Latynina on La Cosa Russia

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Last week, Saak Karapetyan, head of the international cooperation department of the Prosecutor General’s Office, gave an interview to Interfax in which he clarified the most important criminal cases in his agency.

It turns out that the most pressing cases are extraditing former Yevroset chairman Yevgeny Chichvarkin, billionaire Boris Berezovsky, Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev, former Russneft owner Mikhail Gutseriyev and former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin. And then there is the criminal case against State Duma Deputy Andrei Lugovoi, who faces murder charges in Britain in connection with the 2006 poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko in London.

What do all of these cases have in common? They involve people who are accused of some criminal offense against Russia’s ruling class. One suspect didn’t listen to Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, another didn’t kowtow to former Ingush President Murat Zyazikov and a third failed to pay the required tribute to some general or other. It seems the prosecutor general isn’t interested in any other types of crimes.

But Mr. Karapetyan, why did we not hear a word from you about the investigation into the murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya? The investigation and court have established that Shamil Burayev, former head of Chechnya’s Achkhoy-Martanovsky district who was loyal to the Kremlin by his own admission, met with the murder’s alleged organizer, former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, on Sept. 22, 2006, the day the latter was released from prison. On Oct. 3, 2006, Burayev organized an important meeting for Khadzhikurbanov at the Napoleon Restaurant. On the day of the murder, Oct. 7, Burayev made long and frequent cell phone calls to Khadzhikurbanov. If Khadzhikurbanov did indeed organize the murder, then the loyal Burayev appears to be the point man for the person who ordered the murder in the first place.

Can you tell us, Mr. Karpetyan, why charges have not been filed against Burayev? After all, it is not as if he is hiding somewhere incognito.

And then there’s the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova just two steps from the Kremlin. Could it be inferred from Karapetyan’s interview that the Prosecutor General’s Office is not losing any sleep over these cases, while it is focusing on bringing the former Yevroset owner to justice?

Another case should be on Karapetyan’s most-important crimes list. In April of last year, 25 kilograms of TNT detonated on Akademika Koroleva Ulitsa in Moscow. The authorities initially claimed it had been a domestic gas explosion. Later it turned out that members of the radical Movement against Illegal Immigration had been making a bomb when it accidentally exploded. This should have been an easy investigation to solve: The names of those who died in the accident are known, and their connections to others can be ascertained in a matter of minutes.

There’s one more absurdity that all of Karapetyan’s most important cases have in common: They require absolutely no effort to solve. To bring trumped-up charges against Gutseriyev and Chichvarkin for their supposed crimes, nobody has to dig up any evidence, pore over mountains of mind-numbing documents in search of clues or do anything even remotely resembling detective work. It is enough to simply give a monthly interview with Interfax and blame foreign intrigues for the failure to obtain extradition orders for “Russia’s Most Wanted Men.”

One response to “Latynina on La Cosa Russia

  1. Todays big news (see NYT) is another Duma deputy requested for extradiction by a foreign country in connection with political assassination. With stories like that – add here numerous political assasination which are contained in Russia and therefore don’t receive high profile international attention – Russian Duma is slowly but surely transforming itself into kind of assassins guild, as they were in middle ages, except this one is very public one, high on state level.

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