Monthly Archives: November 2008

December 1, 2008 — Contents


(1)  Another Original LR Translation:  Beslan and the KGB

(2)  EDITORIAL:  A New Low in the Annals of Russian Stupidity

(3)  Vladimir Putin:  Hoist with his Own Petard (Translation)

(4)  EDITORIAL:  A New Low in the Annals of Russian Barbarism

(5)  Putin on the Brink

(6)  The Horror of Russian Nationalism, Unbound

NOTE:  We offer today two translations from the Russian press, most importantly a stunning piece of work by our own Dave Essel from the heroic pages of Novaya Gazeta.  The piece makes jaw-dropping claims regarding the involvement of the KGB in the Beslan atrocity, very similar allegations to those made by Alexander Litvinkenko about the Moscow apartment bombings — allegations which ultimately may have got poor Sasha whacked. We can’t help but be reminded of NG’s other epic piece of a similar nature, Spare Organs, which we also translated and made available to the outside world.

NOTE:  LR publisher Kim Zigfeld recently had two pieces appear in the wider blogosphere.  First on the Jewcy website she analyzed the Kremlin’s outrageous attempt to install offensive ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad, and then on Pajamas Media she exposed the Kremlin’s ridiculous attempt to make propaganda hay out of leaked information from the OSCE investigation on the use of Georgian artillery during the recent war with Russia. As always, Kim’s work is required reading of the first order for those who want to know what is really going on behind the new Iron Curtain. Go boss, go!

NOTE: Other Russia reports on a new documentary film about the Russian opposition movement called In the Holy Fire of Revolution by Masha Novikova. The film was recently screened at an international festival in Amsterdam, and Garry Kasparov, who appears prominently in the film, was on hand and had firey words for the Kremlin during his festival interviewKasparov and Boris Nemtsov recently came together for a formative meeting of the new “Solidarity” movement and promised they would cease their bickering and focus on the common enemy.  We wish them well.

Another Original LR Translation: Beslan and the KGB

A note from the translator: The following article which I have translated from Novaya Gazeta raises a number of very pertinent questions about what exactly was going on at the Beslan tragedy. If true, and I can see no reason to doubt that it is, the Beslan tragedy may be more a crime of state terrorism than Islamic terrorism. The information, collected by Ella Kesayeva, co-chairman of the All-Russian Voice of Beslan Public Organisation, certainly raises some very nasty doubts and suspicions that this is yet another criminally botched Russian secret police operation along the lines of the Moscow flat bombings, the Nord-Ost theatre debacle, the Litvinenko murder, and so on. In my translation below, I have mostly rendered the interminable and semi-mystical acronyms for the various police, state security, and other legal institutions by their Latin letters. Russian bureaucracy, in law-enforcement too, is labyrinthine. I think that for the most part it is sufficient to remember that any acronym with VD in it means “cops” of one sort or another from the Ministry of the Interior and any acronym with FSB somewhere in it means “KGB goon of one sort or another” from the Federal Security Service. The precise body can be ascertained by those who wish to do so by reconverting the Latin letters into Cyrillic.

Terrorists or Agents?

Strange facts about the Beslan Tragedy

by Ella Kesayeva

 Novaya Gazeta

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

The investigation into the Beslan tragedy is now into its fifth year but no clear answer has yet been provided to one of the main questions: precisely how many terrorists were there at Beslan and who were they? According to the investigators’ version, the terrorist group was composed of 33 people. The identities of most of them were established from their fingerprints. This means that all these terrorists must, at one time or another, have been registered by the North Caucasus regional UBOP and UFSB [anti-organised crime police and KGB, in our parlance], been on the wanted list, been detained or arrested, or in some cases condemned.

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EDITORIAL: A New Low in the Annals of Russian Stupidity


A New Low in the Annals of Russian Stupidity

We’ve chronicled some amazing instances of Russian stupidity here on this blog over the years, but this one may well take the cake:  It was announced last week that Russia was “considering” the possiblity of cooperating with OPEC to reduce the world’s supply of crude oil and artificially jack up prices.  Oil prices actually rose on the news, about 1% but still below a — for Russia — sickening $52/barrel.  This notion is stupid on so many levels it’s difficult to know where to begin.

