Daily Archives: June 9, 2007

June 9, 2007 — Contents

SATURDAY JUNE 9 CONTENTS


(1) Vladimir Putin is a despicable, mendacious liar

(2) More on the “Ticking Time Bomb” of nuclear waste in Russia

(3) The Skinhead Law used to attack Putin’s Opponents, Just as Predicted

(4) Stalin, Hitler . . . Same difference

NOTE: On Thursday, as we previously reported, Serbian Ana Ivanovic (world #7) ran roughshod over “Russian” Maria Sharapova (world #2) in the semi-finals of the French Open, blowing her off the court with the greatest of ease. Today, Ivanovic faced world #1 Justine Henin-Hardenne in the finals, and was crushed in 65 minutes, winning only 3 of 15 games played. In other words, Justine did to Ana exactly what Ana had done to Maria. So what would have happened if so-called “#2” Shamapova had been forced to play Justine? It wouldn’t have been pretty, that’s for sure, but it would have shown what a total mockery is the claim that Shamapova deserves to be considered a champion.

Vladimir Putin is a Despicable, Mendacious Liar

In an interview with multi-national journalists at the G-8 summit, “President” Putin continued to lie brazenly about the contents of the Russian Constitution:

THE TIMES: Today the British media are mainly interested in two issues concerning Russia. The first is the Litvinenko case. And the second is BP and Shell’s experience in Russia. I would like to ask you two questions. First, are there circumstances in which Russia would agree to Britain’s request to extradite Lugovoi? And the second question. In light of BP and Shell’s experience in Russia, should British companies invest in Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Are there circumstances in which Russia would extradite Lugovoi? There are. The Constitution of the Russian Federation would have to change. That is the first thing.

That is a brazen lie. It is simply false that the Russian Constitution prevents the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi for trial in Britain. It doesn’t. All that is required is for the Duma to pass a law authorizing the extradition, and the Duma, as everyone knows, is the gutless rubber stamp of the “president.” All he would have to do is give the order for a law to be passed, and it would be instantly accomplished. Moreover, there is a strong argument that passing a law isn’t even necessary, since Russia has already signed a foreign extradition treaty and the constitution clearly allows for extradition in that case.

Putin then went on to deliver an outrageous insult against British law enforcement:

And now about the request itself. I have very mixed feelings about this request. If the people who sent this request did not know that the Russian Constitution prohibits the extradition of Russian citizens to foreign countries then their level of competency must certainly be questioned. In general the heads of such high-ranking law enforcement agencies should know this. And if they do not know this then their place is not in law enforcement agencies but somewhere else. In parliament, for example, or in journalism. But on the other hand, if they did know this but made the request anyways, then it is just a publicity stunt. In other words, you can look at the problem from any way but in all cases you see stupidity. I do not see any positive aspects to what was done. If they did not know then they are incompetent and we have doubts about what they have been doing there. And if they did know and did it anyway then that is pure politics. Both options are bad. One last point. I think that after the British government allowed a significant number of criminals, thieves and terrorists to gather in Britain they created an environment which endangers the lives and health of British citizens. And all responsibility for this lies with the British side.

So not only did Putin lie about the Constitution, he accused the British of being morons for not believing his lie, and then went further, accusing them of general incompetence in allowing lawlessness in Britain. This from the man who presided over the Beslan and Dubrovka attacks, whose nation has the fifth highest murder rate in the whole world, more than five times higher than the rate of murder in Britain!

To say that Putin’s statements are not those of a statesman, much less a president, but rather those of a crude thug, is besides the point. Putin’s crazed utterances are provoking the West into a new cold war. He seems to believe that by attacking the U.S. and Britain, he can split Europe into two camps and that the France/Germany side will join Russia. This is delusional neo-Soviet egomania at its very most pathetic. Putin was raised in a culture that taught him Soviets were so much cleverer than Westerners that they could tell them any sort of ridiculous lie and be believed, so much braver than Westerners that they could hurl any sort of insult and achieve dominance. Those inculcated with this propaganda are so insensible to reason that the fall of the USSR does not alter their vehemence one iota. This malignant little troll is dooming the people of Russia to centuries more hardship and suffering, potentially to the final destruction of Russia as a nation.

And the Russian people have no one to blame but themselves.

