Daily Archives: January 22, 2007

Gerhard Schröder, Everlasting Gobstopper of Russophile Maniacs

It’s doubtful there could be any more sure and certain proof the Kremlin’s involvement in the Litvinenko and Politkovskaya killings than the fact that the infamous traitor to Germany and the human race, paid Kremlin shill/lapdog Gerhard Schröder, denies it. Seeking to rationalize the killing and accuse the West of paranoia, he states in classic neo-Sovietese: “Unfortunately, journalists die quite often in other countries.” Oh really, Comrade Schröder? Care to name just one German or American or British or French reporter who has perished under circumstances even remotely similar to those that ended the lives of Alexander and Anna (i.e., while writing strident criticism of one of those countries)? It seems Herr Schröder has not read the Committee to Protect Journalists’ litany of journalist killings in Russia just since Vladmir Putin took power or its indictment of the lack of justice in any of their killings. He’s also probably not aware that two more Russian journalists were brutallly beaten, one fatally, just last weekend. According to the Paris-based international organization Reporters without Borders, Russia is among the world’s most dangerous countries for the media, along with Iraq and Mexico. More than 20 reporters have been killed here since President Vladimir Putin took office in March 2000, including three last year. The International Federation of Journalists puts the figure at 40.

As the CPJ noted, Russia doesn’t even bear comparison to a war zone like Iraq:

Insurgents like those in Iraq and Colombia are responsible for one in five journalists murdered over the past 15 years, according to CPJ research. But government forces, including civilian and military officials, are responsible for even more slayings — more than one out of every four. Russia is a uniquely dangerous place for journalists because it is both violent and repressive. Putin seems not only indifferent to the plight of murdered journalists, he has brought much of the once thriving post-Soviet media under indirect government control through the use of punitive tax audits and hostile takeovers. All three major television networks are now in the hands of Kremlin loyalists. The media itself is ordinarily a key ally in the fight against impunity; with most of the Russian press allied with Putin’s government, achieving justice in the Politkovskaya murder will be an uphill battle. Putin seems unmoved by international criticism of his coun try’s human rights record. His remarks about Politkovskaya’s murder seemed calculated to play the nationalist card, the notion that her death matters only to meddling foreigners.

Even if there were such cases as Politkovskaya and Litvinenko in the West, is it really an adequate response for anyone to say: “Well sure Mr. Putin is building extermination camps, but Germany built them too, and the Turks went after the Armenians, and Sadaam attacked the Kurds, so just leave Russia alone!”

To put it mildly, this man is the venal scum of the Earth, the Everlasting Gobstopper of the Russophiles, the leading appeaser and justifier of the rise of the Neo-Soviet Union in the West — and don’t forget, he’s doing it all just to line his pockets and take revenge on the wise Germans who dared to vote him out of office.

The Moscow Times reports:

The killings of former security services agent Alexander Litvinenko and journalist Anna Politkovskaya were “well thought-out provocations” meant to hurt the Kremlin’s public image, a senior presidential aide says. The aide, Igor Shuvalov, also takes issues with those who blame Litvinenko’s death on President Vladimir Putin. “It is foolish to link this murder to the head of the country,” Shuvalov said Wednesday in Berlin at a high-profile discussion of Russian-German relations, Ekho Moskvy radio reported Thursday.

Litvinenko accused Putin of ordering his murder in a statement released after his death. A fierce critic of Putin, the former KGB and Federal Security Service agent died after being poisoned with the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in London in November. Politkovskaya, an opposition journalist who wrote at great length about human rights abuses in Chechnya , was shot dead Oct. 7 in her apartment building in Moscow. Neither crime has been solved.

Shuvalov’s words were echoed by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, who now runs the Baltic gas pipeline project being spearheaded by state-run gas monopoly Gazprom. Wednesday’s discussion, on the “Strategic Partnership: Germany-Russia,” was organized by the German Council on Foreign Relations and the magazine Russia Profile, which is jointly run by Independent Media, publisher of The Moscow Times, and the state news agency RIA-Novosti.

“Unfortunately, journalists die quite often in other countries, but why doesn’t anybody try to accuse the government [of wrongdoing] in those situations? In Russia , no matter what happens, it’s Putin,” Schroder said. Schroder criticized British investigators probing the Litvinenko murder, saying they had acted “unceremoniously” when they hinted that the guilty party had already been identified and was in Russia . Putin is slated to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday.


Former KGB agent Oleg Gordievsky, meanwhile, said Scotland Yard did not suspect Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, as had been widely believed, but a third, unidentified suspect. Lugovoi, also a former security services agent, and Kovtun, a businessman, met with Litvinenko on the day he was thought to be poisoned. Gordievsky, who defected to Britain in 1985 and has accused Putin of being behind Litvinenko’s death, said he believed Scotland Yard was looking for an unidentified man who entered Britain on a fake passport from a European Union member state, used another passport during his stay and left on a third passport. “He took them out one by one, like the Chekists working in the ’20s, ’30s,” Gordievsky said, referring to predecessors of the KGB. He added that the police had a photograph of the suspect.
Scotland Yard refused to comment Thursday.

