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.
The translation tells the story of a courageous band of human rights activists from the Memorial and Human Rights Watch organizations who traveled to a forest on the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya to discovery a truly bone-chilling example of Russian barbarism: A quartet of young civilians brutally murdered by Russian forces while collecting vegetables to sustain their impoverished families through a brutal winter.
Not even the Russian authorities can dare to suggest that these young men were combatants. They were innocent, simple village people barbarically murdered by the savages who pretend to be Russian soldiers, savages who are carrying out acts that give the lie to Putin’s claims about having brought peace and stability to the region. These savages do not just murder their defenseless, unarmed victims with automatic weapons fire, they mutilate them, as if a pack of wild dogs ripping apart a helpless fawn.
Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman condemned the killings, stating he did not believe the official government rationalizations: “Our doubts are based on the fact that dozens and hundreds of crimes committed by the (Russian) military against civilians in Chechnya have not been investigated.” Shamefully, many initial Western reports totally ignored the civilian casualties, blindly parroting Kremlin propaganda. But a later report from Reuters quotes Memorial’s Alexander Cherkasov denouncing the government’s lies about the killings: “They are not, as authorities claimed, the victims of crossfire.” It also notes that Memorial’s reporting has even made a dent on the Russian press: “Popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, which featured the four civilians’ deaths on its front page Monday, wrote in uncharacteristic criticism of the government: ‘It’s simple: Destroy militants with disregard for peaceful citizens. As it always is and always has been.'” You know how far over the line the Kremlin has traveled when even MK is appalled by its casual disregard for the life of innocent Russian citizens.
Worse than the robotic, unfeeling killers, of course, is the government that gives them their marching orders, that creates a vast number of people who are “disillusioned, oppressed, and disgruntled” as Russia denies them basic citizenship rights and yet will not allow them to separate and form their own states — even as Russia hypocritically assists other groups in separating from nations like Georgia. The Memorial report shows the Putin regime in its true colors.
And yet, in our view even this brutality pales compared to that of the civilian population in Russia. Yes, that’s right, we blame ordinary Russian citizens more. Why? Because they have created, intentionally, the conditions that are necessary for these crimes to occur, just as they did in the times of Stalin. They have allowed proud KGB spy to govern them, allowed him to wipe out independent media and liquidate leading journalists who report on the government’s crimes in Chechnya, allowed him to obliterate opposition political parties and real elections, turned a blind eye as he has made every effort to recreate the Soviet dictatorship. Even now, Putin is seeking to suppress a UN report that documents Russian crimes in Chechnya.
The continuing popularity Putin enjoys in opinion polls is conclusive proof that ordinary Russian citizens are complicit in these murders. If there was a significant anti-war movement in Russia, if there was a sizable opposition party in the Duma, then Russians could be excused. But these things do not exist. Instead, like a nation of bleating sheep Russians bah and bray as Putin ravages their nation like the neo-Soviet demon he is.