More on the Ticking Nuclear Waste Time Bomb in Russia

Foreign Policy has more on the “ticking nuclear waste time bomb” in Putin’s Russia. For still more, check out Grigory Pasko’s horrifying account on Robert Amsterdam’s blog.

Soviet Russia was never overly concerned with nuclear waste disposal. For decades, the Soviets simply dumped radioactive materials into the Arctic Ocean or erected temporary storage facilities for such materials. Those facilities are now beginning to age, and are becoming a serious environmental problem. Frighteningly, one of these facilities may even be in danger of exploding.

AFP

Norwegian researchers have obtained an alarming report from Rosatom, the Russian nuclear agency, about a site on the Kola Peninsula, an ore-rich area near the northern border with Norway. Since 1982, 21,000 spent uranium fuel assemblies have been stored there in three concrete tanks right next to the coast. Inside the tanks, large metal pipes contain the rods. Unfortunately, the concrete has begun to leak and allow sea water in, corroding the metal tubes.

Leakage is a problem because spent rods contain many types of fissile isotopes, and salt water could cause them to disintegrate relatively quickly. Essentially, those fissile isotopes will dissolve in the water, creating a radioactive slurry inside the tubes.

This could be dangerous because, in the right conditions, enough fissile material concentrated in a small space creates a lot of heat—the same principle we exploit for nuclear power generation. Uncontrolled, this heat could cause steam to build up in the tubes, eventually leading them to explode. If concentrations of fissile material are high enough, dangerous chain reactions could occur, releasing more intense (and potentially explosive) “bursts of radiation and heat.” The risk of such explosions is small— both Russian and Norwegian nuclear officials have accordingly “downplayed the danger“—but still significant given the potential for widespread fallout.

And while an actual atomic explosion is probably impossible in this situation, even steam explosions could send huge quantities of dangerously radioactive material into the environment. Rosatom claims there is no danger of that happening, but given the Russian track record on waste disposal, we should watch sites like this very carefully.

MT: Skinhead Law being Applied to Putin’s Opponents

The Moscow Times reports that the worst fears about the so-called “anti-extremism” law, that it would be used not to crush racism but to crush dissent, have been proven valid:

When President Vladimir Putin signed a 2002 anti-extremism law in response to a wave of hate crimes linked to skinheads, critics warned it was a thinly veiled move to silence opponents.

Five years later, evidence is mounting to support their fears.

Renowned human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky and political scientist Andrei Piontkovsky say the Federal Security Service has targeted them recently under the pretext of stamping out extremism. More liberal intelligentsia than White Power, these three Kremlin critics say they have been caught in a wider campaign to label anyone who disagrees with the powers that be as extremist. The investigations come as the Kremlin is being bombarded with accusations of stifling democracy from top European and U.S. officials, who have criticized its treatment of political opponents. Ponomaryov was questioned at the FSB’s Lubyanka headquarters Monday over a speech he made at a January rally in defense of two businesspeople accused of illegal trafficking of ethyl ether — charges rights activists say are trumped up. “They say I shouted extremist slogans,” Ponomaryov said, adding that his questioners could not even tell him what he purportedly shouted. After the 40-minute Lubyanka meeting, Ponomaryov was told that the “material” — whatever it was — would be sent to the City Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to press criminal charges against him, he said. “The law on extremism is like the Soviet-style law that forbids any criticism of the state,” he said.

Putin signed the anti-extremism bill into law five years ago amid heavy criticism from Communists, liberal lawmakers and human rights advocates, who said it would give the government too much power to suppress public protest. Since then, authorities’ powers under the bill have only expanded. Last year Putin signed amendments broadening the definition of extremist activities, which now include pliable terms such as “undermining the security of the Russian Federation” and “interfering in the legal activity of the state.” Pribylovsky believes his writings about the country’s top official may have led FSB officers to search his Moscow apartment Friday and confiscate papers and his computer. Initially told the seizures were related to the investigation of the slaying of former FSB deputy chief Anatoly Trofimov two years ago, Pribylovsky said the seizure was likely connected to a biography of Putin he is writing together with U.S.-based historian Yuri Felshtinsky. Felshtinsky, together with Alexander Litvinenko, penned a book implicating the FSB in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings that preceded the second Chechen war. Pribylovsky said he later inquired as to the whereabouts of his papers and computer and was told that they were being examined for extremist content, Pribylovsky said. “The authorities know the elections are soon,” Pribylovsky said, adding that he hid a flash card with an electronic copy of his Putin biography in his trash bin. “The regime knows it is built on high oil prices and cannot stay in power.”

