Daily Archives: May 16, 2007

Annals of Russian CyberTerror

CNews reports:

Samara’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper’s work is paralyzed. Police inspected the office of the newspaper to find out if it was using legal software on its computers. As a result the computers were confiscated. Police representatives are not willing to comment on the matter, while the newspaper claims the political background of the issue. Police has confiscated all the computers from the office of Samara’s Novaya Gazeta edition. The newspaper said police presented a paper which allowed them investigating the financial and economic state of the former signed by the head of Samara’s Main Department of Internal Affairs. Police suspect the newspaper in using counterfeit software. “We believe the inspection is due to the coming Russia-EU summit to be held this month in Samara, as well as the “Objectors’ March” scheduled for the same day (May 18th)”, Novaya Gazeta Deputy Editor-in-chief Vitaly Yaroshevsky told CNews. “The thing is one of the organizers and participants of the march is the daughter of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Sergei Kurt-Adjiev. This might have attracted the attention of the police, which has been long interested in the newspaper. The inspection is most likely carried out by the local “K” department of the police, which confiscated the computers. And later, the main Department of Internal affairs took away the financial documents. Thus, our work is paralyzed and the next edition of the newspaper will not see light on Monday”.

Novaya Gazeta correspondent, Darya Grigoryan shares Mr. Yaroshevsky’s opinion. She said the police confiscated three computers with counterfeit software installed. “The inspection hasn’t come to an end so far. The police’s official claims were connected with counterfeit Microsoft software. I have Linux installed on my notebook, that is why they didn’t take it away”, said Ms. Grigoryan. Samara’s Main Department of Internal Affairs refused to comment on the issue. They said they would make an official statement when the investigation is over. The day before police confiscated computers from the office of Samara’s Socio-Political Center. Computers were confiscated from office of the association “In defense of voters’ rights “Voice” in the Povolzhye region. Computers are being confiscated in the office of the Regnum-Volgainform news agency, which is situated in the same building with Novaya Gazeta. Besides, tax inspection representatives arrived at Regnum to conduct financial investigation.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has this to say about the incident:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that police in the southern Russian city of Samara have raided the local bureaus of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the independent news agency Regnum. Three journalists with other news organizations were also detained and interrogated, according to news reports. The police actions come one week before a demonstration planned by political opponents in Samara.

“We’re very troubled by these police actions, which appear timed to obstruct news coverage of a planned public demonstration,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “This harassment is preventing our colleagues from doing their jobs of informing the public, and it should stop at once.”

Several officers from the Samara Main Internal Affairs Directorate (GUVD) arrived at Novaya Gazeta’s Samara newsroom at noon today, seizing all of its computers and accusing the employees of “using counterfeit software,” the newspaper reported on its Web site. A few hours later, five more officers came to the newsroom and confiscated all of the bureau’s financial records, Novaya Gazeta Samara correspondent Darya Grigoryan reported. Police said they were checking into unspecified criminal violations, Novaya Gazeta reported.

Several independent news Web sites reported a similar seizure of computers at the Samara office of the independent news agency Regnum today.

On Thursday night, local press reports said, officers with the GUVD and the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime detained Pavel Sedakov, correspondent for the independent business daily Kommersant; Kseniya Rusyayeva, correspondent for Ren-TV; and Ren-TV camera operator Maksim Vnukov. The three were interviewing a local leader of the opposition coalition Other Russia, which has planned a “March of the Dissenters” on May 18 in Samara, news reports said.

Police interrogated Sedakov, Rusyayeva, and Vnukov for more than two hours, asking questions about Other Russia and its planned action in Samara. The journalists were later released, according to the local press.

Other Russia, led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov, has staged similar demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod. Each was met with large show of force by Russian police, who sought to block the gatherings.

The Horror of Nashi Revealed

A reader directs us to a link which contains a page-by-page translation of Nashi’s manifesto [UPDATE: unfortunately, this page has since been removed] a little red book which lays out, in horrifyingly neo-Soviet manner, the Nashi cult ideology of hatred for the West and worshipful adoration of Vladimir Putin, exactly like what went on in the time of Stalin. That’s the cover above, where they brag about being “connected to the President.” Here’s a page from inside:

The pamphlet gives a statement from Mikhail Kasyanov in quotation marks, saying he’s decided that after he’s elected president he’ll sell Russian oil to the West at 1/3 the market rate. The fact that Kasyanov has never said any such thing means nothing to Nashi’s propagandists. A helpful reader has provided a link to his actual remarks, where Kasyanov simply says he wants to improve Russia’s oil infrastructure and efficiency (these are infamous problems, about which Putin has done nothing, hoarding the oil windfall inside the Kremlin walls), thus lowering the cost of production and enabling Russia to sell oil at the same profit but a reduced price, driving down world prices while depriving Russian producers of nothing. By lowering the world market price, he would curry favor with the West, stabilize the Middle East and end Cold War II, thus dramatically reducing Russia’s need to spend money on weapons while increasing its security. Nashi, of course, while totally perverting Kasyanov’s statement in classic Soviet propaganda style, fails to mention that Russia spends a far greater share of its national income on weapons than other nations of similar per capita GDP, just as in Soviet times a massive burden on an impoverished population. Putin, instead, is antagonizing the world into seeking alternative sources of energy so that Russian oil will become obsolete and its economy a helpless, hopeless morass. Nashi, of course, says nothing about that either. Here’s a second page:

The author has crudely Photoshopped a headline for the International Herald Tribune which declares, in woefully crude English, that the West has arrested Russian “hero” soldiers for war crimes in Chechnya. The fact that Russian soldiers are actually guilty of war crimes in Chechnya, and that the Kremlin has acknowledged this by paying compensation it was ordered to pay by the European Court for Human Rights, means nothing to Nashi.

Welcome to the Neo-Soviet Union!

The Story of Yet Another Heroic Russian Woman

The Wall Street Journal reports more details on the saga of Garry Kasparov’s lawyer, now facing persecution from the Kremlin for daring to represent her client:

Karinna Moskalenko is Russia’s most distinguished human-rights lawyer. Vladimir Putin wants her disbarred.

