EDITORIAL: Russia sinks to a Pathetic new Low


Russia sinks to a Pathetic new Low

Vladimir Putin’s neo-Soviet KGB state sank to a shocking new low last week when it turned to public advertisements on the Internet to locate an attorney to defend it from a burgeoning onslaught of lawsuits in the European Court for Human Rights, suits which Russia routinely loses at great financial and public relations cost.

Is Putin’s Russia really so absolutely incompetent, clueless, and friendless, that the only way it can find competent lawyers is by advertising for them as if it were any other helpless company adrift on the legal seas?  Are there really no lawyers employed by the Kremlin itself who could be called upon to do battle in the courtrooms of Strasbourg?

It is that clueless, and there are no such persons.  Russian “law schools” exist in name only, since the very definition of “law” is unheard of in Putin’s Russia.  Russians simply have no idea whatsoever how to behave in a real Western courtroom where judges cannot be bribed and government edicts have no force. 

So the Kremlin must go with its begging bowl to the world and implore competent lawyers to help.  The job is made much more difficult, of course, by the fact that few civilized people would wish to defend Russia’s appalling, barbaric human rights record in places like Chechnya, no matter how much they might be paid to do so.

Apparently, it never occurs to the Kremlin to have a look at the outrageous misconduct that is giving rise to all the lawsuits. Instead, all the pathetic wretches in the Kremlin can think to do is try to cover them up by any means possible.

It’s steady work as our old friend commenter “Robert” recently pointed out:

Just yesterday the ECHR decided the case of Alapayeva v. Russia, from Chechnya, in the 170th ECHR case of Russian forced disappearance:

At about 3 a.m. on 27 December 2004 a group of about twelve armed men in camouflage uniforms broke into the house of the Alapayev family in the village of Sernovodsk. The servicemen started kicking and beating Salambek Alapayev and his elderly grandfather. After another 15 minutes, the servicemen dragged Salambek outside, put him in one of their cars and drove away. He has been missing since.

Other recent decisions offer only more of the same:

On the night of 16 December 2001 between 2 and 3 a.m. a number of armed men in camouflage uniforms burst into the houses of the Khutsayev and the Didayev families in the village of Gekhi. The servicemen beat several family members, searched the houses and seized all valuables. Upon leaving, they took Beslan and Movsar Khutsayev and Adam Didayev with them. None of the three men have been seen since.

At about 7 a.m. on 16 February 2003 a group of armed masked men arrived at the Dzhabrailov’s house in the settlement of Pervomayskiy. They broke into the house and apprehended Valid and Aslan Dzhabrailov. The brothers were taken to a detention center where they were severely ill-treated for two days. On 18 February 2003, Aslan was put in a military car where he discovered the dead body of Valid. The servicemen drove to an abandoned building where they dumped Valid’s body, shot Aslan in the head and put explosives under their bodies before leaving. Playing dead, Aslan managed to escape and return home.

At about 10 p.m. on 23 November 2002 Adam Khurayev, who was staying with his aunt in Urus-Martan, went outside to the outhouse in the yard. Shortly thereafter about fifteen armed masked men in camouflage uniforms broke into the house where they conducted a search. Before driving away in an APC and two UAZ cars the men shouted to someone in the yard. When the men had left, Adam’s relatives realized that he had disappeared.

On 16 May 2000 at about 7 p.m., Ramzan Suleymanov, his pregnant wife Petimat Aydamirova, their son Ibragim Suleymanov and their relative Aslanbek Aydamirov left the village of Gekhi to visit a sick relative. Their truck was later found burning outside Gekhi, Petimat’s body lying next to it. Russian military had approached the vehicle in an APC and opened heavy fire. Due to the curfew, local residents and administration could not examine the scene until next morning. At that point, the corpses had been removed. On 19 May 2000, the remains of Ramzan, Petimat, Ibragim and Aslanbek were found bearing signs of violent death.

That the events in these recent decisions occurred so many years ago is indicative of the gigantic backlog of Russian cases with which the ECHR is burdened.  But the ape-like demons who patrol the Kremlin would rather continue heaping innocent bodies onto the pyre than to reform and become civilized.