If the FSB was trying to prevent the book from going to press, the raid appears to have been counterproductive. Citing fears for Pribylovsky’s life should the biography hit Russian shelves, Felshtinsky said they had originally decided not to publish it. “But in light of the illegal FSB actions, we’re going ahead with it,” Felshtinsky said in a telephone interview.

Then there’s Piontkovsky, who penned books critical of Putin that were distributed by opposition party Yabloko, of which he is a senior member. Authorities in Krasnodar last month, at the behest of the regional FSB branch, threatened to close down Yabloko’s Krasnodar branch if it did not drop the book. The FSB came by Piontkovsky’s Moscow home on Friday only to find that he had flown to Washington on a business trip. Piontkovsky, a former columnist for The Moscow Times, said authorities were trying to pressure him into not returning to Russia. “Of course, it’s not pleasant,” he said by telephone. “But it won’t work. I am coming back.” Piontkovsky is planning to attend a Moscow conference on July 10. Piontkovsky likened current extremism laws to “Stalinist laws on extremism, which they are using to get rid of any opposing views.” The City Prosecutor’s Office confirmed last week that the Zamoskvoretsky District prosecutor’s office was investigating whether Piontkovsky’s books are extremist. The books in question, “Unloved Country” (2006) and “For the Motherland! For Abramovich! Fire!” (2005), are both critical of the Kremlin.

An FSB spokesman declined to comment on the three cases and referred all questions to the agency’s Moscow city branch, where repeated calls this week went unanswered. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that criticism of Russia’s human rights record was “often highly exaggerated and most frequently incorrect” and that Russians had the right to criticize the government. “Only those who act illegally and threaten public order” are prosecuted, he said. Peskov said Thursday that it was “for the courts to decide” whether Ponomaryov, Pribylovsky and Piontkovsky are guilty of extremism. The FSB has questioned several other opposition figures in recent months in connection with purported extremism, including former chess champion Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, whose banned National Bolshevik Party was dismantled by the courts on charges of spreading extremist ideology.

Last week the agency seized 150,000 copies of a newspaper advertising a Dissenters’ March scheduled for Monday in St. Petersburg from a printing house in the northern capital. Authorities are examining the newspapers for extremism. Former prime minister and opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov, who has been nominated by his People’s Democratic Party to run for president in March, said FSB officers raided the party’s Tula offices last week and confiscated its computers under the same pretext.

MT: Skinhead Law being Applied to Putin’s Opponents

The Moscow Times reports that the worst fears about the so-called “anti-extremism” law, that it would be used not to crush racism but to crush dissent, have been proven valid:

When President Vladimir Putin signed a 2002 anti-extremism law in response to a wave of hate crimes linked to skinheads, critics warned it was a thinly veiled move to silence opponents.

Five years later, evidence is mounting to support their fears.

Renowned human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky and political scientist Andrei Piontkovsky say the Federal Security Service has targeted them recently under the pretext of stamping out extremism. More liberal intelligentsia than White Power, these three Kremlin critics say they have been caught in a wider campaign to label anyone who disagrees with the powers that be as extremist. The investigations come as the Kremlin is being bombarded with accusations of stifling democracy from top European and U.S. officials, who have criticized its treatment of political opponents. Ponomaryov was questioned at the FSB’s Lubyanka headquarters Monday over a speech he made at a January rally in defense of two businesspeople accused of illegal trafficking of ethyl ether — charges rights activists say are trumped up. “They say I shouted extremist slogans,” Ponomaryov said, adding that his questioners could not even tell him what he purportedly shouted. After the 40-minute Lubyanka meeting, Ponomaryov was told that the “material” — whatever it was — would be sent to the City Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to press criminal charges against him, he said. “The law on extremism is like the Soviet-style law that forbids any criticism of the state,” he said.

