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The Morning Vertical, July 10, 2017


This is the year of anniversaries the Kremlin would prefer to forget -- or at least remember quietly.

February marked the centenary of the fall of the Romanov dynasty and its temporary replacement with a liberal democratic government.

November will mark the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution, the world's first colored revolution, which ushered in more than seven decades of Communist rule.

And just as significantly, 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of 1937, the year most closely associated with Josef Stalin's Great Terror.

In a piece featured below, historian Irina Pavlova notes that it was the secret decree "On Anti-Soviet Elements," passed by Stalin's Politburo on July 2, 1937, that provided the legal basis for the subsequent mass purge of the ruling elite by the NKVD.

The Kremlin's attitude toward this year's revolutionary anniversaries is at best ambiguous given the regime's fear of colored revolutions.

And while there will clearly not be any parades to mark the anniversary of 1937, Vladimir Putin's Kremlin probably doesn't mind that the ghost of that fateful year continues to haunt the Russian elite.

As Pavlova writes, "mass murders of the kinds that occurred under Stalin aren’t needed today" to keep the elite in line. "The times are different: they are vegetarian."


U.S. President Donald Trump late on July 9 stepped back from his proposal to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish a cybersecurity unit to prevent hacking and election meddling after he received blistering criticism from his own party.

Trump also says he did not discuss sanctions during the meeting with Putin.

U.S. media are reporting that Trump's son and others met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer during the 2016 campaign after being promised damaging information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

A cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia in southwest Syria has held through the first day, a monitor group and rebel fighters say.

Police in Moscow have detained dozens of supporters of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny who were campaigning for his bid to be elected as president in 2018, according to the politician's campaign and a monitoring group.

Well-known Russian journalist, blogger, and Internet pioneer Anton Nosik has died in Moscow at the age of 51.

Russian artist Ilya Glazunov has died in Moscow at the age of 87.

Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper, citing two unidentified sources, has reported that security forces in Chechnya summarily executed 27 people on the night of January 26.

Prominent Russian human rights activist Vitaly Ponomaryov has been denied permission to enter Kyrgyzstan from neighboring Kazakhstan.

The Bolshoi Theater has called off the world premiere of Nureyev, a ballet about a famous Russian dancer, just days before it was to take place. The premiere of the biographical show about Rudolf Nureyev, one of the first Soviet artists to defect to the West, was due to be held on July 11.


The Trump-Putin Meeting

In an op-ed for The Moscow Times, foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov explains why the Putin-Trump meeting won't change much.

In RBK, political analyst Aleksandr Morozov also parses the Putin-Trump meeting.

Germany, Ukraine, And History

Eurozine has published the transcript of Yale University historian Timothy Snyder's speech to the Bundestag on Germany's historical responsibility toward Ukraine.

Ukraine: Six Futures

Andreas Umland of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv has a piece in The Harvard International Review outlining six potential futures for Ukraine.

The Kremlin's Anti-Navalny Tactics

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin looks at recent raids of Aleksei Navalny's headquarters and what they reveal about the Kremlin's tactics.

Remembering Anton Nosik

Also in, Kashin eulogizes Russian blogger and Internet pioneer Anton Nosik, who died this weekend at the age of 51.

Nationalist Solidarity

Leonid Ragozin has an interesting counterintuitive piece in Coda on how some Russian nationalists have made common cause with Ukrainian nationalists on the battlefields of the Donbas.

The Origins Of Great Terror

Historian Irina Pavlova has a piece marking the anniversary of the secret decree "On Anti-Soviet Elements,"passed by Josef Stalin's Politburo on July 2, 1937. The decree provided the legal framework for Stalin's Great Terror.

The Russia Investigations

NPR has a useful explainer on all the different Russia investigations going on in the United States and what they are doing.

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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