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The Daily Vertical: Crime And Punishment In Russia's Two Worlds (Transcript)

The Daily Vertical logo -- Brian Whitmore
The Daily Vertical logo -- Brian Whitmore

In Vladimir Putin's Russia there are effectively two realities.

There is the real world that everybody actually lives in. And there is the virtual reality of how Kremlin officials describe that world.

One case in point would be comments Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made this week about the recent purge of regional elites in Daghestan as part of an alleged anticorruption campaign.

In Peskov's world, this has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

Instead, it is "guided by legal considerations and the inevitability of punishment for any crimes that are committed."

Shortly after Peskov spoke, opposition leader and anticorruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny released a video and report targeting Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.

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In the past, Navalny has released exhaustively documented reports exposing alleged corruption by a plethora of top Kremlin officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika, and Peskov himself.

Can we expect any of these people to be investigated in a world where punishment is inevitable for any crimes that are committed?

Probably not, as long as none of them fall out of political favor.

So back to Daghestan: What's really going on there?

I think political commentator Vitaly Portnikov pretty much gets it right in an article in this week.

The purge in Daghestan, Portnikov writes, "is not about any desire to defeat corruption," but instead about "a desire to transform a corrupted dominion, a state within a state, into a corrupt colony of the Kremlin."

Or, as veteran Kremlin-watcher Paul Goble elegantly put it on his blog, "to transform Daghestan from a place where the Daghestanis engage in corruption to one where the Muscovites do."

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