In less than a week, Russians go to the polls to elect a new State Duma as well as regional legislatures across the country.
And while few doubt the Kremlin will be able to secure the result they need. But Russian elections are always more about optics -- about political theater -- than about the result.
So will the Kremlin be able to put on a convincing show?
On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, I discuss what to watch for with Senior RFE/RL Editor Steve Gutterman.
Also on The Briefing, Steve and I discuss the new ceasefire in Syria brokered by Russia and the United States.
NOTE: The Power Vertical Briefing is a short look ahead to the stories expected to make news in Russia in the coming week. It is hosted by Brian Whitmore, author of The Power Vertical blog, and appears on Mondays.