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The Morning Vertical, March 31, 2017


Tens of thousands take to the streets in scores of Russian cities, taking the Kremlin by surprise.

Unusual rumblings of dissent in the regions, suggesting that Vladimir Putin's base is getting restless.

Growing anger across Russia about official corruption.

And a new generation finding its political voice.

Revolution is not in the air. The regime is not about to fall. Aleksei Navalny is not about to storm the Kremlin. And 2017 is certainly not the new 1917.

But these were also not your father's anti-Kremlin demonstrations.

And a new chapter in Russian politics appears to have commenced.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we'll take a look at where Russia may be headed in the aftermath of last weekend's protests.

Joining me will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows; and journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult.

It should be a good show, so be sure to tune in later today!


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has arrived in Brussels to attend a March 31 NATO meeting where he is expected to push alliance members to increase their defense spending and press Russia to abide by the Minsk agreement to end the crisis in Ukraine.

NATO representatives have told Russia that the situation in Ukraine is of "deep concern" at the first session of the Russia-NATO Council to be held this year.

U.S. senators took a deep look into Russia’s alleged meddling during the 2016 presidential election, with outside experts testifying that, without a strong U.S. response, Moscow will do more of the same in the future.

Legislators in the U.S. state of New Hampshire have defeated a bill that could have suspended or banned Russian vodka in retaliation for Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Michael Flynn, who was dismissed as President Donald Trump's national security adviser, has told officials that he is willing to answer questions from congressional committees in return for immunity from "unfair prosecution" in the investigation over the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed criticism over a police crackdown on protesters, saying anyone who breaks the law will be punished.

Putin's annual live question-and-answer session, which is usually held in April, will be postponed until later this year, Kremlin spokes Dmitry Peskov said.

Slovakia's state News Agency of the Slovak Republic (TASR) says it will initiate proceedings to withdraw from a controversial contract with Russia's state news agency Sputnik.

Russian media reports say a fire truck struck several people near Moscow's Domodedovo airport on March 30, killing one person.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has defended plans to open a liaison office in Moldova, saying it can help facilitate a practical partnership between the two sides.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered the military to implement a cease-fire and weapons pullback in the conflict region in eastern Ukraine beginning on April 1.

Ukraine says one of its top regional security officers has been killed in a car explosion in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.


In case you missed it, my latest Power Vertical blog post looks at how many were experiencing "Bolotnaya Deja Vu" this past week, and looks at what might happen next.


Active Measures in Central Europe

Emily Tamkin has a report in Foreign Policy on Russian active measures in Central Europe.

Russia And The French Far Right

Peter Kreko of the Political Capital Institute in Hungary and Alina Polyakova of the Atlantic Council have a piece explaining why Putin's courtship of the French far right may backfire.

Russia's Info War On The United States

In The Daily Beast, Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute outlines Russia's information war against the United States since 2014. The piece is based on Watts' testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Ilves On Russian Cyberwar

Medium has published excerpts from former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves testimony on Russian cyberwarfare before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism

Reviving The Opposition

The Economist has a piece on how Aleksei Navalny has brought Russia's opposition back to life.

Political War In The Classroom

In her column for, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya takes a look at recent conflicts between students and teachers over Russia's protests.

The Coming Crackdown

In a piece in BNEIntellinews, Natalia Antonova argues that a renewed crackdown is coming against dissent in Russia.

Dima's Troubles

Olga Irisova has a piece in Intersection magazine on why Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev may be on thin ice.

Russia's Alaska Regrets

The New York Times has a piece on how the 150th anniversary of Russia's sale of Alaska to the United States, Moscow is having second thoughts.

The War In The Courts

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky argues that "when Russia and Ukraine battle in court, the West wins."

A Tale Of Two Assassinations

Rosbalt has a piece speculating about similarities between the assassinations of Boris Nemtsov and Denis Voronenkov.

Getting Ukraine Wrong

Taras Kuzio of the Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta has released a video on why pro-Russia scholars often get Ukraine wrong.

An 'Arc Of Iron'

Andrew Rettman has a report in EUObserver on how Russia's Middle East adventures are affecting European security.

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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