The Power Vertical Podcast by Brian Whitmore covers 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. Brian Whitmore is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Eurasia Center and Russia and Eurasia Specialist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Charles T. McDowell Center for Global Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington.
Putin's Rocky Road to 2024
A rigged vote secures a super-majority for the ruling United Russia party setting the stage for the next phase of the ongoing political drama in Moscow.
Last week's so-called election to the State Duma was a dress rehearsal for Vladimir Putin's next political project - securing his continued rule until 2036. And this project is unfolding amid the backdrop of mounting discontent with the status quo in society and an escalating crackdown on dissent from the Kremlin.
Putin has already ruled longer than any Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin - and he doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon. But he's lost the youth, he's lost the cities, he's lost the urban professional class, and he's losing the working class.
So what happens now? On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, host Brian Whitmore speaks with scholar, political analyst, and journalist Vasily Gatov, a visiting fellow, University of Southern California's Annenberg Center of Communication Leadership and Policy. Enjoy...
Putin's Legitimization Ritual
The atmosphere in the runup to Russia's so-called elections this weekend is so restrictive that for the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the OSCE has decided not to send observers.
The main independent Russian election observer has been declared a foreign agent. Opposition candidates, many facing arrest and imprisonment, are fleeing the country. Websites are being blocked and Western tech companies like Google and Apple are being pressured to remove political content and apps the Kremlin doesn't like.
When it comes to Russia’s upcoming State Duma elections, there is no doubt that the fix is in - the Kremlin has the tools and the will to manufacture the result it wants. But Russian elections are less about the results, which are largely preordained, and more about the ritual and the theater. And what is not clear is whether Vladimir Putin's regime will be able to control the election's narrative.
On the Power Vertical Podcast this week, host Brian Whitmore speaks with Konstantin Eggert about what to expect.
Fortress Russia: Putin's New Model Police State
A coordinated and comprehensive attack targeting virtually all segments of Russia’s civil society, including journalists, lawyers, activists and opposition politicians. An equally coordinated and comprehensive campaign to encourage prominent opposition figures to go into exile. A deeply unpopular ruling party with sinking poll numbers with elections just a week away. And an uprising in a neighboring country that has spooked the Kremlin elite.
Vladimir Putin's autocratic regime is cracking down on dissent again. But this time, it feels a bit different - and a lot more sinister. On The Power Vertical Podcast this week, host Brian Whitmore speaks to Russian opposition figure Vladimir Milov and scholar Maria Snegovaya about how and why the repression is different this time.
The Guns of September
They've been called a pretext for mischief against the Baltics and Poland and a means for Russia to increase its military footprint in Belarus.
They've been called Kremlin saber-rattling, a message to the West, and a very expensive and noisy psyop. And they've been called routine military exercises that are nothing more than business as usual.
But whatever you call them, the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2021 military exercises that will begin next week seem to have everybody's attention.
So what should we expect from Zapad-2021? On this week's Power Vertical Podcast host Brian Whitmore speaks with military analyst Michael Kofman, director of the Russian Studies Program at the CNA corporation to find out.
30 Years of Ukrainian Independence
Three decades ago, a new European state representing an old European nation appeared on the scene. Thirty years ago in the rubble of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian people finally achieved their dream of independence, sovereignty, and statehood. And a generation after achieving this goal, today Ukrainians are still fighting to maintain it.
The modern Ukrainian state turned 30 this week. This week’s Power Vertical Podcast looks back at its progress and ahead to its prospects as host Brian Whitmore speaks with Ambassador John Herbst, historian Marta Dyczok, and journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk.
Belarus' Year Of Living Dangerously
A rigged election is followed by unprecedented street protests as a civil society comes of age. A brutal crackdown on dissent by an increasingly desperate dictator. A brazen act of air piracy and kidnapping. Allegations of death squads. And successive waves of Western sanctions.
From August 2020 to August 2021 everything changed in Belarus as Alyaksandr Lukashenka faced the most serious crisis of his nearly three decades in power. And with Vladimir Putin's Russia waiting in the wings to exploit upheaval, it's a crisis with major geopolitical consequences.
On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we take a look back at Belarus' year of living dangerously -- and take a look ahead at what comes next. Joining host Brian Whitmore is former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Kramer and veteran Belarusian journalist Franak Viacorka, an advisor to opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya.