Daily Archives: October 29, 2006

The Sunday Photos: Marina Litvinovich, Russian Patriot

If you don’t know Marina Litvinovich (above, pictured), you should. For starters, there’s no page in Wikipedia about her, and somebody should consider writing one (being a crusader, La Russophobe herself is not a suitable candidate, too easily accused of bias). For another, there are only 500 hits for her name on Google. La Russophobe has 20,000. That’s a cosmic outrage. Her only defense against Kremlin violence is notoriety and direct support from the West, clearly indicating there will be a price to pay if she is harmed. This must begin now. We are responsible. Her name and story needs to be injected into the mainstream media, where she has had virtually no recognition. That’s negligence on their part, plain and simple.

Marina is a genuine Russian patriot and hero, in the mold of Anna Politkovskaya and Lidia Yusupova (isn’t it an interesting pattern that so many modern Russian heroes are female?). She operates a blog (in Russian) called Abstrict2001 at Live Journal and has a played a number of significant roles in the modern Russian political debate. She has served as chief of staff to Irina Khakamada, liberal legislator. She is a key advisor to liberal presidential challenger Garry Kasparov. She publishes a website called The Truth About Beslan (also in Russian) in which she investigates the Kremlin coverup of its outrageous conduct during the Beslan hostage crisis. Like Politkovskaya, she has defiantely probed the truth about Beslan by interviewing key figures involved in the events and publishing their accounts. She’s been arrested by the Kremlin for taking part in public protests over its conduct regarding Beslan and she’s participated in wide variety of other protests, including those to oppose the cruelty of hazing in Russia’s military. Finally, she heads the Aid to Victims of Terror Foundation, whose work has been praised by Freedom House. In other words, she does more in any given day (indeed, any hour) to serve the interests of Russia than Vladimir Putin will do in his entire lifetime.

For her service to her country, Marina has been repaid in the classic Russian manner: Brutal physical assault by cowards in the darkness. On Monday, March 20, 2006, for instance Marina was attacked from behind as she headed her car just after 9 pm. She had valuables on her person which were left untouched. Here’s how Masha Gessen described the incident:

Monday night, Kasparov’s right-hand person, the political consultant Marina Litvinovich, left the United Civil Front office just after 9. About an hour later, she opened her eyes to discover that she was lying on a cellar awning and someone was trying to ascertain if she was all right. She was not: She had apparently been knocked unconscious by a blow or several blows to the head. She had been badly beaten, was bruised all over, and was missing two of her front teeth. Nothing had been taken from her: not her notebook computer or cell phone or money. She spent three or four hours in the emergency room that night, and she spent another three or four at the police station the following day. She found the police to be extraordinarily polite and considerate — and, as the organizer of many of Kasparov’s public speaking events and any number of protests, Litvinovich is something of an expert on police behavior. Some higher-up had apparently been sent down to the station to handle her case. At the same time, she told me, “I am not stupid and I could see what they were getting at: that I was just walking down the street and passed out. That I must be in poor health.” Litvinovich is 31 years old and healthy. “And that I fell in such an unfortunate manner that I got bruised all over.” Litvinovich has a bruise on her leg that, the doctors told her, was probably caused by a blow with a rubber baton. The police suggested it may have been a car bumper. Litvinovich pointed out that her clothes were so clean that she was wearing the same trousers and coat the following day. She clearly was not hit by a Moscow car. Moreover, this is one of several signs that she was attacked by professionals: She must have been held while she was beaten, then laid carefully on the awning on which she found herself. In other words, the attack was a message. The pristine execution and the fact that Litvinovich’s valuables were not touched serve to underscore this. So what’s the content of this message? Another young political consultant, an up-and-coming member of the Kremlin’s Public Chamber, Alexei Chadayev, put the message forward in his blog: “Women should not be in this line of work. … Marina is on the warpath, and no one ever said this war would be conducted according to rules.” This is this country’s ruling regime speaking. Its message is crude: as simple as a rubber baton, as brutal as a blow to a young woman’s face. If you are going to oppose the Kremlin, it is saying, this will happen to you.

That wasn’t the first time Marina has been physically attacked, proving the power of her work and the utter cowardice and impotence of those who oppose her, who cannot face her on any remotely civilized terms and can only resort to the crude violence of an animal.

Like Politkovskaya, Marina is also working to document the horrors of the Kremlin’s conduct in Chechnya. Reader Jeremy Putley directs us to some recent photos she has taken there, documenting the Kremlin’s total failure to rebuild the country after its brutal assault.

A building in the center of downtown Grozny,
Capital of Chechnya, Spring 2006, with Marina in the foregoround.

Another such building.

Marina writes: “In Grozny the people live in half-wrecked houses. Bomb craters are the only places left vacant. Any building somehow left standing contains occupants, even where there are gigantic voids in the structure that make them unsuitable and unsafe for living. The city is full of waste piles and rats, and the homes are without utilities or sanitary facilities.”

An interior from such a “home.”

A billboard urges Chechens to “crawl out of the darkness, it’s time to pay your taxes.”
Marina adds: “It’s also time to rebuild their homes.”

You can find other photographs of Chechnya, including these, taken by Marina here, here and here.

