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The Morning Vertical, August 25, 2017


It has sent a chill through Russia's artistic community. It's caused widespread outrage and dismay. It's sparked fears that a new round of repression could be on the way.

With the arrest this week of Kirill Serebrennikov, one of Russia's most prominent living film and theater directors, the Kremlin seems to have crossed a frightening line.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we'll take a look at the Serebrennikov case and what it signifies.

Joining me will be my co-host, Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its Center for European Security, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows; and journalist and playwright Natalia Antonova, an editor at OpenDemocracy Russia.

Also on the podcast, Mark, Natalia, and I will look at all the speculation that has been appearing in the Russian media about life after Vladimir Putin.

So be sure to tune in later today!


Supporters of Crimean film director Oleh Sentsov were set to hold rallies in Ukraine to mark two years since his conviction in Russia following a trial that has drawn international condemnation.

Ivan Skripnichenko, a rights activist who was attacked while guarding a makeshift memorial to assassinated Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, has died in the hospital, friends said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia and Belarus have not met their international commitments to be fully transparent about war games planned for next month in Belarus.

Russian authorities say at least 16 people are dead after a bus packed with construction workers fell into the sea in a southern region near Crimea.

The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has objected to Interpol’s latest refusal to put British-American investor William Browder on an international wanted list.

Capital flight from Russia is now likely equal to the collective wealth of all Russian households, according to a new report by a respected U.S. research firm, a trend that has helped to drive the country’s income inequality to extreme levels.

A U.S. federal judge has rejected an effort by former shareholders of the dismantled Russian oil giant Yukos to force a powerful U.S. law firm to turn over evidence related to a $50 billion arbitration fight.

The Uzbek Prosecutor-General’s Office has asked Russian authorities to freeze real estate in Russia that belongs to Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the late autocratic Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

Some 50 representatives of Belarusian opposition groups faced problems while visiting Russia's Smolensk region, where they commemorated the 22,000 Polish officers executed by the Soviets 77 years ago.

The journalism watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has condemned the increasing persecution of independent journalists in Belarus, citing the ongoing trials of five journalists.

Police say two people have been injured in an explosion in the center of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.


In my latest Power Vertical blog post, The Emperor Meets The Gamer, I look at the Russian-Belarusian relationship and the ongoing disputes between Moscow and Minsk in advance of next month's Zapad 2017 military exercises.


Managing The Eastern Neighborhood

Foreign affairs analyst Kadri Liik has a piece on the Carnegie Center for International Peace's website on How The EU Needs To Manage Relations With Its Eastern Neighborhood.

No Putin Successor

In his column for, Oleg Kashin explains why Putin will probably not designate a successor.

A Parliament Despite Itself?

Also in, Grigory Golosov of the European University of St. Petersburg looks at the future prospects for parliamentarism in Russia and argues that despite itself, the current system could provide a stopgap against autocracy.

The Politics Of Visas

In Foreign Policy, Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague looks at the political implications of the U.S. decision to limit the issuance of nonimmigrant visas in Russia.

War And Military Reform

In a piece in The Moscow Times, Aleksandr Golts argues that the war in Ukraine has ruined Russian military reform.

Why Are Russia's Diplomats Dying?

In The Daily Beast, Anna Nemtsova looks at the six Russian diplomats who have died since November.

Whitewashing North Korea

Meduza reviews the content of a documentary series in which Russia's state-controlled Channel One presents a sunny version of life in North Korea

The Shadow Economy

Various Russian media, including, Vedomosti, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, and MK have stories about a new report on Russia's shadow economy by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

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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