Daily Archives: February 18, 2010

February 22, 2010 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  That Special Hell called Russia

(2)  Another Original LR Translation:  Fatal Garlic

(3)  EDITORIAL:  Greedy, Heartless Russians

(4)  Politkovskaya, Immortal

(5)  Estemirova, Immortal


NOTE:  Today we present a special issue devoted to Russian human rights atrocities in Chechnya.

NOTE:  On Thursday February 18th, Russian opposition leader Oleg Kozlovsky, along with other attendees of the 2010 Human Rights Summit, met with President Barack Obama at the White House.  Take that, Mr. Putin!

EDITORIAL: A Postcard from that Special Hell called “Russia”


A Postcard from that Special Hell called “Russia”

Is Russia the very worst place on this planet?

We challenge you to carefully read our original translation published below in this issue, thoughtfully reflect (if you dare) on the photographs published along with it, and come to any other conclusion.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is hell on earth.

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Another Original LR Translation: Lethal Garlic — More “accidental” fatalities in Ingushetia

WARNING: This post, a translation from the website of the Russian human rights organization Memorial, deals with gruesome acts of violence in the war-torn breakaway republic of Chechnya.  Following the text is a series of explicit photographs of civilian casualties resulting from a Russian “anti-terrorist” campaign.  The photos are very disturbing and all readers are advised to exercise caution in deciding the click the jump and view the entire post.  You can read the text without seeing the photographs by scrolling carefully and stopping where the text ends and the photos are marked to begin.

This translation has been prepared by LR staff. As always, corrections are welcome and encouraged.   

Hat tip:  Reader “Robert.” 

Lethal Garlic:  More “accidental” fatalities in Ingushetia 


February 15, 2010 

On February 11-12, 2010, in a forest on the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya, near the Ingush villages of Arshty and Datta, a special military operation was conducted by Russian forces.  The government reported on the destruction of a large detachment of rebel fighters and denied that any civilian casualties had occurred.  However, on February 12th we began receiving reports that there had in fact been civilians killed, and the next day we visited Arshty.  The following day we visited the Achkoi-Martan district in Chechnya.  Working with representatives of Human Rights Watch, we interviewed dozens of witnesses.  As a result, we can confidently assert that in the region where the operation was carried out were a large number of civilian residents and at least four of them were killed. 

The assault carried out by federal forces began with a missile barrage in the early morning hours on February 11th.  It continued throughout the day, ceased with the onset of darkness and then resumed the next day at dawn.  Federal forces initially reported that the cadre of rebel fighters numbered 15-25, and it was reported that from half to nearly all of them had been killed.  The President of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, visited the area on February 12th and claimed that 18 rebels had been killed.  A list of various wanted figures was given by Ingushetia’s Prosecutor Yury Turygin as having been killed in the attack. 

But we learned on February 12th that among those killed were also civilians who had been in the nearby woods gathering wild garlic, and the reports we received were confirmed by the president’s press secretary in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio, where he stated:  “During the course of the special operation about 70 local residents were evacuated from the woods where they had been collecting wild garlic, but unfortunately four of them came under fire and were killed.”  The president did not include these victims with the 18 persons killed in the raid.  [Story reported in English by RIA Novosti on February 13th here.] 

To see for ourselves, Memorial staff left for Arshty on the afternoon of February 13th.  The villagers confirmed that there had been civilian casualties, including children.  On the south-eastern outskirts of Arshty Memorial was shown the bodies of seven adults, six wrapped in sleeping bags, perhaps to identify the remains of militant fighters. 

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EDITORIAL: Greedy, Heartless Russians


Greedy, Heartless Russians

UK — 0.43%

France — 0.39%

Germany — 0.38%

Japan — 0.18%

USA – 0.18%

Those are the percentages of gross national income (GNI) donated by the five named countries to their poorer fellow nations in 2008.  Judged in strict dollar terms the USA was the leader, handing over $25 billion to the impoverished “third world,” twice as much as its nearest rival, Germany.

Care to guess Russia’ s figure?

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Politkovskaya, Immortal

The Observer reviews a new collection (buy it here) of the reporting of Anna Politkovskaya (hat tip:  reader “Robert”):

The bravery is endlessly invoked, the “fanatical courage” hymned with an almost religious fervour. Anna Politkovskaya, nearly four years after her murder, is not forgotten. She is one reporter whose words will long be “held in awe”, as Helena Kennedy says in her introduction. She is the voice of conscience faced with brutal inhumanity and the peril that goes with it. But this superb collection of the pieces she wrote for Novaya gazeta adds another dimension. It measures her as a journalist against other journalists round the world. It reveals a superb original technician.

How do you best write a print story these days? American academics, as usual, debate technique as though it were holy writ. Who, what, when, and where all in the first paragraph, a trail of relevance slowly diminishing towards a tedious close: that’s the way our newspaper forefathers who worked in lead type deemed best. Just give us the facts up top. And make sure we can cut lumps of type from the end if we need to. But does this matter in an era of digital setting where anything comes and goes at the press of a button?

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Estemirova, Immortal

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:

The day before, Natalya Estemirova had seen off two colleagues from Moscow. Yelena Milashina, a reporter with the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Tanya Lokshina, an advocate with the international group Human Rights Watch, had traveled to Chechnya on separate assignments. Like many visiting journalists and human rights defenders, Milashina and Lokshina had stayed with Estemirova. Her Grozny apartment had become a headquarters for such visitors; Russian and international journalists often made it their first stop. Estemirova was their primary source, consultant, fixer, translator, protector.

Estemirova was to travel to Moscow shortly, Milashina recalled later, so on July 14, 2009, the friends said goodbye with the words: “I’ll see you soon.”

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