Putin signed the anti-extremism bill into law five years ago amid heavy criticism from Communists, liberal lawmakers and human rights advocates, who said it would give the government too much power to suppress public protest. Since then, authorities’ powers under the bill have only expanded. Last year Putin signed amendments broadening the definition of extremist activities, which now include pliable terms such as “undermining the security of the Russian Federation” and “interfering in the legal activity of the state.” Pribylovsky believes his writings about the country’s top official may have led FSB officers to search his Moscow apartment Friday and confiscate papers and his computer. Initially told the seizures were related to the investigation of the slaying of former FSB deputy chief Anatoly Trofimov two years ago, Pribylovsky said the seizure was likely connected to a biography of Putin he is writing together with U.S.-based historian Yuri Felshtinsky. Felshtinsky, together with Alexander Litvinenko, penned a book implicating the FSB in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings that preceded the second Chechen war. Pribylovsky said he later inquired as to the whereabouts of his papers and computer and was told that they were being examined for extremist content, Pribylovsky said. “The authorities know the elections are soon,” Pribylovsky said, adding that he hid a flash card with an electronic copy of his Putin biography in his trash bin. “The regime knows it is built on high oil prices and cannot stay in power.”

If the FSB was trying to prevent the book from going to press, the raid appears to have been counterproductive. Citing fears for Pribylovsky’s life should the biography hit Russian shelves, Felshtinsky said they had originally decided not to publish it. “But in light of the illegal FSB actions, we’re going ahead with it,” Felshtinsky said in a telephone interview.

Then there’s Piontkovsky, who penned books critical of Putin that were distributed by opposition party Yabloko, of which he is a senior member. Authorities in Krasnodar last month, at the behest of the regional FSB branch, threatened to close down Yabloko’s Krasnodar branch if it did not drop the book. The FSB came by Piontkovsky’s Moscow home on Friday only to find that he had flown to Washington on a business trip. Piontkovsky, a former columnist for The Moscow Times, said authorities were trying to pressure him into not returning to Russia. “Of course, it’s not pleasant,” he said by telephone. “But it won’t work. I am coming back.” Piontkovsky is planning to attend a Moscow conference on July 10. Piontkovsky likened current extremism laws to “Stalinist laws on extremism, which they are using to get rid of any opposing views.” The City Prosecutor’s Office confirmed last week that the Zamoskvoretsky District prosecutor’s office was investigating whether Piontkovsky’s books are extremist. The books in question, “Unloved Country” (2006) and “For the Motherland! For Abramovich! Fire!” (2005), are both critical of the Kremlin.

An FSB spokesman declined to comment on the three cases and referred all questions to the agency’s Moscow city branch, where repeated calls this week went unanswered. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that criticism of Russia’s human rights record was “often highly exaggerated and most frequently incorrect” and that Russians had the right to criticize the government. “Only those who act illegally and threaten public order” are prosecuted, he said. Peskov said Thursday that it was “for the courts to decide” whether Ponomaryov, Pribylovsky and Piontkovsky are guilty of extremism. The FSB has questioned several other opposition figures in recent months in connection with purported extremism, including former chess champion Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, whose banned National Bolshevik Party was dismantled by the courts on charges of spreading extremist ideology.

Last week the agency seized 150,000 copies of a newspaper advertising a Dissenters’ March scheduled for Monday in St. Petersburg from a printing house in the northern capital. Authorities are examining the newspapers for extremism. Former prime minister and opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov, who has been nominated by his People’s Democratic Party to run for president in March, said FSB officers raided the party’s Tula offices last week and confiscated its computers under the same pretext.

MT: Skinhead Law being Applied to Putin’s Opponents

The Moscow Times reports that the worst fears about the so-called “anti-extremism” law, that it would be used not to crush racism but to crush dissent, have been proven valid:

When President Vladimir Putin signed a 2002 anti-extremism law in response to a wave of hate crimes linked to skinheads, critics warned it was a thinly veiled move to silence opponents.

Five years later, evidence is mounting to support their fears.

Renowned human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky and political scientist Andrei Piontkovsky say the Federal Security Service has targeted them recently under the pretext of stamping out extremism. More liberal intelligentsia than White Power, these three Kremlin critics say they have been caught in a wider campaign to label anyone who disagrees with the powers that be as extremist. The investigations come as the Kremlin is being bombarded with accusations of stifling democracy from top European and U.S. officials, who have criticized its treatment of political opponents. Ponomaryov was questioned at the FSB’s Lubyanka headquarters Monday over a speech he made at a January rally in defense of two businesspeople accused of illegal trafficking of ethyl ether — charges rights activists say are trumped up. “They say I shouted extremist slogans,” Ponomaryov said, adding that his questioners could not even tell him what he purportedly shouted. After the 40-minute Lubyanka meeting, Ponomaryov was told that the “material” — whatever it was — would be sent to the City Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to press criminal charges against him, he said. “The law on extremism is like the Soviet-style law that forbids any criticism of the state,” he said.