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Vladimir Putin, Hoist with his own Petard

A De-Facto Confession

Vitaly Portnikov



Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became yet another high-ranking Russian civil servant to admit that an economic crisis exists in the country. He did this loudly and solemnly at a congress of the party of power. And having promised that there would not be a repeat of the 1998 collapse, he took personal responsibility for the social impact of the crisis, which even such a mighty national leader doesn’t have the power to prevent.

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EDITORIAL: A New Low in the Annals of Russian Barbarism


A New Low in the Annals of Russian Barbarism

If we told you that a certain Russian was announcing a prediction that the United States of America would experience a total economic collapse and within the next six months break apart into a half dozen separate new countries, ceding world leadership to Russia and China, and that when this occurred Russia would seize back the state of Alaska, which in fact America only held by lease interest anyway, we bet that you, seasoned Russia watcher that you are, would have no trouble guessing that Russian’s identity.

Vladimir Zhirinovksy, you’d say. There he goes again!

But you’d be wrong.  Oh, so very wrong.

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Putin on the Brink

From the London Review of Books, an account of Putin teetering on the brink of Soviet-style collapse:

The financial crisis – or, as we like to call it here, ‘the effects of the American and European financial crisis on Russia’ – has taken a little while to get going, but it’s going now. Yesterday my grandmother sat me down for a serious conversation: she wanted to know if she should take her rouble-denominated life savings out of the Sberbank and put them into dollars. Everyone’s a financial adviser now. Or rather, I’m a financial adviser now. This is not good.

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The Horror of Russian Nationalism, Unbound

The New York Times continues its series of articles published in the paper and translated into Russian on a ZheZhe blog, collecting comments in Russian which it then translates back into English. The latest installment exposes the phenomenon of nationalism in Putin’s neo-Soviet Russia, exploding the myth that Putins’ KGB regime lacks ideology.  Some hopeful Russian comments are digested following the text. Perhaps the most telling and typical is this neo-Soviet rationalization:

You gentlemen are interested in “Stalin” secrets. Why so? So many years have passed. If The New York Times was able to dig into the archives of the American secret services and the role of F.B.I. and C.I.A. in the organization of President Kennedy’s assassination, this interest would be understandable. However, there is one guess. A program of active (secret) propagandist operations has been put in motion on the Web. One more “Orange Revolution” is required, this time in Moscow. And human rights in the U.S.S.R. (Russia) and Stalin repressions are nothing but a smoke screen to cover a secret operation. Undoubtedly.

Another poor ignorant soul writes:  “The word ‘nationalism’ is not applicable to Russia at all (at least on the state level, on the level of everyday life, there is no more nationalism than in any other state).” A third claims:  “No matter how much mud they sling at Stalin his accomplishments are so obvious that all this propaganda hullabaloo does not impress anybody.” And so it goes in the wretched quagmire that is neo-Soviet Russia.

TOMSK, RUSSIA. For years, the earth in this Siberian city had been giving up clues: a scrap of clothing, a fragment of bone, a skull with a bullet hole. And so a historian named Boris P. Trenin made a plea to officials. Would they let him examine secret archives to confirm that there was a mass grave here from Stalin’s purges? Would they help him tell the story of the thousands of innocent people who were said to have been carted from a prison to a ravine, shot in the head and tossed over?

The answer was no, and Mr. Trenin understood what many historians in Russia have come to realize: Under Vladimir V. Putin, the attitude toward the past has changed. The archives that Mr. Trenin was seeking, stored on the fourth floor of a building in Tomsk, in boxes stamped “K.G.B. of the U.S.S.R.,” would remain sealed. The Kremlin in the Putin era has often sought to maintain as much sway over the portrayal of history as over the governing of the country. In seeking to restore Russia’s standing, Mr. Putin and other officials have stoked a nationalism that glorifies Soviet triumphs while playing down or even whitewashing the system’s horrors.

