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The Morning Vertical, July 28, 2017


This week, Russia's official name officially became a fiction.

This week, the Russian Federation ceased to be anything remotely resembling a federation.

This week, a decades-old agreement granting Tatarstan limited autonomy -- including control over its resources, budget, and special status for the Tatar language -- was allowed to expire.

And the Kremlin is showing no signs of reviving it.

One of Russia's most important regions and its largest ethnic minority just got downgraded.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we look at what this means for Tatarstan and for Moscow's relations with Russia's regions.

Joining me will be Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its Center for European Security, and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations; and Rim Gilfanov, director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service.

So be sure to tune in later today!


The U.S. Senate nearly unanimously approved tough sanctions on Russia and sent the legislation to the White House, presenting President Donald Trump with a dilemma as he seeks to improve relations with Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says the United States must reduce the size of its diplomatic staff in Russia and will no longer be able to use a U.S. Embassy dacha and storage warehouses in Moscow.

Vladimir Putin has signed a law ratifying a deal with the Syrian government allowing Moscow to keep its air base in Syria for 49 years with "a possibility to automatically extend the agreement to 25-year periods."

Putin has also signed a bill into law on Russian-Armenian joint military units.

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has handed materials regarding the fates of 13 Chechen men, who have been missing for months, to Russian Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova and Russia's presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.

Russia’s Federal Security Service says it has detained suspected members of an armed neo-Nazi group in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new permanent representative to the United Nations.

Russia's Supreme Court has prolonged to 15 years the prison term for a jailed Crimean Tatar man, who was earlier sentenced to 12 years in April after a court found him guilty of creating a cell on behalf of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group.

The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency says Russia has made progress in its drive to weed out drug cheats among its athletes, but he said the country has more to do before it can be declared fully compliant.

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and Odesa regional governor who has been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, is vowing to resist what he called the "cowardly" move and to "continue fighting for a real European Ukraine."

Moldova's Constitutional Court has ruled that a move by President Igor Dodon to hold a referendum that could broaden his powers is unconstitutional.


Cops, Cars, And Corruption

A new investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project looks into Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika's ties to the Avilon Automotive Group, a top Russian dealer in luxury vehicles that does substantial business with law enforcement agencies.

Ancestor Worship

In Intersection magazine, Olga Irisova looks at how the Putin regime's "preservation of the cult of past leaders strengthens the cult of today’s ‘leader’."

Why The Kremlin Fears New Sanctions

In his column for, Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov explains why the Kremlin is panicking over the new U.S. sanctions legislation.

Why The Magnitsky Act Matters

In The Atlantic, Juila Ioffe explains why the Kremlin cares so much about the Magnitsky Act.

How Kleptocracy Works

In Esquire, Charles Pierce reviews financier and Kremlin-critic William Browder's testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on how Russia uses corruption to ensnare foreign elites.

Russia And The Balkans

Balkan Insight reviews Dimitar Bechev’s book Rival Power: Russia In Southeast Europe.

Scenarios For Russian-Ukrainian Relations

In Intersection magazine, Mykola Kapitonenko of the Institute of International Relations at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv looks at three scenarios for Russian-Ukrainian relations.

The Glass Half Full In Ukraine

John Herbst, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and director of the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, has a piece arguing that reform in Ukraine has been more successful than expected.

More On Saakashvili

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky weighs in on Mikhail Saakashvili losing his Ukrainian citizenship.

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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