The electoral campaign that is Russia

It’s early March, two weeks before Russia’s polling day, but the presidential election season is already in full swing in Chubulga, a reindeer-herding settlement in north-eastern Yakutia. It’s an hour’s flight to the nearest village, which is itself a further two hours from the nearest asphalt road and 5,000km east of Moscow.

With a population of just three, this district is unlikely to turn the electoral tide. But with election officials desperate to raise turnout and show support for current president Vladimir Putin, no expense has been spared.

So they sent a team of election officials by plane, plus some trudging through the snow.  And this:

Results differ across regions. Some areas allegedly concoct results to show their loyalty to the Kremlin: Putin regularly polls above 99 per cent in Chechnya. In major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, Putin is so unpopular among the middle class that he wins less than half the vote, despite accusations of voter fraud. In Yakutia, Putin’s last election return of 69 per cent was typical for ­Russia’s far-flung provinces. But the region’s vastness means that the key is maintaining the 75 per cent turnout. As a result, officials have to go further than anywhere else to show democracy in action.

Here is the FT story by Max Seddon, via BaldingsWorld.


With a population of just three, this district is unlikely to turn the electoral tide.

No doubt Putin will win by 122 votes.

It is interesting that the inherent costs in campaigning in a country the size of Russia probably help Putin enormously. Especially when he controls state TV. How can a nice middle class lass like Ksenia campaign in Yakutia? It probably explains why Ksenia is even in the race at all - name recognition of Moscow intellectuals in Yakutia might well be low but the occasional Reality TV star may be another matter.

The obvious solution for the Democrats is to get Paris Hilton to stand. Although Oprah will do.

'Paris Hilton to stand'

Interesting use of British, not American, English there. Of course, the tone of a number of posts under this name have been shifting a bit over the last few weeks.

Last week there was an article with a long thread of responses using my name. Not one of which I wrote.

I was going to object but whoever was doing it was doing a pretty good job so I didn't bother.

I feel no shame in being a cuckold.

“Inquire of the mediums and necromancers who chirp and mutter” 1806 Cumberland road
you try that approach
the middle class will go see John Prine
tear up whats left of the midwest
next month

linda va a marte

Si john prine may 11
beaver dam amphitheatre
in beaver dam Kentucky
es un viernes

Most experts doubt she is even a real opposition candidate, but more likely someone encouraged to run directly or indirectly by Putin to maintain a veil of choice for liberals. Navalny, the true opposition, was of course banned from running.

Most experts? You mean you saw it on CNN. I think we can agree that she is not a real candidate but we hardly need to reach for conspiracy theories.

Navalny might have a chance at winning. Of course he was banned.

I doubt that was on CNN and certainly not Fox and Friends. One not need peddle in conspiracy theories to understand she is running at the Kremlin's direction. They put her in state Tv, ha.

"I doubt that was on CNN"

Why do you doubt that? It was on NPR's All Things Considered this morning - at least the allegation laid unto her by Navalny that she was a tool of Putin was reported on without qualification.

Well, when a Russian candidate insists they are not a stooge of the Kremlin, assuming they are still free to pursue their political campaign, it must be true. 'Ksenia Sobchak, the socialite-turned-opposition- journalist who said this week she would run for president, has insisted she is a real challenger to Vladimir Putin and not a show candidate.

Many see Ms Sobchack, 35, as a weak, Kremlin-approved substitute for Alexei Navalny, the fiery opposition leader who has been barred from running due to a dubious embezzlement conviction in February. Mr Putin's spokesman denied on Wednesday that the presidential administration was behind her run but also praised her as a “talented person”.'

Who cares about CNN when the Telegraph stands ready. But your proven ability to ignore such hard left sources as the Telegraph have become legendary in this little pocket of the Internet.

Navalny might have a chance at winning.

There is no evidence from any current public opinion research in Russia that political discontent extends much beyond about a quarter of the population and the liberal opposition is if anything weaker than the Soviet nostalgiacs and the revanchist-nationalist sector. The current regime is guilty of a menu of abuses, but they've had enough accomplishments that the public is content with them.

Obviously Putin feels threatened if he needs to exclude Navalny

Obviously Putin feels threatened if he needs to exclude Navalny

The liberal strand in Russia has long been sorted among a series of microparties, of which Navalny's is one. He did well in a mayoral election some years ago, but still lost by a 2.5-to-one margin.

there are many aspects of Russian election.

