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The Daily Vertical: Corrupting Putin's Software (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

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

There is a very good reason why Vladimir Putin's regime is so clearly freaked out about this past weekend's mass nationwide protests.

It's not just that they demonstrated that there is a lot of dissent brewing in the regions, suggesting that Putin's base may be eroding.

It's not just the fact that an unprecedented number of young people took to the streets, suggesting that Putin may be losing the next generation.

And it's not just that they confirmed Aleksei Navalny's status as an opposition leader with a growing national following.

These things, of course, are all causes for concern in the Kremlin.

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But the deeper reason why these protests are so threatening is that they were targeted at the very software that makes the Putin regime run.

They were targeted at the Kremlin's operating system.

They were targeted at corruption.

And as we all know, corruption in Russia isn't just some petty graft and bribery that happens here and there.

Corruption in Russia isn't just massive and widespread.

No, corruption in Russia is systemic and is a key tool used by Putin to control the elite.

It's part of the political contract that officials have a license to steal -- and that they will only be prosecuted if they step out of line or fall out of political favor.

Just as the Kremlin uses patriotic myths to keep the public docile and obedient, it uses corruption to keep the elite in line.

But a significant part of the public now sees through the scam.

And that is a very ominous development for this regime.

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