Given that, we do not believe any number of lawyers, however talented, can save Russia from its ultimate downfall and oblivion.

27 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia sinks to a Pathetic new Low

  1. They offer “up to” (meaning to me “less than”) $238,000 for 6 months worth of work. Where are they going to find a good Western lawyer who would agree to work for such pittance? It would be a very difficult defense anyhow, but with a fee like this there will be not many takers

  2. The remarkable story of Aslan Dzhabrailov, who survived being being shot in the head and rigged with explosives, from AP:

    Chechens Say Troops Blowing Up Corpses

    14 March 2003

    The Associated Press

    MOSCOW -Aslan Dzhabrailov says he wasn’t supposed to be seen again, dead or alive. He says Russian troops in Chechnya dragged him from his bed last month and tortured him, then ignited explosives under him and his dead brother, apparently to erase the evidence. Had the explosives gone off, the men’s remains would have been unrecognizable. In what would be a grisly twist to the pattern of alleged military abuses in Chechnya’s 3 1/2-year war, residents and human rights campaigners say fragments of blown-up bodies are being found all over the war-ruined region.

    Rather than put a stop to human rights violations, the military appears to be doing its best to hide them, critics say. Some even see signs of a coordinated campaign of killing Chechens.

    “Lately, near a pipeline not far from our village, (Chechen) policemen have been finding people’s blown-up remains,” said Murzabek Saidulayev of Belgatoi, about 18 miles south of Grozny, the capital. “That’s where the federals (troops) like to blow up corpses. They drive there in armored personnel carriers.”

    Lawmaker and rights campaigner Sergei Kovalyov theorizes that the intent is to make it difficult for independent investigators to connect the corpses to the soldiers who allegedly arrested them. Bodies blown up beyond recognition can more easily be blamed on the rebels, he says.

    Kovalyov traveled to the United States and Britain last month to press for action, but was told “quiet diplomacy” was preferable. He says that isn’t working.

    President Vladimir Putin and other officials have repeatedly called on troops to obey the law during security sweeps that civilians say often lead to disappearances.

    Last year the military ordered arresting troops to fully identify themselves and inform relatives of detainees’ whereabouts. But rights advocates say the order is ignored and most likely meant to appease critics.

    Dzhabrailov, 23, spoke to The Associated Press on condition his location not be revealed because he feared reprisals. The details of his story match the patterns Kovalyov’s allies at the Russian human rights group Memorial have documented.

    His head bandaged and his face covered in bruises, Dzhabrailov said masked troops stormed his house in the village of Pobedinskoye, 9 miles west of Grozny, at dawn on Feb. 16. They pulled him and his brother Valid, 30, from their beds, and — ignoring the pleas of their mother and sister — handcuffed them, put sacks over their heads and drove for about an hour until they heard gates opening.

    He said he heard helicopters and believed he was at Khankala, the military’s main base in Chechnya.

    Dzhabrailov was separated from his brother and brought to a basement, where he remained chained to a pipe for a day and a half. Masked men visited him periodically, jabbing his kidneys with guns and breaking his nose with flashlights.

    They demanded Dzhabrailov confess to having fought with the rebels. Dzhabrailov said he was never involved in fighting.

    In the evening, he said, an unmasked man came, silently put a bag over Dzhabrailov’s head and led him to a vehicle.

    “A cold body lay under me,” he said.

    After a long ride, the men removed the corpse from the truck and dragged Dzhabrailov onto the ground, his head still covered. He said he heard a shot and a bullet took off some skin above his ear.

    Dzhabrailov said he heard the men put something underneath him and the corpse and light it with a cigarette lighter.

    Then the truck left, and Dzhabrailov freed himself and extinguished the lit fuse.

    He looked at the corpse next to him and recognized his brother’s mangled body by his clothes.

    The pattern of blown-up bodies, and the fact that remains of people from different parts of Chechnya are found in the same place, point to a centralized system of violence, Kovalyov said.

    “What comes to mind immediately are death squads. … The question of genocide could be raised,” he added.

    Igor Botnikov, a Kremlin spokesman on Chechnya, scoffed at the charges, saying he would “leave those words on Mr. Kovalyov’s conscience.”

