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Podcast: The Reality-Show Election

Russian opposition campaigner Aleksei Navalny is reflected in the sunglasses of socialite and presidential hopeful Ksenia Sobchak. (photo illustration)

Aleksei Navalny once called Ksenia Sobchak "a caricature of a liberal candidate" -- but now says he won't criticize her because it would be a gift to the Kremlin.

Sobchak has praised Navalny as a brave and important political figure, and says she would withdraw her candidacy in the unlikely event that the anticorruption blogger were allowed on the ballot.

Both Sobchak and Navalny emerged as political figures during the Bolotnaya protests, the mass demonstrations that engulfed Moscow in the winter of 2011-12.

Both came to Russia's opposition movement as outsiders and had to overcome skepticism.

Both appeal to the young generation and both have built large and loyal followings on social media.

And now the dynamic and political relationship between them is ground zero for Russia's opposition.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss Sobchak's plan to run for president in light of Navalny's outsider campaign -- and amid speculation that her candidacy is part of a Kremlin operation.

Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its center for European Security, and author of the forthcoming book The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia, which will be published next year; and Moscow-based journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult.


Power Vertical Podcast: The Reality-Show Election
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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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