First - 'the promise of internet technology'. Early internet pundits predicted quite significant change how people organize due to communication practices. It turned out that social capital does not grow fast due to encounters on internet. So while indeed in big cities Putin is unpopular - people did not find effective means to collective action.

then there is a question of politicians. Let's begin with mentioned in comments Kxenia Sobchak. Did he ever read blogs like marginalrevolution. No, no chance :). She speaks some slogans, but her understanding of economy, sociology is so low, that is appalling. And to large degree - it's a signal that for her - Russia means just so few, she cannot allocate some minor time to be even basically educated in things which are important in development of country.
The same goes for other opposition people.
Again example: if you read economic blogs you know, that big cities are efficient. Now take Navalny - and ... he says Moscow steals provinces money ( while Moscow is no more different that, say New York in difference in income level with provinces ) and it is for this reason Moscow has builds new roads, and roads are not built in places like in Yakutia. That is not one his strange idea. He also happily retweets antinuclear slants of pro natural gas lobby. So he is a good guy, but he cannot communicate even basic knowledge ( not to mention that he tends to say quite dangerous nationalistic passages - 'Georgians are rats' for example )
Or Khodorkovsky. I heard of AI which detects lie. I think it will flash almost any second word Khodorkovsky says. He just thinks that bending reality to his needs requires constant lies. Yes, he no more fights with school tests, he stopped claiming that humanity cannot produce more energy, so need to follow 'austerity way of life', but to quite few communications he still maintains a) strange ideas b) pushes then with absolute resolution with all sort of word tricks.

So while people are discontent with Putin, on basic feeling - they do not see professionalism, honesty, well organized political movements, which they could joint to express discontent.

And, on another hand, Putin is adaptive. While in 10s he pushed on TV ideas like 'there are finite oil resources, so westerns want to steal them from us with force', now his focus on 'creativity'. His new 'ideas' look somewhat awkward on 18 years rule background, when major theme was pushing some fringe conspiracy theories to frighten population, but still he changes. And compared to Navalny he says about developing cities, nuclear energy etc. So he is still better in some eyes, even the cost is continuation of autocratic rule.

So what is the future?
I think that promise of internet could not held, but electic cars and renewable energy technology and also new nuclear tech in coming decades will remove economic base of authoritarianism -still oil and natural gas provides half of state income. and it is too easy to control them and use money to keep local authorities in check, but that will end.

you americans could help to make it happen faster :), but anyway, we would need to wait, when forces which are not easy to counter will force leaders of russia ( and possibly opposition leaders ) to be more open, honest, etc.

Thanks for this interesting perspective. The truth will prevail in the end!

Regarding Navalny, my understanding is that for any opposition figure to gain significant support from the people they must also espouse nationalistic positions, including some skepticism or even disdain for ethic minorities. Does it seem correct to you that a majority of Russians share these views on some level?

Also, many assert that a lot of the nationalistic sentiments stem from a deep humiliation most Russians feel due to Russia's transition from the world's second power to a relatively weak and declining kleptocracy that nonetheless has ok living standards. Basically, people want to hear that their nation is big and important, even if they know it is not nearly what it once was. Is that generally true? Thanks for your thoughts.

Meant to say "ethnic" rather than "ethic." Freudian slip?

Well the rule is usually that only White people can be racists. But the Russians are, you know, pretty damn White. Besides most of the people using that rule still mourn the death of the Soviet Union. So perhaps the rule is that only Capitalist Whites can be racist? But then opinion seems divided on the Japanese. So only the First World (for most definitions of the First World) can be racist?

But clearly the Russians have no agency at all. If they hate Georgians or Uzbeks or whatever it is clearly the fault of Capitalism and the collapse of Mankind's Great Hope ..... err, Personkind's Great Hope. Whereas White Americans were born in sin and can never escape their racism.

How about the simple fact that many Russians are racists because they were told they were the Vanguard of Mankind and so no matter how many Eastern European women their soldiers raped, no matter how many Crimean Tartars and Chechens they killed, no matter how much evil Moscow spread around the world, they never had to even consult their conscience much less weigh up their own wrong doings? Socialism means never having to say sorry.

The fact that you believe so much of this nonsense makes you suspect.

"How about the simple fact that many Russians are racists because they were told they were the Vanguard of Mankind (...) no matter how much evil Moscow spread around the world, they never had to even consult their conscience much less weigh up their own wrong doings?"

Well, it surely explains the czarist pogroms, doesn't it?
Talking about spreading evil, how are your Mujahideen and Saudi friends doing? Any good buildings knocked out lately?

Thanks for this wall of text explaining racism. I'll see if this guy has any insight.

I am not explaining racism. I am pointing out your willful refusal to acknowledge racism. A willful refusal that verges on something much worse.

I think I can get the gist of this, but there are enough errors that it's a slog. Best.