    Asked if the charges were worth checking, he said all allegations of military abuse are investigated.

    Independent verification is impossible because violence and government restrictions prevent Western journalists from working unimpeded in Chechnya.

  3. These cases must be hitting home!! The question is, “Why does the Russian government care?”

    • Well Ron, I guess they care not too much. With a laughable amount of remuneration they offer, they cannot expect to get a really good lawyer. Here are the figures. Considering the number of cases, it will be impossible for any conscientious attorney to work less then 60 hours a week. That’s absolute minimum.

      So, for 6 months that will be 26 weeks and 1,560 hours. Comes to about $150 an hour. People doing DUI defense or divorces make more.

  4. In April the court ruled against Russia over the disappearance of 10 Chechens between 2000 and 2004 and over the death of a seven-year-old girl in March 2005 in Dagestan, another volatile republic in the Russian Caucasus.

    The girl was killed by police gunfire during a storming of the family home.

    Moscow has already lost more than 100 cases at the human rights court over actions in the Caucasus, including the cases of more than 200 disappeared people, mostly in Chechnya.


  5. Oh dear! Why don’t you care about the treatment Iraqis and Afghans get?

    • We do, but according to reliable figures, Russia has killed more Chechens than Iraqi’s have died in Iraq.

      Around 220,000 Chechens have died out of what was a small population anyway (around 1.5 million). The vast overwhelming majority of them killed by Russian military forces.

      In Iraq, around 190,000 people have died, most of them killed in sectarian violence by their fellow Iraqi’s, out of a population of around 31 Million.

      In afghanistan, around 12,000 civilian deaths have been caused by the war from 2001 to present, compare this with the 1,000,000 or so civilian deaths during the Russian invasion and occupation of the 80’s.

    • Actually I care very much for the treatment of Iraqis and Afghanis by their own governments, too. http://www.indict.org.uk/

      But thank you for your usual and fully predictable concern about the-lynching-of-negroes.

      • Let’s be clear about one thing, any critique of Russian actions in the Caucasus from the West should expect the ‘mind your own business’ response. ;-)

        • What a two year old response.

          Of course when Russia invades neighboring states, conducts campaigns of ethnic cleansing, and murders thousands of its own “citizens” it is our business.

          Unfortunately people such as yourself have no concept of morals, or moral obligations.

        • Crimes against humanity (like this http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2005/03/21/russia10342.htm ) are not anyone’s “own business”, that’s why they’re called “against humanity”. Unfortunatly nobody had balls to take them from the European Court to the International Criminal Court yet.

    • Leos Tomicek wrote;

      Oh dear! Why don’t you care about the treatment Iraqis and Afghans get?

      Welcome to Leos Tomicek, a new name, on the embarrassing list of names created by those senile, retired, and starving kgb idiots. IT IS BEYOND IDIOCY!!

  6. “President Vladimir Putin and other officials have repeatedly called on troops to obey the law during security sweeps that civilians say often lead to disappearances” Newspapaer Quote

    So is Putin in charge or not? If he is not in control of this or his military, what’s he doing still in Kremlin. But if he is in charge then he is guilty of murder, etc…. because it would have to be inferred by the continued violence that it is being done with his “blessing”.

    • Barb,

      Not really and quite on opposite (like personally handing hunting knives to his stormtroopers, and they use such knives to torture and slaughter prisoners and to mutilate bodies, cutting ears for example).

      The same for “the liberal” Mini Putin too:


      MAKHACHKALA, Russia – President Dmitry Medvedev made a surprise visit Thursday to the violence-wracked southern province of Dagestan, telling police and security forces to use tougher, “more cruel” measures to fight the “scum” responsible for terrorist attacks.

      In his dress — a black T-shirt under a black suit coat — and rough language, Medvedev was following the lead of Russia’s powerful prime minister, Vladimir Putin.

      • Russia’s acting President, Vladimir Putin, has paid an unexpected has paid an unexpected visit to Chechnya to award medals to soldiers. Mr Putin congratulated soldiers on the continuing offensive and presented them with hunting knives. He told Russian troops in Gudermes, a city east of the Chechen capital Grozny, that the conflict was not simply about restoring honour and dignity to Russia, but was a means to prevent Russia fragmenting even further. Grozny was bombarded again during the New Year, it was one of the heaviest attacks to date in the four-month-old offensive.


