Accessibility links

Breaking News

The Morning Vertical, May 24, 2017


In a post on Facebook yesterday, the Moscow-based playwright and journalist Natalia Antonova offered a chilling portrait of what the police raid on the home of prominent director Kirill Serebrennikov's home felt like to Russia's cultural community.

"Imagine waking up to news that Martin Scorsese is being terrorized and humiliatingly searched by the police. This is what it's like in Moscow at the moment," she wrote.

Hard to imagine, right? Well that about sums it up.

Serebrennikov is one of Russia's most renowned stage and film directors. His films have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the Rome Film Festival, and elsewhere.

But he is also an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and of the growing political influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. And that made him a target.

And it also sent a message. If the authorities can come after someone as beloved and prominent as Serebrennikov, then nobody is safe.

"The authorities are doing everything to make sure that everybody is on the hook," the director Vladimir Mirzoyev told Meduza in a piece featured below.


Investigators searched a Moscow theater and the home of prominent director Kirill Serebrennikov, who has protested against the government and voiced concern about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

During a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says his country needs modern arms to fight Islamic State militants and that he expects Russian support.

A grandson of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, theater director Aleksandr Burdonsky, has died at age 75.

Former CIA Director John Brennan said he spoke directly to the head of Russia's main security agency last summer, complaining about the harassment of U.S. diplomats and apparent Russian efforts to meddle in the presidential election campaign.

U.S. President Donald Trump has tapped a longtime legal adviser to serve as his attorney in matters involving investigations into Russia's ties to his 2016 election campaign.

Lawmakers have approved a bill that would require Ukrainian television and radio stations that broadcast nationwide to have at least 75 percent of their programming in the Ukrainian language.


The Cultural Elite Reacts

Meduza has a roundup of the reactions of leading Russian cultural figures to the search of the Gogol Center theater and of prominent director Kirill Serebrennikov's home.

Fight Club

In EUObserver, Andrew Rettman looks at how Russian intelligence services are using martial arts clubs to recruit potential troublemakers in Germany and other EU countries.


Former Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Husyev has a piece in New Eastern Europe examining Ukraine's new generation.

Putin's Trip To France

In, political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya previews Putin's visit to France.

And in Moskovsky Komsomolets, Yelena Yegorova looks at speculation that the real purpose of Putin's trip is to meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

Belarus And China

In a piece in Belarus Digest, political analyst Dzmitry Mitskevich looks at how Alyaksandr Lukashenka is courting China as a counterbalance to Russia.

The Georgia Satellite

In The Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vasili Rukhadze writes that Russia is increasingly treating Georgia like a potential vassal state.

Why Putin Doesn't Tweet

Nezavisimaya Gazeta has an interview with Yevgeny Gontmakher of the Institute of World Economics and International Relations on how Russian politics is migrating to the Internet -- but Putin still refuses to use Twitter.

NOTE TO READERS: The Morning Vertical and The Daily Vertical will not appear on May 25-26, as I will be speaking at the GLOBSEC Forum in Bratislava. All Power Vertical products will resume their regular schedule on Monday, May 29.

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


Latest Posts

Latest Podcast