Thanks for this perspective. As unpopular as Putin is, I too think he will win, even if only by a narrow margin

Let us be blunt: Russians are not capable of democratic self-rule in any meaningful way. Yet, they are preferable to Red China. While America and its Chinese allies supported Pol Pot, Russia supported the Vietnamese people-sponsored liberarion of Cambodia, which stopped of of the biggest genocides of our times. Famous Brazilian pro-Soviet Communist leader Prestes met the Chinese leaders before the Sino-Soviet split and said the Chinese leaders were unsophisticated, primitive.

Which is worse: the Russian pretension of democracy or our own? In Russia, they simply make up the result whereas in America we manufacture the result. Our pretension requires more effort and far more expense, also more self-delusion. Russians are notoriously cynical because the pretension is transparent. Americans are notoriously self-deluded because the pretension is opaque.

Right. And which is worse -- Saudi Arabia not allowing women to drive or the US not allowing women to have free daycare? Which is worse -- Xi Jinping becoming president for life or Trump blocking his critics on Twitter? Isn't it really all just the same? Aren't we just fooling ourselves if we think we're doing any better?

(Sheesh -- I thought that sort of leftish 'moral equivalence' claptrap went out with the end of the cold war. But apparently it is evergreen)

Which is worse - America supporting Muslim terrorists in Afghanistan, those who are not very kind to women's rights, and death squads in Central America - or Europeans getting social benefits?

You're missing my point rather completely. It wasn't that the U.S. is the best of all possible countries. I don't think that -- there's plenty to criticize. The point was that it is absurd to suggest that the quality of democracy and democratic institutions in the U.S. and Russia are roughly equivalent (as rayward does). It is as absurd as arguing that women's rights are roughly equal in the U.S. and Iran or that the un-elected, president-for-life Xi Jinping is roughly as authoritarian as Trump. Do you see now?

Oh, I think American Democracy and women's rights are reasonably good. Will Saudi Arabia have them soon? Will it matter to Saudi-American relations? I mean, that is why Americans, particularly, Trump oppose Cuba's regime. Democracy and human rights, right?

Cynicism is worse. Cynicism is complacent. Cynicism is unfalsifiable. At least the self-deluded will react to contrary evidence. The shock of contradiction between ideal and reality is a powerful motive for social change.

I provided a contrast that you recognized (unlike another commenter who didn't), but I suggest you read my comment to the preceding blog post. Barbara Tuchman would disagree with your optimistic view that the self-deluded will respond to contrary evidence. Wooden-headedness is not just for the king, the king's court, the ruling class, the elites, it's reached the voting booth.

"Wooden-headedness is not just for the king, the king’s court, the ruling class, the elites, it’s reached the voting booth."

But why would it matter what attitudes reached the voting booth if -- as you claim -- the U.S. 'manufactures' its election results regardless of how people vote?

The U.S. government doesn't manufacture results, political actors do. Your wooden-headedness is showing.

"The U.S. government doesn’t manufacture results, political actors do."

Uh huh. And who, exactly, are the 'political actors' and how do they perform their 'manufacturing'? Details please -- not more vague BS.

I agree. Cynicism is worse. We have had a pretty full 24 hours of risks to, and support for, constitutional government. That government still prevails, but imo it is not a time to be cynical, or to be a cool kid free rider.

A good essay on why this isn't a constitutional crisis, but how there is rot to be repaired:

So hissy fit that 'I'm not getting my way' is now a constitutional crisis? McCabe is damn luck if he stays out of prison for all the bullsh*t he's pulled.

Constitutional crisis would have been if he got away with it all..

Buddy. Zero content replies are the "hissy fit."

Your level of self awareness is... zero content

Which is worse: the Russian pretension of democracy or our own? ...

Isn't this the message Russian bots have been documented pushing around on the left side of the US political spectrum?

Good follow, which includes links for other good follows:

What's funny here is that Tyler thinks Putin needs to expend effort to win these "elections."

There is not at this time a social or cultural basis for a competitive political order in Russia. You have a party of incumbents most people are satisfied with and a portfolio of critiques each of which earn about 7% of the electorate. Russia could likely improve the probity of the vote tabluations, but that would make a practical difference only on the margins and in certain localities.

Next thing he'll be cranking out excuses as to why it was okay for Russian agents to hijack the vote in 2016.

Ridiculous. Contrary political opinions are now "Russian propaganda" which allows you to avoid engagement on the merits. Russia inexplicably wants the US to have less immigration and a more muscular assertion of the US national interest as opposed to an amorphous "global" interest. You clearly do not believe in the marketplace of ideas.

lol, no but it should be a warning sign when your opinions are indistinguishable from known Russian propaganda.

