“Justice” as Putin Defines It
Just as in Soviet times, it’s clear that the word “justice” means in Russia only what the Kremlin says it means, and nothing more. There is no rule of law in Russia, only the rule of power.
Back in August, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was denied parole following his conviction on hilariously bogus charges of embezzlement and tax fraud. So be it, you say — in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, they’re tough on crime. If you want to make an omlette, you have to break some eggs — or, in Russia’s case, crack some skulls.
But what then, dear Putin sycophant, do you say about the strange case of Yuri Budanov? Sentenced to ten years in 2003 for the barbaric murder of a 18-year-old female Chechen civilian, the Russian army officer was paroled last week after serving only half his short sentence. One would think Budanov’s crime was just a wee bit more serious than Khodorkovsky’s, wouldn’t one? Even Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin’s puppet ruler in Chechnya, protested the action, stating: “Even if he repented, someone convicted for such a brutal and cynical killing of an innocent underage schoolgirl should not be granted parole. Moreover, he deserves a more severe punishment.” Yet the Kremlin paid no heed.
That is “justice” as Russian dictator Vladimir Putin defines it. Because Putin sees a key difference between Khodorkosky and Budanov: the former criticized him, while the latter supported him.
Putin may have meted out more justice two days earlier, perhaps even hoping to soften up Kadyrov for the Budanov release, when Umar Israilov, Kadyrov’s former bodyguard, was gunned down in broad daylight on a crowded street in Vienna, Austria. Human Rights Watch has called for a probe into Israilov’s murder, since he was yet another prominent critic of the Kremlin’s puppet regime in Chechnya who has been brutally murdered — just like Anna Politikovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko. Israilov had a lawsuit pending in the European Court for Human Rights and had made an number of sensational charges of human rights violations by the Kadryov regime. Austrian authorities seem to believe Russan secret services were involved in the killing, and at the very least it is highly unlikely Kadyrov would have moved against a target in Austria without the Kremlin’s approval.
If it was Kremlin-ordered, Israilov’s killing would be only the latest in a long line of political murders that has shadowed Vladimir Putin since his first days in the Moscow Kremlin, not one of which has ever been solved. Now, two European countries have been turned into killing fields; perhaps this will be sufficient to get Europe’s attention about the need to take action before all of Europe is flowing red with the blood of the Kremlin’s victims.
But we doubt it. The killings that had taken place before Israilov fell should have been more than enough motivation for Europe to act, but it hasn’t done so — and President Barack Obama has been shamefully silent as well. The Kremlin can only see such silence as weakness, and therefore as encouragement to continue its barbaric policy of political homicide.