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The Morning Vertical, December 16, 2016


A question that's been on my mind recently is whether the populist antiestablishment wave that has engulfed the West could also strike Russia.

As I noted on the blog this week, Aleksei Navalny appears to be betting that it could and is seeking to seize the moment.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we'll take a look at antiestablishment sentiment in Russia, its sources, and whether it is reaching critical mass.

Joining me will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior policy fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations; and journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult.

Also on the Podcast, Mark, Anna, and I will discuss Forbes magazine naming Vladimir Putin the world's most powerful man for the fourth consecutive year.

So be sure to tune in later today!


Russian President Vladimir Putin's trip to Japan has produced an agreement to hold talks on joint economic development of four islands claimed by both countries, but no breakthrough in the territorial dispute that dates back to World War II and beyond.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States will "take action" against Russia for interfering in the U.S. presidential election in an interview with National Public Radio released late on December 15.

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, has suggested that Putin personally authorized an alleged Russian hacking operation aimed at meddling in the U.S. electoral process, while the top U.S. diplomat said more facts in the case could soon be made public.

Russian officials have dismissed an NBC News report that said U.S. intelligence officials believe with a "high level of confidence" that Putin was personally involved in Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. Presidential election.

Four Syrian organizations have accused Russia of committing or being complicit in war crimes in Syria, saying Russian air strikes in the Aleppo area had killed 1,207 civilians, including 380 children.

Italy blocked attempts to extend European Union sanctions on Russia by a year as well as broaden the sanctions to cover alleged crimes by Russia in Syria, EU members said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says envoys from the alliance will meet with Russian diplomats on December 19 to discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists.

Amnesty International has decried what it called Russia's "systematic persecution" of the Crimean Tatars since "the occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation" in 2014.

A Moscow court has sentenced a retired military officer to 12 years in prison after convicting him of treason, a charge that is usually linked to alleged espionage.

A vote in the European Parliament has brought the goal of visa-free travel to the EU one step closer for citizens of Ukraine and Georgia. Lawmakers approved a mechanism allowing for the suspension of visa-free regimes with Ukraine and Georgia under certain circumstances once they are in place.They are now set to vote on the visa liberalization itself for Georgia in January, and it is possible that they will vote on Ukraine in February.


Still More On Russia And The U.S. Election

Clint Watts of the the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Andrew Weisburd of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at the George Washington University have a piece in Politico on "How Russia Wins An Election" abroad.

In The Daily Beast, Anna Nemtsova writes that the Kremlin is gloating over the fallout from the hacking of the U.S. election.

Paul Waldman has an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for an independent, public investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal.

"If this keeps going in the direction it’s headed, this could stand alongside Watergate and Iran-Contra as one of the most important scandals in modern American history," Waldman writes.

"It’s increasingly looking like a hostile foreign power run by a murderous thug tried to swing an American election, and may have succeeded -- at least, in helping to tip it."

To Russia With Love

Matthew Nussbaum has a piece in Politico about how sympathy for Putin among U.S. Republicans "is rising."

Hacking And Espionage

The Atlantic's Kaveh Waddell has a piece asking whether Russia's election hacking marks "a new era in espionage."

Detente? Not So Fast!

In a piece for The Cipher Brief, former CIA official Michael Sulick argues that there won't be any detente between Russia and the United States anytime soon.

Kremlin Games In Europe

The Integrity Initiative has a couple good reports on its website.

One looks at Kremlin Disinformation and the Dutch referendum on the EU's association agreement with Ukraine.

And another looks at how Moscow has created a "traditionalist counterculture" in Central and Eastern Europe.

Syria And Russia After Aleppo

Writing in The Moscow Times, foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov explains why the fall of Aleppo "puts Syria's fate in Moscow's hands."

Navalny And The Kremlin

Bloomberg has a piece suggesting that the Kremlin may actually welcome anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny's presidential bid.

Russia's War On The LGBT Community

Katerina Patin has a piece in Coda about one psychiatrist's secret efforts to assist transgender Russians.

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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