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ON MY MIND

Republic.ru's interview with Aleksandr Lebedev (featured below) is yet another reminder of a ticking time bomb under Vladimir Putin's regime.

According to Lebedev, "at least $100 billion" has been illegally withdrawn from Russian banks in recent years.

Moreover, as The Financial Times reports (in a piece also featured below), three of Russia's top private banks were nationalized last year. Economists are increasingly speaking of a looming liquidity crisis.

Moreover, the Russian Central Bank reported this week that capital flight soared to $31.3 billion in 2016, a 160 percent increase from 2016.

And foreign investors continued to flee Russia in 2017, withdrawing nearly $1 billion.

This is all a reminder that, despite the bluster, revanchism, and apparent confidence of Putin's regime, the whole thing rests on very shaky economic foundations.

IN THE NEWS

The European Commission and lawmakers have accused Russia of orchestrating a “disinformation campaign” aimed at destabilizing the bloc and called for increased measures to combat the threat.

U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, has warned that the alliance will not be “dominant” in certain areas in five years if it fails to modernize and adapt to the growing threat from Russia.

The Russian track-and-field federation says it has launched an investigation after dozens of athletes suddenly withdrew from a competition in Irkutsk following the arrival of drug testers.

Russian authorities have charged two teenage boys with attempted murder after what officials now say was a preplanned attack that injured at least 12 people at a school in the city of Perm earlier in the week.

Ukraine's military says two of its soldiers were killed and five wounded after an explosive device damaged a military vehicle in the eastern part of the country, where the conflict with Russia-backed separatists persists despite a long-standing cease-fire deal.

Ukraine's parliament has passed a bill governing state policy on areas in the east that are held by Russia-backed separatists.

British historian and best-selling author Antony Beevor says he is dumbfounded at a decision by Ukrainian authorities to ban the import of a Russian translation of his award-winning account of a major tipping point in World War II and that he expects an apology.

A Polish court has convicted the son of a prominent Belarusian human rights activist and 11 other people on charges of desecrating the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp memorial by staging a nude performance-art protest that involved slaughtering a lamb at the camp’s infamous main gate.

WHAT I'M READING

Suspicious Payments

BuzzFeed has a piece looking at U.S. investigators' probe into newly uncovered payments from Russian diplomatic accounts after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Liquidity Crisis

Republic.ru has an interview with Aleksandr Lebedev in which the businessman claims that in the last few years "at least $100 billion" has been illegally withdrawn from Russian banks.

And The Financial Times has a piece looking at the mounting liquidity crisis in Russia's top banks.

Constituent Assembly Centennial

Also in Republic.ru, historian Andrei Markevich looks at Russia's short-lived Constituent Assembly, the democratically elected body that briefly convened 100 years ago today before being dissolved by the Bolsheviks.

Russia's 'Reciprocal' Sanctions

RBK is reporting that a preliminary sanctions list circulating in the Federation Council targets World Anti-Doping Agency President Craig Reedie and U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The Year Of The Young

Meduza's Aleksandr Borzenko writes that young people were Russia's people of the year in 2017.

From Italy With Love

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky explains why a pro-Kremlin government in Italy after elections in March will probably not help Putin's efforts to end EU sanctions.

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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