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The Morning Vertical, June 26, 2017


The Kremlin's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, demands that the messaging application Telegram turn over its data to Russian authorities.

The State Duma passes a bill that would make the financial information of top Russian officials a state secret.

Both of these stories broke last week. And their juxtaposition speaks volumes.

On one hand, the Kremlin is continuing its campaign to pressure Internet companies to make it easier for the Russian authorities to eavesdrop on private citizens.

And on the other, as I discuss on today's Daily Vertical, the regime is moving to make it more difficult for private citizens to learn about the -- often corrupt -- financial dealings of their rulers.

Meet the Kremlin's double standard for the age of big data.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated the deep-water phase of the TurkStream pipeline project that will deliver Russian gas to Turkey and eventually to the European Union.

The U.S. military said on June 23 that a crisis hotline with Russia set up to avoid accidental clashes in Syria is still being used, despite Moscow's threat earlier this week to suspend it.

The Washington Post is reporting that the CIA informed U.S. President Barack Obama in August 2016 that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in a cybercampaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election campaign.

A statue honoring former U.S. Secretary of State William Henry Seward, who signed a treaty with Russia that brought Alaska to the United States, will be installed in the city of Juneau on July 3.

Alexander Vavilov, the son of Russian spies, has regained his Canadian citizenship after a lengthy struggle under a Canadian court decision released on June 23.

Russian officials say the Confederations Cup soccer tournament that the country is hosting will not be marred by the national team’s elimination from the competition.

Russian social-networking entrepreneur Pavel Durov is defying a Russian government demand to hand over data and secrets of his encrypted-messaging service, saying the blocking of his app by the Kremlin would only force private conversations by Russian officials and others to be conducted over U.S.-controlled apps.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is due to meet his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, in Paris today.

The treason trial in absentia of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has been quickly adjourned after formally opening in a courtroom in the capital, Kyiv.

The Ukrainian military has said that two soldiers were killed and two wounded in the eastern part of the country despite a cease-fire that began on June 23.


In case you missed it, on the latest Power Vertical Podcast, The Empire's New Clothes, we discussed the perseverance of imperial attitudes in Russia a quarter of a century after the Soviet Union collapsed.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Power Vertical Briefing will not appear today.


The Politics Of Youth

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin takes a look at youth politics and explains why it isn't possible to return to the era of Kremlin-controlled youth groups like Nashi.

When Oliver Met Vladimir

Michael Fishman has a piece in The Moscow Times on what U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone interviews with Putin revealed about him.

And in The New York Times, Masha Gessen, author of the book The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise Of Vladimir Putin, explains how the Kremlin leader seduced Stone.

U.S-Russian Relations

In The Moscow Times, Vladimir Frolov takes a look at U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts to salvage U.S.-Russian relations.

In The Daily Beast, Kimberly Dozier explains how Russian espionage against the U.S. works.

And in Politico, Bryan Bender looks at how a U.S.-Russian back channel was reactivated.

Stalin, Putin, And Pushkin has a write-up about a Levada Center poll in which Russians named Josef Stalin, Putin, and Aleksandr Pushkin as the top three historical figures.

Getting Inside The Kremlin's Brain

In The National Interest, Bruce Allyn argues that in order to handle the threat from Russia, U.S. policymakers need a better understanding of how Russian officials think.

Top-Secret Corruption

Meduza has a useful explainer on the bill the State Duma recently passed classifying the personal financial information of top officials.

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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