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The Morning Vertical, October 4, 2017


Moscow may come to regret its support for separatist movements abroad -- whether in the former Soviet Union or in Europe.

As notes in an editorial featured below, Russia has plenty of restive regions and disgruntled ethnic minorities and "the problem of separatism in Russia may again become quite topical."

Moreover, the Kremlin's support for separatism in Europe could end up costing Moscow what few allies it has left on the continent.

Russia, of course, did not create the Catalonian independence movement and the Kremlin has publicly called the dispute between Madrid and Barcelona "an internal matter."

But Kremlin-backed media and pundits sure did encourage it and cheer it on.

And one has to wonder how that went down in Madrid.

Spain, after all, has been among those European countries who have favored easing sanctions against Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea and its backing for armed separatists in the Donbas.

Perhaps now Madrid will have second thoughts.


A Greek tribunal has given the go-ahead for the extradition of Russian cybercrime suspect Aleksandr Vinnik to the United States, where he is wanted in a $4 billion bitcoin-fraud case.

Spain’s high court has authorized the extradition of a Russian man wanted by U.S. authorities for running a massive computer bot that sent tens of millions of spam e-mails over many years.

Vladimir Putin has appointed the chief of the ruling United Russia party's parliamentary group, Vladimir Vasilyev, as acting leader of the volatile North Caucasus region of Daghestan.

The United States has called on "Russian occupation" authorities in Crimea to release prominent Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov and vacate his conviction for separatism.

The Russian Defense Ministry says that a Russian air strike in Syria has killed 12 Al-Nusra Front field commanders and gravely wounded the group's leader.

Russia claims it has killed a Kazakh militant it says was an important commander in the forces of the extremist group Islamic State in Syria.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman will travel to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin, the first visit to the Russian capital by a reigning Saudi monarch.

Putin has expressed satisfaction about Russia’s progress in preparing for soccer's 2018 World Cup, but said construction work on some of the venues remained behind schedule.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says it will close five of its seven offices in Russia next year, as the London-based lender pursues a ban on new investment loans in the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose government is under pressure from protesters at home and Western governments that say he has become increasingly authoritarian, is to meet this week with the leaders of Russia and Belarus.

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay financial compensation to the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta for violating its freedom of expression during hearings related to the publication's reporting on the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000.

The European Court of Human Rights has also ruled that the conviction of a human rights activist for extremism in 2006 for publishing speeches by Chechen separatist leaders was a violation of his rights and ordered financial compensation.


A Letter From Prison

Voices of Ukraine has published an English translation of filmmaker Oleh Sentsov's letter from prison, which was smuggled out by a Russian journalist and human rights activist.

Moscow And Barcelona

In a column for Yezhednevny Zhurnal, Aleksandr Ryklin argues that the real winner in the Catalonian independence referendum was Russia.

But in an editorial, argues that Moscow's support for separatism in Europe will come back to haunt the Kremlin.

Culture Wars

In his column for, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin looks at Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky's campaign against liberalism in the arts and what it portends.

Putin And The Governors

In a piece for, political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya looks at Putin's recent reshuffling of Russia's regional governors.

Putin Vs. Navalny

In, Anton Zaritsky evaluates the battle between Putin and opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

Lessons Of Syria

In a piece for Jamestown, Sergey Sukhankin of the Kyiv-based International Center for Policy Studies looks at the lessons learned from Russia's "asymmetric response" to the United States in Syria.

Putin's Man In Germany

In a piece for Carnegie Europe, Judy Dempsey looks at former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's "unswerving loyalty to Putin."

Russia's Betrayal And Redemption Myth

In The New Republic, Sophie Pinkham, author of the book Black Square: Adventures In Post-Soviet Ukraine, looks at the role of the "epic myth of betrayal and redemption" in Putin's Russia.

Russian Studies Is Alive And Well

In The National Interest, Timothy Frye, chairman of the department of political science at Columbia University, argues that despite claims to the contrary, Russian studies are thriving at U.S. universities.

Book Review: Masha Gessen's The Future Is History

Francis Fukuyama reviews Masha Gessen's new book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia for The New York Times.

How To Become A 'Russophobe'

In a piece on the Center for European Policy Analysis, veteran Kremlin-watcher Edward Lucas reflects on how he landed in RT's list of the "top ten Russophobes." (And in case you were wondering where the term "Russophobia" came from, and it has a pretty checkered past, read this.)

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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