Friday, August 29, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: When Russians Talk About Ukraine

A Tale of two cities? Kyiv in flames; Bolotnaya defendants in the dock
A Tale of two cities? Kyiv in flames; Bolotnaya defendants in the dock
The Russian state-controlled media has described the unrest in various alarming ways: A coup attempt by extremists and neo-Nazis; a Western-backed insurrection; and a nefarious attempt to dismember Ukraine, just to name a few.

For its part, the Russian opposition, while disturbed by the violence in Kyiv, is raptly watching events in Ukraine with a mixture of envy and respect.

And as the Ukrainian crisis climaxed this week, many Russians' attention quickly shifted from the Winter Olympics in Sochi to the showdown on the streets of the Ukrainian capital.

So what are Russians talking about when they talk about Ukraine?

In the latest Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss what lessons the authorities, society, and the opposition are absorbing from the Euromaidan uprising. Joining me are co-hosts Kirill Kobrin, editor of the Moscow-based history and sociology magazine "Neprikosnovenny zapas," and Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows."

Also on the podcast, Kirill, Mark, and I discuss Russia's so-called Bolotnaya case, which wound up this week with guilty verdicts for eight anti-Kremlin protesters and the trial of Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, which has just commenced.


Power Vertical Podcast -- February 21, 2014
Power Vertical Podcast -- February 21, 2014i
|| 0:00:00

Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.

Tags: Russian politics,Russian opposition,Power Vertical podcast,Sergei Udaltsov,Bolotnaya case,Euromaidan

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 21, 2014 20:13
Talking about Ukraine, it looks like the state is about to collapse: (1) the "leaders" of the opposition have signed a deal with the govt, whereas the terrorists from the Maidan are opposing it - the deal will never be implemented as a consequence;
(2) leaders of the Eastern and Southern regions of the country are meeting tomorrow (Sat.) in the Eastern city of Kharkiv in order to plan for forming a separate entity that would get closer to Russia;
(3) Russia has discontinued today buying Ukrainian treasury bonds, which means that there is no money in Ukraine to pay for anything at all any more - so states insitutions of all levels will seaze functioning within days.
Thus, we are looking at a scenario of an all-out chaos followed by a civil war between the Center-East and the South-West of the country, as a result of which the Russian military will have no choice other than intervening. The latter will have consequences that are relatively easy to predict - look back at the events of August 2008.
So, congratulations to the leaders of the European Union and to Frau Merkel in particular: they wanted an Association Agreement and instead they will get hundreds of thousans of refugees like during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Talanted people always achieve what they intend to.
In Response

by: Taras from: Cheltenham
February 25, 2014 11:55
Please remind me who the terrorists are?

Surely not the weaponless boys being picked off, one by one, by a government sniper, right?

So let's be honest here. If you support Yanukovych, you're supporting State Terrorism.

by: Jack from: US
February 21, 2014 20:34
Russians are probably saying they are lucky the dumpster is no longer part of Russia. Ukraine is poorer than Angola, with Ukrainian GDP per capita on par with African countries, less than in Angola

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 21, 2014 22:02
VIDEO: 'Ukraine chaos promoted by US with regime change aim' -

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
February 21, 2014 22:17
I haven’t yet listened to your comment, but for those who know Russian, consider watching the program at the link below. I’m not a prophet, but if these ‘experts’ accurately reflect the Russian position vis-à-vis Ukraine, this fight is far from over.

by: Anonymous
February 21, 2014 22:39
If I think of how many Ukrainians live and work in russia
if I think of how many intense trade there are between the two countries
I wonder
how will do ukraine without russia ?

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 21, 2014 22:41
According to the latest news (Friday night), Yanek has left Kiev and flew either to Kharkiv or to Sotschi. If he went to Sotschi, when he comes back he won't be alone :-)).

by: American Tolerast
February 22, 2014 05:32
Even superficially educated and cultured Eurasians live in a world with a few herrenvolk states ruling smaller neighbors by something akin to divine right. If Ukraine is not Russia's colony, they reason, then it must be someone else's colony. Predicting otherwise is either naivete or lies.

