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The Morning Vertical, October 30, 2017


Vladimir Putin's scheduled appearance at today's unveiling of The Wall of Sorrow, a new monument to the victims of Soviet-era repression, is a classic case of Kremlin information management.

By attending the ceremony and acknowledging Soviet-era crimes, Putin is implicitly claiming that Russia under his rule is free from repression.

Putin's attendance comes as Russian prosecutors broadly interpret laws prohibiting "extremism" and "separatism" to imprison citizens for expressing opinions -- or even liking or sharing opinions on social media -- that the Kremlin finds distasteful.

It comes amid a wave of assaults by pro-Kremlin vigilante groups against opposition figures.

It comes as journalists are fleeing the country fearing for their safety.

And it comes after Putin has repeatedly defended Stalin, most recently in June when he warned against the "excessive demonization" of the Soviet dictator.

A group of Soviet-era dissidents have published a letter (featured below) accusing the Kremlin of hypocrisy for commemorating victims of Soviet repression while engaging in repression themselves.

On this week's Power Vertical Briefing (featured below), we look at the controversy surrounding the new monument, so be sure to tune in.


Amid controversy over his own methods of maintaining control over Russia, President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to appear at the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to victims of state repression during the Soviet era.

Hundreds of people gathered yesterday near the former KGB headquarters in central Moscow to honor the memory of thousands of men and women executed by the Soviet authorities during Josef Stalin's "Great Terror."

U.S. media are reporting that the first arrests in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in last year's U.S. presidential election could come as early as today.

Norwegian rescue services say a Russian helicopter that disappeared off the Arctic Svalbard archipelago has been found on the seabed and the eight Russians on board are presumed dead.

While the FBI was investigating the possible involvement of the Soviet Union in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Soviet authorities were voicing suspicions that U.S. right-wing groups -- and even Kennedy's own vice president -- were behind the killing, newly released documents show.

Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, has met with Crimean Tatar leaders Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz, who were released from custody in their Russian-occupied homeland this week.

Hundreds of protesters joined a rally organized outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv by the Movement of New Forces, the political party led by Mikheil Saakashvili.


On the latest Power Vertical Podcast, The Reality Show Election, we look at Ksenia Sobchak's presidential campaign and her political relationship with Aleksei Navalny.


And this week's Power Vertical briefing -- Repression Then And Now -- examines the controversy surrounding a new monument to victims of Soviet repression.


ECFR Report: Europe's Eastern Question

In a new report for the European Council on Foreign Relations -- Partners For Life: Europe’s Unanswered 'Eastern Question'
-- Andrew Wilson looks ahead to the European Union's Eastern Partnership Summit.

Moscow And Barcelona

El Pais has a piece looking at the disconnect between Moscow's official rhetoric on Catalonia's independence bid and Russia's actions.

And in a piece prior to the referendum, VOA looked at allegations that Russia was covertly assisting the Catalan separatists.

Russian Propaganda And The Western Far Right

Anton Shekhovtsov, author of the book Russia And The Western Far Right: Tango Noir, has a piece in Eurozine on the dynamic between Moscow's propaganda and the West's extremists.

Investigating Russian Election Meddling

In his column for, Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov looks at the progress of the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Book Review: Stephen Kotkin's Stalin: Waiting For Hitler, 1928-41

In the Financial Times, John Thornhill reviews Stephen Kotkin's book Stalin: Waiting For Hitler, 1928-41.

Applebaum: Sanctions Are Working

Anne Applebaum has an op-ed in The Washington Post arguing that sanctions against Russia are working.

Minsk And Moscow After Zapad

Arseni Sivitsky of the Minsk-based Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, has a piece looking at Russian-Belarusian relations after the Zapad 2017 military exercises.

Dissidents' Dissent

A group of Soviet-era dissidents and political prisoners have published an open letter accusing the Putin regime of hypocrisy for opening a monument to the victims of repression in Moscow at a time when repression is continuing.

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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