Ms. Moskalenko, 53, is the founder of the Moscow-based International Protection Center. For more than a decade, she has been arguing cases before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, to whose judgments Russia has been legally bound ever since it incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights in its 1993 Constitution. “We started with dozens of cases,” she says, recalling the IPC’s earliest days during the Yeltsin era. “We are now dealing with hundreds of cases.”

Today, her clients include the imprisoned former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, chess champion and opposition leader Garry Kasparov and the family of murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She also represents the victims of the 2002 “Nord-Ost” Moscow theater hostage crisis, and the relatives of Chechen civilians who have been tortured, murdered or disappeared in Russian “counterterrorism” operations.

With its minuscule staff of eight lawyers and 20 trainees, the IPC receives roughly 12,000 requests for representation a year, though most lack adequate documentation to be brought to trial. Still, her current caseload in Strasbourg, totaling about 180, represents the lion’s share of the court’s docket, and she knows how to get results: Her victory in the 2002 Kalashnikov case–involving a man who had been held in pre-trial detention for five years in cramped and disease-ridden conditions–forced the Russian government to embark on its first serious attempt at modernizing its prison system.

Such work has earned Ms. Moskalenko no shortage of formal tributes outside of Russia. In 2003 she was elected to the International Commission of Jurists; in 2006 she won the International Helsinki Federation’s Human Rights Recognition Award. Within Russia it’s a different story. Mr. Putin’s government assault on the IPC began by questioning the validity of its original registration. Next it proceeded to a tax audit–a favorite Putin tactic against financially strapped human-rights NGOs–on the theory that the IPC had used funds from the National Endowment for Democracy and the Ford and MacArthur Foundations for profit-taking. Though the government’s claims were easily disproven, it refuses formally to close the case.

But for sheer chutzpah nothing approaches the government’s attempts to disbar Ms. Moskalenko on the grounds that she has incompetently represented Mr. Khodorkovsky–a remarkable bit of solicitude for a man whose sentence to a Siberian prison camp has just been extended. According to a motion filed April 18 by the prosecutor general’s office with the Russian registration service, Ms. Moskalenko failed her client in February when she was forced to leave a lawyers’ conference with Mr. Khodorkovsky a day early to attend to her sick 14-year-old son. “This [motion] has been decided at a high level, though we don’t know who exactly ordered it,” says Ms. Moskalenko. Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika was until last year Mr. Putin’s minister of justice.

The story of what happened to Ms. Moskalenko on that visit to Siberia is worth telling, if only for the light it sheds on the government’s efforts–by turns petty and sinister–to harass her and her team. On Feb. 4, she arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport to discover that the rest of her legal team had been “detained” by police and Interior Ministry officials who seized their passports, ransacked their luggage and inspected confidential documents related to cases before the Strasbourg court, including Mr. Khodorkovsky’s, before allowing them to board the plane. On her return, Ms. Moskalenko was again detained by officials who forced her to sign papers forbidding her from disclosing the details of the government’s new case against Mr. Khodorkovsky. On account of her son–whose ill health the authorities were aware of–she signed.

Ms. Moskalenko speculates that the current disbarment action stems from the legal fuss she raised about the incidents at the airport. “After I complained to the prosecutor general they reconsidered what to do about me. They stopped abusing me at the airports. Instead, they decided to finish my career.” The motion will first have to wind its way through a special committee of the Moscow bar, but failing that the government can file for her disbarment in court. “There’s no precedent that I know of for this,” she says. “They will make an experiment of me.”

Disbarment would effectively put an end to Ms. Moskalenko’s career in Russia, including her efforts (the latest as recently as yesterday) to defend Mr. Kasparov’s political activities in court. It would also require her to seek approval from the presidency of the Strasbourg court every time she sought to bring a case to trial, just the sort of humiliation in which Mr. Putin’s government delights.

Yet it’s the broader ramifications of the government’s actions that most concern Ms. Moskalenko. While she scrupulously avoids mentioning Mr. Putin by name–“I am strictly not a politician,” she says more than once–she is under no illusions about his methods. In today’s Russia, “it isn’t necessary to put all the businessmen in jail. It is necessary to jail the richest, the most independent, the most well-connected. It isn’t necessary to kill all the journalists. Just kill the most outstanding, the bravest, and the others will get the message. Nobody is untouchable. I tell Kasparov: ‘Look, you are not untouchable.’ “

For now, however, it is Ms. Moskalenko herself who is in Mr. Putin’s sights–a dangerous place to be, given the experience of so many of her clients. Characteristically, she isn’t budging. Robert Amsterdam, a Canadian lawyer on Mr. Khodorkovsky’s defense team, recalls that when he was arrested in September 2005 by Russian security services, she was the first person he called. “These thugs from the secret police wouldn’t give us their IDs,” he says. “So Karinna takes her cell phone and clicks their pictures. The woman is completely fearless. And there’s nothing that scares these people more than someone who is fearless, someone who puts principle above safety or social standing.”

Mr. Amsterdam’s story is a testament to the courage and tenacity of a woman in the face of a regime whose threats must never be taken lightly. One wonders whether Condoleezza Rice, now in Moscow to meet with Mr. Putin, can show if she’s made of the same stuff. Raising Ms. Moskalenko’s case would be a start.

LR: They’re right! Show us what you’re made of, Condi!

Berezovsky Speaks on Russia’s Mental State

Writing in the Independent, exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky delivers an icy blast at the neo-Soviet Kremlin. Blogger Cicero says:

Berezovsky goes straight to the heart of the problem of Putin’s Russia: the failure by Putin to acknowledge that the USSR was a criminal state. The disgusting behaviour of Putin’s Nashi thugs towards the British Ambassador in Moscow reflects the fact that Putin not only feels no shame about the crimes of the Soviet era, he is actually proud of them. The fact that Moscow can continue to launch cyber attacks against Estonia, together with closure of the border and all the other acts of harrassment, simply reflects that Putin’s regime is not one that the West can do business with.

