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The Morning Vertical, January 23, 2017


In case anybody missed it, former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin presented his much-awaited plan to reform the Russian economy on January 13.

Kudrin called for deep structural reforms, not just in the economy but also in the judicial and political system. The problem isn't just low oil prices and sanctions, he argued, but the fact that innovation is being stymied by an overcentralized, corrupt, and inefficient system.

In today's environment, however, Kudrin's plan doesn't have a ghost of a chance. Despite the fact that Vladimir Putin tasked Kudrin with drafting the plan, it's unveiling got scant attention on Russian state media.

As The Economist points out in a piece featured below, the Kremlin now thinks that it is winning and that liberalism is in retreat. So why would it listen to the advice of a liberal economist?


A leading Democrat in the U.S. Senate has said he plans to introduce a bipartisan bill that would require U.S. President Donald Trump to seek congressional approval to lift any sanctions currently imposed on Russia.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. counterintelligence agents have investigated communications that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had with Russian officials.

Talks aimed at solidifying the cease-fire in Syria’s civil war, sponsored by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, have begun in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Energy ministers from OPEC and Russia say they have agreed on a method to monitor compliance of a deal to slash oil output designed to eliminate a two-year glut and boost market prices.

Russian 1,500-meter runner Andrei Dmitriyev has said that Russian coaches who were banned for doping activities have continued to work with the country's athletes.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been reelected as head of the ruling United Russia Party.

George Krimsky, a journalist and author who covered dissident activity in the Soviet Union and co-founded a center for international journalists, has died at the age of 75.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that "some politicians in Kyiv and Moscow" are pushing to force Ukraine to hold early parliamentary elections in order "to destabilize our country."


In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast, A New World Order, looks ahead to U.S.-Russian relations in the age of Trump.


And this week's Power Vertical Briefing looks at how Russia is seeking to consolidate its gains in Syria at this week's peace talks in Astana -- and push its advantage over the West elsewhere. Is there a risk of overreach?


Brave New World

In The Telegraph, veteran Kremlin-watcher Edward Lucas, author of the book The New Cold War, writes that the looming friendship between Trump and Putin is "the world's most dangerous special relationship."

In Politico, Nahal Toosi has a report on how U.S. intelligence officials fear that allies will stop sharing intelligence due to Trump's relationship with Putin.

Der Speigel takes a look at what a new world order centered on deals between the Kremlin and Washington would mean for Europe.

And in Read Clear World, George Friedman, chairman of Geopolitical Futures, takes a close look at Trump's foreign policy.

Damn The Economy! Full Speed Ahead!

The Economist has a piece looking at former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin's economic reform plan and why it is likely to be ignored.

A Communist Leadership Battle has an express commentary on the looming fight for the leadership of the Communist Party in the wake of the announcement that Gennady Zyuganov will not run for president.

And A Mafia Leadership Battle

Igor Pushkarev has a report in Znak on the "covert election campaign for the post of king of Russia's criminal world," which has been vacant since the arrest of Zakhariy Kalashov (Young Shakro) in July 2016.

On To Libya

In The National Interest, Matt Purple, deputy editor of Rare Politics, explains why Russia may win in Libya, too.

The Myths Of Old Novgorod

In, historian Konstantin Bugrov looks at how the history of the medieval Novgorod republic has been distorted for political purposes.

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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