The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.
The Power Vertical
Tuesday 30 January 2018
ON MY MIND
There are a lot of ways to look at the so-called "Kremlin list," the U.S. Treasury Department's report naming Russia's 210 most influential officials and oligarchs who could be subject to future sanctions.
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich ridiculed it as a "Who's Who in Russian Politics" book and nothing more. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov alternatively claimed he was "indifferent" to it and called it "unprecedented" in scope.
But the list's breadth, comprising so-called Russian liberals as well as anti-Western hard-liners, sends a clear message that anybody who serves Vladimir Putin's regime, regardless of their political orientation, is complicit in its actions -- and potentially subject to sanctions.
It is important to remember that the list is just an initial step naming those who could in the future be subject to sanctions -- meaning that there are now a lot of people who are wondering whether they will be eligible for a visa or able to open a Western bank account in the future.
And in many ways, the publication of the list heralds the close of an era in which Russian officials were able to accumulate their wealth in a corrupt and autocratic system and then stash it in the safe harbors of the West, protected by the rule of law.
The much-anticipated Kremlin list is the beginning of a process, not the end.
IN THE NEWS
The U.S. Treasury Department has released a hotly anticipated list of 210 Russian officials and billionaires believed to have close links to President Vladimir Putin, exposing them to scrutiny and potential future sanctions in a move that has angered the Kremlin.
Washington says a Russian military jet engaged in an "unsafe interaction" with a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the Black Sea on January 29, coming within 1.5 meters and crossing directly in front of the U.S. plane.
Rights activists say two Russian men whose marriage in Denmark was indirectly acknowledged by Russian authorities have fled the country, citing a "real threat" to their liberty and security.
Russia has shown more "openness" to U.S. suggestions on a possible UN peacekeeping mission in war-torn eastern Ukraine, but Washington and Moscow remain far from striking a deal, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine says.
Delegates have gathered in the southern Russian city of Sochi for a two-day conference aimed at helping resolve the seven-year civil war in Syria, but the main groups opposing the Syrian government are boycotting the event.
Russia's state statistics service says the country's birthrate dropped 10.7 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year.
Vladimir Putin's spokesman says the Kremlin does not consider opposition leader Aleksei Navalny a threat.
Putin must have been aware of what investigators say was an elaborate state-sponsored doping program, a German television documentary quotes whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov as saying.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Moscow believes a U.S. list of rich Russians seen as close to President Vladimir Putin is an attempt to meddle in the country's March 18 election.
The International Paralympic Committee has maintained its suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee but said that some Russians will be allowed to compete as neutrals at the Winter Paralympics in March.
A car belonging to Russian presidential hopeful Ksenia Sobchak's campaign chief in the northwestern city of Pskov has been torched in an alleged arson attack.
Authorities in Russia's Far East say they have detained several people on suspicion of smuggling parts of endangered Siberian tigers, brown bears, and other animals.
WHAT I'M READING
Initial Reax To The 'Kremlin List'
The Moscow Times has published a rundown of the initial reactions of Russian officials to the U.S. Treasury Department's list of top Kremlin officials and oligarchs who could be subject to sanctions.
Kremlin Trolls And Anti-Semitism
Anton Shekhovtsov has an op-ed in Haaretz on how pro-Kremlin trolls are increasingly using anti-Semitism to appeal to the far right.
Shekhovtsov's Tango Noir Reviewed
Martin Dewhirst reviews Shekhovtsov's book Russia And The Western Far Right: Tango Noir.
It's Not Just About Trolls
In The New York Times, Nina Jankowicz explains why trolls and fake news are only part of the West's Russia problem.
Western Mistakes On Russia
Veteran Kremlin-watcher Edward Lucas, senior vice president of the Center for European Policy Analysis and author of the book The New Cold War, explains the 10 mistakes the West makes about Russia.
Life After Wartime
In her column for Republic.ru, political commentator Tatyana Stanovaya looks ahead to Putin's fourth term and asks if there is "life after war."
The Death Of Stalin Today
Also in Republic.ru, historian Sergei Medvedev explains why the Russian elite is so upset about the film The Death Of Stalin.
About This Blog
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 Follow @PowerVertical