Now, here’s Mr. B, playing the national psychiatrist which Russia oh-so-badly needs (along with a truly ginormous tabletka of lithium, or at least prozac):

WHY MODERN RUSSIA IS IN A STATE OF DENIAL

Last week saw the commemoration of Victory Day in Russia, which remembers the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Last month came the upsetting removal of a Soviet war memorial, known as The Bronze Soldier, from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a Russian military cemetery on its outskirts.

These events forced me to revisit aspects of the Soviet Union’s shameful and violent communist past, which now need to be addressed by present-day Russia in order to preserve relations between my motherland and post-communist Eastern Europe.

There are several unquestionable truths that were passed on to the majority of Soviet citizens from their parents. Some were destroyed by the reality of life, but one remained intact and holy: that Soviet soldiers liberated the world from the Nazi plague. That is my belief as well. But on the other hand. . .

The current battles between Russia and Estonia (concerning the reburial of Soviet soldiers’ remains) have much wider significance than just being one more spat between Russia and its former vassals.

The roots of this clash go much deeper than the gas wars against Ukraine (and then Belarus), than the war of wines against Georgia, and deeper even than Russia’s struggle against the deployment of US missile defence elements in Eastern Europe.

The fundamental cause of this conflict lies in the main unsolved issue of modern Russia: the denial by the Kremlin, and by President Vladimir Putin, of the Soviet regime’s criminal nature.

Objectively, this issue was inherited by President Putin from former president Yeltsin. Boris Yeltsin undoubtedly made several mistakes, some of which are the favourite theme of his detractors. They all, however, stay silent about the two main mistakes of Russia’s first president.

First, Yeltsin lacked the will (or, maybe, the courage) to indict the communist regime as a criminal one – no less so than the Nazi regime, with all the resulting consequences for the communists themselves, and for their vanguard, the Soviet secret police. Second, Yeltsin also failed to lead Russia to repentance, to make every Russian acknowledge his own responsibility for the crimes of the communist regime. Without repentance, however, those who were oppressed and raped by Russia, such as Estonia and the other Baltic states, will never trust it again.

It is not just that Putin has not corrected these mistakes, he has actually brushed aside the idea of repentance altogether. The return of the Soviet national anthem for Russia points to the Kremlin’s outdated view of Russia and its place in the modern world.

On top of that, playing the Soviet anthem during Yeltsin’s funeral was a particularly elaborate way of abusing the memory of a man who bestowed freedom upon Russia, and others beside it.

It is a well-known historical fact that the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany constituted a replacement of Nazi oppression with Communist enslavement for Eastern European countries – an enslavement that lasted for 45 years, far longer than Nazism. Therefore, the defeat that Putin’s Russia is now suffering in Estonia will soon reverberate around Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and other places where the crimes of the Communist Party and KGB were duly appraised. Thus, the cause of the abuse of our soldiers’ graves is not the bad behaviour of the Estonian government, but the very denial of historical truth by the Kremlin.

So, who is the Soviet Soldier, really – a liberator or an enslaver? The answer to this question can be given only by the people of Russia. If we will not repent, he will remain the enslaver. And if repentance comes, he will be an honest but misguided soldier. May that memory be blessed forever.

Berezovsky Speaks on Russia’s Mental State

Writing in the Independent, exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky delivers an icy blast at the neo-Soviet Kremlin. Blogger Cicero says:

Berezovsky goes straight to the heart of the problem of Putin’s Russia: the failure by Putin to acknowledge that the USSR was a criminal state. The disgusting behaviour of Putin’s Nashi thugs towards the British Ambassador in Moscow reflects the fact that Putin not only feels no shame about the crimes of the Soviet era, he is actually proud of them. The fact that Moscow can continue to launch cyber attacks against Estonia, together with closure of the border and all the other acts of harrassment, simply reflects that Putin’s regime is not one that the West can do business with.

Now, here’s Mr. B, playing the national psychiatrist which Russia oh-so-badly needs (along with a truly ginormous tabletka of lithium, or at least prozac):

WHY MODERN RUSSIA IS IN A STATE OF DENIAL

Last week saw the commemoration of Victory Day in Russia, which remembers the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Last month came the upsetting removal of a Soviet war memorial, known as The Bronze Soldier, from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a Russian military cemetery on its outskirts.

These events forced me to revisit aspects of the Soviet Union’s shameful and violent communist past, which now need to be addressed by present-day Russia in order to preserve relations between my motherland and post-communist Eastern Europe.

There are several unquestionable truths that were passed on to the majority of Soviet citizens from their parents. Some were destroyed by the reality of life, but one remained intact and holy: that Soviet soldiers liberated the world from the Nazi plague. That is my belief as well. But on the other hand. . .

The current battles between Russia and Estonia (concerning the reburial of Soviet soldiers’ remains) have much wider significance than just being one more spat between Russia and its former vassals.

The roots of this clash go much deeper than the gas wars against Ukraine (and then Belarus), than the war of wines against Georgia, and deeper even than Russia’s struggle against the deployment of US missile defence elements in Eastern Europe.

The fundamental cause of this conflict lies in the main unsolved issue of modern Russia: the denial by the Kremlin, and by President Vladimir Putin, of the Soviet regime’s criminal nature.

Objectively, this issue was inherited by President Putin from former president Yeltsin. Boris Yeltsin undoubtedly made several mistakes, some of which are the favourite theme of his detractors. They all, however, stay silent about the two main mistakes of Russia’s first president.

First, Yeltsin lacked the will (or, maybe, the courage) to indict the communist regime as a criminal one – no less so than the Nazi regime, with all the resulting consequences for the communists themselves, and for their vanguard, the Soviet secret police. Second, Yeltsin also failed to lead Russia to repentance, to make every Russian acknowledge his own responsibility for the crimes of the communist regime. Without repentance, however, those who were oppressed and raped by Russia, such as Estonia and the other Baltic states, will never trust it again.

It is not just that Putin has not corrected these mistakes, he has actually brushed aside the idea of repentance altogether. The return of the Soviet national anthem for Russia points to the Kremlin’s outdated view of Russia and its place in the modern world.