        On the pictures, the remains of more than 10 people are depicted, it is not possible to establish an exact figure due to possible mistakes in transportation and collection of the remains. Furthermore, at the beginning of the video film, not all bodies were laid out on the area around the Ministry and additional bodies were transported whilst the film was being shot. During the film, part of the remains of one individual is shot on more than one occasion.

        It is not possible to establish the precise reasons for the death of these individuals by examining the pictures, however, there is evidence of stab wounds


        Putin – who is widely expected to become President when Russia votes this month – has consistently denied human rights abuses in Chechnya. Putin’s denials have mollified Western leaders, and only last month Foreign Secretary Robin Cook met him in Moscow and went out of his way to praise the ex-KGB secret policeman who gave out hunting knives to his troops on New Year’s Day. Cook said of Putin: ‘I found his style refreshing and open, and his priorities for Russia are ones that we would share.’

        • On his first night as acting president, Putin ditched plans to attend a Bolshoi Theater New Year’s gala and flew with his wife to Chechnya. He uncorked his millennium bottle of champagne aboard an army helicopter before handing out skinning knives with his name engraved on them to the troops at dawn.


          According to these experts, the absolute majority of the bodies which had been discovered at that stage belonged to people who had been killed less than a year previously. It is possible to claim with confidence that a number of the bodies belonged to people who were killed between one and three months previously. According to the experts we spoke to, only one of the bodies belonged to an individual who was killed a year or more previously. There is evidence of both bullet wounds and knife wounds on the bodies. The ears of some of the bodies had been removed and some had cut wounds in the neck area. On many bodies, there was evidence of a bullet to the head. The absolute majority of the bodies had had their hands bound and they had been blindfolded or their entire faces had been covered.

          On 2nd March, HRC “Memorial” employees had already seen 50 bodies which had been laid out for identification (including the remains of four women). On many of the bodies, the hands were bound and the ears had been removed.


          Cook said of Putin: ‘I found his style refreshing and open, and his priorities for Russia are ones that we would share.’

  7. Francis Smyth-Beresford

    Just a little change of pace from the barrage of “Russian soldiers do horrible things to civilians”, in case you were getting the impression that all the rest of the world’s armies do not.


    • Mr FSB,

      In case you were getting the impression that “all the rest of the world’s armies” (US armed forces) are barbarians like the Russian OMON and FSB gangs:

      1. The victims were not US citiziens, nor the crimes were commited on the US soil.

      2. The soldiers were prosecuted anyway. And no one called them “heroes”.

      3. And they were sentenced. For a VERY heavy penalties. “Steven D. Green, a skinny, 21-year-old former private” (citing the article) could get death penalty and got a life in prison. Others also got similar sentences, like 100 years in prison for Paul Cortez and 90 years in prison for James Barker. (And of course dishonorable discharges.)


      In case if you don’t get it, Russia is losing the ECHR cases precisely because there were no meaningful investigations. (Or investigations at all.) And the beasts are “heroes”.

      And they’re “just following orders” – literally (the Nazis’ failed Nurnber defense, expect it works in Russia):

      The court found that Major Aleksei Perelevskii then passed back to Captain Eduard Ulman a message by radio from the commander of the military unit, ordering him to eliminate the detained civilians. Captain Eduard Ulman passed on this order to his subordinates. According to the prosecution, Captain Ulman ordered his subordinates to tell the five individuals that they were free to leave, and then to shoot them as they walked away. Aleksandr Kalaganskii and Vladimir Voevodin carried out the order and shot and killed Abdul-Wakhab Satabaev, Shakhban Bakhaev, Khamzat Tuburov and Zainap Dzhavatkhanova, put their bodies in the car and set it on fire. Dzhamlail Musaev reportedly escaped but died later from his injuries.

