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The Morning Vertical, April 27, 2017


Dmitry Medvedev's political obituary has been written so many times that -- like Medvedev himself -- it's become something of a punchline.

And every time the pundits declared him politically dead, he's lived to fight another day.

There are several reasons for this. Medvedev is a convenient foil for Vladimir Putin -- he gets the blame for everything that goes wrong while Putin gets the credit. Call it the Good Tsar and the Bumbling Boyar. Putin also doesn't like to do anything under pressure and he doesn't like to do what is expected. And finally, there appears to have been a tacit understanding between the two that Medvedev would serve as prime minister for Putin's entire third term.

But with Putin's third term drawing to a close, there is now a growing expectation that Medvedev will be replaced after the presidential election/coronation in March.

In a piece featured in yesterday's Morning Vertical, Valery Solovei claimed that the Kremlin intrigue over who will replace Medvedev has already begun.

Which leads one to wonder whether all the corruption allegations and plummeting poll numbers we are seeing now are an accident.


European lawmakers say Russia and Iran are among a group of countries that are increasingly abusing Interpol red notices to seek the arrest of political opponents, contributing to a fivefold increase of red notices during the past decade.

Russia's top prosecutor has blacklisted a nongovernmental organization set up by former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky -- a move that puts the group in legal jeopardy just days before a street protest it has been planning.

Russia's Federal Security Service said that it arrested 12 people in Kaliningrad for suspected involvement with an Islamic extremist group.

A new opinion poll shows growing dissatisfaction among Russians with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, with as many as 45 percent saying he should step down.

Activists in Russia's Tatarstan and Mari El republics were celebrating the Tatar and Mari languages on April 26 as part of events marking Language Day.

A Russian court has sentenced a Crimean Tatar man to 12 years in prison, drawing swift condemnation from Ukraine for what Kyiv called a politically motivated ruling.

A group called the Imam Shamil Battalion has claimed responsibility for a deadly subway bombing in the Russian city of St. Petersburg and said the attacker was acting on orders from Al-Qaeda, a U.S.-based organization that monitors extremists says.

A U.S. government commission on religious freedom is recommending that Russia be designated as a "country of particular concern," putting it in a group of the world's worst offenders of basic rights on religious worship.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has compared the April 26, 1986, Chernobyl nuclear disaster with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine's east, adding that "Russia is conducting an undeclared war against his country."

The Ukrainian Security Service raided the Kyiv offices of the country's largest investment bank looking for illegal software on April 26, drawing a dismayed reaction from Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman.

EU ambassadors have approved visa liberalization for Ukraine, a key step toward closer ties and visa-free travel to the EU for Ukrainians.


Spinning An Atrocity

A New York Times video investigation has revealed how Syria and Russia distorted the facts surrounding the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun.

Medvedev's Troubles

In, Yekaterina Alyabyeva takes a closer look at a Levada Center poll claiming that trust in Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is tanking.

And in his column for Bloomberg, political analyst Leonid Bershidsky argues that recent polls show that the message of an opposition figure like Aleksei Navalny can resonate even in an authoritarian system.

And Bloomberg Businessweek has a piece asking whether Medvedev's job is at risk.

Putin Has The Best Words

In War On The Rocks, Stephen Benedict Dyson and Matthew Parent analyze Vladimir Putin's foreign-policy rhetoric.

Other People's Words

David Filipov, The Washington Post's Moscow bureau chief, has a witty and humorous piece on how "Russians are fighting a war of words with the U.S. using American words."

Web War I

On The Atlantic Council's website, Teri Schultz looks back at the Russian cyberattack on Estonia that took place 10 years ago today.

The Federalist Cure For Autocracy

In a piece for, Vladimir Pastukhov, a visiting fellow at St. Anthony's College, Oxford, argues that only true federalism can save Russia from autocracy.

Russia And The Southern Gas Corridor

The Atlantic Council has released a new report, The Caspian Sea And Southern Gas Corridor: A View From Russia, authored by retired CIA analyst Bud Coote, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center.

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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