MONDAY FEBRUARY 9 CONTENTS
(1) Putley on Markelov
(2) One Picture is Worth a Thousand Screams
(3) EDITORIAL: Just say Nobama
(4) EDITORIAL: What would Stalin do?
(5) Stalin’s advice to Putin
(6) Anastasia Baburova, R.I.P.
NOTE: Though it is probably not necessary to point it out, nonetheless we will say that we have moved our editorial into the third position in today’s issue out of respect to the two lead items, a brilliant essay on the Markelov killing by Jeremy Putley and an equally brilliant political cartoon from the pen of Sergei Yelkin, better known as Ellustrator, which could not compliment the essay better. We are honored to be able to publish these heroically courageous items on our blog, and we feel they serve to underline the point we are making in our editorial better than we could possibly do ourselves. We also note that today’s issue is entirely orginal to the blogosphere.
Murder in the Time of Putin
by Jeremy Putley
Original to La Russophobe
Eduard and Larisa Baburov pay last respects to their daughter Anastasia Baburova, who was shot dead with human-rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, in Moscow, Friday, Jan. 23, 2009.
Murder is the most distinguishing aspect of Vladimir Putin’s time in high office. Murders carried out by agents of the government, by government-sponsored members of the siloviki, above all by the Russian military in Chechnya, and by Putin’s protégé Ramzan Kadyrov as Chechnya’s ruler, will surely come to be recognised by historians of the era as the feature which most distinguishes the leadership of Vladimir Putin from his predecessors. Murder has not been so common an occurrence in Russia since the days of Joseph Stalin. Murders certainly became more frequent during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin than they had been, but beginning with the assassination of Galina Starovoitova by agents of the Russian security services in 1998, when Putin was head of the KGB, the frequency of murder has been on the increase, while endemic corruption continues unchecked.
Putin’s rule began in blood. The 1999 apartment building bomb explosions in Moscow and other cities killed more than 300. These murders, carried out to provide a spurious justification for prime minister Putin’s war in Chechnya, are believed with good reason by historians to have been the work of agents of the Russian FSB – particularly because they were never properly investigated.
The first commenter to the post on Ellustrator’s blog states: “It’s a very professional drawing, yet the impression it makes is rather ugly. It turned out to be not a very pleasant portrait at all. Putin appears rather hideous.” The second commenter responds: “Yes, it’s a very lifelike image.”
Just say Nobama
Well, he’s only a month into his presidency but we have had just about all we can take from Barack Obama. When the United Nations is a more staunch defender of American values in Russia than the President of the United States, something is very, very wrong.
Last week a group of UN delegates excoriated Russia for its barbaric litany of race murders and attacks on journalists. Think Obama joined in the expression of justifiable outrage? Think again.
Another Russian Selection
A couple of months ago, we wrote about something we called a “Russian selection.” Similar to a “Hobson’s choice,” a Russian selection is the typical situation in Russia, where no matter what option you pick you end up with disaster — as for example when in 2000 Russian voters were presented with a choice between a proud KGB spy and a proud Communist apparachik for their next president, or asked to select between a shameless Kremlin sycophant and a lunatic fundamentalist for their next pope.
And now, Russians face yet another “Russian selection.” It seems that when Vladimir Putin is confronted with a dilemma of this kind, he takes a page from American Christians, who ask “what would Jesus do?” and queries his Russian variant: “What would Stalin do?”
The chart at left shows the recent progress of the U.S. dollar against the Russian ruble. Pick your poison, Russians. Do you want your currency stable, as it sometimes is at certain points during this three-week period, or do you want it falling against the dollar, as it is doing at other periods? Either way, you lose.
An obituary in the Economist reports:
IT IS still not clear why Anastasia Baburova was shot in the head. Was she a target—along with Stanislav Markelov, a human-rights lawyer who was shot seconds earlier? Was she an accidental victim, in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or did she try to grab and disarm the killer after he shot her companion?
A Step at a Time translates from Gasan Guseinov’s mock letter of advice from Josef Stalin to Vladimir Putin on Grani.ru (via a tip from Jeremy Putley, whose op-ed leads this issue):
One might have thought that a sensational political assassination would free your hands for a mass purge of the bureaucratic organs. But what do we hear from your representatives? That the responsibility for it all is borne by a certain Boris Abramovich Berezovsky, who resides in London. The question arises that if he is such an influential comrade, why is he working not for you but against you? And why are the comrades, who should have complied with your instructions for comrade Berezovsky long ago, not even able to catch his hirelings from your own, Comrade Putin, reserve of cadres?