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The Daily Vertical: A Reality Show With Real Consequences (Transcript)

So it appears that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov will get his own reality show modeled on the U.S. hit The Apprentice, in which the winners will be given a spot in his government.

No, really, I'm actually serious.

And when you think about it, this is actually pretty appropriate.

It's appropriate because politics in Vladimir Putin's Russia is a reality show.

It's appropriate because from the very beginning, the popularity of the Putin regime has depended on keeping the public distracted and entertained with staged real-life television dramas that pit the regime against a series of enemies, both foreign and domestic.

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They could be oligarchs, they could be fifth columnists, they could be fascists and Banderites.

It's appropriate because set-pieces like Putin's annual call-in program and press conference are considered seminal political events and are hyped as if they were Hollywood blockbusters.

It's appropriate because Russia's political institutions exist in a state of virtual reality. There's fake elections, fake political parties, a fake parliament, fake courts, and fake NGOs.

And it's appropriate that Kadyrov is hosting a reality show because Russia is becoming Kadyrovized as his brutal, repressive, and unaccountable governing ethos in Chechnya is becoming the dominant vibe in the country as a whole.

So, yeah, Russian politics is a reality show. But the disturbing thing is that it is a reality show that has real consequences: real wars, real prosecutions, real assassinations, and real suffering.

But hey, at least it's entertaining.

The Daily Vertical will not appear for two weeks as I will be traveling to the NATO summit in Warsaw and a postsummit conference in Estonia. But we'll be back in action on July 18.

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