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The Morning Vertical, October 27, 2017


Aleksei Navalny once called Ksenia Sobchak "a caricature of a liberal candidate" -- but now says he won't criticize her because it would be a gift to the Kremlin.

Sobchak has praised Navalny as a brave and important political figure, and says she would withdraw her candidacy in the unlikely event that the anticorruption blogger were allowed on the ballot.

Both Sobchak and Navalny emerged as political figures during the Bolotnaya protests, the mass demonstrations that engulfed Moscow in the winter of 2011-12.

Both came to Russia's opposition movement as outsiders and had to overcome skepticism.

Both appeal to the young generation and both have built large and loyal followings on social media.

And the dynamic and political relationship between them is now ground zero for Russia's opposition.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss Sobchak's plan to run for president in light of Navalny's outsider campaign -- and amid speculation that her candidacy is part of a Kremlin operation.

Joining me will be co-host co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its center for European Security, and author of the forthcoming book The Vory, which will be published next year; and Moscow-based journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique.

Be sure to tune in to what promises to be a lively show later today!


Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov, who was released from custody in his Russian-occupied homeland this week along with colleague Akhtem Chiygoz, has vowed to "try to return" to the Black Sea peninsula.

The editor of Russia's most prominent opposition newspaper says he intends to arm his staff with guns that fire rubber bullets in light of recent attacks on journalists.

Russia conducted several ballistic missile tests from "land, air and sea" yesterday as part of its strategic nuclear program, the Defense Ministry said.

The U.S. State Department has provided Congress with a list of Russian companies and intelligence agencies that are likely to be hit with sanctions under a new U.S. law punishing Russia for allegedly meddling in last year's presidential election.

Twitter has banned advertisements from the accounts of state-owned Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik, citing assertions by U.S. intelligence agencies that these networks interfered with last year's U.S. presidential election. The Russian government labeled Twitter's move "aggressive" and vowed to respond.

The head of a theater in the heart of Moscow has been detained in connection with a high-profile case in which another prominent Russian director has been charged with embezzlement.

A few hundred people gathered near a Moscow theater to commemorate victims of a deadly hostage crisis in 2002, with some still-grieving relatives bitterly criticizing the state over a botched rescue operation.


Navalny On Sobchak

Opposition leader and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny addressed the issue of Ksenia Sobchak's presidential campaign on his YouTube channel.

And The Moscow Times has a write-up of his comments.

Life After Putin

In, economist Vladislav Inozemtsev lays out four scenarios for Russia post-2018.

And in a leader, The Economist writes that 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution, "A Tsar Is Born" -- and explains what that means as Putin prepares for reelection.

The Kremlin's Vigilantes

Marc Bennetts in Newsweek on how Kremlin proxies are systematically assaulting and intimidating the opposition.

Free Speech And Fake News

In The Spectator, Nick Cohen looks at the West's dilemma surrounding RT and the issue of freedom of speech.

Russia's Banking Woes

Forbes has a piece looking at Russia's "shrinking banking sector" and its looming liquidity crisis.

Kashin Critiques Transparency International

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin critiques a report by the Russian branch of Transparency International (featured in the Morning Vertical on October 24) on conflicts of interest in the financing of Russian state theaters.

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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