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The Morning Vertical, March 7, 2017

  • Brian Whitmore

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ON MY MIND

Reports surfaced this morning that the Kremlin is considering moving the date of next year's presidential election from March 11 to March 18.

That would mean that the election would be held on the fourth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

So much for subtlety.

The annexation of Crimea, of course, is about more than Crimea. It's a metaphor for Russia's imperial revival.

If these reports are true (they smell like authorized leaks and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn't deny them), then Vladimir Putin's re-election will effectively be transformed into the coronation of an emperor.

IN THE NEWS

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denounced what he called "hysteria" in the U.S. political establishment and media over Russia's alleged meddling in last year's presidential election and said it is harming ties between the two global powers.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has acknowledged having spoken twice last year with the Russian ambassador in revised testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 6, but he insisted his original testimony not mentioning those meetings was "correct."

Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign says that the Senate Intelligence Committee has contacted him concerning its investigation into alleged Russian interference during the election campaign.

The chief of a prominent Russian human rights group says that torture in Russian penitentiaries and police stations can only be stopped if police officers and prison guards who practice it are brought to trial and convicted. Igor Kalyapin, head of the NGO Committee Against Torture, made his comments to Current Time TV in Prague on March 6.

The United States says it is "deeply concerned" by the decision of Russia-backed separatists in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region to close two crossing points on the boundary line with Georgian-controlled territory.

Russia is open to investment and collaboration with U.S. companies in the oil and gas sectors, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said.

Natalya Poklonskaya, one of Crimea's deputies in Russia's State Duma, has claimed that a bust of Tsar Nicholas II located in the annexed peninsula wept tears on the centennial of his abdication of power. And the Internet is laughing.

Belarusian Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakou has expressed concerns about what he called Russia's failure to meets its obligations in the Eurasian integration process.

A court in Kyiv has placed Roman Nasirov, Ukraine's tax and customs service chief, under arrest pending trial on embezzlement charges.

WHAT I'M READING

Putin's Comintern

Anton Shekhovtsov, author of the forthcoming book Russia And The Western Far Right, has a post on his blog looking at the coordination agreement signed by Italy's Lega Nord and United Russia.

A Dark Future

In a piece for Foreign Policy, Jamie Kirchick describes The Plot Against Europe and paints a dark future.

The Russian Economy

In Bloomberg, Anna Adrianova looks at the state of the Russian economy and argues that it "is running on more than just the black stuff."

What Ukraine Thinks

Kenneth Wollack, president of the National Democratic Institute, has a piece in The Hill looking at a recent NDI poll of Ukrainian attitudes. Wollack argues that we should "not make Ukraine policy without talking to the Ukrainians."

Reactionary Chic

Michael Weiss has a piece in The Daily Beast looking at the rise of what he calls "reactionary chic."

Critiquing Coverage Of The New Cold War

Meduza looks at the state of discourse in the United States about Russia and explains "what's wrong with American articles about the new Cold War."

Navalny Vs. Medvedev

In his column for Republic.ru, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin looks at opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's corruption investigation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev -- and why Medvedev can't answer it.

Putin And The Taliban

Brahma Chellaney of the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research and the Berlin-based Robert Bosch Academy, has a piece for Project Syndicate on "Putin's dance with the Taliban."

Hybrid War In Belarus

In a piece for Belarus Digest, Arseni Sivitski, director of the Minsk-based Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, looks at The Belarus-Russia Conflict Through The Lens Of The Gerasimov Doctrine.

Beware The Conspiracy Trap

In the New York Review of Books, Masha Gessen, author of the book The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise Of Vladimir Putin, warns us to beware the Russian "conspiracy trap."

February 1917 And The Opportunity Lost

In an op-ed in The New York Times, John Quiggin of the University of Queensland, looks at the lost opportunity of Russia's February 1917 revolution.

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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