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The Morning Vertical, October 9, 2017


The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is widely viewed as an ineffectual organization and its summits tend to be dull affairs. Except when they aren't

As we discuss on this week's Power Vertical Briefing, the optics at this week's CIS summit in Sochi will be worth watching for a number of reasons.

For example, how will Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka relate to each other? Will they even meet one-on-one? And if they don't, what would that signify?

As I noted on The Daily Vertical last week, the recent Zapad 2017 military exercises highlighted latent and persistent tensions between Minsk and Moscow that are becoming increasingly manifest.

A scheduled bilateral meeting between Putin and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev also merits watching as Astana is emerging as a potential counterweight to Moscow in the CIS.

Likewise, Putin is scheduled to meet with Moldova's pro-Russia president Igor Dodon, who is locked in an ongoing struggle with that country's pro-Western government.

So be sure to tune in to this week's Briefing for a discussion of all these issues.


Russian authorities say they have released all demonstrators who were detained for taking part in unauthorized rallies across Russia that coincided with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s birthday on October 7.

The October 7 rallies attracted thousands of supporters of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who had urged Russians to take part in the demonstrations.

Russian authorities say about 3,000 people were evacuated from a shopping center on the outskirts of the capital, Moscow, after a fire broke out in the basement.

Jon Huntsman, the new U.S. ambassador to Russia, says restoring Ukrainian sovereignty over all its territory will be a key issue in his dealings with Moscow as he begins his tenure amid a period of high tensions between the two world powers.

Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, met with Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov on October 7 in Serbia's capital, Belgrade.

The U.S. State Department has called on Russia to find and prosecute those who ordered the 2006 murder of prominent Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to pay a one-day official visit to Ukraine on October 9.


In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast, The Lame-Duck Blues, looks at Putinism as Vladimir Putin turns 65.


On this week's Power Vertical Briefing, we look ahead to the CIS Summit this week in Sochi, which takes place amid lingering tension between Russia and Belarus in the aftermath of the Zapad-2017 military exercises.


Navalny's Protests

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin looks at why the turnout for protests organized by Aleksei Navalny this past weekend did not match the numbers achieved at demonstrations in March.

The Ghosts Of 1917

Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, has an op-ed in The Moscow Times on why the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 is still influencing the Russian economy today.

The Baltic Disinformation Front

Deutsche Welle has a piece looking at how the Baltic states are battling Russian disinformation.

Book Review: Masha Gessen's The Future Is History

In The Washington Post, Susan Glasser reviews Masha Gessen's new book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.

Democracy Protection

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves argues for a "global league" to protect democracy from cyberthreats.

The Future Of The Eastern Partnership

The Economist has a leader looking at the future of the European Union's Eastern Partnership on the eve of next month's summit.

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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