Russian Barbarism towards Journalists Laid Bare
The Gray Lady, a/k/a The New York Times, has finally gotten around, after more than a decade of neo-Soviet atrocities in Russia, to speaking out aggressively on behalf of its beleaguered colleagues in Russia. It’s too late to do such titanic Russian patriots as Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova or Stanislav Markelov any good, and we are still waiting for an editorial from the paper in support of the coverage, but it’s welcome nonetheless, and ought to be an embarrassment to the Obama administration because of the President’s craven, stunning silence on issues of this kind.
In a stinging pair of recent articles by veteran Russia correspondent Clifford Levy, the paper excoriated the shocking level of barbarism being displayed by the people and the government in Vladimir Putin’s burgeoning totalitarian nightmare.
In the first article, Levy documents the Russian authorities using Soviet-style tactics to blame a journalist for his own assault, then denying any such interrogation had occurred, then eating their words when the journalist produced a secret tape recording of the proceedings. The ridiculous lies spewed forth by the neo-Soviet apparatchiks in “defense” of the blatantly illegal actions of the “police” authorities, who are in reality much more like criminals than law enforcement officers, are appalling. The reader is left to wonder: How many more such incidents go unreported on a daily basis in Putin’s Russia?
In the second piece, with accompanying video, begins like this:
Mikhail Beketov had been warned, but would not stop writing. About dubious land deals. Crooked loans. Under-the-table hush money. All evidence, he argued in his newspaper, of rampant corruption in this Moscow suburb. “Last spring, I called for the resignation of the city’s leadership,” Mr. Beketov said in one of his final editorials. “A few days later, my automobile was blown up. What is next for me?”
Not long after, he was savagely beaten outside his home and left to bleed in the snow. His fingers were bashed, and three later had to be amputated, as if his assailants had sought to make sure that he would never write another word. He lost a leg. Now 52, he is in a wheelchair, his brain so damaged that he cannot utter a simple sentence. The police promised a thorough investigation, but barely looked up from their desks. Surveillance videos were ignored. Neighbors were not interviewed. Information about politicians’ displeasure with Mr. Beketov was deemed “unconfirmed,” according to interviews with officials and residents.
There is only one word for such conduct, and that word is: Barbarism. And it’s far from an individual case. Consider what Levy says about Yuri Grachev, pictured above:
The newspaper’s editor, Yuri Grachev, is 73. In February 2009, several men assaulted him as he left his home, putting him in intensive care for a month with a severe concussion, a broken nose and other wounds. Police officials first said he was drunk and fell down. Then they said he had been the victim of a random robbery, though all that was taken was a folder with material for the newspaper’s next issue. The muggers have not been found, and politicians from the governing party, United Russia, said the attack had nothing to do with Mr. Grachev’s work.
A septuagenarian! These goons do not hesitate to attack a man in his seventies, even though such a person is, in Russia, virtually miraculous since most men don’t live to see even 60, much less 70. Grachev himself puts it best: “The system will stop at nothing to break you.” And who governs that system? Vladmir Vladmirovich Putin governs it. And why? Because he was “elected” to do so by the people of Russia, in “elections” with no real opposition voices, no objective reporting, and no serious interrogation of the candidate.
One of Grachev’s besieged colleagues states: “We used to have so many journalists here, but they have all suffered and have all given up. Only I remained, and now I am giving up.”
Grachev’s remarks clearly, unmistakably echo Russia’s dark, barbaric Soviet past. One after another, Vladimir Putin has physically liquidated the country’s key journalists, either intimidating them into silence or killing them outright, exactly what occurred in Soviet times. If anything, Putin is even more horrifying than his Soviet ancestors, because unlike them he is a career servant of the secret police and, unlike them, he is attempting to use the institutions of democracy and religion to clothe his malignant misdeeds.
But we reserve our most intense condemnation not for Putin, who is merely acting true to character, but for the people of Russia themselves. Craven cowards that they are, they have for years now watched this brutal attacks on their most patriotic fellow citizens with casual indifference at best, at worst cheering as Putin cracks down on “traitors.” Having learned nothing from their experience with such conduct in Soviet times, Russians have proven willing to return to the darkest periods of their history without a struggle.
It is beyond us to understand how Russians can imagine their government, blinded by the total lack of criticism and real information, can make policies that will lead Russia to be a success. Just like the infamous Emperor with his “new clothes,” Russia can only languish in ignorance until, once again, the entire edifice of the nation collapses.