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Podcast: A Martyr Is Born

Has the Kremlin created a new hero?
He's an ordinary 38-year-old Muscovite. He's an army veteran with a disability. He came to Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012, on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration to demand free elections. And he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mikhail Kosenko this week became the third of 27 defendants in the so-called Bolotnaya case to be convicted of participating in mass disturbances. But his case has struck a deep chord.

Kosenko -- who suffered a concussion while serving in the military and has since been receiving outpatient treatment for a mild psychological disorder -- was sentenced to a psychiatric ward against the advice of his doctors.

Video footage appears to exonerate him. The police officer he is charged with attacking actually testified in his defense.

And Kosenko's eloquent and passionate closing statement at his trial made him a more sympathetic figure still.

Has the Kremlin inadvertently created another martyr hero? In the latest "Power Vertical Podcast," I address this question with co-host Kirill Kobrin, editor of the history and sociology magazine "Neprikosnovennie zapas," and guest David Satter, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author of numerous books on Russia -- including most recently "It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway."

Also on the podcast, we discuss the latest work of the London-based writer and Kremlin-watcher Peter Pomerantsev, "Russia: Postmodern Dictatorship," which was published this week by the Legatum Institute and the Institute of Modern Russia.


Power Vertical Podcast: A Martyr Is Born
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About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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