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The Power Vertical Feed

In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback.


Highlights

I'm live-blogging Vladimir Putin's state-of-the-nation address to parliament and to key Russian political, religious, and other figures.

17:19 30.9.2014

Welcome to the newly launched Power Vertical Feed, a perpetual slow live blog on Russian affairs.

In this space, I will continually and regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like).

This new product is part of a larger redesign on the Power Vertical page. The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday.

I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback.

-- Brian Whitmore

17:33 30.9.2014

Bloomberg reports: "Russia Said to Weigh Capital Controls If Net Outflows Intensify"

"Russia’s central bank is weighing the introduction of temporary capital controls if the flow of money out of the country intensifies, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Such measures would be preventative and used only if net outflows rise significantly, the people said, who asked not to be identified because no decision has been made. They didn’t give a timeline or a level that may force such a move, saying they are looking at all possible scenarios."

Read it all here.

17:35 30.9.2014

And now for the most Orwellian quote of the week (so far, that is).

When reputed mob boss Sergei Mikhailov, leader of Moscow's Solntsevo crime group, boasted on his website that Vladimir Putin gave him a watch, it raised eyebrows. RFE/RL's Carl Schreck has the story here.

But what was really eye catching was not just the Kremlin's denial, but the wording of that denial.

"It's fake," Dmitry Peskov told RFE/RL, though he said the Kremlin would not contact Mikhailov about the claim on his website.

"Why would we?" Peskov said. "We haven't [publicly] said anything about this, which means that it didn't happen."

Wow.

17:36 30.9.2014

It's hard to believe, but there was a time when serious Kremlin-watchers (present company included), thought Vladimir Putin might turn out to be a reformer who would modernize Russia.

Bloomberg issued an interesting piece this week by Simon Kennedy and Henry Meyer titled: "What Putin Wrought Has World Asking What Russia Might Have Been."

Here's an excerpt:

"The Russian leader initially lived up to expectations as he reduced taxes and pushed entry into the World Trade Organization. Markets rallied and foreign investors poured in, driving theMicex Index of stocks up 12-fold in Putin’s first two terms, before the financial crisis hit in 2008. The ruble rose 12 percent in the same period.

Those days are now consigned to what might have been. Putin began turning away from his new friends as early as 2003, and accelerated the retreat as his third term in the Kremlin got under way in 2012. He cracked down on dissidents, curbed economic freedoms and, this year, fomented the rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

The result: Russia, now bordering on recession, suffers mounting international sanctions and, increasingly, is a pariah in capital markets. While the MSCI World Index of equities is up 9.7 percent from a year ago, the Micex is down 2.9 percent. The ruble, which today reached a record low, has fallen 30 percent since Putin first became president."

Read the whole story here.

17:37 30.9.2014

And it keeps on getting more and more absurd. The Communist Party is proposing a bill that would forbid lawmakers from leaving the country without the speaker's permission, "Izvestia" reports.

17:40 30.9.2014

As usual, Paul Goble already a lot of great content up at his Window on Eurasia blog. Does that man ever sleep? As I've said before, Window on Eurasia is one of the best resources available in the English language for Russia watchers. The volume of material -- not to mention the quality -- is amazing. Does this guy ever sleep?

A couple things that immediately caught my eye today:

A post about how Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka is "quietly purging" a "pro-Moscow 'Fifth Column'" in his regime.

"Concerned that Moscow might engineer a regime change in Belarus as a follow on to its actions in Ukraine, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been purging pro-Russian officials from his regime – but in a very quiet way lest he provoke Moscow as a result."

The piece cited reports in "Nasha Niva" and "Obozrevatel"

There's also a piece, citing the web portal "Novy Kaliningrad" that looks at whether Kaliningrad's Muslim community might rebel against Moscow.

"The 100,000-strong Muslim community of Kaliningrad is running out of options in the Russian legal system to secure land for the construction of a mosque in that Russian exclave and consequently will now appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, according to their lawyer Dagir Khasavov.

But meanwhile, continuing opposition by regional officials to a mosque, Irshat Khisamov, head of the Muslim community in the oblast, says, is having “an extremely negative” impact on the members of his community. And many of them believe the governor there wants 'a Maidan like the one in Ukraine.'"

17:41 30.9.2014

From the always insightful Sean Guillory:

"Novorossyia is just a cinematic project to rile up the population anyway. The “heroes” have always been actors in a larger drama, and when this series jumps the shark, its production set will be folded up and the stage will be prepared for a new theatrical work to dazzle the spectator. The cinematography deployed to turn Russia into “war state” is all just the tactics. We shouldn’t so quickly substitute smoke and mirrors for reality. Putin’s real strategy is to hobble Ukraine and humble the West, and on that he’s doing pretty damn well."

17:46 30.9.2014

17:48 30.9.2014

17:50 30.9.2014

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