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The Morning Vertical, March 24, 2017

  • Brian Whitmore

ON MY MIND

Billions of dollars in black Russian cash siphoned through thousands of companies with accounts at hundreds of banks in scores of countries.

A massive money laundromat exposed.

An important investigation released this week by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) pulled back the curtain on how Russian officials and organized crime figures wash their money.

And it also raised disturbing questions about what these billions are being used for.

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we take a deep dive into the OCCRP report. Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows; and Paul Radu, co-founder of the OCCRP and the lead investigator on this week's report.

It promises to be a good show, so be sure to tune in later today!

IN THE NEWS

Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian lawmaker who defected to Ukraine and aired damning criticism of Russia's leadership, has been gunned down in broad daylight in the heart of Kyiv in what Ukraine's president called "an act of state terrorism by Russia."

Ukrainian officials say a woman's body has been found under debris at the site of a massive munitions-depot fire near the eastern city of Kharkiv.

Visiting Russia amid a highly charged presidential election campaign in France, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has called for closer ties between the two countries and the removal of sanctions Western governments have imposed on Moscow over its interference in Ukraine.

Russian news agencies say six Russian national guard troops and six assailants have been killed in an attack on a military unit in Chechnya.

A Kremlin military aide said that Russia is in negotiations to supply Turkey with S-400 defense systems, even though Turkey is a NATO member.

A U.S. board overseeing the finances of the bankrupt territory of Puerto Rico announced that it is hiring Ukraine's former finance minister, Natalie Jaresko, to steer the Caribbean island out of crisis.

Moldova has received no formal response from Russia to complaints that members of Russia's security apparatus were sabotaging its investigation into a money-laundering operation, parliament speaker Andrian Candu said.

Russia's Channel One refused an offer by Eurovision Song Contest organizers to have singer Yulia Samoilova participate by satellite after Ukraine blocked her from entering the country to take part in the popular event.

Moscow police have announced that a rally planned by Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny for March 26 is "illegal" and have warned potential participants that their safety could be in danger.

Russian Academy of Sciences President Vladimir Fortov, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been relieved of his duties by the Russian government.

NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, has said that Russia may be helping to supply Taliban militants that are fighting Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

State television reports in Belarus say the country's security agency, the KGB, has detained an unspecified number of people suspected of plotting mass disorder.

WHAT I'M READING

The Voronenkov Assassination

In his column for Republic.ru, Oleg Kashin writes that in responding to the assassination of exiled State Duma Deputy Denis Voronenkov, the Kremlin and its surrogates can't decide to say "it wasn't us" or "that's what you get."

Euromaidan Press takes a closer look at Voronenkov's career and his testimony to Ukrainian prosecutors in ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's treason case.

And The Washington Post's Moscow bureau chief, David Filipov, looks at 10 Putin critics who have died either violently or suspiciously.

Election Meddling In Bulgaria

The Wall Street Journal has a piece about a 30-page dossier, intercepted by Bulgaria's security services, that shows how Russia meddled in elections in that country last year.

Witness Protection?

In a piece in The Daily Beast, Michael Weiss notes that attorney Nikolai Gorokhov, who suffered severe injuries after falling from his apartment window, was a witness for the U.S. Justice Department in a money-laundering case involving Russia. The story also looks at the fates of others who became witnesses against the Kremlin (and provided the inspiration for today's Daily Vertical).

The Troubled INF Treaty

On the Brookings Institution website, Steven Pifer looks at the state of the beleaguered Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Defending The West

In a thoughtful essay in Slate, Harvard lecturer Yascha Mounk outlines steps the West needs to take to defend itself against Russia's challenge to liberal democracy.

Russia's Five Rings Of Empire

In a piece for New Eastern Europe, political scientist Paweł Kowal, a former Polish Foreign Ministry official, looks at Russia's "five rings of Empire."

Another Russian-Turkish Spat

Moskovsky Komsomolets is reporting that Russia and Turkey are on the verge of a falling out over Syria.

Reasons For Optimism About Ukraine's Economy

Ruslan Minich and Volodymyr Yermolenko of Internews Ukraine have a piece on The Atlantic Council's website on Ten Reasons Why Ukraine's Economy May Surprise You.

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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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