This worldview leaves no room for the partially realized ideal that draws Eastern Europe to the EU: small states can join into something stronger and better than the sum of its parts, with only a bureaucratized and meritocratic hierarchy instead of an imperial overlord. The relativity of EU "problems" and "failures" (the tug-of-war between debt and austerity in poorer members, support for hard-right parties hitting low double-digits, local extremes of corruption that Russians and Moldovans fantasize about, etc.) only highlight the grueling futility of everyday life in Russia and its colonies for all but a corrupt elite who mollify popular resentment with a 24/7 top-down barrage of xenophobia, tribalism, and fuhrerkult.

If that sounds like applause for Euromaidan, Ukrainians are part of the same problem. Bluntly put, most talented and free-thinking Eurasians have already left, leaving their birth-societies ever more conformist, drunk, and old. Ukraine has the best resources of the bunch, and even its odds are dismal. The opposition is a herd of cats doomed to repeat 2004, and too many ordinary Ukrainians are less "pro-Europe" than "anti-Russia" for the simple reason that Russians are exactly like them except for being able to bully their neighbors.

Eurasia's 1st-world birth rates, 3rd-world death rates, and otherworldly substance abuse rates mean it should be treated as a hospice patient, not an enemy. Keep the patient calm and comfortable, indulge any whim that harms no one else, and avoid the cruelest torture of all: false hope. In practical terms, weigh the odds of Ukraine embracing rule-of-law against the odds of Putin's clients provoking Crimean secession or even a second genocide of their local designated untermenschen, the Crimean Tatars. If the best-case scenario is an Orange Repeat, this isn't worth human lives. Both sides accuse Obama and Merkel of not even trying to resist Putin. Why should they? Why risk millions of Ukrainian lives for no gain to their own societies simply to agitate the man who razed Chechnya, then exploited dead children at Beslan to rationalize ending regional elections? That's how he treats "his own" people. What are Ukrainian or Tatar lives worth to him?

The West can't save Russia and Ukraine. We can save Russians and Ukrainians. We can muzzle our own xenophobes and welcome Eurasian refugees for as long as Putin is willing to let them escape.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
February 22, 2014 09:59
So far, while Ukraine negotiating a way out, another attempt,
By Russia re-expand Empire, I have to make short remark:
As Free Ukraine try live in dignity, be in Common Wealth
With Europe, Russia and CIS, Russia tried be masters,
Put down fire they themselves start in people's hearts
And on Maidan with Gorbachev-Cheushesku bullets,
Snipers from Russia and Russian's influx in the East.
Also they bring the "Titushkas" as it once happened
During "Golodomor" - "Titushkas" grondfathers went
To East Ukraine villages and took away all food, put
On both ends of each village with one street snipers
And were killing hungry Ukrainians, if tried look there
For some frozen in fields potato, grass or tree leaves.
Will it help make peace in Ukraine? Are Russians try
If Ukrainians as Romanians, last Cheushesku's days,
Turn into vengeance of a crowd, excuse for Russians
To invade and divide Ukraine with Austria-Germany?
I don't think it will work! Ukrainian Citizens must stay
United and be masters of their own destiny, Russians!

by: PermReader
February 22, 2014 18:09
"when Russians talk.." What is written in the great majority of media posts is well known banality because of the general informability and author`s permanent positions.So the pro- and anti- government articles doesn`t reflect the peoples reactions.Read the comments instead.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
February 23, 2014 01:18
Where are my comments?
Playing Russia-Prussia imperial censorship, Eugenio?
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 23, 2014 17:57
Yes, Const., I admit it was me :-). You forgot to mention that I killed John F. Kennedy as well, you smart guy :-)).
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
February 25, 2014 10:51
I don't know about John F. Kennedy,
But you took part here on FRE to kill my mother,
lying that it was I, not you, that wrote threats against
USA and Russian leaders - it was used by your CIA partners
in USA, expediting my mother's murder.
As for " smart guy" - tell it to slaves of your gang of Russian traffickers of non-Russian children and girls, your Russians torture and desecrate in the West also...
Comments page of 2

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

Latest Podcasts