Can Russia Change? 2017/6/15 11:11:03

Masha Gessen on what this week’s large-scale protests could mean for Putin’s reign.


Photo: People chant slogans during an unauthorized opposition rally in Moscow on June 12, 2017. 

As hundreds of Ukrainians throng railways and roads leading West, taking early and massive advantage of visa-free travel to Europe, some in Russia may be thinking the unthinkable, i.e. that Putin and company may have made a wrong turn along the way. It cannot be lost on many Russians that as the Kremlin was busy throwing Navalny into jail – again – President Petro Poroshenko was engaged in a symbolic opening of the doors to Europe for Ukrainians

“It will become clear who shot down the MH17 and who is conducting a hybrid war against Ukraine,” Valentina Matviyenko [shown] says. “These will be one and the same people. All the events of recent years follow in the same logical chain … the Kremlin is conducting hybrid wars” and that will eventually be acknowledged even by Moscow.


Moscow’s Status Anxiety 2017/6/9 19:42:10

Russia is a great nation by virtue of its history and culture; few have doubts about it. But being a great world power is a relative value: others have to recognize it. Tricking others into recognizing one’s worth does not work. 


Putin denounced the Panama Papers as a deliberate effort by America to embarrass him. “Officials and state agencies in the United States are behind all this,” he charged in April 2016. 


Vladimir Putin is a very powerful man – one who seems to worry more every day about keeping that power. Many things bother Putin but nothing seems to bother him more than the possibility that Russia might suffer a popular revolt – like Ukraine’s Orange Revolution that eventually morphed into the Maidan. To ease his mind, he has given greater power than ever to the his newly-formed National Guard under the command of his slavishly devoted former bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov.


Yury Baluyevsky, who advises the commander of the Russian Guard, said recently that “the main threats to the security of Russia are not from the outside but internal. The Russian Guard was created not for suppressing but for preventing the rash actions of those who by rocking the boat intend to lead the state to a situation like the one [in] Libya, Syria and Ukraine.”


Photo: Putin with his “anti-Maidan” insurance Zolotov

Aleksey Kudrin of the Center for Strategic Development says: “Russia is losing time in a catastrophic fashion…Unfortunately, the authorities only very slowly are recognizing that structural changes are needed.”  And while they move toward that recognition, the Russian people suffer even if the Putin elite continues its lavish lifestyle and Putin himself his aggressive foreign policy.

“…there is one way out: the way Stalin adopted in the 1930s: totalitarian control and radical extraction of money from the people.”

When you think of art and art appreciation, Vladimir Putin is probably not the first name that comes to your mind. In this latest Daily Vertical, Brian Whitmore may change your opinion on this subject as he explains Putin’s artistic efforts – some that may not be universally appreciated.

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