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The Power Vertical Podcast: The Two Russias

Protesters gather with balloons and placards during an opposition demonstration in Moscow on February 4.
As Russians go to the polls on March 4 to elect a president, careful observers can't help but feel they are seeing two distinct nations.

On one side there is a growing urban -- and urbane -- middle class that is highly educated, wired, globalized, and increasingly self-confident.
And on the other, a larger mass that is struggling, parochial, fearful of change, and largely dependent on the state for both its information and its income.

The former wants political reform while the latter tends to support Vladimir Putin -- but what is happening in Russia is about more than politics. One side is younger and wealthier than the other -- but this is more than a generation gap or a class conflict.

The rift between these two Russias is largely cultural and aesthetic -- and its implications will last far beyond Sunday's election, which Putin is expected to win easily.

In a special preelection edition of The Power Vertical podcast, I spoke to Kirill Kobrin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian Service, about this cultural rift and what it means for the country's future.


The Power Vertical -- The Two Russias
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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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