On top of that, playing the Soviet anthem during Yeltsin’s funeral was a particularly elaborate way of abusing the memory of a man who bestowed freedom upon Russia, and others beside it.

It is a well-known historical fact that the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany constituted a replacement of Nazi oppression with Communist enslavement for Eastern European countries – an enslavement that lasted for 45 years, far longer than Nazism. Therefore, the defeat that Putin’s Russia is now suffering in Estonia will soon reverberate around Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and other places where the crimes of the Communist Party and KGB were duly appraised. Thus, the cause of the abuse of our soldiers’ graves is not the bad behaviour of the Estonian government, but the very denial of historical truth by the Kremlin.

So, who is the Soviet Soldier, really – a liberator or an enslaver? The answer to this question can be given only by the people of Russia. If we will not repent, he will remain the enslaver. And if repentance comes, he will be an honest but misguided soldier. May that memory be blessed forever.

Berezovsky Speaks on Russia’s Mental State

Writing in the Independent, exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky delivers an icy blast at the neo-Soviet Kremlin. Blogger Cicero says:

Berezovsky goes straight to the heart of the problem of Putin’s Russia: the failure by Putin to acknowledge that the USSR was a criminal state. The disgusting behaviour of Putin’s Nashi thugs towards the British Ambassador in Moscow reflects the fact that Putin not only feels no shame about the crimes of the Soviet era, he is actually proud of them. The fact that Moscow can continue to launch cyber attacks against Estonia, together with closure of the border and all the other acts of harrassment, simply reflects that Putin’s regime is not one that the West can do business with.

Now, here’s Mr. B, playing the national psychiatrist which Russia oh-so-badly needs (along with a truly ginormous tabletka of lithium, or at least prozac):

WHY MODERN RUSSIA IS IN A STATE OF DENIAL

Last week saw the commemoration of Victory Day in Russia, which remembers the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Last month came the upsetting removal of a Soviet war memorial, known as The Bronze Soldier, from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a Russian military cemetery on its outskirts.

These events forced me to revisit aspects of the Soviet Union’s shameful and violent communist past, which now need to be addressed by present-day Russia in order to preserve relations between my motherland and post-communist Eastern Europe.

There are several unquestionable truths that were passed on to the majority of Soviet citizens from their parents. Some were destroyed by the reality of life, but one remained intact and holy: that Soviet soldiers liberated the world from the Nazi plague. That is my belief as well. But on the other hand. . .

The current battles between Russia and Estonia (concerning the reburial of Soviet soldiers’ remains) have much wider significance than just being one more spat between Russia and its former vassals.

The roots of this clash go much deeper than the gas wars against Ukraine (and then Belarus), than the war of wines against Georgia, and deeper even than Russia’s struggle against the deployment of US missile defence elements in Eastern Europe.

The fundamental cause of this conflict lies in the main unsolved issue of modern Russia: the denial by the Kremlin, and by President Vladimir Putin, of the Soviet regime’s criminal nature.

Objectively, this issue was inherited by President Putin from former president Yeltsin. Boris Yeltsin undoubtedly made several mistakes, some of which are the favourite theme of his detractors. They all, however, stay silent about the two main mistakes of Russia’s first president.

First, Yeltsin lacked the will (or, maybe, the courage) to indict the communist regime as a criminal one – no less so than the Nazi regime, with all the resulting consequences for the communists themselves, and for their vanguard, the Soviet secret police. Second, Yeltsin also failed to lead Russia to repentance, to make every Russian acknowledge his own responsibility for the crimes of the communist regime. Without repentance, however, those who were oppressed and raped by Russia, such as Estonia and the other Baltic states, will never trust it again.

It is not just that Putin has not corrected these mistakes, he has actually brushed aside the idea of repentance altogether. The return of the Soviet national anthem for Russia points to the Kremlin’s outdated view of Russia and its place in the modern world.

On top of that, playing the Soviet anthem during Yeltsin’s funeral was a particularly elaborate way of abusing the memory of a man who bestowed freedom upon Russia, and others beside it.

It is a well-known historical fact that the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany constituted a replacement of Nazi oppression with Communist enslavement for Eastern European countries – an enslavement that lasted for 45 years, far longer than Nazism. Therefore, the defeat that Putin’s Russia is now suffering in Estonia will soon reverberate around Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and other places where the crimes of the Communist Party and KGB were duly appraised. Thus, the cause of the abuse of our soldiers’ graves is not the bad behaviour of the Estonian government, but the very denial of historical truth by the Kremlin.

So, who is the Soviet Soldier, really – a liberator or an enslaver? The answer to this question can be given only by the people of Russia. If we will not repent, he will remain the enslaver. And if repentance comes, he will be an honest but misguided soldier. May that memory be blessed forever.

Berezovsky Speaks on Russia’s Mental State

Writing in the Independent, exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky delivers an icy blast at the neo-Soviet Kremlin. Blogger Cicero says:

Berezovsky goes straight to the heart of the problem of Putin’s Russia: the failure by Putin to acknowledge that the USSR was a criminal state. The disgusting behaviour of Putin’s Nashi thugs towards the British Ambassador in Moscow reflects the fact that Putin not only feels no shame about the crimes of the Soviet era, he is actually proud of them. The fact that Moscow can continue to launch cyber attacks against Estonia, together with closure of the border and all the other acts of harrassment, simply reflects that Putin’s regime is not one that the West can do business with.

Now, here’s Mr. B, playing the national psychiatrist which Russia oh-so-badly needs (along with a truly ginormous tabletka of lithium, or at least prozac):

WHY MODERN RUSSIA IS IN A STATE OF DENIAL

Last week saw the commemoration of Victory Day in Russia, which remembers the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Last month came the upsetting removal of a Soviet war memorial, known as The Bronze Soldier, from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a Russian military cemetery on its outskirts.

These events forced me to revisit aspects of the Soviet Union’s shameful and violent communist past, which now need to be addressed by present-day Russia in order to preserve relations between my motherland and post-communist Eastern Europe.

