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The Daily Vertical: Putin's War On Democracy (Transcript)

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

Russia's biggest export isn't oil and isn't gas -- it's politics.

In fact, one of the most disturbing things about the past couple of years is that many of the things Kremlin-watchers took for granted about Russian domestic politics have gone international.

We've long known, for example, that corruption was a political tool in Russia.

It wasn't a bug in the system, but a feature. It was an instrument of control and a means of establishing networks of influence.

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And now we know how the Kremlin has successfully exported this practice, whether to Western financial markets, energy markets, or the Olympics.

We've long known that elections were fixed and manipulated in Russia.

This wasn't just from old-fashioned vote rigging. It was the result of carefully shaping the information environment in advance to assure the desired result.

And now we're finding out that the Kremlin has gotten very adept at shaping the information environment in Western countries and thus manipulating elections there as well.

We've long known that Russia's media regularly report false stories and half-truths that suit the Kremlin's needs.

And now fake news and disinformation has become something of an epidemic in the West.

Vladimir Putin has long complained about the West attempting to export its political model to Russia.

And all the while, Putin has been very busy exporting his political model to the West.

When Putin came to power nearly 17 years ago, he quickly launched a stealth war on Russia's fledgling democracy.

And now he's launched one on Western democracy as well.

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