      In May 2004 Captain Eduard Ulman, Lieutenant Alexander Kalaganskii, Sergeant Vladimir Voevodin and the deputy commander of the unit, Major Alexei Perelevskii, were acquitted of the charges of premeditated murder, premeditated destruction of property, and exceeding official authority. Following an order for retrial from the Military Collegiate of the Supreme Court, on 19 May 2005 the men were again found not guilty by a jury at the same court.

      Despite admitting that they had shot the unarmed civilians in May 2004, Eduard Ulman, Alexander Kalaganskii, Vladimir Voevodin and the deputy commander of the unit, Alexei Perelevskii, were acquitted of the charges of premeditated murder, premeditated destruction of property, and exceeding official authority. Following an order for retrial from the Military Collegiate of the Supreme Court, on 19 May 2005 the men were again found not guilty by a jury at the same court.


      And “Major” Aleksei Perelevskii, who gave this order to the group of GRU gangsters to deliberately murder several Russian citiziens (completely random and innocent, for no reason at all), was not prosecuted at all. (“of course”)

      • A small correction: “Major” Aleksei Perelevskii allegedly just “passed the order” from the unidentified ringleader of their “GRU” gang to the triggermen. It was the leader of these bandits who was not prosecuted at all, and his men were acquitted repeatedly for “just following orders”.

        Quting AI:

        Please continue to send appeals in Russian or your own language:

        – expressing deep concern about the repeated acquittals of Captain Eduard Ulman, Lieutenant Aleksander Kalaganskii, Sergeant Vladimir Voevodin and Major Alexei Perelevskii;

        – expressing deep concern that the commander of the unit, who reportedly gave the order to kill unarmed detained civilians, was never prosecuted for this crime;

        – stating that wilful killing, and the order that there shall be no survivors, constitute serious breaches of the laws of war according to the Geneva Conventions and its Protocol II and that the Russian Federation, as a High Contracting Party, has an obligation to prosecute all persons suspected of commissioning or committing these crimes;

        – stating that international human rights law as well as Russian law, including Article 42 of the Russian Criminal Code, does not relieve a person of her or her criminal responsibility even when the crime has been committed pursuant to an order;

        – pointing out that the killings of Abdul-Wakhab Satabaev, Shakhban Bakhaev, Khamzat Tuburov, Zainap Dzhavatkhanova and Dzamlail Musaev are in violation of Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the right to life), to which Russia is a party, and that the use of lethal force in the death of Said Alaskhanov raises serious concerns under Article 2;

        – condemning the ongoing grave and systematic human rights abuses in the Chechen Republic, and calling on the Russian authorities to take immediate steps to end such violations, including extrajudicial executions, unlawful killings, arbitrary detention, “disappearances” and torture, including rape, and ill-treatment.

        – urging that all judges, in particular judges in military courts, are made fully aware of international human rights and humanitarian law principles, and the rules that apply to it.

      • Later Spielman also got 110 years in prison.


        For a comparison, in an extremaly rare case of conviction in Russia (only a handful out of thousands of murders), the “Hero of Russia” Budanov got only 10 years after several acquittals and retrials (and he’s a free man already, anyway).

        And Budanov also did (“did not”) murder many more people (again, Russian citiziens) than just this one girl.

        This time it was not “I was just following orders to kill them all, okay”, it was “no, I didn’t do it” to the sympathic “justice officials”:

        Budanov not involved in disappearance of Chechens in 2000 – SKP

        10.06.2009, 12.48

        MOSCOW, June 10 (Itar-Tass) – The Investigations Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office (SKP) has said there is no evidence to confirm the involvement of former Colonel Yuri Budanov in the disappearance of Chechen citizens in 2000.

        “Budanov has been questioned twice, in the presence of his lawyer,” SKP spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Thursday.

        “Budanov testified that he could not be present at the checkpoint, located near the Duba-Yurt settlement in the Shali District, during the periods when 18 Chechen residents disappeared without a trace. His testimony is confirmed by criminal case materials,” Markin said.

        Due to this fact, investigators have cancelled the recognizance not to leave the place of residence (the measure of restraint selected against Budanov).

        As of now, Budanov is not regarded as a suspect, in accordance with the Russian legislation, the spokesman added.

        In 2000, 18 residents of the Chechen republic were illegally deprived of freedom at the checkpoint located near the settlement of Duba-Yurt, Shali District.