You can consult public opinion research in Russia at your leisure, or riffle through nearly a generation's worth of election returns. There is no obtrusive chuch-and-country conservative element in Russia nor any Christian Democratic element to speak of. The liberal Europhile element varies in its support but has generally captured around 7-8% of the vote bar during the modest run of years when the liberal Europhiles were the Machine. There's a fuzzy social-democratic element too, which collars similar results. There's likely some social-psychological model as to why the bipolar and multipolar defaults you see in other occidental countries are not to be found in Russia. Whatever that might be, the observable reality is what it is.

@Anonymous - and Hitler was a vegetarian so we better keep a close eye on PETA before they start sending the Jews to the camps. So what? And is there any evidence that "Russian propagandists" have a vested interest in stopping Third World immigration to the US? Are you as worried about AIPAC or the fact that Mexican politicians weigh in on US elections with their dual-citizen constituents? #Russiagate is contrived crap on a number of levels.

I will waste a serious answer on you.

America is diverse but incredibly powerful society. We have hugely productive economy running under a constitutional government, with freedom and justice for all.

You become like an actual Russian troll when you try to drive wedges and break that system apart. Steve Sailor, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon and many others relished driving those wedges to our great detriment.

We have a lot to repair.

You speak of "Mexicans," be sure to remember the sharp axes stroke that was Trump's "Mexican judge" - cleaving off a citizen of the United States as an outsider and enemy.

Does it occur to you many patriotic Americans might have a legitimately different vision? Or that there's always been a tension between the nationalist and internationalist camps in US politics?

What's the end game of tarring people who disagree with you as existential enemies motivated by foreign influence? You really want this fight?

Did you just endorse "Mexican judge" as your fight?

How can you not see that as destructive to the Republic? You aren't going to eject everyone with excessively "Mexican" parents. All you will do is create rifts, discord, dysfunction.

You're not debating seriously. The US had very little Central American immigration for most of its history. Restricting immigration is not a novel or nefarious position, neither in the US or places like Japan or Israel.

You are not debating seriously. I talked about what the Russian trolls want. That is to create internal division and discord in western democracies. The immigration debate overlaps that, but you are ignoring a lot if that is all you pretend to see (troll), if you can't connect it to white nationalism and the reduction in status of nonwhite Americans.

I talked about what the Russian trolls want.

They're inconsequential. No one would give a damn except that their talking point sources say they have to pretend to give a damn.

It is you who is not debating seriously. Now all immigration debates can be dismissed as Russian propaganda that is tearing our country apart. That's an easy way to choose not to engage with the issue- to not debate seriously. You have a rhetorical nuclear weapon you can use against any argument you disagree with and you're not afraid to use it.

"I talked about what the Russian trolls want."

According to Rosenstein, the only successful Russian Troll effort was an NYC anti-Trump march attended by people very, very much like you, getting a pro and anti-immigration rally together at the same time, and stoking BLM on the internet.

What do the Russian trolls want? I'd imagine having a significant minority of anti-US leftists claiming anyone who wants borders and security to be a nazi is a pretty worthwhile goal for the Kremlin.

Not me above. I don't think the Russians swung the election, but they did try, and they probably had some effect. It's sad not everyone thinks this is a bad thing.

Was it a bad thing when Hillary Clinton paid for Russian rumors on Trump? Was it a bad thing when Obama asked Russia to take it easy until his election, at which point he would have more leeway? Was it a bad thing when John Kerry visited the Palestinean government and advised them to hold off discussions with Trump?

Isn't it funny that Little Italy's and barbaric Russia's elections are closely followed by Amerca's deeply corrupt media, but Brazil's (second biggest democracy in the world and a country bigger than the Roman Empire at its height) are not?!


Doesn't it strike you as odd?

Putin would almost certainly have beaten him also, but the one Russian politician who really offered a serious threat to Putin was the late Boris Nemtsov, who had been a deputy prime minister at one point and could not be accused of the sort of ignorance and silliness exhibited by Sobchak and even Navalny to some extent. However, conveniently for Putin, some Chechens killed Nemtsov on a Moscow bridge near Red Square two years ago.

Another liberal opponent, who only got about 1% of the vote, Grigory Yavlinsky, had the experience of somebody chopping off the fingers of his pianist son, whose professional career was thus destroyed. This was not widely reported. But Yavlinsky ran anyway, although clearly not very successfully. Really, I do not see why Putin felt he needed to have this awful thing done to Yavlinsky's son.

