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.