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ON MY MIND

By allowing Tatarstan's special-status agreement with Russia's federal authorities to expire, depriving the republic of the semiautonomous status it has enjoyed for two decades, the Kremlin may facilitate the one thing it fears most.

As long as Tatarstan enjoyed its limited autonomy -- which included control over its resources and budget, special status for the Tatar language, and symbolic attributes of "statehood" such as being allowed to open representative offices abroad -- it could be counted on to be loyal to the Kremlin.

By effectively revoking the status Tatars value and have become accustomed to, Vladimir Putin's regime may end up provoking separatist sentiments in one of Russia's wealthiest and most important regions.

As Oleg Kashin argues in a piece featured below, it is harder to have a privilege taken away from you than not to have been granted the privilege in the first place.

IN THE NEWS

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to cement sanctions against Russia into law and curb President Donald Trump's authority to ease those sanctions.

Russian officials and lawmakers are sharply criticizing U.S. legislation that would impose new sanctions on Moscow and make it harder for President Donald Trump to ease or lift punitive measures.

Russia's upper house of parliament has asked President Vladimir Putin to start preparing sanctions on Poland over its plans to demolish Soviet monuments, Russian state media reported.

Lawyers for two Kyrgyz-born brothers charged in a deadly bombing on a St. Petersburg subway train in April have asked Russian authorities to investigate their clients' claims that they were tortured at a "secret jail" outside Moscow.

Russia's Federation Council has approved a bill that would prohibit the use of Internet proxy services -- including virtual private networks, or VPNs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Iraqi vice president and former prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in the town of Strelna near St. Petersburg.

Russian ice-hockey star Danis Zaripov -- a three-time world champion who played for Russia at the 2010 Olympics -- has been banned from competition for nearly two years for using banned performance-enhancing drugs.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry discussed climate change, expanding American coal exports to Ukraine, and natural gas during a recent phone conversation with a Russian prankster who Perry thought was Ukraine's prime minister.

A second luxury Los Angeles mansion formerly owned by Mikhail Lesin, the former Russian press minister who was found dead in a Washington hotel room two years ago, has been put up for sale.

WHAT I'M READING

A Warning On Tatarstan

In his column for Republic.ru, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin looks at the dangers the Kremlin faces in not renewing Tatarstan's special status.

Hybrid Deportations

Also in New Eastern Europe, Greta Uehling of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has a piece looking at "hybrid deportations" from Crimea.

Sino-Russian Naval Exercises

Dave Majumdar, defense editor of The National Interest, has a piece looking at the joint Sino-Russian naval maneuvers in the Baltic Sea and what they portend.

A Filmmaker's Transformation

In the Daily Beast, Katie Zavadski looks at Andrei Nekrasov's journey from anti-Putin filmmaker to "Kremlin stooge."

Browder's Testimony

The Atlantic has published a transcript of financier and Kremlin-critic William Browder's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Rise Of The Video Bloggers

In Intersection magazine, Stepan Goncharov of the Levada Center looks at how video bloggers are changing Russia's media landscape.

Brand Georgia

Archil Sikharulidze of the Tbilisi-based Center for Systemic Political Research has a piece in New Eastern Europe on the contrast between "brand Georgia" and Georgia's political reality.

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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