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The Morning Vertical, March 21, 2017


As the new report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (featured below) revealed, at least $20 billion has been laundered out of Russia and found its way to more than 5,000 companies with accounts in 732 banks in 96 countries. As a report by the EUObserver (featured below) notes, much of the black cash ended up in EU member states. And as I note on today's Daily Vertical, it is highly unlikely that an operation of this magnitude involving figures with ties to the Russian authorities wasn't Kremlin sanctioned -- and didn't have a foreign-policy purpose.

We know, thanks to the OCCRP report, that some of the funds went to a pro-Russian think tank in Poland. How much of it was used to finance the plethora of so-called "alternative media" outlets in Europe that push a Euroskeptic and pro-Kremlin agenda? Many have long suspected that the Kremlin was behind many of these outlets, but their opaque financing makes it difficult to prove. How much of it was used for active measures campaigns and black ops?

The OCCRP report shines a light on not just a brazen and massive money-laundering conspiracy. It could also shine a light on one of the Kremlin's most effective weapons in its effort to divide and destabilize Europe.


A major new investigative report has detailed how at least $20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014 in what it describes as a massive money-laundering scheme.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make his first visit to Russia as part of a European trip in May but will not attend a NATO meeting in April.

The Russian anti-doping agency, which has been suspended over an alleged cover-up of widespread doping in Russia, has named Tatyana Chirkina its new acting chief executive.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says it has summoned Israel's ambassador to express concern about air strikes that hit close to Russian forces last week around the Syrian city of Palmyra.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has accused Western intelligence agencies of backing a "fifth column" in the country that is causing unrest and threatening stability.

A U.S. military commander says a U.S.-led battalion of more than 1,100 NATO soldiers will be deployed in Poland from the start of April as the alliance sets up a new force in response to the Russian occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has made the best of what appeared to be the latest attempt to trip up his effort to run for president. After being doused with green antiseptic while opening a campaign office in the Siberian city of Barnaul, Navalny recorded a video and said that whoever did it had done him a favor.

Sergei Mokhnatkin, a Russian opposition activist jailed for assaulting police during a protest in Moscow, has been handed an additional two years in jail.


Today's Must-Read: The Russian Laundromat

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has released it's new report, The Russian Laundromat Exposed, that looks at how $20.8 billion from 19 Russian banks was laundered through more than 5,000 companies with accounts in 732 banks in 96 countries.

In The Guardian, Luke Harding, Nick Hopkins, and Caelainn Barr look at how $740 million was laundered through British banks.

And a report in the EUObserver, breaks down how much of the money ended up in which European Union member states.

Russia's Arms Exports

Richard Connolly and Cecilie Sendstad have a report out for Chatham House on the strategic and economic importance of arms exports for Russia.

Death Of A Bureaucrat

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin asks what lessons the Russian elite will learn from the killing of imprisoned Roskosmos official Vladimir Yevdokimov.

Three Years After the Anschluss

Nikolai Klimeniouk has a piece in OpenDemocracy looking at Crimea three years after the Russian annexation.

What Putin Wants

In New York Magazine, Nick Tabor interviews Alexander Vershbow, former deputy secretary-general of NATO and a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, on Russia's goals in the West.

What's Next In Ukraine?

In a commentary for Eurasianet, David Batashvili, a former member of Georgia's National Security Council, asks, "Are we seeing a lull before the Russian storm" in Ukraine?

Answering Putin's Challenge

Vladimir Kara-Murza has a piece in World Affairs Journal on how to confront Putin's challenge to the West.

Losing the Revolutionary Mojo

As part of The New York Times' Red Century series marking the centennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Francis Beckett, author of the books Enemy Within: The Rise And Fall Of The British Communist Party and Stalin's British Victims, looks at how Moscow lost its luster as the capital of socialist revolution.

SRB Podcast

This week's SRB Podcast, hosted by Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, focuses on Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Lars Lih, author of the books Bread And Authority In Russia, 1914-1921, Lenin Rediscovered: What Is To Be Done?, In Context, and the recently published Lenin.

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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