Chechnya, out of Control
It was only a few weeks ago that the Russian government was arrogantly proclaiming its brilliance in killing “notorious gang leader” Said Buryatsky in Ingushetia after allegedly linking him to the November 2009 bombing of the Nevsky Express train between St. Petersburg and Moscow, an incident that left 39 Russians dead. If the Kremlin meant to suggest that such incidents were now a thing of the past, it was very much mistaken.
Last Monday morning, just as rush hour was beginning, two Moscow subway stations were bombed, one just steps from the headquarters of the KGB on Lubianka Square. At least three dozen Russians were killed, an eerily similar number to the Nevsky incident, and right in the heart of the capital city. Days later, more bombs followed in Dagestan. It was as if the Caucasus rebels were sending a clear message to Vladimir Putin himself: ”You think you’ve won? Think again.”
The BBC quoted security expert Victor Mizin, whose wife was on one of the trains attacked: “Russia opposes a very tough enemy and it comes from our North Caucasian region but still it’s an ongoing process and unfortunately the security forces are unable to quell it.”
It was soon clear that the subway attack was an act of revenge for the Kremlin’s killing several weeks earlier of Said Buryatsky, a leading mastermind of the suicide bomb and other attacks that have killed nearly 1,000 Russians since Vladimir Putin took power. It was, in other words, entirely predictable — yet Putin did not predict it, much less protect the nation from it.
Putin’s failed policies have served only to expand revolutionary fervor throughout the Caucasus region rather than quelling it, and Putin’s failure to respond to the crisis was absolute, and even Russian commentators knew it. The BBC reported:
Remembering Vladimir Putin and his Absurd Neo-Soviet Lies
In March 2000, three months after Boris Yeltsin resigned and named him acting president of Russia, Vladimir Putin was asked by the newspaper Kommersant about the possibility that KGB agents (Putin himself was one) had planted the apartment bombs that exploded in September 1999 and killed nearly 300 Russians.
Putin replied, as translated by the BBC: “There are no people in the Russian secret services who would be capable of such crime against their own people. The very allegation is immoral.”
Last month, in other words, marked the tenth anniversary of one of the most absurdly dishonest statements ever uttered in the annals of world political history. And fittingly, yet more explosions in Moscow took yet more Russian lives, and Russians were once again forced to speculate about whether their own government might have been responsible. This is the true horror of life in neo-Soviet Russia.
Happy Birthday to LR!
Four years ago today, this blog was born.
We published three posts that day, April 2, 2006. One was an introduction to our blog, one was about Russia’s dismal performance at the World Figure Skating Championships that year, and one concerned the corrupt nexus between Vladimir Putin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Both substantive topics proved to be themes to which we would return many times over the next four years. Our seminal original post came out a few days later, and addressed “the felonious fraud that is Victor Yanukovich.”
Since then, this blog has grown from total obscurity to become one of the most potent sources of information about Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship in the world. We have been visited more than 2 million times as per our public visitation counter, and received more than 40,000 comments. We’ve created over 7,500 web pages, and they’ve been viewed nearly 4 million times. No other Russia politics blog on this planet can make those claims.
Our contribution to the understanding of Russia cannot be disputed.
The Tsunami of Russian Corruption
Last week the Russian government released statistics showing that the number of garden-variety bribes in commerce increased by more than 10% last year compared to 2008, and the average amount of each bribe — stunningly — increased by nearly triple, from 9,000 rubles per bribe in 2008 to over 23,000 rubles per bribe last year. Kirill Kabanov, chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, stated that if the authorities went after higher-ranking officials, the size of the bribes they would find “would stun both journalists and the public.”
But it wouldn’t stun La Russophobe.
Alexei Malashenko, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, writing in the Moscow Times:
Once again, Russia and the world were shocked by an atrocious terrorist attack, one in which at least 39 people were killed in the Moscow metro.
The country’s terrorists have made it clear that they are still as strong and capable as ever to strike at any time or place. The group’s main leader, Chechen rebel Doku Umarov, has been warning for years that jihad will spread to all of Russia. The suicide bombers and their supporters carried out Monday’s mission with their typical professionalism and precision. The media have reported the existence of two special schools in the Caucasus for training suicide bombers, and now those graduates have brought their “skills” to practice.
Foreign Policy reports:
He has been stabbed, spied on, and sent to solitary confinement. His oil company assets have been seized by the state, his fortune decimated, his family fractured. And now, after nearly seven years in a Siberian prison camp and a Moscow jail cell, he is back on trial in a Russian courtroom, sitting inside a glass cage and waiting for a new verdict that could keep him in the modern Gulag for much of the rest of his life. Each day, he is on display as if in a museum exhibit, trapped for all to see inside what his son bitterly calls “the freaking aquarium.”
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s richest man, the most powerful of the oligarchs who emerged in the post-Soviet rush of crony capitalism, and the master of 2 percent of the world’s oil production. Now he is the most prominent prisoner in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a symbol of the perils of challenging the Kremlin and the author of a regular barrage of fiery epistles about the sorry state of society from his cramped cell. In a country where the public space is a political wasteland, his case and his letters from prison evoke a different age.
“No doubt,” he wrote us from inside the glass cage, “in modern Russia any person who is not a politician but acts against the government’s policies and for ordinary, universally recognized human rights is a dissident.”