There are several unquestionable truths that were passed on to the majority of Soviet citizens from their parents. Some were destroyed by the reality of life, but one remained intact and holy: that Soviet soldiers liberated the world from the Nazi plague. That is my belief as well. But on the other hand. . .

The current battles between Russia and Estonia (concerning the reburial of Soviet soldiers’ remains) have much wider significance than just being one more spat between Russia and its former vassals.

The roots of this clash go much deeper than the gas wars against Ukraine (and then Belarus), than the war of wines against Georgia, and deeper even than Russia’s struggle against the deployment of US missile defence elements in Eastern Europe.

The fundamental cause of this conflict lies in the main unsolved issue of modern Russia: the denial by the Kremlin, and by President Vladimir Putin, of the Soviet regime’s criminal nature.

Objectively, this issue was inherited by President Putin from former president Yeltsin. Boris Yeltsin undoubtedly made several mistakes, some of which are the favourite theme of his detractors. They all, however, stay silent about the two main mistakes of Russia’s first president.

First, Yeltsin lacked the will (or, maybe, the courage) to indict the communist regime as a criminal one – no less so than the Nazi regime, with all the resulting consequences for the communists themselves, and for their vanguard, the Soviet secret police. Second, Yeltsin also failed to lead Russia to repentance, to make every Russian acknowledge his own responsibility for the crimes of the communist regime. Without repentance, however, those who were oppressed and raped by Russia, such as Estonia and the other Baltic states, will never trust it again.

It is not just that Putin has not corrected these mistakes, he has actually brushed aside the idea of repentance altogether. The return of the Soviet national anthem for Russia points to the Kremlin’s outdated view of Russia and its place in the modern world.

On top of that, playing the Soviet anthem during Yeltsin’s funeral was a particularly elaborate way of abusing the memory of a man who bestowed freedom upon Russia, and others beside it.

It is a well-known historical fact that the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany constituted a replacement of Nazi oppression with Communist enslavement for Eastern European countries – an enslavement that lasted for 45 years, far longer than Nazism. Therefore, the defeat that Putin’s Russia is now suffering in Estonia will soon reverberate around Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and other places where the crimes of the Communist Party and KGB were duly appraised. Thus, the cause of the abuse of our soldiers’ graves is not the bad behaviour of the Estonian government, but the very denial of historical truth by the Kremlin.

So, who is the Soviet Soldier, really – a liberator or an enslaver? The answer to this question can be given only by the people of Russia. If we will not repent, he will remain the enslaver. And if repentance comes, he will be an honest but misguided soldier. May that memory be blessed forever.

Berezovsky Speaks on Russia’s Mental State

Writing in the Independent, exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky delivers an icy blast at the neo-Soviet Kremlin. Blogger Cicero says:

Berezovsky goes straight to the heart of the problem of Putin’s Russia: the failure by Putin to acknowledge that the USSR was a criminal state. The disgusting behaviour of Putin’s Nashi thugs towards the British Ambassador in Moscow reflects the fact that Putin not only feels no shame about the crimes of the Soviet era, he is actually proud of them. The fact that Moscow can continue to launch cyber attacks against Estonia, together with closure of the border and all the other acts of harrassment, simply reflects that Putin’s regime is not one that the West can do business with.

Now, here’s Mr. B, playing the national psychiatrist which Russia oh-so-badly needs (along with a truly ginormous tabletka of lithium, or at least prozac):

WHY MODERN RUSSIA IS IN A STATE OF DENIAL

Last week saw the commemoration of Victory Day in Russia, which remembers the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Last month came the upsetting removal of a Soviet war memorial, known as The Bronze Soldier, from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to a Russian military cemetery on its outskirts.

These events forced me to revisit aspects of the Soviet Union’s shameful and violent communist past, which now need to be addressed by present-day Russia in order to preserve relations between my motherland and post-communist Eastern Europe.

There are several unquestionable truths that were passed on to the majority of Soviet citizens from their parents. Some were destroyed by the reality of life, but one remained intact and holy: that Soviet soldiers liberated the world from the Nazi plague. That is my belief as well. But on the other hand. . .

The current battles between Russia and Estonia (concerning the reburial of Soviet soldiers’ remains) have much wider significance than just being one more spat between Russia and its former vassals.

The roots of this clash go much deeper than the gas wars against Ukraine (and then Belarus), than the war of wines against Georgia, and deeper even than Russia’s struggle against the deployment of US missile defence elements in Eastern Europe.

The fundamental cause of this conflict lies in the main unsolved issue of modern Russia: the denial by the Kremlin, and by President Vladimir Putin, of the Soviet regime’s criminal nature.

Objectively, this issue was inherited by President Putin from former president Yeltsin. Boris Yeltsin undoubtedly made several mistakes, some of which are the favourite theme of his detractors. They all, however, stay silent about the two main mistakes of Russia’s first president.

First, Yeltsin lacked the will (or, maybe, the courage) to indict the communist regime as a criminal one – no less so than the Nazi regime, with all the resulting consequences for the communists themselves, and for their vanguard, the Soviet secret police. Second, Yeltsin also failed to lead Russia to repentance, to make every Russian acknowledge his own responsibility for the crimes of the communist regime. Without repentance, however, those who were oppressed and raped by Russia, such as Estonia and the other Baltic states, will never trust it again.

It is not just that Putin has not corrected these mistakes, he has actually brushed aside the idea of repentance altogether. The return of the Soviet national anthem for Russia points to the Kremlin’s outdated view of Russia and its place in the modern world.

On top of that, playing the Soviet anthem during Yeltsin’s funeral was a particularly elaborate way of abusing the memory of a man who bestowed freedom upon Russia, and others beside it.

It is a well-known historical fact that the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany constituted a replacement of Nazi oppression with Communist enslavement for Eastern European countries – an enslavement that lasted for 45 years, far longer than Nazism. Therefore, the defeat that Putin’s Russia is now suffering in Estonia will soon reverberate around Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and other places where the crimes of the Communist Party and KGB were duly appraised. Thus, the cause of the abuse of our soldiers’ graves is not the bad behaviour of the Estonian government, but the very denial of historical truth by the Kremlin.