More (and more, and more) Racial Outrage in Russia

The Moscow News reports on not one not two but three more ghastly setbacks for the cause of racial justice in Russia, showing only too painfully how necessary Russian heros like Marina Litvinovich (see above) really are. Both Russia’s civil and criminal courts repeatedly fail to deliver basic justice to its citizens of color.


A Russian non-guilty verdict for all the accused of the murder of a Vietnamese student went against the evidence and public opinion in the two countries, Vietnam ’s Foreign Ministry has said, the Vietnam News Agency reported. The verdict, by which a St Petersburg court acquitted 17 young men of the 2004 killing of student Vu Anh Tuan last week, could “negatively impact the feelings between the two peoples, seen as a valuable asset,” the ministry said in a diplomatic note which was conveyed to the Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Vadim Serafimov.The defendants were charged with gang-murdering Tuan, then a 20-year-old student at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute out of racial hatred.An autopsy revealed Tuan suffered 37 stab wounds.The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep concern” over the murder case, asking the Russian side to take measures to quickly investigate and determine the identity of Tuan’s murderer.Ambassador Serafimov told Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Phu Binh, who conveyed the message that the investigation into the death of Tuan was not yet over.The Russian Foreign Ministry has sent a message to the Supreme Procuracy, the Supreme Court and the Interior Ministry informing them of Vietnam ’s opinion, the Russian diplomat said.He pledged to forward the diplomatic note to Russia immediately and ask relevant authorities to bring to court quickly the persons responsible for Tuan’s death.


A court in Moscow rejected a claim filed by a Tajik migrant who had been injured by a Moscow policeman in the city metro two years ago, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported. The worker, Rustam Baibekov, had claimed 1 million rubles in moral damages from the Interior Ministry of Russia after he was wounded by a policeman. The policeman, Boris Kostruba, was found guilty of a murder attempt and sentenced to 9 years in prison last year. He had been charged under several articles of the penal code envisaging punishment for attempted murder, abuse of office and storage of illegal arms. On July 31, 2004, Kostruba shot a 20-year-old migrant worker from Tajikistan , Rustam Baibekov, in the mouth for attempting to enter a subway station without paying the fare. Baibekov attempted to enter the station together with his friend by paying only for one person. According to the investigation, Kostruba detained Baibekov, found he had no Moscow registration, demanded money from him and after a refusal shot him in the mouth. The sergeant was detained immediately after the incident.Baibekov survived after being taken to the hospital. The bullet hit his neck and passed out over his shoulder-blade.After the incident, senior subway police officers lost their posts. Police in Moscow routinely stop people from the Caucasus and Central Asia for identity document checks.


A leading international rights group has harshly criticized Russia’s decision to deport an Uzbek national to his home country despite a last-minute order by the European Court of Human Rights that the deportation be stayed pending a review.Russia has deported an Uzbek man to his home country despite a last-minute order by the European Court of Human Rights that the deportation be stayed pending a review, Washington Post reported. Rustam Muminov was sent back to Uzbekistan on Tuesday evening, about 20 minutes after the court, whose decisions are legally binding on Russia, issued an injunction to stop the deportation.“Our greatest concern is for Muminov’s protection from torture or other ill treatment,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Russia must take immediate steps to reverse its action of placing Muminov in harm’s way.”Muminov was detained on Oct. 17 at the offices of a migrants’ rights group in Moscow. He is wanted in Uzbekistan on charges of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic organization that is banned in the Central Asian republic. Uzbekistan has a documented history of torturing prisoners, according to human rights organizations.In August, Russian authorities halted the deportation of 13 Uzbeks after the European Court intervened. The court, located in Strasbourg, France, enforces the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, drawn up by the Council of Europe, an international body founded after World War II to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.Russia ratified the convention in 1998, agreeing to accept the court’s decisions as binding. It is unusual for Russia to openly flout court rulings, and it was unclear whether officials here were aware of the ruling in sufficient time to stop the deportation.“The very fact that the European Court urgently issued an interim measure in Muminov’s case indicates just how serious his claim to harm is,” Cartner said. “It’s astounding that Russian authorities could have permitted this deportation to go forward.”Russia currently holds the rotating chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.Human Rights Watch said the deportation also appeared to violate Russian law because it took place before Muminov had a chance to appeal the deportation order. A hearing was scheduled to be heard in Moscow on Thursday.Muminov was first detained in Lipetsk, about 250 miles southeast of Moscow, in February. The Russian prosecutor general’s office declined to press Uzbekistan’s extradition request, but local officials detained Muminov again after his release in September, this time on a charge that he lacked a residence permit.

Uh-oh . . . How far from another meltdown is Russia?

Despite being a so-called “energy superpower,” Russia continually faces nationwide brownouts and blackouts of electricty. Is demand outstripping supply, forcing nuclear stations to work overtime and risking another Chernobyl-like meltdown? RIA Novosti reports:

The second generating unit of the Leningradskaya nuclear power plant near Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg was shut down Saturday by an emergency protection system due to heavy winds, a Rosenergoatom spokesman said. “An emergency situation was caused by a storm which hit the region,” the spokesman for the state-run nuclear power generating monopoly said. He said emergency shutdown of the unit’s turbo generator No.3 took place at 6.58 Moscow time (2.58 a.m. GMT) after a 350-KV high-voltage cable short circuit. The turbine No.4 was shut at 7.15 Moscow time (3.15 a.m. GMT). Background radiation at the plant and surrounding areas does not exceed the permitted level, he said.