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The Morning Vertical, October 18, 2017


Aleksei Navalny has spent a lot of time in Russian courts over the past several years.

There was his trial for embezzlement in the Kirovles case back in 2013. There was his trial for fraud and money laundering in the Yves Rocher case in 2014. And there've been all those hearings over the years for participating in unauthorized protests.

But there is only one court that is not controlled by the Kremlin that has ever issued a ruling in any case involving Navalny -- the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

And it has done so in three separate cases.

In November 2016, the ECHR ruled that Navalny's conviction for embezzlement in the Kirovles case violated his rights and those of his co-defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov.

In February 2017, the European Court ruled that Navalny's conviction for participating in an unauthorized protest in 2012 was unlawful.

And this week, the ECHR ruled that Navalny and his brother Oleg were unfairly convicted of financial crimes in the so-called Yves Rocher case (see news story featured below).

Vladimir Putin has, of course, signed legislation effectively permitting Russia to ignore ECHR rulings it doesn't like -- which is a violation of Moscow's treaty obligations toward (and membership requirements for) the Council of Europe.

Russian courts have devised some convoluted work-arounds. After the ECHR's decision on Navalny's embezzlement conviction in the Kirovles case, the Russian Supreme Court followed suit and appeared to comply by overturning the verdict and ordering a new trial.

But in the new trial, the court issued the exact same ruling -- practically word-for-word -- as the overturned verdict. It was a clear and unambiguous snub of the ECHR ruling.

But despite all this, the ECHR's rulings remain a scathing indictment of Russian criminal justice.


Russia's top antiextremism police officer says the parents of minors who attend rallies held without government permission -- and possibly their teachers, too -- should be liable for punishment under the law.

A U.S. judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against the Associated Press by aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny and his brother Oleg were unfairly convicted of financial crimes at trial in the so-called Yves Rocher case in 2014.

A Moscow court has extended the house arrest for renowned theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, whose detention on fraud charges stunned the Russian artistic world and elicited support internationally.

Ukraine's military says that two of its soldiers were killed and four were wounded amid multiple cease-fire violations by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine on October 17.

Protesters calling for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to enact anticorruption reforms or step down scuffled with police in front of Ukraine’s parliament at a rally organized by firebrand politician Mikheil Saakashvili and other opposition leaders.


Exporting Kleptocracy

Ilya Zaslavskiy has a report out for The Hudson Institute: How Non-State Actors Export Kleptocratic Norms To The West.

Online Book - A Successful Failure: Russia After Crime(a)

Intersection magazine has released a new online book, A Successful Failure: Russia After Crime(a), which is available here in PDF format.

My Bodyguard

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin argues that recent talk about former Putin bodyguard and current Tula Governor Aleksei Dyumin becoming president is a sign of the times.

Social Conservatives On The Defensive?

In Vedomosti, political analyst Dmitry Travin argues that socially conservative Russian politicians like Natalya Poklonskaya and Vitaly Milonov are suddenly finding themselves on the defensive.

War And Governance In The Donbas

In a commentary for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations in Prague argues that the war in the Donbas will be won by the force of example, not the force of arms.

The Purge Of The Governors

In an op-ed for The Moscow Times, Natalya Zubarevich, a professor at Moscow State University and a regional program director at the Independent Institute for Social Policy, takes a closer look at Putin's purge of regional governors.

What Will Putin Say?

In Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Aleksei Gorbachev previews Putin's speech later this week to the Valdai Discussion Forum.

What Is Holding Ukraine Back?

On The Atlantic Council's website, Olena Tregub, a millennium fellow at the Atlantic Council and secretary-general of the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, looks at what is really holding Ukraine back.

Russia And The West Through Ukrainian Eyes

Steven Pifer, a former U.S. State Department official and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, has a piece on the Council of American Ambassadors website on how Ukraine views Russia and the West.

Trolling Timeline

Mother Jones has produced a timeline of revelations about how Russia used social media to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Hybrid Counter-War

Reid Standish has a piece in Foreign Policy on how Russia's neighbors are responding to Putin's hybrid-war tactics.

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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