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The Morning Vertical, April 4, 2017


It is tempting to suggest, as many have on social media, that yesterday's attack in St. Petersburg is convenient for Vladimir Putin.

It's tempting to suggest that it will allow the Kremlin to change the conversation and shift the focus of public discourse away from protests against official corruption.

It's tempting to expect the Kremlin to use yesterday's tragedy to further stifle dissent.

It's tempting because the Kremlin has done this in the past (see Mikhail Tishchenko's piece featured below) and, judging by some comments on Russian state television yesterday (most notably, remarks on Channel One by Aleksandr Prokhanov), it appears to be considering doing so again.

It's tempting, but this time it might not be the case.

Because as Vedomosti notes in an editorial featured below, attacks like yesterday's pierce the Kremlin's carefully crafted aura of omnipotence and omnipresence.

Yesterday's attacks may not turn out to be as convenient for the Kremlin as many of the conspiracy theorists are suggesting.


The death toll in a bomb blast on a subway train in St. Petersburg has risen to 14, and authorities in Kyrgyzstan say the main suspect is a Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that exempts Russians who are under Western sanctions from paying taxes in Russia if they are registered as taxpayers abroad.

The governor of Russia's Udmurtia region has been detained on suspicion of receiving some $2.5 million in bribes.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says he hopes the settlement of an energy dispute with Russia can ease tensions with Moscow and bring stability to his own country, which has been hit by a wave of street demonstrations.

The prime minister of Russia's Tatarstan region, Ildar Khalikov, has resigned and is taking a job at a power company.

Moldovan President Igor Dodon has signed a memorandum on cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union, part of his push for closer ties with Moscow.

Populists' recent successes at the polls in the West have increased fears of instability in postcommunist Europe and Eurasia against a backdrop of setbacks for democratic governance, democracy monitor Freedom House has warned.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged Germany and other European nations to spend more on their defense.

The far-left German Linke party says NATO should be replaced by a new alliance that includes Russia.

Polish prosecutors have accused two Russian air- traffic controllers and a third Russian official of deliberately contributing to а 2010 plane crash that killed the Polish president.

A flight by Tajikistan's Somon Air to Moscow has been suspended after Russia announced it was barring the airline from flying to the Russian capital.

The International Monetary Fund has approved a $1 billion loan payment to Ukraine.


The St. Petersburg Attack

In, Mikhail Tishchenko looks at how past terrorist attacks have changed life in Russia.

Meduza looks at St. Petersburg in the aftermath of the attacks and also looks at the theories about who was responsible.

An editorial in Vedomosti argues that "terrorist attacks are becoming part of the political agenda in Russia, and that agenda is increasingly not controlled by the authorities."

Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague offers his snap analysis on the attack.

In the Daily Beast, Anna Nemtsova looks at some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the St. Petersburg bombing.

In Politico, Colin Clarke of the RAND Corporation explains how and why Russia became the jihadists' main target.

And Newsweek has put together a timeline of terrorist attacks in Russia under Putin.

Lithuanian Fears

Lithuania's intelligence service says Russia now has the ability to launch a Baltic attack in 24 hours.

The End Of NATO?

In Foreign Policy, Jeremy Shapiro, director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations, looks into the future and speculates about "how NATO ends."

Repression In Belarus

In New Eastern Europe, Andrei Yeliseyeu, a research fellow at the Warsaw-based Eurasian States in Transition Center, takes a look at Belarus's measured repressions.

How To Not Cover Lies

Natalia Antelava has a piece in Coda on the lessons that can be learned from Ukrainian journalists about dealing with disinformation.

The Fake News Ecosystem

Kate Starbird has a piece in Medium looking at the "ecosystem" of "alternative media" and how it promotes disinformation.

Trump And The Russians

Adrian Karatnycky, co-director of the Ukraine in Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council, has a piece in The Wall Street Journal on How Trump Became A Russia Skeptic.

Putin The Omnipotent

In Intersection magazine, Vladislav Inozemtsev looks at how Putin has created an aura of omnipresence and omnipotence.

The Russian Economy

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky argues that "Putin is up, but Russians are feeling down."

Lenin The Strategist

In The New York Times' Red Century series, Tariq Ali, author of the book The Dilemmas Of Lenin: Terrorism, War, Empire, Love, Revolution, looks at Lenin's thinking as the Russian revolution unfolded.

SRB Podcast

The latest SRB Podcast, hosted by Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, features Mark Steinberg, a history professor at the University of Illinois and author of the book Proletarian Imagination: Self, Modernity, And The Sacred in Russia, 1910-1925.

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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