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The Morning Vertical, June 8, 2017


The trial of Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov is a farce and a travesty.

But it is also more than that.

It's part of an elaborate Kremlin PR campaign. It's a macabre exercise in guerrilla marketing. It's part of a mind game designed to legitimize and normalize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Umerov was arrested in May 2016 and charged with "separatism" because he made statements opposing Russia's armed seizure of his homeland. In August 2016, he was forcibly sent to a psychiatric clinic for a month of tests.

The separatism charge is significant as it is meant to send the message that the annexation is a fait accompli -- despite the fact that, in the eyes of international law, Crimea is part of Ukraine and Umerov is a Ukrainian citizen.

And anybody who questions this will be treated either as a criminal -- or as insane.

It's crude. It's brutal. And for the Crimean Tatars, it's the new normal.


Russian lawmakers are asking authorities to consider broadening the country's controversial "foreign agent" law to include nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from Russian citizens with foreign income sources.

An anticorruption march and rally organized by opposition politician Aleksei Navalny will go ahead on June 12 at a site offered by Moscow city authorities.

Lawmakers from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's nationalist Liberal Democratic Party have submitted bills that would restore Russia's tsarist-era national anthem, God Save The Tsar!, and the Julian calendar the country used before the 1917 communist revolution.

A Dutch-registered foundation is reportedly poised to acquire the English-language Moscow Times in a shake-up that is expected to include major staff cuts and a discontinuation of the print version after a quarter-century in the Russian capital.

Ilmi Umerov, a Crimean Tatar leader who has criticized Russia's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine, has gone on trial on "separatism" charges.

Vladimir Putin says in a documentary set to air on U.S. television that "nobody would survive" a war between the nuclear-armed countries.

Belarusian authorities have detained a Chechen man who has been seeking to avoid being returned to Chechnya, where he says he has been tortured by police in the past, and are preparing to hand him over to Russia.

Russia has sent a U.S. satellite into space atop a Proton rocket, in the first launch of one of the workhorses of Moscow's space program in a year following a series of setbacks.

Ukraine's parliament has passed legislation strengthening cooperation between Kyiv and NATO with the aim of eventually joining the alliance.

Ukrainian authorities say a device has exploded in the U.S. Embassy compound in central Kyiv, causing no casualties.

U.S. prosecutors on June 7 arrested and charged more than two dozen alleged members of what it called a "Russian organized crime syndicate" working out of New York City with what a statement said was a "dizzying array of criminal schemes."


New Report On Russian Active Measures

The Center for American Progress has released a new report, War By Other Means, on Russia's online active measures. The report is authored by Max Bergmann and Carolyn Kenney.

Fake News In Qatar

In his column for Bloomberg, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky takes issue with reports that Russian hackers planted fake news in Qatar, helping spark the current crisis with Saudi Arabia.

Toward A European Defense Force?

In another column, Bershidsky looks at the European Union's steps toward creating a defense force.

A Flawed Election

In World Affairs Journal, Vladimir Kara-Murza looks at the European Court for Human Rights ruling on Russia's 2011 State Duma elections.

Foreign Agents

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin takes a look at proposed new amendments that would expand Russia's infamous "foreign agents" law.

New Poll On Ukraine

A new poll by the International Republican Institute reveals that an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians think the war-torn Donbas region should remain part of Ukraine.

Remembering Archbishop Lubomyr Huzar

Melinda Haring, editor of the Atlantic Council's UkraineAlert blog, has a piece on the legacy of Archbishop Lubomyr Huzar, who died on May 31 at the age of 84. Archbishop Huzar led the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and was a leading moral authority in Ukraine.

Putin's U.S. Media Blitz

In Foreign Policy, Matthew Bonder explains the real goals of Putin's much-discussed interview with NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly. "The Russian president's recent Western media blitz is aimed at winning over an audience of one: Donald Trump," Bonder writes.

Kremlin Spear Phishing

Former FBI agent Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, has a piece in The Daily Beast, on what was behind Russia's alleged spear phishing of U.S. election officials days before the presidential vote.

Gangs Of New York

Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague has a piece on his blog about the U.S. criminal case against 33 people charged with being members of the Eurasian organized crime group known as the Shulaya Enterprise.

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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