No, Boris Nemtsov was not a serious threat. Nemtsov was famous for excessive drinking ( he later tried to get rid of that notion by blaming heavy drinking but without much success ), having a lot of women, cheap talk, very close ties with oligarchs ( his own words (recorded during opposition meeting) - who pays, that orders how things happen (loose translation, sorry)) . His success was due to eager support of Boris Yeltsin in early 90s, which Yeltsin paid back. But otherwise, he had not qualities to be a representative of most russians. While of cause he had more democratic outlook, than Putin, he was not really popular or had much chances to win. Lastly he openly supported Putin in late 90s (while later tried to forget this fact, again without much success)

as to Yavlinsky, this man really does not show any will to fight - he only appears during elections, his public accounts have no communications with supporters for years and late Yavlinsky said many strange things which nobody forced him to do like 'it were westerners which pushed all bad things on Russia in 90s'. Somehow when Yavlinsky speaks he reveals a man from deep of late soviet union. The russia evolved ( in bad or good direction, but evolved) and Yavlinsky did not.

what might work, in my opinion - was a broad democratic organization. But exactly this was never appeared. Democrats tried to form coalitions, the trick was that they never intended for broad support - just to create some visibility for something behind leaders. So 'vice premier' or other indicators of this sort is not important. What is important that leaders could inspire, could communicate with broad audience. Of cause, there is a question, how to do that? But anyway a reality is that a support for democratic leaders is very shallow and never increased for past decade and those leaders did not make much attempts to overcome this obvious problem.

Rather a popular approach is to use 'protest feelings', but this does not work well. People agree - many things are bad in country, but do not consolidate on this basis.

thus, everyone will deal with putinism for foreseeable future - possibly ~10 years.
There is need for something which lacks in russia now to have visible changes.


I agree that Yavlinsky is weak and out of date, and he did only get 1% of the vote. But I would suggest that sneering at somebody's whose son's fingers were chopped off by thugs from a leader who had nothing at all to fear from him is in bad taste, ochen ochen. Ujis kashmar. Really.

As for Boris Nemtsov, sorry but you are overflowing with govno. Are you actually a sophisticared Putin troll praising democracy? Your comments are disgusting. Yes, he was a womanizer, no he did not have a drinking problem, and he was highly competent and very serious, although I myself said he had almost no chance of defeating Putin in the election, but that was not what he was done in for. He had a PhD in math and physics, served as governor of Nizhny-Novgorod for several years, very competently by all accounts, was a leader in the Duma, served in the Ministry of Energy, all before he became Vice Premier. Yes, he was associated with Yeltsin, but so was Putin himself, including during the period you criticize him for supposedly supporting Putin. I note that when Putin first came in he initially did some worthwhile things. His corruption and dictatorial propensities took a few years to manifest themselves.

At the time Nemtsov was done in he was with Navalny one of the organizers of anti-Putin protests, and widely viewed as the serious figure among the leaders, much more so than Navalny. But what almost certainly did him in was that he was about to publicize the fact that there were Russian troops operating in eastern Ukraine, something strenyously denied then and now by Putin, who has all sorts of people in Russia convinced that they need him in office to protect them from an invasion by Ukrainian fascists.

So, sorry, your slam on Nemtsov is much worse than mere bad taste. It is based on lies and distortions and appears to justify his murder by Putin thugs. This is disgusting. I hope you are being paid a lot for putting out such nauseating garbage.

it really depends, I was telling how Nemtsov looks in eyes of many russians.
Alcohol: Nemtsov himself wrote that he consumes several bottles of wine, yes it is not vodka, but it is difficult to call him sober man. You can figure personality: womanizer, wine lover ( or does it indicate a dedicated fighter who could really face serious problems?). Yes Nemtsov had PhD, but in russia thousands of people have PhDs. So he is above average in abilities, but this does not make him good leader.

to win in Russia - the persons to leads seems need much more strong personality. And we do not have such people.
Of cause, strong leaders are not most essential part for change, but it would be better if there were such leaders.
so no - Nemtsov had no chanse to oppose Nemtsov, no people like Nemtsov will have a chance to oppose Putin.

So if one desires a change - then has to recognize, that praising Nemtsov ( even he is absolutely OK as an average person ) leads to nothing - it just does not help.
And pushing unworkable ideas - for me look like not very nice. Just imagine - you have a serious problem and some wordy person advises you all sorts of irrelevant things, which just irrelevant for the problem at hand. So you might keep praising Nemtsov, just praising people like him - won't help russia, I think, for decades. That is what is sad.

sorry for many errors. just fast typing at launch. Really sorry. But I think I explained it.
most important fix is "Nemtsov had no chanse to oppose Nemtsov" was meant "Nemtsov had no chanse to oppose Putin"

Wow, "Sergey," you are really bad news. Repeating your lame drinking rumors and claiming that there are "thousands" of people with math and physics PhDs, so no evidence that Nemtsov particularly smart, just a regular womanizing drunk, if not on vodka. You keep pushing the idea that somehow the issue is him defeating Putin in an election, when in fact the issue is Putin having him murdered when he was about to expose Putin's real game in Ukraine, an important matter given how totally propagandized the Russian population has been on that matter with intelligent and educated people convinced that without Putin Ukraine would be invading Russia, when in fact it has been Russia invading hapless Ukraine. And now we have various politicians and commentators openly calling Putin "vozhd" and saying he should be appointed President for Life. I thought it was hilarious that some here were going on about him being a lame duck and the big issue now being the succession to him. Not. Anybody remotely threatening and competent enough to replace him, see Boris Nemtsov, who did good jobs in all the important positions he held (funny how you failed to provide any evidence of him messing up in his positions, just a lot of slanderous personal gossip), ends up dead, especially if they look set to reveal something seriously embarrassing to Putin.

