ON MY MIND
It should come as no surprise that Russia's political party system is in crisis.
According to a report by the Committee of Civil Initiatives (reviewed in a piece featured below), parties in the so-called "systemic opposition" are having trouble fielding candidates and are barely conducting campaigns.
At some point this was inevitable. The sham of Russia's party system, in which pro-regime parties like the Liberal Democrats, the Communists, and A Just Russia, play the role of a fake and domesticated opposition was bound to hit a point of diminishing returns at some point. Sooner or later the mask was going to come off.
And it appears that time has come.
And it comes as Aleksei Navalny is mounting something Russia hasn't seen for a long time: an actual opposition force that has real public backing and is serious about taking on Vladimir Putin's Kremlin.
IN THE NEWS
Police in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk have detained a local coordinator of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's presidential election campaign and confiscated campaign materials.
Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak has decried what he called the "sabotage" of its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and other energy projects in Europe.
Russia will build on the success of a cease-fire in southwest Syria and seek further opportunities to cooperate with the United States in resolving the Syrian conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Donald Trump Jr. was told that the Russian government was the source of information damaging to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before meeting with a Russian lawyer about it, the New York Times reported.
The White House is seeking to change a Senate bill imposing tough new sanctions on Russia so it doesn't constrain the president's authority to impose or waive sanctions, a top White House official said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has approved a plan designed to eliminate doping, part of Moscow's push to rehabilitate its tarnished sporting image and overturn a global ban on most of its track-and-field athletes.
German industrial conglomerate Siemens says that two of its gas turbines originally destined for Russia had been diverted to Crimea without its knowledge.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has affirmed the alliance's "unwavering support" for Ukraine's territorial integrity and has called on Russia to remove its "thousands of soldiers from Ukraine and stop supporting the militants with command-and-control and military equipment."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said his country would not seek NATO membership "immediately" but would instead focus on implementing reforms.
Amnesty International is calling on the Russian authorities to investigate a media report that 27 people were summarily executed by security forces in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya in January.
A huge fire at a Moscow shopping center on July 10 injured 14 people. More than 200 firefighters and 60 trucks were needed to put out the blaze.
A Russian court has reduced by more than a year a suspended sentence handed down to a blogger convicted of inciting hatred and insulting religious believers' feelings through online videos, including one showing him playing Pokemon Go in a church.
Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has canceled plans to start flying to destinations in Ukraine, saying the main airport in the capital, Kyiv, had not honored terms agreed earlier this year.
WHAT I'M READING
Georgia, Russia, And The West
Former State Department official Kirk Bennett has a piece in The American Interest on how "Georgia is caught between Russia’s destructive designs and the West’s lukewarm regard."
And in The Jamestown Foundation's Daily Monitor, Giorgi Menabde looks at how Russia is ramping up the pressure on Georgia.
More On The Trump-Putin Meeting
In Foreign Policy, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter gives his assessment of the Trump-Putin meeting at the G20.
And in an op-ed for The Washington Post, Michael McFaul, the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, also looks at the meeting and argues that moving forward with Russia is a big mistake.
Military analyst Michael Kofman of the Kennan Institute looks at the state of Russian shipbuilding.
The CSTO And Syria
In The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor, Uran Botobekov writes that Russia is seeking to involve the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization in the Syrian conflict.
In Novaya Gazeta, political analyst Yulia Latynina defends Aleksei Navalny against his liberal critics, calling him "the real leader of the Russian opposition."
Russian Parties In Crisis
Vedomosti looks at a report by the Committee of Civil Initiatives, led by former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin, claiming that Russia's political party system is in crisis.
Lessons From Ukraine
Writing in Lawfare, Aaron F. Brantly, Nerea M. Cal, and Devlin Winkelstein look at the lessons on cybersecurity the West can learn from Ukraine.
NOTE TO READERS/VIEWERS/LISTENERS: I am going back on the road from July 12-21 for speaking engagements in Batumi, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. No Power Vertical products will appear on those days. All Power Vertical products will resume their regular schedule on Monday, July 24.