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Russia Convicted of Torture in Chechnya as Sham Amnesty Closes

Strade’s Chechyna list reports on a recent conviction by the European Court for Human Rights which finds Russia guilty of torture in state detention facilities in Chechnya:

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Russia in the first torture case from Chechnya to be heard by the Court, Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, a legal aid organization representing the applicants, said today. In its judgment, the Court held that the applicants Adam and Arbi Chitayev had been held in unacknowledged detention, that they had been subjected to torture, and that the Russian authorities have not properly investigated their allegations. On 12 April 2000, the brothers Adam and Arbi Chitayev were detained by Russian military servicemen in their home in the village Achkhoy-Martan in Chechnya, Russia, and taken to the local police-station where they were questioned about the activities of Chechen fighters. They were later taken to the Chernokozovo detention center in north-west Chechnya. During their detention both at the Achkhoy-Martan police-station and at the Chernokozovo detention center, the brothers were subjected to a range of torture methods: they were handcuffed to a chair and beaten; electric shocks were applied to various parts of their bodies; they were forced to stand for a long time in a stretched position; their arms were twisted; they were beaten with rubber truncheons and with plastic bottles filled with water; they were strangled with adhesive tape, with a cellophane bag and a gas mask; dogs were set on them; parts of their skin were torn away with pliers and more.

In light of this, “President” Putin’s recent crazed diatribe, as reported on Siberian Light, in which he claimed that Russia was not guilty of any Guantanamo- like violations, seems quite absurd indeed. America has not been convicted in the EHCR over Gitmo, as far as LR is aware.

At the same time, the New York Times reported on on the end of the Kremlin’s sham amnesty campaign seeking rebel surrender in return for a promise of no prosecution. Interfax reported that 546 people had applied for amnesty, while Nikolai V. Kalugin, the deputy prosecutor of Chechnya, put the figure at 467. Kavkaz Center, the rebel website, stated that most of those who applied were “kidnapped relatives of mujahedeen or ordinary people or disguised Kadyrovites or even prisoners who were promised freedom if they play the role of militants” and Kalugin agreed that ” most of those who sought amnesty were low-level militants or commanders leading formations of no more than six or seven fighters, and that no prominent separatists had come forward.” In a classic neo-Soviet move, the Kremlin provided absolutely no data that could be used to verify its claims. The Times stated: “The government did not publish a roster of the militants it said had surrendered, making an independent accounting impossible.”

Pasko on Golubovich

Writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog, Russian hero journalist Grigory Pasko discusses the Kremlin’s attempt to pin the blame for the Litvinenko killing on YUKOS and Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Apropos of Julia Svetlichnaya, recall her connection to Alexey Golubovich via the Russian Investors firm. Khodorkovsky went to jail while Golubovich didn’t, then suddenly he’s the employer of the young lady who attacks Litvinenko as a fraud, and the next thing you know he’s implicating Khodorkovsky in Litvinenko’s killing. Granted, it’s a small contradiction to one minute say that Litvinenko is a rat who deserved killing and the next that the Kremlin must prosecute his evil killer, but small contradictions rarely intimidate the mighty Kremlin.

It seems that Russia’s procuracy has decided to start the New Year off with a bang, a flurry of hyperactivity to demonstrate its loyalty to “tsar and country” in the matter of destroying whatever is still left of YUKOS. Nearly every day sees a torrent of news flashes from the frontlines in the battle with the remnants of the oil company and personally with its former managers. And the news keeps getting more and more ridiculous.

The first news: Antonio Valdes-Garcia, one of the “figurants” in the “YUKOS case”, has escaped from an apartment where he was being kept under guard. He was promptly placed on a wanted list. And it was hinted that certain accomplices of Khodorkovsky’s may have had something to do with his escape. Any sane and sensible person understands that it’s practically impossible to escape from an apartment that’s under guard just like that, simply by lulling the guards into lowering their vigilance. Surely it was the law-enforcement workers themselves who set up the escape, in order to find at least some grounds for the latest accusation against “Khodorkovsky’s confederates” who supposedly remain at large and in hiding from the punishment they so richly deserve.

The second news also concerns “confederates”. Indeed, here we even hear the name of a confederate – Nevzlin.

And so, four citizens of Israel who have unexpectedly found themselves in the role of hostages in a Moscow jail and whom Russia refuses to send back to Israel to serve out the remainder of their sentences were recently informed that instead of Israel, the plan is now to transfer them to a prison located 12 hours by car from Moscow. It is noteworthy that after the four Israelis were convicted, the article of the charges under which they had ended up in jail was struck out of the Criminal Code of the RF.

