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The Morning Vertical, February 5, 2018


The disconnect between the International Olympic Committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sports could not be better timed for Vladimir Putin.

The court overturned the lifetime bans of 28 Russian athletes, who had been barred by the IOC for doping. The IOC responded by calling the ruling "extremely disappointing and surprising" -- and declining to invite 15 of the athletes to participate in the Winter Games in South Korea.

The Kremlin is sure to use all this to claim vindication and to portray the doping scandal as some kind of nefarious plot against Russia.

And just in time for the election.

On this week's Power Vertical Briefing (featured below), we look at the early signals in Russia's tightly choreographed presidential election campaign, which is getting underway in earnest, as well as the reactions to the doping scandal with the Winter Games about to start.

So be sure to tune in...


The International Olympic Committee says it will not invite 15 more Russian athletes and coaches whose doping suspensions have been lifted to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

And the head of the International Olympic Committee has described a ruling by the world's top sports court that lifts Olympic doping bans for 28 Russian athletes as "extremely disappointing and surprising."

At least one person has died and several have been injured after Moscow experienced its heaviest day of snowfall in a day since records began, Russian officials say.

Russia, Iran, and China have strongly criticized Washington's newly revealed policy plan to expand U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities in order to deter other countries.

The Japanese government is ready to press forward on a joint urban-development proposal for Russia’s Far East city of Vladivostok as part of the two countries' economic partnership effort.

U.S. President Donald Trump is claiming that he has been completely vindicated by a Republican-written congressional memo that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance powers during an investigation of the Trump presidential election campaign's possible ties to Russia.

Democratic lawmakers and several Republicans have disputed U.S. President Donald Trump's contention that a GOP-produced classified memo on FBI surveillance powers cleared him in the Russia investigation.

European Union and Georgian officials are set to meet in Brussels today to review the state of bilateral relations and assess the progress made in the implementation of their association agreement.

Several thousand people have marched through the center of the Ukrainian capital to call for President Petro Poroshenko's resignation.


In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast -- Black Comedy, Dark History -- looked at what is really behind the recent controversy over Scottish director Armando Iannucci's black comedy The Death Of Stalin.


On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we look at the early signals coming out of Russia's highly choreographed presidential election. Also on The Briefing, we discuss how the Winter Olympics in South Korea are being viewed in light of Russia's team being banned for doping violations.


The Communist 'Threat'

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin looks at at the rising popularity of Communist presidential candidate Pavel Grudinin and the recent campaign against him among Kremlin media.

Doping Lessons

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky looks at "the real lesson of the Russian doping scandal."

The Cost Of Crimea

According to a report in Eurasianet, the annexed Crimean peninsula accounts for one-fifth of all funds sent by Moscow to Russian regions.

How To Do Sanctions Right

In Politico, Michael Carpenter, the former U.S. deputy secretary of defense and current director of the Penn Biden Center, looks at the Trump administration's decision not to impose new sanctions on Russia.

Putin's Campaign Team

In Novoye-Vremya-The New Times, Denis Bardanyan looks inside Putin's campaign and argues that two groups are vying for influence, one tied to businessman Yury Kovalchyuk and another connected to Rostec head Sergei Chemezov.

Can Liberal Democracy Survive?

Medium has a report on a recent public conversation between scholar Francis Fukuyama and former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on the future of liberal democracy.

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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