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The Daily Vertical: Why Putin Fears Ukraine (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Vladimir Putin just got caught telling the truth at his marathon annual press conference yesterday.

And in doing so, the Kremlin leader revealed one of his greatest fears.

In response to a question about the lack of real competition in next year's presidential election -- a question that was, incidentally, asked by Kremlin-approved opposition candidate Ksenia Sobchak -- Putin said he didn't want Russia to turn into a second Ukraine.

And that's pretty telling.

Because since gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine has had five presidential elections.

And guess what? All five have been competitive.

And in all but one case -- Leonid Kuchma's reelection in 1999 -- the incumbent or the incumbent's handpicked successor has lost every single time.

And with the exception of the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution that resulted in pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country, transfers of power in Ukraine have been peaceful and orderly.

And even in that case, Ukraine held a clean and competitive election just months later.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

Now Putin, of course, calls that a coup and claims Russia's opposition is plotting something similar.

So when Putin said he doesn't want Russia to turn into a second Ukraine he was indeed telling the truth.

He doesn't want Russia to turn into a country that, despite its problems, has managed to consistently hold competitive elections for the past quarter century.

Such a prospect must truly be terrifying for the Kremlin leader and his cronies.

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NOTE TO POWER VERTICALISTAS: I will be travelling to Kaunas, Lithuania, from December 18 to December 20 to speak at the opening ceremony of the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development at Vytautas Magnus University. No Power Vertical products will appear on those days. The regular schedule resumes on Thursday, December 21.

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