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The Morning Vertical, April 5, 2017

  • Brian Whitmore

ON MY MIND

So in the aftermath of this week's attacks, some kinds of demonstrations are OK. Others, not so much.

Yury Shvytkin, the deputy chair of the State Duma's Defense Committee, has proposed a moratorium on public demonstrations. The Kremlin, meanwhile, is seeking to organize antiterrorist demonstrations in Russia's regions.

Vladimir Putin's regime, it appears, is moving quickly to exploit this week's subway bombing in St. Petersburg to neutralize the effect of the nationwide March 26 anti-Kremlin protests.

After a month of silence, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chose to respond to the corruption allegations against him -- allegations that sparked the protests -- on the day after the attack.

And two days after the attacks, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called on lawmakers to defend Medvedev.

Just as it has done in the past (as I note in today's Daily Vertical), the Kremlin is not only seeking to change the conversation, it is also moving to exploit the St. Petersburg attack to suppress dissent.

State Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov is introducing legislation that would ban online calls for unsanctioned demonstrations and require all social-media users to register with their passport data.

This was all very predictable. We've seen this movie before.

And there will, no doubt, be more of the same coming soon.

IN THE NEWS

Russian authorities say that six citizens of Central Asian states have been detained in St. Petersburg on suspicion of recruiting for Islamic militant groups.

Russian authorities say investigators have searched the apartment where the St. Petersburg subway bombing suspect lived and have questioned about 40 witnesses.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has for the first time responded to allegations of corruption made by opposition activists, calling them "rubbish" and "nonsense."

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.

Respected U.S. Russia analyst Fiona Hill has taken a leave of absence from the Brookings Institution to take up the post of deputy assistant to the U.S. president and senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has sent a letter to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka expressing "great concern" over a crackdown on citizens protesting against a controversial tax on the unemployed and urged the "immediate" release of those detained.

Russia's Investigative Committee has opened a probe into the death of Federation Council member Vadim Tyulpanov.

A Russian emergency medical worker has been sentenced to three years in prison for failing to take seriously an emergency call from a 12-year-old boy seeking help in 2016 when two boats were capsized by a summer storm at a holiday camp in Karelia.

The chief of the Russian space agency says his country is open to extending its partnership in the International Space Station with the United States and other nations past the planned conclusion of the program in 2024.

Putin has told his cabinet to come up with a plan to combat doping in sports.

Russian star Alex Ovechkin says he will play in next year's Winter Olympics despite the National Hockey League’s decision not to participate in the Games.

Aleksandr Solovyov, the governor of Russia's Udmurtia region, has been detained on suspicion of taking some $2.5 million in bribes.

WHAT I'M READING

More On The St. Petersburg Attack

In Foreign Policy, Molly McKew, a former adviser to the Georgian and Moldovan governments, looks at the gap between Putin's rhetoric and actions on terrorism.

"Moscow’s escalating intervention in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has fueled a crisis that has destabilized the region," McKew writes.

"It has also seen the Kremlin partnering with a number of terrorist organizations. In Syria, for example -- where it has been widely noted that the Kremlin’s main goal is to preserve Assad rather than to fight the Islamic State -- Russia has used radical Shi'ite groups like Lebanon's Hizballah and Iran’s Quds Force in their supposed fight against ISIS, with both groups acting as paramilitary forces for ground operations to take territory or lead local (pro-Assad) militias."

Julia Ioffe has a piece in The Atlantic on how Russians have gotten used to terrorism.

Izvestia is reporting that State Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov is introducing legislation that would ban online calls for unsanctioned demonstrations and require all social media users to register with their passport data.

Rosbalt is reporting that Yury Shvytkin, the deputy chair of the State Duma's Defense Committee, has proposed a moratorium on public demonstrations in response to the St. Petersburg attack.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is seeking to organize antiterrorism demonstrations in Russia's regions.

More On Chechnya's Antigay Campaign

According to a new report in Novya Gazeta, Chechnya has a system of "secret prisons" for homosexuals.

Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director for Human Rights Watch, on why the Kremlin's response to the antigay campaign in Chechnya leaves little hope for the LGBT community.

The Speaker Defends The Premier

According to a report in RBK, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has called on lawmakers to defend Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev from attacks by anticorruption crusader Aleksei Navalny, whom he accused of being "the voice of the Western security services."

Magnitsky Revelations

In The Daily Beast, Michael Weiss looks at new revelations in the case of deceased Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky that came to light in a WhatsApp chat.

The Death Of LiveJournal

Kevin Rothrock has a piece for GlobalVoices on how the popular Russian blogging platform LiveJournal has banned "political solicitation."

New Book Announcement

Anton Shekhovtsov's forthcoming book, Russia And The Western Far Right, is destined to become a must-read for Kremlin-watchers. It won't be out until September, but it has just became available for preorder.

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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