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The Morning Vertical, September 5, 2017

  • Brian Whitmore

ON MY MIND

In practical terms, Russia has already left the Council of Europe.

Moscow's voting rights were suspended following the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. And in 2015, Vladimir Putin signed legislation allowing Russia to ignore rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

And now, as Nicholas Vinocur points out in a piece in Politico featured below, Russia may be forced out of the council altogether.

Vinocur quotes Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, as saying that "there is a potential danger that Russia will have to leave. If Russia is forced to leave, then 140 million people will be deprived of going to the highest court in Europe, which is very important for Russian citizens."

Jagland added, "We have to think of the following: Will Europe be better off, safer, with Russia on its own, without being part of the judicial system of Europe?"

And therein lies the paradox and the dilemma.

Russia's continued formal membership in the Council of Europe while it continues to occupy Crimea and wage war on Ukraine -- and while it insists it does not need to abide by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights -- makes a mockery of the council's founding principles.

But removing Russia from the Council of Europe would mean that Russian citizens would not have access to the possibility for judicial redress in Europe's human rights court of last resort.

And this is something many Russians who have seen their rights violated have long counted on -- even if the judicial redress risks becoming only symbolic.

IN THE NEWS

At a press conference at the BRICS summit in China, Vladimir Putin said Russia reserves the right to demand further reductions in the number of U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow.

Putin also voiced opposition to imposing further sanctions on North Korea and criticized what he called "military hysteria" following Pyongyang's sixth nuclear bomb test, saying it could lead to a "global catastrophe."

Putin also said that if the United States supplied defensive weapons to Ukraine this could prompt pro-Russian separatists to escalate their military campaign.

Russia and China have called for calm and for a peaceful, diplomatic solution as the United States and its allies pushed for stronger sanctions and discussed military responses to North Korea's weekend nuclear test.

Two Russian soldiers have been killed by mortar fire from the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria's eastern province of Deir al-Zour, where the army is battling jihadists, Russia's Defense Ministry said.

Russia's Investigative Committee says a movie theater in the city of Yekaterinburg has been the target of an apparent arson attack.

A court in the capital of Russia's Tatarstan region, Kazan, has for the second time jailed the coordinator of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's presidential campaign.

A Russian court has rejected director Kirill Serebrennikov's bid for release on bail but slightly softened the conditions of his house arrest.

Russian lawmakers are examining possible new legislation envisioning the deportation of foreigners who engage in "undesirable" behavior deemed to be interference in the country's internal affairs.

WHAT I'M READING

Kadyrov, Islam, And Russian Foreign Policy

In an editorial, Vedomosti calls Ramzan Kadyrov the "president of Russia's Muslims."

And writing in Republic.ru, foreign-affairs analyst Vladimir Frolov looks at Kadyrov's actions in support of Burma's Muslims and how they illuminate the Chechen leader's increased influence on Russian foreign policy.

New OCCRP Report: The Azerbaijani Laundromat

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has released the latest report in it's "Laundromat" series focusing on Azerbaijan. According to the report, some $2.9 billion was laundered over a two-year period through shell companies registered in the United Kingdom.

Crimea's Nouveau Riche

Hromadske International has a piece on how Russia's annexation of Crimea has made the peninsula's Moscow-backed rulers very rich.

Kashin On Ksenia Sobchak

In his column for Republic.ru, opposition journalist Oleg Kashin reacts to the possibility of Ksenia Sobchak running for president.

The Roots Of 'Post-Truth'

In Eurozine, Marci Shore looks at the postmodernist philosophical roots of "the post-truth world," and asks: "can a philosophy of dissent developed in communist Eastern Europe offer an antidote?"

The FSB And Serebrennikov

In Republic.ru, Pavel Chikov of the Kazan-based human rights group Agora explains why the FSB's antiextremism division is involved in the case against theater director Kirill Serebrennikov.

Russia And The Council Of Europe

Nicholas Vinocur has a piece in Politico looking at the possibility that Russia will leave the Council of Europe.

New Revelations On Russian Hacking

According to a report in The New York Times, Russia's hacking of the U.S. election was much more widespread than previously acknowledged.

Officer To Officer

In a televised interview, Ukrainian Security Service head Vasyl Hrytsak directly addressed Russian FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov "officer to officer" over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Debating The Holodomor

In Quillette, Anna Lukina looks at the debate between Anne Applebaum and Sheila Fitzpatrick over whether the Ukrainian famine was an intentional genocide.

Where's Viktor?

Meduza says it has found where ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is residing in Russia.

The New Think Tank On The Block

Arena, a new think tank based at the London School of Economics'
Institute for Global Affairs that will focus on analyzing and combating disinformation is up and running. Arena's directors include Anne Applebaum, Peter Pomerantsev, and Alistair Shawcross.

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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