Reconciliation”, which in my opinion was a bit of a bloody stupid title – “Sorry for the failed 80-year experiment, no hard feelings?”

This business of the nationalists seizing this day as if it were their own is a serious one, I think. However, for many years English ultra-rightists used the English flag as their own whilst most patriotic English citizens waved the Union Flag: they did not want to wave about the flag of St. George lest they be thought neo-nazis. Slowly, however, those who were inclined to be English patriots slowly took back the English flag as their own. I think this happened in England when most people realized that the extreme right-wing in England were a very small minority. And I think that most that celebrate this holiday are far from extreme nationalists. However, in my my experience, the vast majority neither know the name of this holiday, nor would they care one jot about what happened in 1612 even if they did."

He also points out - from the viewpoint of someone who can watch it on local TV - that the march drew about 6000 although it was sanctioned for up to 25,000.

The supposed "crackdowns on dissent" are all in the heads of the western press; the augmented fines for taking part in an illegal protest do not in any way affect anyone who is protesting legally with a permit, and all the marches this year have been approved except for a couple of "31" demonstrations that insist on Triumfalnaya Square. Triumfalnaya is currently a construction site for major roadworks ongoing on at Tverskaya St. The demonstrations are losing numbers because the heart has gone out of them and because major parties such as the Communists have withdrawn their support, not because of "crackdowns".

If you'd like to discuss it further, you can find me at .

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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