The families of the convicts have every reason to believe that their relatives have become the victims of Putin’s vengeance, provoked by Israel’s refusal to extradite the oligarch Leonid Nevzlin – yet another sworn enemy of Vladimir Putin.

golubovich.jpg
Alexei Golubovich / Photo from http://www.newsru.com

Here’s some more news: The first interrogations have begun of former YUKOS Director for Strategic Planning and Corporate Finances Alexey Golubovich. It is known that Golubovich, who returned to Russia, is “voluntarily and actively” cooperating with the investigation in the YUKOS case. (I personally have my doubts about just how voluntary the actions of the returnee can be: most likely what took place was ordinary blackmail – you give us dirt and we’ll give you freedom. We might even let you live.)

We also know the reaction of Platon Lebedev’s lawyer Vladimir Krasnov to Golubovich’s “voluntary” testimony: “In his public appearance, Mr. Golubovich, in part, declared that there was no way Khodorkovsky could not have known what Leonid Nevzlin was ‘up to’. It would seem that his testimony to the investigation will be in that same tone.”

What is most interesting – and I’m sure the lawyers in the YUKOS case understand this – is that even such a low quality of testimony and evidence (or rather, the total absence of either, to be more precise) will be just fine for the court in the next trial of the oil company executives.

Need we mention that the returnee Golubovich, as the newspapers are writing, has promised to declare for the record to the investigation that a threat to his life is emanating from YUKOS shareholder Leonid Nevzlin?

Time to sum up. The new burst of activity by the procuracy in the “YUKOS case” is aimed not only at Khodorkovsky – who, legally speaking, has the right to count on early release on parole as early as next year – but also at Nevzlin. As we know, the procuracy also connected the poisoning of former FSB officer Litvinenko in London to Nevzlin.

The procuracy’s moves may not be very sophisticated, but they’re good enough for Russian-style justice.

Dutch Documentary on Litvinenko Airs, BBC Soon to Follow

A Step at a Time reports:

From Radio Liberty [my tr.]:

Dutch television has shown the premiere of the film In Memoriam: Aleksander Litvinenko, by directors Masha Novikova and Jos de Putter. The film contains a unique interview with Litvinenko shot by the Dutch film-makers two years ago. The film was broadcast in prime time on the second state channel of Netherlands TV, at 9pm on Monday. The authors compiled it from video recordings they made in Litvinenko’s London apartment in 2004, in Moscow with Anna Politkovskaya, and there are also new interviews with Litvinenko’s father, Walter, and Litvinenko’s friends Akhmed Zakayev and Vladimir Bukovsky.

After the offensively trivial and one-sided image of the “fugitive KGB man” and spy (something which Litvinenko, incidentally, never was), as he is profiled today in the newspapers in schematic fashion, as if he were Spider Man or even the hero of some sinister fairy-tale for grown-ups, the screen finally showed Litvinenko the human being, with all his doubts and fears. A human being who had slowly come to a realization of what kind of organization he had ended up in.

Masha Novikova, the director of the project, talks to Radio Liberty about the film:

“It’s very interesting. I asked his father – right, so he went to work for the KGB, and what did he think about that, what did you think of it? And his father replied frankly – ‘Well, why not? We’d watched Stirlitz [a Russian television series about a WW2 spy], and we thought it was good.’ And Alexander himself, in his interview with Jos, also says that it all started out as something totally naive, some heroic thing about catching spies. A boy’s sort of thing. But then gradually, gradually… First the disillusionment, when he was in Chechnya, and then the disillusionment he called the ‘red line’, which can’t be crossed – killing people. He realized that executing people without a trial, without a legal process, was something he would never be able to do, and that was the beginning of an enormous turning-point in his life. When he changed from being a an officer of the KGB to a prisoner of Lefortovo and Butyrki, he was able to savour the ‘charm’ of it in its entirety.”

Alexander Litvinenko (excerpt from In memoriam: Alexander Litvinenko): “You know, I spent the first war in Chechnya. I passed though all the hotspots in the territory of the former Soviet Union. Soldiers died in my arms. I remember this 18-year-old lad… I remember I was still taking his pulse, and it stopped. And during all that time not one leader, not one politician ever explained to us what we were doing there. Who or what we were protecting there. And what we were fighting for […] By then I already knew that it was a gang of bandits. And I couldn’t see any difference between the officers and the bandits. Against whom we were fighting, by the way. With the sole difference that the bandits had no state authority, but our officers had.. And I realized that I’d ended up in a gang, I became aware of that. I’d already realized it from 1996 onwards. But it’s very difficult to leave a gang, any gang. Even in the West, if you end up in a gang, it’s very hard to leave.”

