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ON MY MIND

Russia's media landscape is probably about to get a lot more barren. If the Kremlin manages to wrestle RBK from Mikhail Prokhorov -- and let's face it, is there anything that can stop it? -- then Russia will lose one of its last solid, independent media outlets.

We've seen this movie before. We saw it with NTV during Vladimir Putin's first months in the Kremlin. We've seen it more recently with Lenta.ru and with RIA-Novosti. And we've seen constant pressure on Dozhd-TV and Ekho Moskvy. And now, we're apparently about to see it with RBK.

The Kremlin used to allow independent media outlets to exist as something of a safety valve. But now, the regime apparently doesn't even want them around for that.

IN THE NEWS

Six members of a single family were killed in the village of Ivashevka in the Samara region.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov arrives in Moscow for a two-day visit today.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agree that Western sanctions against Russia should remain in place until Moscow fulfills the Minsk cease-fire agreement.

Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky marks his 70th birthday today.

WHAT I'M READING

Russia's New Human Rights Commissioner

Russia's new human rights commissioner, Tatiana Moskalkova, has a rather creative take on human rights.

In her first interview after being confirmed by the State Duma, Moskalkova said one of her main priorities would be defending the rights of Russians abroad.

Dmitry Rogozin's Money

In a new report, The Offshore Patriot, Transparency International shines the light on Dmitry Rogozin's business dealings.

U.S. Lawmakers Want To Get Tough With Russia

The U.S. House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee meets this week to mark up the defense budget. According to a report in The Hill, lawmakers look to get tough on Russia.

"At the top of lawmakers' measures against Russia in the National Defense Authorization Act is the European Reassurance Initiative, which is designed to provide aid to the militaries of European allies worried about Moscow's moves.

The bill would authorize $3.4 billion for the initiative, the same amount the administration requested and quadruple what the initiative got this year.

The bill also supports the National Commission on the Future of the Army’s recommendation to permanently station an armored brigade combat team in Europe, staffers said this week.

The Army already plans to send one brigade, but on a continuous rotation. A permanently stationed brigade, supporters say, would be a stronger deterrence.
The bill would also authorize $150 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which would help train and equip that country's military.

Prokhorov In The Crosshairs?

As Vladimir Putin was holding his live call-in program on April 14, the FSB raided the offices of the Oneksim Group, a holding company owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. The move was widely interpreted as an effort to pressure one of Russia's last remaining independent media outlets, RBK, which is owned by Prokhorov.

Last week, RBK's Editor in Chief Elizaveta Osetinskaya left her post to go on "study leave." And over the past weekend, reports appeared in the media that Prokhorov was preparing to sell RBK.

Prokhorov is denying those reports, but the story is developing.

The Khodorkovsky Case

According to Russian media reports, Interpol is asking Moscow for information on allegations that exiled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was involved in the assassination of the mayor of Nefteyugansk in the 1990s.

Western Journalists Deported

Two Western journalists have reportedly been deported or denied entry into Russia in the past week. According to Kommersant, Nizhny Novgorod's migration service deported a British journalist who they said violated the terms of his visa.

An Austrian journalist who was helping train Russian reporters wrote on Twitter that he was denied entry into Russia last week.

Sean Guillory's Letter To The Russian elite.

After appearing on The Power Vertical Podcast last week, Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies posted a "letter to the Russian elite" on his blog.

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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