But I have another problem with you, "Sergey Kurdakov." I would suggest that before you post further here you need to provide some evidence that you really are an actual person with that name and not a paid Putin troll. Maybe this is your real name, but there was a "Sergei Kurdakov" who was a GB agent who converted to Christianity and defected to the US quite some time and ended up dying under mysterious circumstances in California after publishing a book, _The Persecuted_. This is not exactly currently a respectable name for a patriotic Russian/former Soviet right now. I am of a mind that you have been laughing into your vodka as you post your govno here that nobody has caught on to what a fake you are. Really.

I would also suggest the next time you post here, besides providing evidence that you not a paid troll, comment on the chopping off od the fingers of the pianist son of Yavlinsky, about whom all you had were insulting remarks about how "weak" he is (yeah, could not save his son from having his fingers chopped off), not to mention the matter of the timing of the assassination of Nemtsov and what he was about to do at that time. Or maybe you would prefer to lecture us on how totally fascist the Ukrainian government is and how everything going on there is just The Great Patriotic War revisited?

The original actual Kurdakov was KGB, not "GB," whatever that may be.

"lame drinking rumors" these are not rumors. Somehow Nemtsov thought that russians drink a lot ( yes some drink a lot - but most of his supporters do not drink much ) so revealing his habits would be a good point. So he wrote in his book, that drinks several bottles of wine, later that for obvious reasons backfired. So later Nemtsov distanced from that claims. But still if one drinks several bottles of wine each day for many years - one becomes visibly very same as Nemtsov looked like - a guy who likes to add 'some chemistry' before speaking. That gave him some fluid look, but an alcohol played a role that a talk was cheap. You might ignore that - but cheap talk is a cheap talk and many called him with a rude russian world for those who speaks a lot of cheap stuff for that.

"when in fact the issue is Putin having him murdered when he was about to expose Putin’s real game in Ukraine"

no, you wrote that Nemtsov could be a powerful opponent to Putin, so the point I discussed was if Nemtsov could win.
That he was murdered - is another story. Very sad - but even if Nemtsov was alive - again, he won't be powerful opponent to Putin.

"funny how you failed to provide any evidence of him messing up in his positions". There are many books on that. Nemtsov won elections in N.Novgorod by leading a campaign against atomic power stations near city. Then actively supported Yeltsin in critical moments. After that there was quite a long romance between him and Yeltsin (example - he asked British princes to kiss such a charming guy during visit to UK ) which culminated in appointment of Nemtsov a vice premier. So Yeltsin liked Nemtsov but we have other examples - like Putin bodyguards leading russian regions. While it is ok to support people one likes, but still - this is quite a different way from how western politician earn their posts. which results in quite different qualities. Take Nemtsov - he again himself was talking in books about how we was extremely drunk during state visits - he just thought it is ok to behave this way and even reveal to public. Maybe it was ok for Yeltsin favorite who himself liked to drink too much. But for modern russians with democratic attitudes such behavior looks bizarre - they just don't drink much. They have to be creative.

"Anybody remotely threatening and competent enough to replace him, see Boris Nemtsov"

so, while Nemtsov really played a role in democratic opposition - he could not make a difference, he participated in many previous elections and had very low results due to his qualities.

I see your point - you think that if Putin is bad, then everyone opposing him is good enough. And this is exact mistake. While Putin really created authocratic state where political opponents are killed - to win over Putin a leader or leaders should be very different from those people who were or now faces of russian democracy. With Nemtsov and Co - you and I will have many years of Putin rule and seems you really enjoy that.

Wow, "Sergey," you are astoundingly shameless. You are accused of being a paid troll using a fake name and challenged to provide some evidence to the contrary. Not a word. You are challenged to say something about Yavlinsky's son having his fingers chopped off. Not a word. You are challenged to say something about how Nemtsov was about to expose Putin's putting Russian troops in eastern Ukraine when he was assassinated. Not a word. Oh, you did say it was "very sad" that he was murdered, but not "powerful" enough to really challenge Putin.

