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The Morning Vertical, October 31, 2017


The Kremlin has gotten a lot of mileage out of claiming that ethnic Russians in Estonia are victims of state-sponsored discrimination, specifically on the issue of citizenship.

But as Urve Eslas shows in a piece featured below, the facts tell a very different story.

According to Eslas, the proportion of noncitizens living in Estonia, most of whom are ethnic Russians, has fallen from 32 to 6 percent since independence.

And those who still don't have citizenship -- a number she estimates at 79,000 -- appear to be freely choosing this option.

The reason? Estonia grants its noncitizens a so-called "gray passport," which gives them all the rights of citizens except the right to vote in national elections (although they can vote in local elections).

Moreover, gray passport holders can travel visa-free to Russia, as well as within the European Union. Estonian passport holders, on the other hand, must obtain a visa to visit Russia.

Just another example of a well-worn Kremlin talking point that just doesn't square with the facts.


Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's presidential campaign chief in Moscow, Nikolai Lyaskin, has been detained by police.

Facebook has found 80,000 posts published by Russia-based operatives that were aimed at swaying U.S. voters, and about 126 million Americans may have viewed those posts over a two-year period.

Russia's chief envoy for Syria says Moscow may host talks between Syrian groups next month with the goal of working on a new constitution for the war-battered country.

Russian journalist and TV host Yekaterina Gordon has announced plans to run for president in a March 2018 election that is widely expected to prolong Vladimir Putin's time in the Kremlin for another six years.

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and an associate, Rick Gates, have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States in over a decade of dealings with political forces in Ukraine.

The wife of a Chechen man accused by Russian authorities of plotting to assassinate President Vladimir Putin has been killed in an ambush near Kyiv.

Prominent Belarusian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich has been detained in Minsk, his wife says.


How Stalin Became A Stalinist

In The New Yorker, Keith Gessen reviews Stephen Kotkin's book Stalin: Waiting For Hitler, 1928-41, and explains "how Stalin became Stalinist."

New Books On Russia And The Far Right

Andreas Umland of the Kyiv-based Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation has a book review essay in the scholarly journal Perspective On Politics. The essay reviews four new books on Russian nationalism and the Kremlin's ties to the Western far right: Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise Of Russia ’s New Nationalism by Charles Clover; The Gumilev Mystique: Biopolitics, Eurasianism, And The Construction Of Community In Modern Russia by Mark Bassin; Russia And The Western Far Right: Tango Noir by Anton Shekhovtsov; and Eurasianism And The European Far Right: Reshaping The Europe-Russia Relationship, which is edited by Marlene Laruelle.

The 'Telegram' Case

In, Ilya Rozhdestvensky looks at why the Russian authorities are trying to block the messaging application and social-media platform Telegram.

The Catalonia Dilemma

Vedomosti has an editorial on Moscow's reaction to -- and dilemma regarding -- Catalonian independence.

Toxic Tactics

Edward Lucas, author of the book The New Cold War, has an article on the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) website on The Kremlin's 20 Toxic Tactics.

Russians In Estonia: Myths, Propaganda, And Reality

Also on the CEPA website, Urve Eslas, a columnist for the Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht, looks at the myth and reality of the citizenship status of ethnic Russians in Estonia.

Isolated Abkhazia

Thomas de Waal has a piece on the Carnegie Europe website: Abkhazia: Still Isolated, Still Proud.

War Reporting As Literature

In a piece in Foreign Policy, titled The Poet Laureate Of Hybrid War, Marci Shore looks at the work of the Polish journalist Pawel Pieniazek and his new book The War That Changed Us, on the war in Ukraine.

Tatyana Felgengauer: The Story Of How A Girl Beat A Killer

Tatyana Felgengauer, the Ekho Moskvy journalist who survived a stabbing attack last week, has published an op-ed in The Moscow Times.

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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