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The Morning Vertical, May 5, 2017


Vigilante chemical attacks against Kremlin critics.

Teachers berating, and even threatening students for supporting the opposition.

Online video smear campaigns against opposition leaders.

And Vladimir Putin's regime is shocked, shocked, and has absolutely nothing to do with any of it -- nod, nod, wink, wink.

Don't look now, but the Kremlin's campaign against the opposition appears to have gone hybrid.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we look at the rising protest mood in Russia and the degree to which vigilante attacks on opposition leaders like Aleksei Navalny are sanctioned by the regime.

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 and playwright Natalia Antonova, an editor at OpenDemocracy-Russia.

So be sure to tune in later today!


Russia, Turkey, and Iran on May 4 signed a memorandum that calls for establishing safe zones in Syria where ceasefires are meant to be implemented -- including no-fly zones -- in order to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid.

A Russian diplomat has emphasized that safe zones that would be established in Syria under a deal reached by Russia, Turkey, and Iran would be closed to warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition.

U.S. jets have intercepted two Russian Tu-95 bombers accompanied by two Su-35 fighters that flew near the Alaskan coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) says.

Russian media reports that the Interior Ministry's Moscow office has launched a criminal inquiry into an assault on opposition leader Aleksei Navalny that left him nearly blind in one eye.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny said on May 4 that he has obtained a passport and hopes to travel abroad for medical treatment, but his lawyer said corrections officials warned him not to leave the country.

A new opinion poll indicates that 48 percent of voters would cast their ballots for incumbent President Vladimir Putin's reelection as president.

The United States Congress has authorized a new $100 million effort to counter "Russian influence and aggression" and to support civil society organizations in Europe and Eurasia.

Russian protest performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky has received political asylum in France.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency has said it expects more cyberattacks directed against German politicians and officials ahead of a general election in September.

The prosecutor's office in Paris has begun a preliminary investigation into whether so-called fake news is being used to influence voting in the May 7 French presidential election.


Russia's New Military

Keir Giles, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House, has a white paper for The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Assessing Russia's Reorganized And Rearmed Military.

Dialogue And Deterrence

The German Marshal Fund talks to veteran Kremlin-watcher James Sherr about relations between Moscow and the West and the rise of a new generation in Russia.

Godwin's Law

Peter Dickinson has a piece on The Atlantic Council's website looking at why Russia is fixated on "phantom fascists."

The Crimean Offshore Zone?

In, Aleksandr Zakharov reacts to recent proposals to turn the annexed Crimean Peninsula into an offshore zone.

Partitioning Syria

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky argues that Putin is aiming for a partition of Syria.

The Destruction Of The Khrushchevki

Bershidsky also gives his personal take on the Moscow's demolition of five-story apartment blocks built during the era of Nikita Khrushchev, the so-called Khrushchevki, noting that his childhood home is slated for destruction.

The Putin Majority

A recent report titled The Putin Majority by the Kremlin-backed Foundation for the Development of Civil Society predicting that Putin will win 70-75 percent in next year's presidential election is getting some attention in the Russian media.'s Andrei Vinokurov weighs in with a report here and Kommersant's Irina Nagornikh has a piece here.

The Navalny Factor

Pro-Kremlin commentator Mikhail Rostovsky has a piece in Moskovsky Komsomolets looking at how the Kremlin's efforts against opposition leader Aleksei Navalny are transforming Russian politics.

Putin And Le Pen

In the Financial Times, Max Seddon and Michael Stothard look at the degree of influence Putin has over French National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

Fake Russia Experts

In a piece for Medium, OpenDemocracy-Russia editor Natalia Antonova (who will appear on today's Power Vertical Podcast) calls out the fake Russia experts.

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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