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ON MY MIND

Protesters in the Siberian city of Kemerovo held signs with slogans like "Corruption Kills" and "Tell The Truth" in the aftermath of a deadly fire this weekend in a shopping mall that killed at least 64 people -- many of them children.

In the town of Volokolamsk earlier this month, angry residents clashed with government officials after dozens of children were taken to the hospital due after breathing gas leaked from a garbage dump.

Throughout last year, long-haul truckers continued their protests against a road tax that would benefit Vladimir Putin's closest cronies.

The Achilles heel of the Putin regime will probably turn out to be localized protests like these in which ordinary Russians begin to connect the dots between rampant corruption and their own standard of living, their safety, and that of their children.

IN THE NEWS

The United States, European Union member states, Ukraine, and Canada have ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England -- a move the Kremlin vowed to match with "the principle of reciprocity."

The Russian ambassadors to Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been summoned to meetings at those countries' foreign ministries, Russian news agencies report.

Britain's defense chief says that many countries are united behind Britain over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter and are pushing back against Russian efforts to divide the West.

Thousands of people have demonstrated in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, demanding answers and calling for the regional government's resignation as grief mixed with anger after a fire at a busy shopping mall killed 64 people, many of them children.

Vladimir Putin met with the leader of the small Persian Gulf state of Qatar in Moscow on a day when scores of Russians were reported killed in a shopping mall fire and dozens of Russian diplomats were being expelled around the world.

Putin also traveled to the Siberian city of Kemerovo overnight and early on March 27 and blamed "criminal negligence and carelessness" for the deadly fire that killed more than 60 people at a shopping mall over the weekend.

Blocked fire exits, a shut-down alarm system, and "glaring violations" of safety rules exacerbated the human toll of a fire that swept through a busy Siberian shopping mall, killing 64 people as panicked visitors jumped from windows and banged on doors in an attempt to escape, Russian investigators say.

Russian businessman Sergei Mavrodi, whose MMM pyramid scheme deprived millions of Russians of their savings in the 1990s, has died of a heart attack, according to Russia media.

Britain's anti-doping authority has reassured athletes that no personal data was stolen as a result of a hacking attack on the authority over the weekend.

The European Union has called on Belarus to immediately release all the opposition activists who were arrested at the weekend as they attempted to hold an unsanctioned rally in the capital.

WHAT I'M READING

The Kemerovo Fire

Meduza has a live blog chronicling the aftermath of the deadly fire that killed more than 60 people at a shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo.

And Republic.ru has an editorial responding to the fire.

Bolton And Moscow

In his column for Republic.ru, Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov weighs in on John Bolton's appointment as U.S. national-security adviser.

Forecasting Putin's Foreign Policy

Kadri Liik of the European Council on Foreign Relations looks ahead to Putin's foreign policy during his fourth term. "Moscow has undergone a lively debate on the future course of its foreign policy – which may now become obsolete by the poisoning of Sergei Skripal," she writes.

Putin's Expat Supporters

In an op-ed in The Moscow Times, political commentator Artemy Troitsky explains why Russians living in the West support Putin.

Reviewing The Death Of Stalin

New York-based writer John Ganz reviews Armando Iannucci's film The Death of Stalin for The Baffler.

ON MY MIND

I am using the On My MInd section of The Daily Vertical today to make an announcement.

Basically, I have some bad news and some good news.

As many Power Vertical followers may know by now, I have accepted a new position as a senior fellow and director of the Russia program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington, D.C., where I begin on April 1.

This week will, therefore, be my last at RFE/RL, where I am privileged to have worked for 11 years. The bad news, of course, is that this week will also be the last week that Power Vertical products (Power Vertical blog, Power Vertical Podcast, Daily Vertical, Morning Vertical) will appear in their current form.

And now for some good news. The Power Vertical will continue, albeit in a new form and under a new flag.

Thanks to RFE/RL's generosity, I will retain the Power Vertical brand name and take it with me to CEPA. There are currently plans to revive the blog, the Daily Vertical-style videos (albeit with less frequency), and the weekly podcast as CEPA products. I will also keep the Power Vertical Twitter feed (@PowerVertical) and Facebook fan page.

I will be providing details about the timing of all this on Facebook and on Twitter in the coming weeks.

IN THE NEWS

At least 64 people are dead after a fire raced through a busy shopping center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, prompting panicked visitors to jump from windows as flames and smoke filled parts of the building.

U.S. President Donald Trump could be on the verge of expelling at least 20 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, U.S. and international media are reporting.

Dozens of people have been arrested in Belarus as opposition activists attempted to hold an unsanctioned rally in the capital, Minsk.

A plan to place a 4-meter bronze monument to honor Soviet World War II aviators in a local park has been rejected by officials in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

About 1,000 people have protested again in Volokolamsk, some 100 kilometers west of Moscow, demanding the closure of a landfill that has been leaking toxic gas that harmed dozens of children this week.

Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Yevtukhov has said Russia will challenge stiff new tariffs that the United States imposed this week on aluminum and steel imports before the World Trade Organization.

A Soyuz capsule carrying two U.S. astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut has docked with the International Space Station.

LATEST POWER VERTICAL PODCAST

In case you missed it, the latest Power Vertical Podcast looks ahead to Russia during Putin's fourth term.

WHAT I'M READING

Farewell To A Friend And Colleague

I'm deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend and colleague Ruslan Gelischanow, one of the most colorful, passionate, and interesting people I have ever had the honor of knowing. Rest in peace, Ruslan. You'll be sorely missed.

Hearts And Minds

In Novaya Gazeta, Vladimir Pastukhov writes that Putin has won the battle for Russia's "collective unconscious."

Lessons From A Fire

In his column for Republic.ru, opposition journalist and political commentator Oleg Kashin weighs in on this weekend's fire at a shopping mall in Siberia and what it says about the "low cost of life" in Russia.

Excerpt From The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia

The Guardian has published an excerpt from The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia, the new book by Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague and longtime co-host of The Power Vertical Podcast.

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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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