As a result, across Russia, many archives detailing killings, persecution and other such acts committed by the Soviet authorities have become increasingly off limits. The role of the security services seems especially delicate, perhaps because Mr. Putin is a former K.G.B. officer who ran the agency’s successor, the F.S.B., in the late 1990s.

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November 30, 2008 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Analyzing Russia’s Economic Malaise

(2)  Coalson on the Media Crackdown

(3)  Ingushetia, Exploding due to Putin’s Failures

(4)  Russian Hatred of America on the Big Screen

(5)  The Horror of Russian Barbarism, Unbound

NOTE:  A window into life on the mean streets of Vladimir Putin’s KGB-ruled Russia opens here.

EDITORIAL: Diagnosing the Russian Economic Malaise


Diagnosing the Russian Economic Malaise

When investors entered this market, there were certain carrots at the end of the stick. All of these carrots either did not materialise at all or came out in some way retarded.”

— Sergei Emdin, the head of EuroSibEnergo, an electricity investment unit of Russia’s richest man, Oleg Deripaska, speaking on investment in Russia’s energy sector at an energy summit on Tuesday in Moscow

Things are getting uglier by the minute on the economic front in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  The country is in recession, with a 0.4% contraction in GDP last month (industrial production contracted at six times that rate).  Due the Kremlin’s crazed tariff policies, the Moscow Times reports that Russian oil producers, with their costs soaring, lost over $3 billion on oil exports in September and October.  Only now, months too late, has Putin finally cut the export duty, meaning that the Kremlin will finally begin to suffer a massive loss of revenue from the falling market price of oil, placing the state budget at dire risk.

The ripple effects on the oil-dependent Russian economy have been devastating, and angry investors who were stupid enough to trust the Kremlin are demanding answers, and the full brunt of the disaster wrought by Vladimir Putin’s incompetent leadership has yet to be fully felt. Rachel Ziemba, lead analyst for oil-exporting countries for RGE Monitor, has offered an extensive review of Russia economic performance on the organizations’s website.  It highlights several neglected facts that emphasize the increasingly dire economic peril faced by Putin’s Russia.

Ziemba points out that the bleak economic forecast of 3% economic growth for Russia in 2009 put out recently by the World Bank was based on an average oil price of $100/barrel next year.  Even at that price, Russian GDP growth was expected to halve compared to this year, since that price would represent a nearly 50% falloff from the recent record highs.  Thus, if oil prices remain at $50/barrel through 2009, Russia will clearly plunge into a brutal recession and the Kremlin will incur rapidly mounting debt (a deficit of 5% is expected in the 2009 budget if oil prices remain where they are).  Yet, the Kremlin’s recent behavior in repeatedly shutting down the Russian stock markets and invading Georgia hardly make it a prime candidate for lending.  Moreover, Ziemba points out, the Kremlin’s total lack of transparency and trust, combined with Russia’s pandemic corruption, makes it difficult to implement liquidity injections effectively, and may doom such efforts before they begin.

The ruble has lost 17% of its value so far this year, Ziemba says, and the government’s furious attempt to artificially limit the slide is not only costing Russia billions in FOREX reserves, but also “may be exacerbating the outflow from the  banking system (outflows were about 5-7% in October) even as it erodes Russia’s cushion of foreign exchange reserves.  Foreign investment flows have clearly reversed – In 2008, Russia has now had net outflows of investment in contrast to the inflows experienced in recent years.”  The cost to Russia of combatting the economic crisis is truly staggering; some sources are suggesting the price tag will be at least $400 billion, or one-quarter of Russia’s annual GDP and virtually the entire amount of its existing FOREX account.

But that is not the worst of it.

