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The Morning Vertical, February 9, 2018


One opposition candidate for Russia's presidency hits the campaign trail -- in Washington.

Another talks about taking a job as a Kremlin adviser after the election.

Yet another travels to London where he says he negotiated a deal to bring exiled Russian businessmen -- and their money -- back home.

And one non-candidate releases a salacious video featuring an oligarch, a top official, a yacht -- and female escorts.

Welcome to the very odd world of Russia's so-called presidential election, which officially kicked off this week.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we take a look at some of the weird scenes on the campaign trail, and what they signify.

Joining me will be veteran journalist and Kremlin-watcher Kiryl Sukhotski, executive editor for RFE/RL's Russian-language television program Current Time.

So be sure to tune in later today!


Forty-five Russian athletes and two coaches have lost their appeals to sports' highest court, meaning they will not be able to compete in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak says it appears that Moscow meddled in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and called any such interference "unacceptable."

A Russian court has sentenced a former governor of the Sakhalin Oblast to 13 years in prison after convicting him on corruption charges.

Tens of thousands of people have attended the funeral of a Russian Air Force pilot who died in Syria last week.

The United Nations Security Council has rejected an appeal from UN aid officials for a monthlong humanitarian cease-fire in Syria amid separate calls by the United States for Syria and its ally Russia to end their attacks against rebel-held areas.

The Pentagon says U.S. commanders notified Russian counterparts of an air and ground assault on pro-Syrian fighters in response to an attack on U.S.-allied militias in eastern Syria.

The European Parliament is calling for the "immediate release" of Oyub Titiyev, the jailed director of the prominent Russian human rights group Memorial's office in Chechnya.

A senior official in Tatarstan who was under house arrest on financial-crimes charges has been found dead in her home, officials in the Russian region say.

French film legend and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has assailed what she called the "barbarism" of animal-cruelty and culling programs in Russian cities.


Navalny Strikes Again

Aleksei Navalny has released another video and report exposing corruption in high places. This one includes an oligarch, a top Kremlin official, a yacht, a mansion, and an escort called Nastya Rybka.

And in his column for, opposition journalist and political commentator Oleg Kashin explains what it means.

Putin And His Seven 'Challengers'

The BBC has profiles of all of Russia's registered presidential candidates.

And in an editorial, looks at the leaked Russian ballot as a metaphor for a fake election.

The BBC's Russian Service has a video of Ksenia Sobchak speaking to journalists at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

And in The Baffler, the always insightful Natalia Antonova comments on "Russia's zombie election," which she describes as "a horror show put on by an undead political system."

New Report On Internet (Non) Freedom In Russia

The Kazan-based human rights group Agora has released its new report on attacks on Internet freedom in Russia.

And Meduza summarizes and comments on the report here.

The New Munich Security Report

According to the newly released Munich Security Report, the risk that an armed conflict will break out between Russia and NATO has increased due to rising tensions over military exercises and the weakening of arms-control agreements.

'Resilience' And Hybrid Threats

Rene Nyberg, the former Finnish ambassador to Russia, has a piece on the website of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace explaining the concept of "resilience" and how Finland has strengthened it to counter hybrid threats from Russia.

A Farewell To Gazprom

Bloomberg has a piece on how Poland, Russia's oldest natural gas buyer, is preparing to finally wave goodbye to Gazprom.

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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