Putin’s Hollow Power Verticals, Revealed

From the moment Vladimir Putin first took office, more than twenty years ago, he has returned time and again to the idea of the “vertical of power,” or a top-down apparatus of state authority that has become a trademark of his rule. This “vertical” was pitched as an antidote to the supposed disarray and fecklessness of the Russian state in the nineties; by contrast, Putin’s Russia would be run as a coherent, hierarchical machine, with him at the very top, and his will and decisions flowing downward from there, implemented by everyone from the country’s governors to its businesspeople, school principals, and spies.

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