        “Later, three of them were found killed. A number of local residents believe that Yuri Budanov is involved in this crime,” an SKP official said.

        Budanov was released on parole in 2008.

        In 2003, Budanov was sentenced to ten years in jail on charges of kidnapping and killing Chechen woman Elza Kungayeva in the village of Tangi-Chu in March 2000.

        On January 15, 2009, the Federal Penitentiary Service department for the Ulyanovsk region officially confirmed that Yuri Budanov had left the penitentiary.

  8. Looting and Stealing from the murdered bodies of Somolensk crash by Russian special forces.

    I have just learned that some of the murdered Polish victims of the russian instigated smolensk crash are being robbed by the russian special forces that supposed to ‘secure’ the site of the crash – they stole the credit cards of number of victims and keep stealing money from the corpses. CAN YOU GO LOWER THAT THAT???? RUSSIANS A TRULY HIENAS WITHOUT ANY MORALITY – SO I LOOK FORWARD TO SEE THEM MARCHING BACK TO THE GULAGS WHERE THEY BELONG…

    • Francis Smyth-Beresford

      Ummm….Ron? I just thought you should know that Triple-a is borrowing your brain while you sleep.

      Oh, and you forgot to include where you came by that information. Rush Limbaugh tell you?

  9. Greetings! A new reader here, just scrolled through it, and came up with a question that is pretty fitting to this post. In “about us” your goal is stated as “To see Russia become a prosperous, democratic, contributing member of the world community — rather than the scourge, blight and nuisance that it is now.” That is something I can respect and support, and as a matter of fact the idea of trying a hand at a piece or two crossed my mind. However, often enough in actual posts such as this one the outlook is way more pessimistic (“Given that, we do not believe any number of lawyers, however talented, can save Russia from its ultimate downfall and oblivion?” Sure doesnt sound as if you’d like to see prosperous and all!)

    Is it possible to get a clarification on this from you guys? Not to be some troll or something, I’ll explain my reasons well in advance: I am russian (well, as much as someone named Kaganovitz may call himself that :), and as the saying goes, while I do hate our government (and some other… local pecularities), I love my country. The way your mission is formulated in “about”, I agree and would therefore enjoy reading and whatever. The way some posts read… well, you know, criticizing a government is one thing, foretelling one’s motherland a “downfall and oblivion” is the other.

    I can also understand that different authors might be entitled to different views, it’s just that there is always a line, so I wonder where you draw it.

    On an unrelated note, the offered salary is laughable, even top Russian lawyers won’t sign to sleep in paytime for that. A very close friend of mine is working as tax lawyer here, that’s how he puts it: most government-employed lawyers are plain bad (at least in his tax field), simply because the wages are low and any good one eventually leaves.


    You see, Russia has many problems and isn’t working to solve them, but to create more instead. And as a result, the Russian population is going extinct. This upsets us, and we call for Russians to stop behaving this way before they destroy themselves, believing that if they did they would prosper. It’s really not very complicated.

    • Hi Dmitry,

      There’s another commentator here called “Dmitry”, and I guess you wouldn’t liked being confused with him. Just saying.

    • Dmitry Kaganovitz

      LR, got it, thanks, that explanation works. But on the how-to side, you think it’s “russian people” behaving like that and not a rather limited cleptocracy elites? You’ve probably heard about how there are civil unrests across the country where ordinary people get pushed across the line. But other then that, the reality is that there are simply no tools for people to affect the behavior of a tiny minority of Rublevka dwellers… and I think the latter are not reading your blog (and many other sources, for that matter) and sure as heck are not listening to the criticism.

      If you’d like a constructive advice, look at this, the catch that many Russian “liberals” fall to: you need to differentiate between the country and the people (like, the side that shows signs of hope) and the Putinists (A side that for me, as much as for you, doesn’t). Sure, one can say that all Somalians are shit because they are being governed by some gun-toting warlords and their country is a failed state, but that won’t be very accurate – same with Russia and Russians. I understand that it’s most likely not your intent, but some of posts certainly read just like that.

      Also, are there any specific guidelines as to what kind of submissions you prefer (aside from what can be generalized from already-published posts)?

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