So, who is the Soviet Soldier, really – a liberator or an enslaver? The answer to this question can be given only by the people of Russia. If we will not repent, he will remain the enslaver. And if repentance comes, he will be an honest but misguided soldier. May that memory be blessed forever.

EDITORIAL — Walter C. Uhler: Russophile Liar

Can you imagine what would happen to an employee of the Kremlin who penned an article entitled “Inciting a New Cold War: Hypocritical Russian views about American Democracy?” Have you ever heard of such a Russian doing such a thing?

Have you ever heard, for that matter, of something called the “Atlantic Free Press” or the “Russian-American International Studies Association” or its Annual Russian-American Seminar? Walter C. Uhler sure has. He’s the president of the latter, and published the following article about how the U.S., his employer (he works in weapons procurement for the Defense Department and moonlights as a “scholar” of Russia), is responsible for “inciting” a new cold war and is “hypocritical” in judging Russian democracy. Let’s test his “analysis,” shall we? It appears below in black, with our running commentary in red.

But first, some background. Uhler’s biography says he “currently serves as an Operations Chief in the Defense Contract Management Agency. His negotiations with defense contractors have saved DOD hundreds of millions of dollars.” No backup on that latter claim is provided, nor does he explain why the U.S. doesn’t choose to rely on his Russia expertise and instead relegates him to arms procurement. Here’s what “Atlantic Free Press” says about itself:

Atlantic Free Press was launched in September 2006 by Dutch-Canadian Richard Kastelein of V.O.F. Expathos, in the Netherlands and American Expatriate Chris Floyd of Oxford, UK. Brick Ogden, an American Expatriate in Amsterdam has been a key supporter of this project. Assistant Editor Canadian Chris Cook hails from Victoria, British Columbia and Senior Writer Paul William Roberts is based in Toronto – but often on the road. The mission of AF Press is simple: to dig out nuggets of truth from the slag-heap of lies, ignorance and witless diversion that has buried public discourse today. AF Press provides a new venue for disseminating hard news and insightful, fact-based analysis of the harsh realities too often ignored or distorted by the mainstream press.

In other words, it’s a bunch of anti-American weirdos who think that everything they don’t approve of is a lie told by a witness igoramus and who just can’t figure out why they’re nto more successful. If you Google “Russian-American International Studies Association” you’ll find out that it has no real existence of its own, but appears simply as part of Uhler’s name, as in “he is also president of . . . ” in his biographical statement wherever it is mentioned (all 75 times). The “Annual Russian-American Seminar” is being held at St. Petersburg State University in Russia, a bastion of hardcore anti-Americanism, a university owned and operated by the Kremlin, the place Vladimir Putin “graduated” from and which led him to the KGB.

Uhler is full of seething hatred for President Bush, and has called for his impeachment, and he despises “crackpot Christians” as well — of which he feels Bush is one. Given the fact that Bush has “looked into Putin’s eyes” and found him trustworthy, exactly what Uhler is arguing here, this contempt is hard to fathom — but quite easy to agree with. We scoured the Internet, and the picture above left is the only one of this great scholar we could find (yes, it is that small in source). One picture really is worth a thousand words, it seems. Now we ask you: Could it be any more ridiculous?

OK, so much for the background. Now let’s see what dear Mr. Uhler has to say about Russo-American relations (he plans to give this as a speech at St. Petersburg University, where they’ll lap it up like cream).

Speaking to the United States Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice commented upon the “difficult period” afflicting recent Russian-American relations. She asserted, “the Russians, I think, do not accept fully that our relations with countries that are their neighbors, that once were part of the Soviet Union, are quite honestly good relations between independent states and the United States. Had she been more forthright and understanding, however, she would have acknowledged that the U.S. “does not accept fully” the pursuit of “good relations between independent states” in its back yard. It’s called the Monroe Doctrine.

Can you imagine a bureaucrat in the Russian Department of Defense publicly attacking Russia’s secretary of state as a clueless moron? Talk about hypocrisy! Is this card-carrying maniac suggesting that America has enslaved Latin America in the same way that Russia has enslaved Eastern Europe? Does his employer even know about his yammerings, or is he publishing them in fora so obscure that nobody knows or cares? Is this hopelessly dishonest lunatic claiming that Russia is honoring the Monroe Doctrine? If so, how exacly does he explain those missiles it sent to Cuba? And, more recently, those boatloads of AK-47s and attack aircraft that it sent to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela? Could this man possibly have anything to do with those $900 toilet seats the Pentagon keeps buying?

Moreover, and worse, Ms. Rice added that the difficult period has been exacerbated by the deterioration of democracy in Russia. As she noted: “It is even more difficult when one looks at what is happening domestically in Russia where I think it’s fair to say that there has been a turning back of some of the reforms that led to the decentralization of power out of the Kremlin.” Again, few commentators seemed to have noticed the rank hypocrisy underlying her criticism of Russian democracy. For, depending upon your point of view — that is, depending upon whether you consider the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to be a more heinous crime than the Bush administration’s unprovoked and, thus, illegal preventive war against Iraq — the majority of the public in America’s democracy fully supported either the worst or second — worst international crime of the twenty-first century. Ms. Rice, in fact, knowingly lied when she told the American public on September 8, 2002, that the high strength aluminum tubes that Iraq was desperately seeking could “only” be of use in a nuclear program.

Did he just call Condi Rice a liar? He did, didn’t he. Well, it must be a great testament to American democracy that a DOD bureaucrat can call the Secretary of State a liar and keep his job. Think he could find an example of that in Russia, the great democracy that he seems to feel is on a par with the USA? Is this wacko suggesting that the U.S. cannot fight a war unless it is “provoked”? Where exactly in the Constitution does it say that, dear Mr. Uhler? Do you notice that when the question of Russia’s neo-Soviet crackdown comes up, Mr. Uhler immediately wants to talk about America? That’s because he can’t defend the Russian crackdown on its merits, so he attacks America — exactly what the old Politburo used to do. And guess where the Politburo is now! Apparently, Mr. Uhler wants Russia to follow that same path to destruction. Gosh, that’s real love for Russia!

