First it was Natalia Estemirova.
The came Andrei Kulagin.
And now we can add yet a third vicious assault on human rights activists in Russia in just the past few weeks: Albert Pchelintsev.
Other Russia reports that Pchelintsev is the regional director of the “Against Corruption, Deception and Dishonor” movement and states that according to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, Pchelintsev was attacked on Saturday evening as he returned home and was shot in the mouth with a stun gun. After undergoing reconstructive surgery, he remains in serious condition and cannot speak. The gang of attackers allegedly shouted at him: “You won’t be able to speak out now for a long time!” Other Russia adds: “The rights leader had taken an active role in recent municipal election in Khimki, and strongly criticized town officials during the campaign. Pchelintsev also wrote a column dedicated to corruption in a local newspaper. In 2008, the activist helped to open a community office where citizens could report and document cases of corruption. He is one of many activists from Khimki to be attacked in recent years.”
Russia’s streets flow red with the blood of its patriots, struck down by their own countrymen and indeed their own government. And perhaps the most apalling of all is the craven silence of the American White House. Shame on you, Mr. Obama! How many heros must perish before Obama will know it is too many are deign to speak up?
WEDNESDAY JULY 29 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: In Neo-Soviet Russia, Writers are Criminals
(2) EDITORIAL: The Friends of Kadyrov
(3) EDITORIAL: Biden gets Russia Right
(4) Satter on Obama in Russia
(5) Goble: Putinism is worse than Sovietism
NOTE: We are pleased to report on two high-profile personages, Joe Biden and David Satter, speaking in Larussophobic tongues. We might just as well have written their words ourselves, they are that identical to what we’ve been saying here long before. It’s very comforting to see that, at last, at least part of the mainstream world sees Russia clearly and is willing to say so.
In Neo-Soviet Russia, Writers are Criminals
In December 2007 Russian scholar Igor Averkiev wrote an essay called “Putin is Our Good Hitler” (Russian language original) in which he explained his title thusly: “Because the type and style of President Putin’s rule is quite similar to the type and style of Reich Chancellor Hitler’s rule during the early stage of his career. Because the situation in post-Soviet Russia is quite similar to the situation in post-WWI Germany. Because the Russian populace at the turn of the millennia closely resembles the German people during the late 1920s and early 1930s.”
Russian security forces called him in (Russian language link) for questioning and warned him to stop challening the Kremlin’s authoirty, but Averkiev (link to the author’s Russian language website), who serves as public ombudsman in the Siberian city of Perm, would not be intimidated.
What happened next was entirely predictable neo-Soviet outrage.
The Friends of Kadyrov
Once again, Russia has surprised us with a new level of barbarism and stupidity. Given our already rock-bottom opinion of Russian behavior, it’s genuinely amazing that this could occur.
Writing on Live Journal, a Russian blogger named “Kutuzov” claims Ramzan Kadyrov was in no way involved in the murder of Natalia Estemirova. Just like Dmitri Medvedev, he of course has no idea whatsoever who did kill her, but he feels the awesome powers of his Russian “logic” are sufficient to entirely exculpate Kadyrov.
His argument, to say the least, is psychotic.
Biden Gets Russia Right
I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold. [The Russians have] a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.
– U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal
Those words might just as easily have been written by this blog, but they were said by the Vice President of the United States instead — and that’s encouraging.
IA-Forum: What do you think of Obama’s attempt to collaborate with the Russian leadership on common interests while still criticizing Russia’s problems with human rights, rule of law, etc.? Was Obama effective on both fronts?
David Satter: It was very mild criticism. It was the gentlest of hints, and there is no reason for that. There was no mention of specific cases. If you’re not going to mention specific cases, you create the impression that you’re not mentioning them because you don’t have the will to mention them. If you don’t have the will to mention them, you may not have the will to stand up to them in other respects. Even in his discussions with the opposition, [Obama] was rather measured and didn’t mention specific cases. Once you restrict yourself to generalities, you greatly reduce the impact of what you’re saying. So I think he was too conciliatory. But we’ll see.
International Affairs Forum interviews Russia scholar David Satter of the Hudson Institute, author of Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State, on Obama’s performance in Moscow:
International Affairs Forum: You were in Russia during President Obama’s recent trip to Moscow. What were your impressions of his highly-anticipated visit? How do people in Russia perceive the U.S.-Russian relationship right now?
Mr. Satter: Well, I think that Russians believe—in part because they’ve been told—that the U.S. has ignored Russia’s interests and it is therefore up to the U.S. to do something about it. In fact, all of the talk about resetting relations plays into this because it seems as if we actually agree with this interpretation. After all, why would we need to reset the relationship if we haven’t done anything wrong? So I think that there’s a sense in Moscow and in the rest of Russia that the United States is acknowledging the validity of the Russian interpretation of events.
Otherwise, my general impression was that—and this is based only on what was public, of course I don’t have access to what was private—the U.S. went too far, really, in showing a willingness to compromise. In general, being willing to compromise is probably a good thing, but the demands that the Russians have made and the positions that they are advancing are not reasonable. There’s no reason why we should encourage them to make unreasonable demands, nor is there any reason why we should give the impression that we are ready to think about those demands.
Paul Goble reports:
Even compared to its Soviet predecessor, the federalism of the Russian Federation as Vladimir Putin understands it has little to do with providing autonomy and protection to minorities and more about creating a procedure for absorbing neighboring countries into the Russian state, according to a leading Moscow expert on federal systems.
In an essay in the new issue of Neprikosnovennyy Zapas, Andrey Zakharov, the journal’s editor and author of “Unitary Federation: Five Studies of Russian Federalism” (Moscow, 2008), offers that disturbing conclusion on the basis of a careful examination of the two.