Jos de Putter filmed Litvinenko in his own home. And when Anna Politkovskaya was murdered, and Litvinenko fell ill, we thought that… When he brought the films to me that day, I examined them, and it turned out that it was unique material. Because this is him at home, is rather intimate. He sits there, watching pictures of himself being arrested in the courtroom, and comments on it all. It was somehow very moving, especially after his death, to see it all again…

——

In the film Alexander Litvinenko shows the Dutch film-makers video cassettes, one after the other. On one of them he is listening to his acquittal after having spent several months behind bars on trumped-up charges. At that moment, men in masks burst into the courtroom and arrest him again, taking him off to Butyrka Prison. On another cassette a man with an altered voice admits that he received an order to kill Litvinenko.

The program can be viewed below:

AN EXCERPT IN ENGLISH

AN EXTENDED EXCERPT IN DUTCH

Needless to say, this film couldn’t have come out at a worse time for Juila Svetlichnaja, and tends to pulverize her claims about Litvinenko being an evil nutjob.

Meanwhile, the Times of London reported that a second documentary has been completed, this time in Britain, and the Russian director fears for his life:

A Russian documentary-maker and friend of Alexander Litvinenko, said yesterday that he feared for his safety after being warned “not to make anti-Russian films”. Andrei Nekrasov, who has just finished a documentary for BBC2, on the Litvinenko murder, said that relatives in Russia had received the threat this week from “an old friend”. “I am concerned for my safety,” he told The Times. “I do not know if it is safe for me to return to my home in St Petersburg.” Mr Nekrasov was close to Litvinenko and visited him regularly in hospital after his poisoning with radioactive polonium-210. His film for Storyville My Friend Sacha: a Very Russian Murder is said to be a powerful indictment of the authoritarianism of President Putin’s Russia. It includes an interview with Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, and footage implicating the Kremlin in the attempted murder of Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch who has been granted asylum in Britain. Mr Nekrasov has also contributed to Panorama, How to Poison a Spy, on BBC1, which will also be shown on Monday evening. It will not name the murderer, but it is expected to implicate the Russian authorities in Litvinenko’s poisoning.

The two programmes will anger the Kremlin, which claims that the Western media is biased against Mr Putin. Russia denies any involvement in Litvinenko’s killing.

  • Hollywood studios are in a race to bring out the first film on the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. Michael Mann, who was behind Miami Vice and The Aviator, and Columbia Pictures offered $1.5 million for the rights to Death of a Dissident — written by the agent’s widow, Marina. They face competition from Johnny Depp’s company who want to film Sasha’s Story: The Life and Death of a Russian Dissident, written by Alan Cowell, the New York Times London bureau chief. A third film Blowing Up Russia is being developed by the Beverley Hills-based Braun Entertainment Group. and is a spy thriller based on Litvinenko’s own book alleging that President Putin ordered his agents to blow up apartment blocks in Moscow and blame it on Chechen separatists.

    Kremlin officials have let it be known they will take steps to ban all three productions from being seen in Russia.

  • LR Announces Milestones

    La Russophobe is pleased to announce that yesterday she welcomed the 40,000th visit to this blog, which is currenly averaging 275 visits and 525 page views per day. It’s the blogosphere’s leading independent source of news and opinion about Russia. Hooray for us!

    Other recent milestones are:

    On January 8th she received
    her 75,000th page view .

    On January 20th she recorded
    her 60,000th Google hit.

    On January 4th she broke into the top 35,000 blogs in the world out of over 55 million tracked by Technorati. That placed her in the top 0.06% of all blogs in existence — an astounding feat for a pure Russia speciality blog that is not even one year old.

    According to Technorati as of January 14th:

    La Russophobe had 1,474 links from blogs, far more than any other blog of its kind in the world. For comparison:
    The vile propaganda screed Russia Blog had only 385 links from blogs.
    The acidly Ameriphobic Sean’s Russia Blog had only 261 links from blogs.
    The delusional Russophile Copydude had only 194 links from blogs.
    The lunatic, senile Russophile Russian Blog had only 180 links from blogs.

    Three out of these four other blogs have existed far longer than La Russophobe, while Copydude is one month younger.
    La Russophobe has more links from blogs than all four of them combined.

    We have said before and will say again that these are every bit as much the accomplishments of YOU the reader as they are of the publisher and contributors. So pat yourself on the back! More important, they are sure and certain proof that support for opposing the rise of the Neo-Soviet Union is wide and deep. We are many and we are strong! La Rusophobe humbly thanks all readers and contributors for their commitment to something better for Russia, hence for ourselves.

    At the same time, we must acknowledge the need to redouble our efforts, since despite them Russia continues to sink ever deeper into the morass of neo-Sovietization, from which there may be no return.