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Coalson on the Media Crackdown

Writing on his new blog The Power Vertical over at Radio Free Europe, Robert Coalson gives us the appalling details in Vladimir Putin’s ongoing crackdown on the Russian media as he seeks to sweep his grotesque mismanagement of the Russian economy under the carpet:

Last week the Prosecutor-General’s Office ordered its branches in the regions to keep an eye out for media reports about the financial crisis that could constitute “informational attacks against banks or inflame a mood of panic.” Since then several journalists — Oksana Panova of; Yevgeny Gontmakher, for an article in “Vedomosti”; Pavel Verstov in Magnitogorsk — have received unwanted attention from officials for their writings related to the crisis. “Kommersant” reported yesterday that Verstov was expelled from the ruling Unified Russia party for an article asserting that suicide is on the rise in Magnitogorsk.

The Gontmakher case is intriguing as well.

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Ingushetia, Exploding

The BBC reports on yet more evidence of Vladimir Putin’s total policy failure in the Caucasus region:

Vitaly Karayev

Vitaly Karayev

The mayor of the capital of Russia’s North Ossetia region has been assassinated by unknown gunmen.  Vitaly Karayev died from gunshot wounds in hospital after he was attacked in Vladikavkaz on Wednesday morning.  Police have sealed off the area and say that a murder investigation is now under way.

The scene of the crime

The scene of the crime

The southern Russian region, like neighbouring Ingushetia and Chechnya, has suffered sporadic violence from militant groups in recent months.  Mr Karayev, aged 46, was shot at about 0900 local time (0600 GMT), as he was leaving his home in a car, officials say. He suffered several bullet wounds and later died in Vladikavkaz’s hospital.  Some reports in the Russian media say the mayor could have been killed by a sniper.

North Ossetian President Taimuraz Mamsurov said he would hold urgent talks with regional security officials to discuss the situation, the Interfax news agency reported.  Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged investigators to take “all possible measures” to find the perpetrators, a Kremlin spokesman told the Ria Novosti news agency.

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Russian Hatred of America, on Film

The Moscow Times reports on how deep-seeded Russian hatred of America expresses itself on Russian movie screens?

Russian filmmakers are not known for their glowing portraits of American culture. From the 1948 Soviet propaganda film “The Russian Question” about a communist-bashing American newspaper editor to the immensely popular film “Brother 2,” in which a young Russian man rampages through back-stabbing hoodlums in Chicago, there is no shortage of anti-Americanism in the country’s cinema.

Now in 2008, filmmaker Yury Grymov adds his film to the genre. Americans “place themselves higher than all other peoples of the earth,” said Grymov in an online journal written during the shooting of his new feature “Strangers,” which opened in Moscow on Thursday. “They forcibly attempt to inculcate their morality and their modes of behavior. And what is most frightening of all, they sincerely suggest that they are committing a charitable act.”

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The Horror of Russian Barbarism, Unbound

Oleg Kozlovsky’s blog tells us that United Russia recently added the following graphic to the their website, then after an outcry in the Russian blogosphere removed it. Check out the parking lot area in the left middle of the large circle in the center, then click the image or the jump to see it larger.  But first, gird your loins, and remember: This is the official party of power in Russia, and this is their official website.

United Russia's new website

The website of United Russia, party of power

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November 28, 2008 — Contents


(1)  Another Original LR Translation: Latynina on Golodomor

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Putin’s Russia, Ravaged by AIDS

(3)  Exploding Unemployment in Putin’s Russia

(4)  A Day of Reckoning for Putin’s Mini-me

(5)  The Mailbag:  The Chief Culprit in World War II

(6)  Goble on Putin as Brezhnev

NOTE: We have a poll running. What are your thoughts? Will Barack Obama be tough enough on Putin’s neo-Soviet state? Cast your vote now.

NOTE:  La Russophobe wishes to offer all her American readers her heartfelt wishes for a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. Americans, and indeed all those fortunate enough not to live under the jackboot of a KGB thug, should count their blessings for the benefits of freedom they often take for granted.

Another Original LR Translation: Latynina on Golodomor via Essel

The “So-Called” Golodomor

Yuliya Latynina

Yezhednevny Zhurnal

24 November 2008

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev did not attend the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Golodomor. Instead, he sent a letter in which he waxed wrathful about the wedge being driven between two brotherly peoples by ill-wishers who speak of a “so-called” Golodomor.