Of course you misrepresented what I said. I started out saying he had little chance of defeating Putin electorally. But I did say he was "serious," not "powerful." He was serious because he was credible as a possible leader of Russia, which cannot be said about any of those left to run against Putin. Zhirinovsky? Sobchak? Right. Not credible. Even Yavlinsky, although he was probably the most credible, if not powerful enough to save his son's fingers. Nemtsov was credible and serious, even if his chances of electorally defeating Putin were nil. But Putin cannot let any remotely serious challenger live, even if their chances are nil.

Right. Instead you doubled down on your lies about Nemtsov allegedly drinking. OK. I just googled "Boris Nemtsov drinking habits." I looked at the top 100 hits. The only one that said anything about him drinking anything was a report by an FT reporter who spoke with him in an Irish pub four days before his assassination. The reporter said Nemtsov had the flu and was drinking "lots of large glasses of multi-vitamin juices." No, not even a nice Guinness stout. Not a single hit mentioning him drinking any alcohol at all. However, there were several hits that mentioned his womanizing, which I said upfront was an issue with him.

Your effort to criticize his performance as governor of Nizhny Novgorod amounted to saying he opposing "atom plants" near the city and then was a supporter of Yeltsin, who did drink a lot. Yes, he supported Yeltsin, and was even viewed for awhile as Yeltsin's heir apparent, so indeed a very serious person as a possible national leader. But not a whisper about him actually doing anything incompetent, much less drinking anything, much less to excess ever.

So, you stand revealed, "Sergey," not answering anything you were asked and just doubling down on your lies. What scum.

Let me add from one interesting hit I came on. It was a piece by Mark Ames who used to run eXile in Moscow, with Ames more recently having been accused of serious sexual harassment while in Moscow. The piece was written on Nemtsov's assassination, mourning it, but also containing some criticisms of Nemtsov as a politician and leader. Ames's main line was that Nemtsov was a "neoliberal" who was not fully consistent in his "anti-corruption" policies. While admitting his leadership of Nizhny Novgorod was widely praised, Ames claimed its economic performance was "strictly in the middle," not exactly a disaster if saying Nemtsov was oversold. Supposedly his propensity to corruption was offering large book advances to people who did him favors. He was vice premier when the crisis of 1997 happened, so Ames blamed him for that. He also said that Nemtsov intitially supported Putin and was slow to become his opponent. Not a word about him drinking, but Ames clearly thought he got too good of a press in the West, including what he saw as overdone praise by people like Larry Summers. But he did not at all show any serious incompetence or bungling. Nemtsov may have failed to strongly enough oppose Putin, but he was also clearly viewed as a serious figure who could well have been the leader of Russia, which was and is exactly my point.

Anyway, "Sergey," I suggest you provide some reason to believe you are anything other than a fake paid Putin troll if you are going to come on here spouting more outright blatant lies. You are seriously disgusting, frankly.

"You are accused of being a paid troll using a fake name and challenged to provide some evidence to the contrary. "

I'm neither paid troll ( rather it costs me in russia to oppose Putin ) nor I use fake name. I cannot help you with your wild guesses. So I just omit this. You can try to search for more, if you like, but here you are just off normal limits in conversation - but it is really up to you to show you style, this is not my problem, it is yours.

"But not a whisper about him actually doing anything incompetent" it is just you do not follow russian information closely and try to build 'credibility' of fast search in english (highly positive to Putin opponents for obvious reasons - they have no intention to harm, that is ok - but with it they miss a lot of context ).

So I shared some information which was unavailable to you but which you cannot verify and reject ( as I'm being troll ) that is ok. You might keep this way. But still the truth is that Nemtsov was not credible enougth to change anything about Putin or Putinism - because he himself was the one who built that putininism in 90s and never even dared to share a slight responsibility for that.

"Nemtsov was credible and serious" no. if you like he was democratic Zhirinovsky - many words without real content.

"You are challenged to say something about Yavlinsky’s son having his fingers chopped off." that was an old story, very strange and sad story, but it did not change 'content' of Yavlinsky statements - what he lacked before - he did not get after. So politically he did not change. So again - attaching this story - is your style. Sorry not very nice, as you might realize.

Sorry, "Sergey," I do follow Russian sources very closely, very good sources. None of them support your fairy tale about Nemtsov's drinking, and that includes ones who buy into a lot of Putin propaganda. Whatever or whoever you are, you are lying about this matter.

The hard fact is that the US internet is full of paid Putin trolls. This is an influential blog run by someone married to a smart woman from Russia. Given the sophistication of the Putin trolling op, this is an obvious place to try to influence perceptions, especially at this crucial moment when Putin has just been reelected.

