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The Morning Vertical, July 25, 2016


So yeah, Moscow dodged a bullet when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided against a blanket ban of Russian athletes at next month's Summer Games in Rio.

Russia escaped the ignominy of being the first country ever banned from the Olympics for doping.

The World Anti-Doping Agency is disappointed and Russian authorities are breathing a big sigh of relief.

But before considering this some kind of victory for Moscow, consider the following.

According to the IOC decision, each individual sports federation will now rule on whether to allow Russian athletes to compete in Rio.

Track-and-field athletes are, of course, banned. And between now and when the games begin, there will be a steady drip-drip-drip of decisions.

And when the Olympics begin, what's left of the Russian team will be diminished, they will be competing under a cloud of suspicion, and their medal haul will be low.

So sure, the Russian team escaped the "death penalty" for doping. But they are still paying a heavy price.


The World Anti-Doping Agency has expressed disappointment over the International Olympic Committee's decision not to ban the Russian team from next month's Summer Games in Rio.

Six Ukrainian soldiers have been killed fighting Russia-backed separatists in the Donbas in one 24-hour period over the weekend.

Aleksandr Rutskoi, Russia's only vice president who later led an attempt to seize power from then Russian President Boris Yeltsin, has been registered as a candidate in September's elections for the State Duma.

FSB officers searched the Moscow apartment of Andrei Piontkovsky, a Kremlin critic who left Russia earlier this year for fear of persecution over an article he wrote. The FSB also searched the apartments of Piontkovsky's daughter and grandchildren.

Vyacheslav Istomin, the mayor of Kopeysk in the Chelyabinsk region, has been arrested.

Security forces have put down an attempted rebellion at a penal colony in Khakassia.

Vedomosti reports that Vladimir Putin has asked aides to draft an alternative economic plan to one drafted by former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin, who heads the Kremlin's main economics think tank.


The latest Power Vertical Podcast looked at tensions in Russia's security services in the wake of the FSB's raid of the Investigative Committee last week.

Joining me were Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Czech Institute of International Relations, an expert on Russian organized crime and its security services, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows and Karina Orlova, a correspondent for Ekho Moskvy and columnist for The American Interest.


On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we look at two issues in the news: The International Olympic Committee's decision not to ban the Russian team from next month's Summer Games in Rio and the accelerating Russian-Turkish rapprochement.


Is Sechin On The Outs?

Writing in the American Interest, Karina Orlova suggests that Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, a longtime crony of Vladimir Putin, appears to be falling out of Kremlin favor, speculating that he may share the fate of former Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin.

"Putin's personal intervention, preventing the sale of Bashneft to Rosneft, might indicate that Igor Sechin has recently started to fall out of favor with the Russian President, and thus that his [Sechin's] personal influence and power are waning," Orlova writes.

"Igor Sechin’s trajectory as a state-owned company’s CEO most resembles that of the former Russian Railways CEO Vladimir Yakunin."

The Fall of the House of BRICS

Writing in Foreign Policy, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Suzanne Nossel looks at why the BRICS group has turned out to be less than advertised, and what may happen next.

"There will be no bloc of "emerging economies" rising up to challenge the Western order. But what comes next may be more chaotic and dangerous," Nossel writes.

An Oligarch Looks West

Bloomberg has an interesting piece on how Russian oil billionaire Mikhail Fridman is looking to invest in U.S. health care.

The Defense Minister's Daughter

Yulia Shoigu, the daughter of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, has given an extensive interview to Kommersant Vlast on how to cope with the psychological stress of terrorist attacks. Yulia Shoigu works in the Department for Psychological Assistance in Russia's Emergency Ministry.

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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