“The tragic events of the early 1930s are being used to further transient and fleeting political aims,” the President wrote.  He added:  “Without waiting for the results of a wide-ranging study of the problems by competent experts, we are having a simplistic depiction of the past imposed on us. The people who are promoting the thesis of a “genocidal man-made famine” do not care in the least about scientific accuracy. Their aim is to drive a wedge between our fraternal peoples.”

Last Friday, I was on Savik Shuster’s “Shuster Live” program which was dedicated to the Golodomor. The guests on the programme divided into two parties. One group consisted of Russophile politicians. The view they expounded was that firstly, there wasn’t any Golodomor, secondly, the Americans were to blame, and thirdly, that everyone suffered from it.

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EDITORIAL: A Heedless Putin’s Russia, ravaged by AIDS


Heedless Putin’s Russia, ravaged by AIDS

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin hasn’t mentioned his nation’s HIV infection rate in more than four years.  Apparently, he thinks it’s no longer an issue. Either that, or he’s simply given up on the problem and, in classic neo-Soviet fashion, is sweeping it under the carpet.

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Exploding Unemployment in Putin’s Russia

The Moscow Times reports that unemployment is spiraling out of control in Russia.  Employers are planning to slash 200,000 jobs in the next two months alone. Read it and weep, Mr. Putin:

The country’s unemployment rate rose to a seven-month high, and retail sales grew at their weakest annual pace in more than two years in October, with analysts saying that Friday’s data was a harbinger of much worse to come. Russian companies have started cutting production, jobs and salaries as the global slowdown crimps demand, falling energy and commodity prices eat into profits in the economy’s dominant sectors and the credit crunch makes it virtually impossible to attract funding from abroad.

“October is the first month when we see the hit of the crisis. … It is the very tip of the iceberg,” said Elina Rybakova, chief Russia economist at Citibank. “It will get much worse from here.”

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EDITORIAL: A Day of Reckoning for Putin’s Mini-Me


A Day of Reckoning for Putin’s Mini-Me

199304198_4b61b826d0_o1This country’s murder rate is soaring out of control, among the worst on the planet. It has a crude, thuggish dictator who hates America and is trying to crush every aspect of civil society, whose power depends solely upon the international price of crude oil, now in freefall.  The national economy is imploding, with inflation out of control and industrual production contracting.

No, it’s not Vladimir Putin’s Russia we’re discussing, though that benighted quagmire satisfies every one of those criteria in spades. It’s the Venezuela of his “mini me” Hugo Chavez, a poor Russian’s Fidel Castro, surrogate of Putin’s cold war in South America, that we refer to.

And he’s in big trouble.

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Mailbag: Suvorov on Russia as the “Chief Culprit” in World War II

Letters, we get letters, we get lots of cards and letters ever day!

Dear La Russophobe,

Hot off the presses: The Chief Culprit, by Viktor Suvorov ($25 hardcover, available at Amazon and elsewhere). It’s a synthesis of several of his previous books in Russian, including The Icebreaker, M-Day, The Cleansing, The Suicide, and The Last Republic (only the first of which was ever translated into English). The author, whose real name is Vladimir Rezun, is a GRU (Soviet military intelligence) agent who defected to Britain in 1978. (One of the blurbs is by Vladimir Bukovsky, in case that name means anything to anybody.)

His goal is to disprove the conventional wisdom about the origins of WW2.

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Goble on Putin and his Alter Ego, Leonid Brezhnev

Putin is the new Brezhnev

Putin is the new Brezhnev

Writing on Georgian Daily, scholar Paul Goble notes that Russian analysts are finding many parallels between Putin’s Russia and Brezhnev’s USSR:

Russia increasingly resembles Brezhnev’s USSR with its “imitation of power, imitation of obedience, imitation of unanimity of belief and imitation of trust,” according to a leading Russian commentator, an implicit warning that those who are comfortable with that should remember what happened after the Soviet leader passed away.