Moreover, Ms. Rice apparently fails to appreciate how poorly most Russians view the “reforms that led to the decentralization of power out of the Kremlin.” As Katrina vanden Heuvel recently wrote for The Nation [May 21, 2007], Boris Yeltsin — whom Americans credit for that decentralization — conspired to abolish the Soviet Union, imposed a “shock therapy” on Russia that “wiped out the savings of most Russians,” permitted the “loans for shares” swindle that led to the rise of Russia’s oligarchs and ordered tanks to fire on the Russian Parliament in October 1993, which “led to the Russian super-presidency and obedient Parliament of today,” As Stephen F. Cohen has observed, during all of this so-called “decentralization,” Russia’s “essential infrastructure — political, economic and social — disintegrated. Moscow’s hold on its vast territories was weakened by separatism, official corruption and Mafia-like crime. The worst peacetime depression in modern history brought economic losses more than twice those suffered in World War II. GDP plummeted by nearly half and capital investment by 80 percent. Most Russians were thrown into poverty. Death rates soared and the population shrank. And in August 1998, the financial system imploded.” [Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation, July 10, 2006]

Ah, yes, Steven F. Cohen and Katrina vanden Heuve, his wife. His wife publishes the crazed left-wing screed “The Nation,” which in turn publishes Cohen’s crazed anti-American Russophilic ramblings, previously exposed by La Russophobe for the digusting, moronic propaganda that they are, as well as her own. It’s just about the only way Cohen could get into print these days. And guess what. The Nation publishes Uhler too! What a surprise! It’s the first “source” of information he chooses to cite in his broadminded, objective review of U.S. foreign policy. Apparently, this goony bird feels that the people of Germany were “justified” in turning to Hitler when things got rough for them after they lost World War I, and that we can’t criticize that decision because, hating our sworn enemy, we made it rough for them, testing whether the had truly become benign or not. Apparently, he thinks the transition to democracy in Russia should have been accompalished in less than eight years, Boris Yeltsin’s first two terms, and without pain, and if it couldn’t be then Russians were justified in rejecting it. By that logic, America should have turned to dictatorship during the Great Depression and is somehow superhuman for not doing so.

Thus, Americans shouldn’t be surprised to learn that many Russians have a bad taste in their mouth about the so-called democracy that flourished during the Yetsin period. In addition, they shouldn’t be surprised to learn that, as Vyacheslav Nikonov recently wrote in Izvestia, “Russian citizens” by “a ratio of 29 to 1” believe “the rule of Vladimir Putin…[to be] more democratic than that of Boris Yeltsin.” Finally, Americans shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that many Russians also have concluded that the United States supported and extolled Russian democracy only as long as kept Russia weak.

Yes, that’s right, his second source is Izvestia. Now THAT’S scholarship! Nope, not one single reason to think this man might be a propagandizing tool of the Kremlin, nosirree! Do you notice that Mr. Nikonov doesn’t care to give the source for his claim that Russians think Putin, elected last time with over 70% of the popular vote without opposition after refusing to participate in debates, is “democratic”? His margin of victory was far greater than Yeltsins, and he immediately abolished all forms of local government, now appointing regional governors rather than allowing them to be elected and, in so doing, appointing the members of Russia’s version of the Senate.

These same Russians now view the emerging American outcry about Russia’s backsliding from democracy as nothing more than the resurfacing of a Cold War mindset that many Americans in both political parties have never abandoned. And, if you read the analyses of Stephen Cohen, or Anatol Lieven, — two of America’s more astute Russia scholars — you’ll see that their suspicions have a solid foundation. More significantly, however, the contrasting examples noted above — of (1) an American democracy that sanctions one of the worst international crimes of the early twenty-first century and (2) a U.S.-approved “decentralizing” Russian democracy that permitted the impoverishment and death of many of its people (the so-called demos) — raise a more serious question. What, exactly, is democracy good for?

So source number three is the frenzied Russophile maniac Anatol Lieven, huh? At this point, he doesn’t even care to mention a specific article or book written by Lieven or a place where it is published? Classic neo-Soviet stuff. Just throw the names around. But at least he’s honest. He hates democracy, and wants to destroy it. But do you notice how his “brain” just fractured? First he said that America was hypocritical and needed to be more democratic itself before criticizing other nations, and now he says democracy sucks and Russia doens’t need to be democratic. Which is it, pray tell?

After all, in a very persuasive new book, Democracy, the eminent scholar, Charles Tilly asserts that democracies “break their commitments differently, make war differently, respond differently to external interventions and so on.” Moreover democracies rescue “ordinary people from both the tyranny and the mayhem that have prevailed in most political regimes.” [p. 6] Yet, the contrasting examples noted above challenge both of Tilly’s assumptions. Professor Tilly is no “preconditionalist,” which is to say that he does not believe that any given polity must meet specific conditions before it can begin to transform itself into a democracy. Thus, he would reject the following conclusions reached in 1992 by Brian Downing: “Unique characteristics such as elective representative assemblies, royal subordination to law, the independence of towns, a balance of power between kings, nobles, and clerics, peasant property rights, and decentralized military forces, “provided Europe with a predisposition toward democratic political institutions, a predisposition that can never be repeated in the modern developing world” (p.3) [See Walter C. Uhler.com ] Instead, Tilly asserts: “The fundamental processes promoting democratization in all times and places…consists of increasing integration of trust networks into public politics, increasing insulation of public politics from categorical inequality, and decreasing autonomy of major power centers from public politics.” [p. 23]

Source number four is the “eminent scholar” Charles Tilly, a sociologist. Tilly is so “eminent” that he has a stub biography in Wikipedia. Prospect magazine states: “America’s most prolific and interesting sociologist is unknown in Britain.” We will spare you Mr. Uhler’s lengthy discourse on the finer points of Professor Tilly’s views on “democracy” (click through the link to read them if you like). The conclusion is this:

