Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: The State Of The President

A boy in Vladivostok sleeps as his tablet computer shows Vladimir Putin's annual state-of-the-nation address on December 12.
A boy in Vladivostok sleeps as his tablet computer shows Vladimir Putin's annual state-of-the-nation address on December 12.
There was a lot of anticipation for President Vladimir Putin's state-of-the-nation address this week, his first since returning to the Kremlin in May.

Some media speculated he would reshuffle the government. Some reported that he would use the speech to unveil a rebranded "Putin the Wise Patriarch." Other Kremlin-watchers  thought the address would signal a pivot to more liberal policies.
But what everybody got instead was boilerplate. 

In the latest edition of the Power Vertical podcast, I discussed Putin's big speech and why it fell flat with co-hosts Kirill Kobrin of RFE/RL's Russian Service and NYU Professor Mark Galeotti, author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows." Why did Putin pass up an opportunity to take the political initiative?

Also on the podcast, we discuss a recent gaffe by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who was caught by a live microphone insulting agents of the Investigative Committee.

The Power Vertical Podcast -- The State Of The President
Power Vertical Podcast: The State Of The Presidenti
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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,Power Vertical podcast

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Comment Sorting
by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
December 15, 2012 16:20
Couple of cogent comments from this podcast. Agree wholeheartedly that certain Russian analysts need to ‘sober up’ when it comes to predicting the imminent fall of the Putin government. Given the backdrop of a financially insolvent West (EU and the US) and spreading radicalization in countries which have embraced violent democracy, many Russians continue look at Putin in a positive light.

Strong endorsement of Mr. Kobrin’s and Mr. Galeotti’s comments on the need to avoid measuring Russia by merely following Kremlin intrigues. Russia is so much bigger and better than the selfish Moscovite bureaucrats lining their pockets. Perhaps the Power Vertical ought to consider looking more intently at developments on the horizontal scale.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 15, 2012 18:03
Some valid points on the "financially insolvent West (EU and the US) and spreading radicalization in countries which have embraced violent democracy". And while all that is happening, the RFE/RL is mostly preoccupied with who called whom a "Kozöl" with how interesting/boring the latest speech of Putin was.
I mean, what did people expect that he would say? The country's GDP is GROWING at the rate of 3,5 % this year - while the Euro-zone (according to the data of the latest Economist issue) is CONTRACTING by some 0,4 %. The streets of Vienna are full of Russian tourists who do not know any more what other Western crap to buy - just to give their money out.
By the way, the govt of Spain - that has for the last 4 years been trying to sell at least some of the 400.000 appartments that have been constructed there during the previous real estable bubble and are standing empty since - is proposing a new legislative measure: The Ministry of Economy is proposing a new law - aimed, according to the media primarily at RUSSIANS and CHINESE - that will grant any foreigner who acquired in Spain real estate for a sum of at least € 160.000 a residence permit. I can already see the Russians arrive to the Spanish Costa de Azahar and slowly but steadily expell the Germans and the Brits out of there. I guess, if Putin chose to talk about this, the RFE/RL would have found his speach somewhat more entertaining :-)).
Source on the Spanish real estate for the Russians:

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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