In an article in the current issue of Moscow’s “New Times,” Valery Panyushkin says that the gap between image and reality became glaring at the time of the Georgian war, with Russian forces on the ground not doing what the Russian president said he had ordered them to do. In the hearing of all, he continues, Dmitry Medvedev said that “the war is over and the army is stopping and leaving Georgia.” But “the army did not stop and it did not leave.” Either the army was acting in an insubordinate way or at a minimum “sabotaging the public order of the supreme commander.” And this situation only became worse when, as the international financial crisis began to affect Russia sending the stock market, exchange rates, and employment down, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin went around the country denying the obvious, saying that there was no crisis and that anyone who said otherwise was sowing panic.

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La Russophobe Wants to Know

Barack Obama has announced the intention to retain the Republican Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, in the new administration.  Gates has been tough on Russia and strongly advocated missile defense.  Leftist wackos, like William Greider of The Nation magazine, are peeved.  Is this a good sign that Obama will not betray democracy where Russia is concerned? We’d like your opinion.

November 26, 2008 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  The End of Political Parties in Putin’s Russia

(2)  EDITORIAL:  The Mutterings of a Russian Baboon

(3)  Pasko on Politkovskaya

(4)  Kasparov Challenges Obama

(5)  Russia and Ukraine, like Night and Day

(6)  Get this Straight:  Russia Humiliated Itself

(7)  Answering Russia on Kaliningrad

(8)  Russia’s National Queue Psychosis

NOTE:  Today and in our next issue, we offer two absolutely crucial pieces of analysis on the critical stage Russia is reaching in its “develpment,” a tipping point from which there may be no return. Today, the demise of political parties.  Next issue, the AIDS epidemic.

NOTE:  Robert Coalson, long one of the most essential voices on the outrages of neo-Soviet Russia, has teamed with seasoned Russia correspondent Brian Whitmore to put out a new blog over at Radio Free Europe called “The Power Vertical.”  It looks to be required reading.

EDITORIAL: The End of Political Parties in Putin’s Russia


The End of Political Parties in Putin’s Russia

Russia lost not one but three political parties last week.  With none to spare, it was not a loss civil society in Russia could afford to incur. We view it as yet another sign of the apocalypse, and when combined with the Kremlin’s growing threat to bring back KGB spy Vladimir Putin as “president” for life, a truly terrifying one.  We urge the leaders of the Western democracies to realize that the political situtation in Russia today has reached a tipping point, and to take immediate and drastic action before they see a fully-realized neo-Soviet monstrosity materialize once again before their gaping eyes.

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EDITORIAL: The Mutterings of a Russian Baboon


The Mutterings of a Russian Baboon

When Georgian forces moved into Ossetia to quiet rebel guns that were lobbing shells into Georgia proper, Russia accused those forces of murdering 2,000 Ossetian civilians and razing the city of Tskhinvali.  But it soon turned out these were brazen lies.  Less than 200 civilians perished, some perhaps at the hands of Russian weapons, and Tskhinvali received only very minor flesh wounds.

Now, the Russian government is asking us to believe that shots fired at the motorcade of Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili and Polish President Lech Kaczynski as it passed near the Ossetian border did not come from the Ossetians who are now fully under Russian control.

To put it mildly, we don’t.

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Pasko on Politkovskaya

The grave of Russian Hero Anna Politkovskaya

The grave of Russian Hero Anna Politkovskaya

Смех берет от надписей дебильных
И поэтов, сочинявших их,
Тех, что нам на камушках могильных
Пишут глупое: “Трагически погиб”.

They make you laugh, the moronic inscriptions,
And the poets who composed them
Those who for us on little gravestones
Write stupidly: “Tragically died”.

Writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog, hero journalist Grigori Pasko remembers hero journalist and martyr Anna Politkovskaya as the Kremlin announces that the so-called trial of her so-called killers will go on behind closed doors, just as in the USSR.

On 17 November, on the day of the start of the trial of the persons accused of the murder of the famous journalist, “Novaya gazeta” observer Anna Politkovskaya, an acquaintance telephoned me and said: “Have you heard!? The trial will be open!”

I had already gotten so much accustomed to closed trials in Russia that I inadvertently said: “It can’t be so!”

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