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The Morning Vertical, April 3, 2017


Ramzan Kadyrov is Vladimir Putin's creation.

Putin made him what he is. He appointed him. And he's protected him.

And therefore, everything Kadyrov does and gets away with (like the assassinations of Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov, which he is widely suspected of masterminding) is ultimately Putin's responsibility.

The horrific report in Novaya Gazeta (featured below) claiming that Chechnya is arresting and killing homosexuals is the latest example.

The Kremlin's Human Rights Council is calling for an investigation and Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said law enforcement will look into the matter.

And then what? What will happen if these allegations turn out to be true? If the past is any guide, nothing.

Because Putin fears that removing Kadyrov would result in chaos in Chechnya.

And as a result, Kadyrov is free to act like a man with complete impunity. And Putin owns him.


The head of the Kremlin Human Rights Council is calling for a "thorough check" of reports that authorities in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya have been arresting and killing homosexuals.

A political-rights group says Russian police detained at least 59 demonstrators in central Moscow on April 2.

The Russian government has opened a criminal investigation against the unidentified people who have called for an unsanctioned anticorruption demonstration in Moscow on April 2.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to meet in St. Petersburg amid heightened tensions between the two countries over gas and integration issues.

Michael Flynn, the former U.S. national security adviser, did not report payments from a Russian state-backed television network and another firm with Russia ties in an initial financial disclosure, new documents released by the White House show.

Russia has accused the United States and its allies of "slander" as the U.S. top diplomat and Pentagon chief denounced Russia's actions in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko has died in a U.S. hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the age of 84.

Russia's Investigative Committee says it has detained a suspect in connection with a March 24 attack on a military base in Chechnya.

Ukraine has strongly rejected calls from the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest for Kyiv to lift an entry ban on Russia's entry in this year's competition.


In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast looked at last week's nationwide protests and the re-emergence of Aleksei Navalny.


On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we look ahead to today's meeting between Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka in St. Petersburg.


Chechnya's War On The LGBT Community

Novaya Gazeta's report, Honor Killings, alleges that authorities in Chechnya are arresting and killing homosexuals.

Anatomy Of Disinformation

The Digital Forensic Research Lab has released a study of Russian disinformation in Poland and the Baltic states. The study looks at how Russian-language media portrayed NATO's recent deployments in those countries.

Networks Of Influence

Simon Kuper has a piece in the Financial Times on Russia's influence networks in the West.

History As A Weapon

The Guardian has a piece on fears in Lithuania that Kremlin attempts to rewrite that country's history could be a prelude to war and annexation.

Don't Mention The Revolution!

MIkhail Zygar, author of the book All The Kremlin's Men, has a piece in The Atlantic on how 1917 became a taboo subject in Russia

Underestimating Russia

David Gioe, a history professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and Michael Goodman, a professor of intelligence and international affairs at King's College London, have a piece on the War On The Rocks blog on "the intelligence costs of underestimating Russia."

Losing the First Cyberwar

Timothy Snyder has an op-ed in The New York Daily News on Russian election meddling in the United States in which he claims that the United States was the first nation "to lose a cyberwar in grand style."

Detention Of A Violinist

A video has appeared on YouTube showing Russian violinist Andrei Osipov being detained during a rehearsal for attending an anti-Kremlin protest.

Navalny's Next Moves

In a piece in The Guardian, Shaun Walker looks at how Aleksei Navalny and Russia's protest movement are planning their next moves.

Europe Awakens

Zeit has a piece cutting against the grain of conventional wisdom by arguing that Europe is not disintegrating -- it is reviving.

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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