You have still failed to show Nemtsov was not credible, carefully avoiding the well known fact that he was about to expose publicly in Russia that Putin was lying about a very important matter, his military campaign in Ukraine. It was precisely that he was widely taken seriously, more so than Navalny actually, although the latter tended to attract more popular support.

Do you really think that trying to tie Nemtsov to the clownish Zhirinovsky is going to go over with anybody? You are getting desperate with that sort of nonsense.

Ah, so you agree that Yavlinsky's son had his fingers chopped off, finally. I know that one from my Russian sources, just as I knew about Nemtsov's womanizing from my Russian sources, dismissing it as "an old story" if "sad." This certainly does not remotely reduce Putin's fingers on this one as he has been having critics murdered for a long time. Somehow you think this supports dismissing Yavlinsky as serious. Well, he was not as serious as Nemtsov, but he may have been the most serious of this mostly unserious bunch that were allowed to be left to actually run against Putin, and he needed to have somebody running against him to maintain some degree of credibility of having a serious election.

So, "Sergey," you have not remotely provided evidence that Nemtsov was what you said. Obviously I cannot prove you are a troll, but you have done nothing to make it seem unlikely you are. You continue to lie and lie and lie.

And do not pull this govno about how you have Russian sources and I do not. Mine are excellent. If you wanted to come on a site where the guy running it is very smart and married to a woman from Moscow, you should not be too surprised that there are people here who also have good connections in Russia and can catch you in your efforts to peddle phony Putin propaganda. Patheitic.

Hi, Barkley. I am also from Russia and wanted to make a few comments on your discussion. Yes, Yavlinski's son had his fingers cut off. But that was done back in 90s, in the time, which is hated by almost all Russians and time that is specifically shown in Russia as a vision of what can happen, if liberals come to power. Younger generation (like me) view 90s as the worst times in Russian history. Kinda like wild west, but without the cool movies about them. And more hunger, which I do remember. I remember how I had my grandma present me with a dozen of eggs for my 4th birthday. That is exactly why people like me hate so-called russian "liberals" (arguably, they are not very good at actually being liberals). So how does Putin have anything to do with all the stuff that was going on in 90s?

Nemtsov? Before he was killed, nobody even remembered who he was. I spoke to all of my friends and only a handful (about 15-20%) could even remember who he was. At the point of his death, he was politically bancrupt. Even Navalny was more popular than him by measures.

I understand that many people would like to view our elections as unfair. But the biggest problem Russians see is that Putin is not immortal and someone will come afterwards, yet we have not seen anyone even close to his caliber. We would hope to see more interesting opposition, but as of right now, we don't (maybe because our leaders enforce such views).

This thread has now scrolled off the main page, so not being read by anybody (much), but I shall reply to you Konstantinov.

I agree that the main reason for the political unpopularity of both Yavlinsky and Nentsov is/was their identification with the Yeltsin era and its policies, with that era experiencing much worse economic problems than since, although I would note a factor that importantly contributed to that and has worked the other way sine 2000 helping to make Putin look good has been the price of oil, which bottomed out in the late 1990s when both Yavlinsky and Nemtsov were at the peak of their influence, although "Sergey" is right that Yavlinsky's influence dates back to the late Gorbachev period, and he is currently a professor at the Higher Economic School in Moscow (Vwishka). He is a respectable figure, despite the ridicule heaped on him, certainly more respectable than Zhirinovsky or Sobchak. I note that I effectively pointed in that direction with my comments on the post by Mark Ames about Nemtsov at the time of his death, with Ames dismissing Nemtsov as a 90s "neoliberal."

You are right that Yavlinsky's son lost his fingers (although they were mailed back to him) in the 90s. So I was wrong that Putin was responsible for that, and I retract that charge. But then he has been responsible for so many murders and tortures, letting him off the hook on this matter hardly makes him Mr. Clean.

I am not impressed that you and your friends have not heard of Nemtsov. Do you and your friends also think the US shot down the Malaysian commercial plane over eastern Ukraine? How many of your friends seriously think that Putin is protecting them from a Ukrainian invasion? Given the importance of Nemtsov not only in the 90s, but well after 2000 as a leader in the Duma, this shows a combination of you and your friends being very young and ignorant or else the degree of control over the media that Putin has that he could completely black out any mention of such an important figure. You have not established the unimportance of Nemrtsov with this (and you, like "Sergey," have failed to address the matter of Nemtsov's being about to expose Russian troop presence in Ukraine). Rather you have shown that either you are ignorant, Putin's control of the media is even greater than we knew, or you are also a troll, brought in when "Sergey" fell flat on his face here.

BTW, while they would later be rivals, in the early 90s for awhile, Yavlinsky was an assistant to Nemtsov when the latter was serving as governor of Nizhny Novgorod.

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