ON MY MIND
The Kremlin administration has often been compared to the Soviet Communist Party's old Central Committee -- and not just because it occupies the same building on Moscow's Staraya Ploshad.
Looking at Nezavisimaya Gazeta's list of Russia's 100 most influential politicians (featured below), it is no accident that many of the names near the top of the list are either serving now (chief of staff Anton Vaino and deputy chief of staff Sergei Kiriyenko), or have served in the past (Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin) in senior Kremlin administration posts.
This shadowy institution, which isn't even mentioned in the Russian Constitution, is one of the keys to understanding the behavior of Vladimir Putin's regime.
In a report back in September for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Mark Galeotti showed the central role that the Kremlin administration plays in Russia's active measures and political warfare against the West.
And now, in a must-read piece featured below, Novoye Vremya's Denis Vardanyan takes an in-depth look at how it works, how it manages and executes policy, who the key players are, and how labor is divided among them.
It's a long read, but worth the time.
IN THE NEWS
U.S lawmakers have released a batch of Facebook ads linked to Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election and stir up emotions on sensitive social issues.
The White House has called on Russia to stop blocking efforts to renew the authority of a UN investigative body charged with determining who is behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
The Russian lawyer who met with U.S. President Donald Trump's son during last year's election campaign is seeking a new U.S. visa to testify in a money-laundering case linked to a massive tax-fraud scheme.
Russian authorities say they won’t hand over a Montenegrin man to his home country where he is suspected of involvement in an alleged coup attempt.
On an official visit to Tehran, Vladimir Putin has vocally backed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, and hailed cooperation with Iran on the Syrian conflict.
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says he will sue President Vladimir Putin and his administration over what he called a coordinated effort to thwart his campaign for the March 2018 presidential election.
Two Russian cross-country skiers have been banned from any future Olympics over doping at the 2014 Winter Games in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.
A topless activist from the protest group Femen set fire to several large toy bears outside a Kyiv shop selling candy made by a confectionery company owned by President Petro Poroshenko.
A court in Belarus has sent opposition leader Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu to jail for 10 days after ruling that he made calls for an illegal public gathering.
NEW FROM THE POWER VERTICAL BLOG
On my latest Power Vertical blog post -- Putin's Long Goodbye -- I take a look at recent rumors, leaks, and speculation that the Kremlin is cooking up a scheme to keep Russia's ruler in power for life.
WHAT I'M READING
Inside The Kremlin Administration
Novoye Vremya-New Times has a piece breaking down how the Kremlin administration -- widely seen as one of the key institutions of the Putin regime -- actually works and the division of labor among its staff.
Russia's Power Elite
Political analyst Dmitry Orlov has a piece in Nezavisimaya Gazeta looking at Russia's 100 most influential politicians.
How Russia Misreads The West
Former U.S. State Department official Kirk Bennett has a piece in The American Interest on how Russia has historically misread the West and its intentions.
The Conflict In The Donbas
Stefan Jajecznyk has a piece in Unilad taking the temperature and looking at the ongoing war in the Donbas.
Alexander Vershbow, a former NATO deputy secretary general and former U.S. ambassador to Russia, has a piece on The Atlantic Council's website on "how to end war in eastern Ukraine."
And in an op-ed for The Moscow Times, Steven Pifer, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, argues that "the Kremlin's policies are entrenching in a generation of Ukrainians who will detest Russia."
Russia And Cryptocurrencies
In The Verge, Shannon Liao looks at Russia's "love-hate relationship with Bitcoin."
Ukrainian May Also Want To Indict Manafort
In The Daily Beast, Anna Nemtsova reports on Ukrainian investigators' own suspicions about Paul Manafort, and his alleged role in abuses during Viktor Yanukovych's rule.
U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Report On Russia
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has released a report: Russia Military Power: Building A Military To Support Great Power Aspirations.
Lithuania's Reactor Fears
In Foreign Policy, Reid Standish looks at Lithuania's concerns about a Russian-financed nuclear power plant in neighboring Belarus.