Putin signed the anti-extremism bill into law five years ago amid heavy criticism from Communists, liberal lawmakers and human rights advocates, who said it would give the government too much power to suppress public protest. Since then, authorities’ powers under the bill have only expanded. Last year Putin signed amendments broadening the definition of extremist activities, which now include pliable terms such as “undermining the security of the Russian Federation” and “interfering in the legal activity of the state.” Pribylovsky believes his writings about the country’s top official may have led FSB officers to search his Moscow apartment Friday and confiscate papers and his computer. Initially told the seizures were related to the investigation of the slaying of former FSB deputy chief Anatoly Trofimov two years ago, Pribylovsky said the seizure was likely connected to a biography of Putin he is writing together with U.S.-based historian Yuri Felshtinsky. Felshtinsky, together with Alexander Litvinenko, penned a book implicating the FSB in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings that preceded the second Chechen war. Pribylovsky said he later inquired as to the whereabouts of his papers and computer and was told that they were being examined for extremist content, Pribylovsky said. “The authorities know the elections are soon,” Pribylovsky said, adding that he hid a flash card with an electronic copy of his Putin biography in his trash bin. “The regime knows it is built on high oil prices and cannot stay in power.”

If the FSB was trying to prevent the book from going to press, the raid appears to have been counterproductive. Citing fears for Pribylovsky’s life should the biography hit Russian shelves, Felshtinsky said they had originally decided not to publish it. “But in light of the illegal FSB actions, we’re going ahead with it,” Felshtinsky said in a telephone interview.

Then there’s Piontkovsky, who penned books critical of Putin that were distributed by opposition party Yabloko, of which he is a senior member. Authorities in Krasnodar last month, at the behest of the regional FSB branch, threatened to close down Yabloko’s Krasnodar branch if it did not drop the book. The FSB came by Piontkovsky’s Moscow home on Friday only to find that he had flown to Washington on a business trip. Piontkovsky, a former columnist for The Moscow Times, said authorities were trying to pressure him into not returning to Russia. “Of course, it’s not pleasant,” he said by telephone. “But it won’t work. I am coming back.” Piontkovsky is planning to attend a Moscow conference on July 10. Piontkovsky likened current extremism laws to “Stalinist laws on extremism, which they are using to get rid of any opposing views.” The City Prosecutor’s Office confirmed last week that the Zamoskvoretsky District prosecutor’s office was investigating whether Piontkovsky’s books are extremist. The books in question, “Unloved Country” (2006) and “For the Motherland! For Abramovich! Fire!” (2005), are both critical of the Kremlin.

An FSB spokesman declined to comment on the three cases and referred all questions to the agency’s Moscow city branch, where repeated calls this week went unanswered. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that criticism of Russia’s human rights record was “often highly exaggerated and most frequently incorrect” and that Russians had the right to criticize the government. “Only those who act illegally and threaten public order” are prosecuted, he said. Peskov said Thursday that it was “for the courts to decide” whether Ponomaryov, Pribylovsky and Piontkovsky are guilty of extremism. The FSB has questioned several other opposition figures in recent months in connection with purported extremism, including former chess champion Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, whose banned National Bolshevik Party was dismantled by the courts on charges of spreading extremist ideology.

Last week the agency seized 150,000 copies of a newspaper advertising a Dissenters’ March scheduled for Monday in St. Petersburg from a printing house in the northern capital. Authorities are examining the newspapers for extremism. Former prime minister and opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov, who has been nominated by his People’s Democratic Party to run for president in March, said FSB officers raided the party’s Tula offices last week and confiscated its computers under the same pretext.

MT: Skinhead Law being Applied to Putin’s Opponents

The Moscow Times reports that the worst fears about the so-called “anti-extremism” law, that it would be used not to crush racism but to crush dissent, have been proven valid:

When President Vladimir Putin signed a 2002 anti-extremism law in response to a wave of hate crimes linked to skinheads, critics warned it was a thinly veiled move to silence opponents.

Five years later, evidence is mounting to support their fears.

