Russia — Bandit Nation
“I came today as I am deeply sorry and disgusted for Russia: how can you just shoot people down in broad daylight in the centre of Moscow?”
— Alexandra Fomina, a prominent Russian artist, visiting the scene of the Markelov assassination the day after the killing
“We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”
— U.S. President Barack H. Obama, Inaugural Address
Once again, as they have been doing for centuries, like a pack of wild dogs the people of Russia have mauled and destroyed one of their greatest patriots. From Dostoevsky through Solzhenitsyn to Politkovskaya and now most recently Stanislav Markelov, Russians seem to relish spilling the blood of those who love the nation and elevating to highest authority those who would obliterate it. What nation can expect to survive such a course of conduct?
There are of course no words we can call upon which can adequately condemn the cowardice and malignant evil displayed on Monday afternoon by the vile reptiles who scurry through the Moscow Kremlin when their henchman sneaked up behind Markelov, one of Russia’s greatest living patriots, and put a bullet in the back of his head. The venal reptiles did not even have the courage to face him, or to use a normal pistol. Instead, they relied upon a silencer in hopes of slinking off into the shadows unnoticed, and they did not hesitate to kill a valiant young woman — Anastasia Barburova — a university student, another great Russian patriot, who dared to challenge their action.
These Stalinesque murders defy written condemnation not only because they are so inhuman, but also because they are only the latest in such a horrifyingly long litany of barbaric killings. It is more than ten years now since November 1998 when, less than four months after Vladimir Putin took the reins of power at the KGB (by then renamed FSB), Russia’s most ferocious defender of human rights, perhaps who ever lived, namely Galina Starovoitova, was shot down at her apartment building in St. Petersburg. Fast forward to October 2006, and Anna Politkovskaya, the direct successor to Statovoitova, meets exactly the same fate, with dozens of other lesser-known fatalities in between. And now Markelov, the lawyer counterpart to Politkovskaya, who in fact served as her legal counsel, and Barburova, one of Politkovskaya’s disciples. It seems the people of Russia, through their official representatives, mean to rend up the tree of liberty root and branch and fling in onto their pagan bonfire.
We condemn their suicidal ignorance, cowardice and malice. Russia appears to be a nation of bandits governed by bandits with no intention or even desire for anything remotely like civilization. We are appalled. The people of Russia stand teetering on the precipice of a chasm of absolute barbarism from which, upon falling in, there is no escape. It hard at this moment to decide whether the world would be better off reaching out desperately to get them away from the brink or better off pushing them in.
Just as surely as France came after Poland for Hitler, there will be others who will follow the latest victim’s of Putin’s neo-Soviet crackdown into frozen Russian graves. History is repeating itself. Stalin was not stopped, and Putin is not being stopped. The world is watching slack-jawed as Putin cuts down Russia’s best and brightest like a child cuts down dominoes, watching as he creates a formal “presidency for life.” It watched, doing nothing, as Putin crushed civil society in Russia, watched as he obliterated local government and wiped out opposition politics and journalism, just as Stalin had done before him.
Putin is so confident in the craven behavior of the Russians he governs and the Western governments he confronts that he does not even feel the need to pay lip service to the concept of justice by issuing platitudes about finding the killers of these Russian patriots. In fact, when challenged over Politikovskaya’s murder, he said more-or-less plainly that she got what she deserved, and he only regretted the adverse publicity.
For nearly three years now, we here on this blog have been calling upon the world to rouse itself from its stupor and realize that the people of Russia are complicit in an effort to revive their Soviet dictatorship and once again cause an Iron Curtain to descend across the continent. Apparently, the specter of this disaster has been too horrific for the Western world to contemplate. It preferred to think of Russians as helpless victims of the Soviet monster, victims in the same way that we ourselves were.
Now, it is no longer possible for any sane person to perpetuate this delusion. Russians continue to express widespread support for the murderous regime that is liquidating their best and brightest, even as they routinely cooperated with Stalin’s gestapo by turning in their neighbors to meet his “justice.”
And if the world will not call the people of Russia to task, will not demand better from them, then we should not expect them to give it. The apple does not fall far from the tree. The people of Russia have the government, and the future, they deserve. If they will not turn away from the precipce, they will plunge over it to their doom.