The third and final necessary element for democratization and democracy is the willingness and ability of the state to reduce autonomous power clusters within the polity. It’s accomplished by: (1) broadening political participation, (2) equalizing access to non-state political resources and opportunities and (3) inhibiting autonomous or coercive power within and outside the state. [p. 139] And here, surprisingly, Tilly uses President Putin as an example. “Putin’s anti-democratic smashing of oligarchs to re-establish state control over energy supplies helped eliminate rival centers of coercive power within the Russian regime.” [p. 139] According to Tilly, once these three elements are in place, it still requires a strong state, led by democracy-tolerant elites, determined to ensure that “political relations between the state and its citizens feature broad, equal, protected and mutually binding consultation.” [p. 189] Democracies seldom emerge or survive in weak states. Neither do they survive when political elites withdraw their own powerful trust networks. In his examination of democracy in Russia, Tilly credits Mikhail Gorbachev not only for glasnost and perestroika, but especially for his stated ambition to create a “profound and consistent democracy” (during his extraordinary speech to the 19th party conference in June 1988). But he also notes how declining economic performance “and widespread demands for autonomy or even independence” weakened state capacity in the Soviet Union and, thus, prevented Gorbachev from leading a smooth transition to democracy on a national scale. [pp. 133-34] Whatever one says about Yeltsin’s decidedly mixed record as a democratizer, it is difficult to deny that such efforts were being pursued during a period when the state was losing its capacity to govern. Which is to say that serious democratization became virtually impossible during the later years of his rule, especially after his faltering health “caused feverish maneuvering for influence within the presidential circle.” [p. 134] Thus, Tilly credits President Putin, not only for destroying the oligarchs, but also for restoring political power in Russia.

Is this card-carrying maniac really suggesting that authoritarian dictatorship is a pathway to democracy? Doesn’t it occur to him to notice that Russia WAS an authoritarian dicatorship, then it crumbled, and Russia STILL didn’t become democratic? How many eons of suffering would this lunatic condemn the Russian people to whilst he gambles on a civilized system emerging from all that horror? Now, wait for it . . . after going on and on and on about how brilliant Tilly is (remember, we spared you most of the drivel), he’s about to reject his conclusion after accepting all his evidence.

But, he also blames Putin for strengthening the state at the expense of de-democratizing Russia. Moreover, “as of 2006… Putin’s regime was not striking bargains that subjected the Russian state to public politics or facilitated popular influence over public politics.” [pp. 139 – 40] Why? Because, the Russian government currently exercises direct control over huge oil and gas revenues, which renders such bargaining unnecessary. Thus, Putin’s regime frees itself from political accountability. Notwithstanding Professor Tilly’s superb scholarship, we still must confront evidence that undermines his interpretation. First, we have President Putin’s own commitment to democracy. Second, as mentioned earlier, Russians believe that their country under Putin’s rule is more democratic than it was under Yeltsin. Finally, there is still that stubborn fact of elections. As Thomas Carothers has written recently: “Weak and problematic though elections often are, they now form a crucial step in the process of attaining political legitimacy throughout most of the world.” [Carothers, “How Democracies Emerge: The ‘Sequencing’ Fallacy,” Journal of Democracy p. 21] Finally, even if one concludes that democracy in Putin’s Russia is weak and undergoing de-democratization, that trend is not irreversible. For, as even Tilly notes: “If, in the future, the Russian state again becomes subject to protected, mutually binding consultation in dialogue with a broad, relatively equal citizenry, we may look back to Putin as the autocrat who took the first undemocratic steps toward that outcome.” [p. 137]

The problem with morons like Uhler is that they are utterly detached from reality, just like the old Soviets were, and they like it that way. The result is that they simply tell lies of the most ridiculous kind, beliving they are “cleverer” than everybody else in the world and can’t get caught. But there’s no need to fear, La Russophobe is here! Just days ago, La Russophobe reported that a public survey from Russia’s leading pollster found that “almost half of Russia’s voters expect that the parliamentary election this year will be falsified by the ruling elite and defy the will of the people.” In other words, the Russian people themselves repudiate the idea that Putin is the least bit democratic. The reality is that they don’ t want democracy, and this loser just got finished trying to prove that democracy isn’t all that great. Like all Russophile idiots of his ilk, he can’t even decide which stupid argument he wants to propound, that Russia is democratic or that it doesn’t have to be, so he tries to accomplish both.

More significantly, when one asks about current trends in Russia, he should also ask: “To what effect?” After all, the United States of America boasts about its possession of the oldest and most robust of democracies. Yet, the American public permitted itself to be duped into supporting an illegal, immoral war in Iraq and then tolerated some three years of worsening destruction and, finally, civil war there, before deciding, in the mid-term Congressional elections of November 2006, to hold President Bush and his administration accountable for it. Moreover, even at this late date, the issue moving the public is less the lies and immorality attending the decision to wage war than it is the fact that most Americans now believe that the war was not worth the cost. By this standard, the sins committed by President Putin, by “turning back of some of the reforms that led to the decentralization of power out of the Kremlin,” appear very minor, indeed.

So, the “author” admits that the American people did in fact hold Bush accountable. Has Putin been held accountable for Chechnya? Or Dubrovka? Or the Kursk? Or Beslan? Has he even once participated in a debate over his policies with a credible rival? These are not questions the “author” will address because they are honest questions. Instead, like a Communist apparachik or KGB mole, he’ll try to shift the discussion to America. If America has problems, he’ll argue, then Russia should ignore its own — or at least ignore American criticism of those problems. In other words, it should simply let those problems get worse and worse until they destroy the country, just to satisify its crazed notion of “pride.”

Uhler ignores the fact that in every international survey of performance the Putin regime has failed miserably. He ignores the fact that the population is falling just as fast under Putin as it was under Yeltsin. He ignores the horrific string of political killings under Putin, starting with Galina Starovoitova, and he ignores Putin’s wildly provocative rhetoric and policies (Iran, Venezuela, Hamas and Hezbollah). He ignores everything that might undermine his propaganda.

Truly, there may be nobody in the world who hates the people of Russia more than Walter C. Uhler.

And there may be nobody who hates the people of America as much either. After all, if a KGB spy were writing to destroy America, how would the article be any different than what you see above?