Renowned human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky and political scientist Andrei Piontkovsky say the Federal Security Service has targeted them recently under the pretext of stamping out extremism. More liberal intelligentsia than White Power, these three Kremlin critics say they have been caught in a wider campaign to label anyone who disagrees with the powers that be as extremist. The investigations come as the Kremlin is being bombarded with accusations of stifling democracy from top European and U.S. officials, who have criticized its treatment of political opponents. Ponomaryov was questioned at the FSB’s Lubyanka headquarters Monday over a speech he made at a January rally in defense of two businesspeople accused of illegal trafficking of ethyl ether — charges rights activists say are trumped up. “They say I shouted extremist slogans,” Ponomaryov said, adding that his questioners could not even tell him what he purportedly shouted. After the 40-minute Lubyanka meeting, Ponomaryov was told that the “material” — whatever it was — would be sent to the City Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to press criminal charges against him, he said. “The law on extremism is like the Soviet-style law that forbids any criticism of the state,” he said.

Putin signed the anti-extremism bill into law five years ago amid heavy criticism from Communists, liberal lawmakers and human rights advocates, who said it would give the government too much power to suppress public protest. Since then, authorities’ powers under the bill have only expanded. Last year Putin signed amendments broadening the definition of extremist activities, which now include pliable terms such as “undermining the security of the Russian Federation” and “interfering in the legal activity of the state.” Pribylovsky believes his writings about the country’s top official may have led FSB officers to search his Moscow apartment Friday and confiscate papers and his computer. Initially told the seizures were related to the investigation of the slaying of former FSB deputy chief Anatoly Trofimov two years ago, Pribylovsky said the seizure was likely connected to a biography of Putin he is writing together with U.S.-based historian Yuri Felshtinsky. Felshtinsky, together with Alexander Litvinenko, penned a book implicating the FSB in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings that preceded the second Chechen war. Pribylovsky said he later inquired as to the whereabouts of his papers and computer and was told that they were being examined for extremist content, Pribylovsky said. “The authorities know the elections are soon,” Pribylovsky said, adding that he hid a flash card with an electronic copy of his Putin biography in his trash bin. “The regime knows it is built on high oil prices and cannot stay in power.”

If the FSB was trying to prevent the book from going to press, the raid appears to have been counterproductive. Citing fears for Pribylovsky’s life should the biography hit Russian shelves, Felshtinsky said they had originally decided not to publish it. “But in light of the illegal FSB actions, we’re going ahead with it,” Felshtinsky said in a telephone interview.

Then there’s Piontkovsky, who penned books critical of Putin that were distributed by opposition party Yabloko, of which he is a senior member. Authorities in Krasnodar last month, at the behest of the regional FSB branch, threatened to close down Yabloko’s Krasnodar branch if it did not drop the book. The FSB came by Piontkovsky’s Moscow home on Friday only to find that he had flown to Washington on a business trip. Piontkovsky, a former columnist for The Moscow Times, said authorities were trying to pressure him into not returning to Russia. “Of course, it’s not pleasant,” he said by telephone. “But it won’t work. I am coming back.” Piontkovsky is planning to attend a Moscow conference on July 10. Piontkovsky likened current extremism laws to “Stalinist laws on extremism, which they are using to get rid of any opposing views.” The City Prosecutor’s Office confirmed last week that the Zamoskvoretsky District prosecutor’s office was investigating whether Piontkovsky’s books are extremist. The books in question, “Unloved Country” (2006) and “For the Motherland! For Abramovich! Fire!” (2005), are both critical of the Kremlin.

An FSB spokesman declined to comment on the three cases and referred all questions to the agency’s Moscow city branch, where repeated calls this week went unanswered. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that criticism of Russia’s human rights record was “often highly exaggerated and most frequently incorrect” and that Russians had the right to criticize the government. “Only those who act illegally and threaten public order” are prosecuted, he said. Peskov said Thursday that it was “for the courts to decide” whether Ponomaryov, Pribylovsky and Piontkovsky are guilty of extremism. The FSB has questioned several other opposition figures in recent months in connection with purported extremism, including former chess champion Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, whose banned National Bolshevik Party was dismantled by the courts on charges of spreading extremist ideology.

Last week the agency seized 150,000 copies of a newspaper advertising a Dissenters’ March scheduled for Monday in St. Petersburg from a printing house in the northern capital. Authorities are examining the newspapers for extremism. Former prime minister and opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov, who has been nominated by his People’s Democratic Party to run for president in March, said FSB officers raided the party’s Tula offices last week and confiscated its computers under the same pretext.