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The Daily Vertical: Questions Of Loyalty (Transcript)

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

What is your attitude toward opposition demonstrations?

Would you be willing to use force against them?

Which pro-Western politicians in Russia favor the overthrow of the regime?

What is your attitude toward Aleksei Navalny, Aleksei Kudrin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Ksenia Sobchak, and Grigory Yavlinsky?

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Do any of your colleagues speak out openly against Vladimir Putin?

Now, these are just some of the questions included in a questionnaire that soldiers serving in Russia's Southern Military District were recently required to fill out, according to a report this week in the BBC's Russian Service.

The questionnaire's existence was first revealed last week on Navalny's YouTube channel.

It's just the latest example that underneath the Putin regime's bravado, there is fear. And behind its confidence, there is doubt.

Because while the Kremlin can reasonably assume that it can secure the result it wants in the March 18 presidential election, the Kremlin clearly doesn't appear so sanguine about what happens next.

As Russia is entering an election season, the Kremlin feels the need to check, double-check, and verify the loyalty of the army.

And it's worth noting that the loyalty the Kremlin feels the need to confirm is not really loyalty to Russia's constitution -- which, after all, at least formally protects the right of citizens to demonstrate.

It's loyalty to Putin personally and to the current ruling elite.

This is not a sign of a self-assured regime.

On the contrary, it's a sign of an entrenched ruling clique that is deeply frightened -- and therefore quite dangerous.

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