An empty ritual and a full-on diplomatic confrontation.
A fake election and a very real international crisis.
Political theater in Moscow and an apparent political assassination attempt in the U.K.
Two stories competed for our attention in recent weeks, as the campaign in Russia lurched toward it's conclusion and the British government accused Moscow of attempting to poison Sergei Skripal, a former double agent.
What do they tell us about where Russia is headed -- both at home and abroad -- after March 18?
On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we take a look.
Joining me from Moscow is co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and author of the forthcoming book Vory: Russia's Super Mafia.