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The Morning Vertical, January 16, 2018


The Kremlin has apparently decided how it will deal with its Aleksei Navalny problem -- at least for now.

As Tatyana Stanovaya writes in a piece featured below, rather than ignoring him and pretending he is unimportant, Vladimir Putin's regime has decided to explicitly accuse him of being a stooge of the West.

The change was signaled, she argues, in remarks Putin made in a recent meeting with media heads.

And it comes as the Russian Justice Ministry is seeking to close the Fifth Season of the Year Foundation, which is the bulwark of Navalny's (unregistered) election campaign. The foundation is the legal entity that officially employs workers of Navalny’s campaign offices across Russia (see news story featured below).

But as Stanovaya writes, and Vedomosti notes in an editorial (also featured below), the move could backfire as it risks elevating Navalny's status.


Lithuania has issued its first blacklist of 49 Russians banned for allegedly violating human rights or engaging in corruption and money laundering under its new Magnitsky law.

Russian state broadcaster RT says France's presidency has turned away journalists from its new French-language channel twice in a week.

World soccer's governing body is stepping up its investigation into alleged doping among Russian soccer players by seeking information from the whistle-blower who first exposed a system of widespread doping and cover-ups in Russia.

Russia's Justice Ministry is seeking the closure of a foundation that is the bulwark of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's presidential election campaign.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has increased the spread of HIV throughout the country as people have been uprooted by the violence, a new study finds.

A prosecutor in Ukraine's Russia-controlled Crimea region has asked a court to sentence pro-Kyiv activist Volodymyr Balukh to five years and one month in prison in a high-profile retrial on a weapons and explosives possession charge.

Russia, Syria, and Turkey have lashed out at the United States for helping an allied Kurdish-led militia set up a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria.

Two Kazakh citizens who are members of a Russia-based group called the Union of Co-creators of the Holy Russia have each been sentenced by a court in Kazakhstan to five years in prison on charges of inciting ethnic and religious hatred.


Chechnya's War On Drugs

Ilya Rozdestvensky has a report in on how the authorities in Chechnya are allegedly using torture to combat drug use.

Dealing With Navalny

Political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya has a piece in on the Kremlin's changing tactics on opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. Rather than ignoring him and treating him as inconsequential, the Putin regime is now portraying him as a stooge of Washington.

In an editorial, Vedomosti also looks at the Kremlin's changing rhetoric on Navalny.

U.S. Senate Report

In case anybody hasn't seen it yet, the minority staff report of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Putin's Asymmetric Assault On Democracy In Russia And Europe: Implications For U.S. National Security, is available online.

Russian Election Meddling: What The Archives Say

Russian historian Leonid Maksimenkov has a piece drawing on documents from Russia's state archives that looks at Moscow's long track record of attempting to interfere in U.S. elections.

SRB Podcast

The latest installment of the SRB Podcast, hosted by Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, looks at what it was like to be deaf in the Soviet Union. Sean's guest is Claire Shaw, a history professor at Warwick University specializing in the history of marginal groups in the U.S.S.R. She's the author of Deaf In The USSR: Marginality, Community, And Soviet Identity, 1917-1991.

The Roots Of Czech Populism

With the Czech Republic gearing up for a presidential election runoff between the pro-Moscow incumbent Milos Zeman and his pro-Europe challenger Jiri Drahos, Carnegie Europe has a piece by Balazs Jarabik and Peter Ucen looking at what is driving Czech populism

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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