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The Morning Vertical, October 10, 2017


Vladimir Putin has been firing a governor almost every day.

He has already sacked two this week. Last week, he dismissed four. And he canned three more in late September.

As I noted yesterday on The Daily Vertical, this amounts to an attempt to give the regime a fresh appearance in advance of presidential elections in March.

The reshuffle is also consistent with media reports that have suggested that Putin's election campaign will focus on populist themes and present the Kremlin leader as the champion of ordinary people against corrupt officials.

Which is pretty laughable when you think about it. But the Kremlin's media machine will pull out all the stops to make it work.

What this indicates is that the Kremlin understands that Russia is not immune to the antiestablishment anger that is shaking up politics in the West -- and is spooked by Aleksei Navalny's ability to tap into that anger.

In a piece featured below, Nabi Abdullaev argues that the reshuffle is designed to showcase "Putin’s commitment to improving and modernizing governance." But Abdullaev adds that the new governors have neither plans to conduct reforms nor a mandate from Moscow to do so.

Which means this is a Potemkin solution to a problem that is not going away.


The director of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anticorruption Foundation, Roman Rubanov, was briefly detained and told to return to a law enforcement agency for questioning on October 13.

Colleagues, friends, and relatives of Boris Nemtsov have honored the slain Russian opposition politician on what would have been his 58th birthday, vowing to continue pressing for justice.

A Russian warplane veered off a runway at the country's air base in Syria and suffered damage, killing its crew, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said.

The Kremlin says an agreement to sell Russian missiles to Saudi Arabia does not pose a threat to any other country.

Vladimir Putin has vowed that all investigations into election violations detected in elections in Russia last month will be completed.

Putin dismissed Ivanovo Oblast Governor Pavel Konkov today in the latest step in a shake-up of regional leaders ahead of a March 2018 presidential election.

Putin yesterday dismissed the governor of the Omsk region, Viktor Nazarov.

Putin has signed a decree that allows foreign citizens serving in the Russian Army on a contractual basis to take part in Russian military operations abroad.

The Washington Post is reporting that Google has for the first time uncovered evidence that Russian operatives used the Internet giant's platforms in an effort to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Ukraine's top prosecutor has claimed that the killing of a former Russian lawmaker who was shot dead in Kyiv in March was ordered by a former partner of the victim's wife, and suggested that the Russian Federal Security Service was behind it.

The Russian Justice Ministry has warned Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that it may impose restrictions on some of the broadcaster's operations in Russia and Ukraine's annexed Crimea region in response to what Moscow claims is pressure on Russian state-funded outlets in the United States.

NATO does not want "a new Cold War" with Russia, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at the end of a four-day parliamentary assembly of the alliance.

EU sources say that for the first time, the bloc is ready to welcome Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to its Eastern Partnership summit next month.

During a visit to Kyiv, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country will continue to support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.


The Siloviki And The Business Community

In, Dmitry Travin asks why Putin has not prevented the security services from pressuring private businesses.

The Lessons Of The Serebrennikov Case

Also in, Boris Pastukhov looks at the lessons the Russian intelligentsia is drawing from the arrest of film and theater director Kirill Serebrennikov.

And in a column for Raam Op Rusland, Anna Arutunyan explains why artists in Russia often wind up in the crosshairs of law enforcement.

Regional Reshuffle

Nabi Abdullaev, an associate director at Control Risks, has an op-ed in The Moscow Times looking at the mechanics of Putin's reshuffle of Russia's governors.

Weaponized Passports

Novaya Gazeta has published an interview with Federation Council deputy Konstantin Zatulin in which the lawmaker explains proposed legislation to grant Russian citizenship to ethnic Russians and Russian speakers abroad.

The National Guard's Growing Pains

Vladimir Vashchenko has a piece in looking at the problems resulting from the National Guard's absorption of OMON and SOBR forces.

The House On The Embankment

In The New Yorker, Joshua Yaffa explores the history of Moscow's House on the Embankment, the building made to house the first generation of the Soviet elite.

No Colored Revolutions In Belarus

In PONARS Eurasia, Arkady Moshes of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs explains why a colored revolution is unlikely in Belarus.

NOTE TO POWER VERTICALISTAS: I will be speaking at the Georgia Defense and Security Conference in Batumi from October 11-13. No Power Vertical products will appear on those days. The regular schedule resumes on October 16.

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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