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The Morning Vertical, June 27, 2017


It happened in 2011-12. It happened again in 2013-14. And it appears to be happening now.

Periodically, in recent years, Vladimir Putin's Kremlin has lost control of the narrative and appeared to be on the defensive.

This was the case with the Bolotnaya protests in 2011. It was the case with Aleksei Navalny's surprisingly strong mayoral campaign in 2013 which was followed by the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine. And it appears to be the case with the current round of nationwide anticorruption protests.

But the important thing is what happened next. The protests of late 2011 and early 2012 were followed by a fierce crackdown on dissent and a turn by the Kremlin to so-called traditional values. And the challenge from Navalny and the example of the Euromaidan were followed by the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas.

Which leaves the question: What will Putin's Kremlin do now? What drastic measures will the regime take to regain control of the narrative.

Putin appears to have run out of stories to tell the Russian people to justify his rule. And if recent experience is any guide, that means this is a very dangerous moment.


Jury deliberations in the trial of five men who are charged in connection with the 2015 killing of opposition politician and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov are set to resume today in Moscow.

A private space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced that it plans to build a new rocket engine for space flights to replace engines now provided by Russia.

Russia says Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told his American counterpart to "take measures to prevent provocations" against Syrian government forces.

After meeting in Paris, the French and Ukrainian presidents have voiced hope of making progress in resolving the conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry says an acting member of the country’s armed forces has died in a car explosion in the capital, Kyiv, in what it said is being investigated as a "terrorist attack."


The Point Of No Return?

In his column for, foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov looks at the latest revelations about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and what they mean for relations between Moscow and Washington.

The Gays Who Fled Chechnya

Masha Gessen, author of the book The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise Of Vladimir Putin, has a piece in The New Yorker on the gay men who fled persecution in Chechnya.

Brinkmanship In Syria

In Foreign Policy, Emile Simpson, a research fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, asks whether the United States and Russia are getting drawn into a direct confrontation in Syria.

Requiem For The INF?

Gregory Hellman and Bryan Bender have a piece in Politico on how the Trump administration is considering pulling out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Pavel Durov Vs. Roskomnadzor

Dmitry Filonov has a piece in on tech entrepreneur Pavel Durov's conflict with the Russia's media regulator Roskomnadzor over his encrypted messaging application Telegram.

And Meduza takes a look at how Russian state television is covering the conflict between Roskomnadzor and Durov.

Ukraine Rethinks The War

Euromaidan Press looks at how Kyiv is rethinking its approach to the Donbas war.

And on The Atlantic Council website, Andreas Umland of the the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv asks: What Happens if Russia Turns Up the Heat Again in Ukraine?

Germany And Ukraine

Yale University historian Timothy Snyder, author of the books Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin and Black Earth: The Holocaust As History And Warning, gave a speech on Germany's historical responsibility toward Ukraine.

Intimidating Georgia

In a piece for The Jamestown Foundation's Daily Eurasia Monitor, Giorgi Menabde looks at Russian military exercises in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region.

Explaining Active Measures has an explainer on Russian active measures.

Russian Sea Power writes that limited defense budgets are forcing Russia to temper its maritime ambitions to focus on its land power.

Putin's Corruption Problem

In The Washington Post, Stephen Sestanovich, a professor at Columbia University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that Putin is on the defensive about corruption.

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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