Daily Archives: June 6, 2010

June 9, 2010 — Contents

WEDNESDAY JUNE 9 CONTENTS

(1) EDITORIAL:  Finally, Sochi Exposed

(2) EDITORIAL:  In Russia, Citizens Biggest Fear is the “Police”

(3) Corruption and Abuse of Power in Putin’s Russia

(4)  Obama, the Bastard, Abandons Human Rights in Russia

(5)  Russia Abandons its Poets

EDITORIAL: Finally, Russia admits the Sochi Horror

EDITORIAL

Finally, Russia admits the Sochi Horror

Now, not even the professional liars who rule the Russian Kremlin can deny it:  the world’s athletes will be risking their lives in 2014 if they are foolish enough to attend the Sochi Olympiad.

Last week, it was reported that Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB, had “warned that terrorists intend to disrupt preparations for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.”

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: In Putin’s Russia, Citizens most of all Fear the “Police”

EDITORIAL

In Putin’s Russia, Citizens most of all Fear the “Police”

Oleg Kozlovsky in Triumfalnaya Ploshchad

Here’s what happened to Oborona opposition faction leader Oleg Kozlovsky last week:

First, he was illegally arrested for doing nothing more than asserting his Constitutional right to peacefully assemble in Triumfalnaya Ploshchad in Moscow.

Then, he was illegally beaten while in police custody as he protested (peacefully) the illegality of his arrest.

Next, he was held illegally for nine hours in police custody (the law allows for only three).

Finally, he was indicted on the signature of a police officer who had nothing whatsoever to do with his arrest and therefore could not have been a party to it, and on a pre-printed form prepared by bureaucrats miles away.

In other words, in the space of just a few hours Oleg had his legal rights trampled upon by the Russian police who are supposed to protect those rights not once, not twice, not three times but four separate times. More than a hundred other activists were treated similarly by the Russian “police” and Oleg saw a reporter get his arm broken by these thugs for trying to cover and report on the their atrocities.

Continue reading

Corruption and Abuse of Power in Putin’s Russia

The New York Times continuing its impressively tough recent line of critical reporting on the Putin KGB state, reports:

Only one spectator showed up for the final hearing in the killing of Magomed Yevloyev. He was a broad-beamed, ruddy-faced man in a carefully pressed black suit, and once in the courtroom he removed his tall fur hat, set it on the bench beside him and waited for a chance to speak.

Sunlight streamed in the window, bouncing off the white walls, but the old man had brought a heaviness with him into the room. When the time came, Yakhya Yevloyev stood and recited a litany of evidence not gathered — witnesses not interviewed, threads left dangling — that might have led to a murder conviction in his son’s death.

The room went silent out of respect for the man’s loss, and for a moment it seemed as if the process could rewind 18 months to the beginning, when his son, an opposition leader in the southern republic of Ingushetia, was hustled into a police car and shot through the head at point-blank range.

Back then, in August 2008, it was a crime so outrageous that it seemed to demand action. Magomed Yevloyev was openly feuding with the region’s leader, Murat M. Zyazikov, when the two men happened to board the same flight from Moscow. Barely half an hour after the police escorted Mr. Yevloyev, 36, off the plane, he was dropped off at a hospital with an execution-style wound.

Death is often murky in the violent borderland of the Russian north Caucasus, but this one seemed different. Protests broke out in Ingushetia, and Western leaders pressed Moscow to punish those responsible. Even the Kremlin appeared to feel the political pressure: within two months, President Dmitri A. Medvedev removed both Mr. Zyazikov and his interior minister.

Continue reading

Obama, the Bastard, Abandons Russian Human Rights

Time magazine reports:

Since his first meeting with Kremlin leaders in Moscow last July, President Barack Obama has established a dialogue with Russia over some critical issues — Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear arms reduction, missile defense — and all of these have yielded progress, even if meager and tentative. But when it came time last week for an unprecedented meeting — involving Russian and American officials, along with human-rights advocates — to discuss the issue of human rights, the dialogue with the Kremlin hit a wall. The Russian side came away pleased that there had been no criticism from the Americans, none of the condescension they remember from the Bush years. The American side, for its part, seemed content to have raised these issues, showing that they have not forgotten them in their eagerness to be friends again. Still, for the rights activists who were at the the table — a presence that was historic — the whole process seemed little more than unproductive political theater.

The meeting’s location, which was chosen by the Kremlin, was about as poignant a symbol of Russia’s past rights abuses as one could find outside the Gulags. Standing about 100 miles east of Moscow, Vladimir Central Prison housed some of the Soviet Union’s most prominent political prisoners, including the activist Vladimir Bukovsky, several of Stalin’s relatives, and the American U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. Also hovering over last week’s talks was a much more recent prison scandal. Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who once represented an American investment fund in Russia, had died six months before, on Nov. 16, after being refused medical treatment for months at Moscow’s Butyrka prison. He had been awaiting trial on tax fraud charges for nearly a year.(See the dangers of doing business in Russia.)

Continue reading

Russia Abandons its Poets

In a story that could not be more timely in the wake of Vladimir Putin not recognizing Yuri Shevchuk, the New York Times reports:

Since the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, Russian poetry has begun to resemble American poetry in ways that are both fascinating and sad. What’s fascinating is how talented, and how different from one another, Russia’s young poets are. What’s sad is how little they are read, and how little they matter. Whatever reach contemporary poetry had in Russian society has vanished like wood smoke.

The death on Tuesday of Andrei Voznesensky, a stirring poet of the post-Stalin “thaw era” in the 1950s and early 1960s, caused many to recall a time when that reach was enormous. Voznesensky’s generation of poets, which included Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Bella Akhmadulina, declaimed their work in sports stadiums to overflow crowds. A moment presented itself — the relative artistic freedom of the early Khrushchev era — and these poets pounced on the microphone. As Mr. Voznesensky put it, with a punk lip curl: “The times spat at me. I spit back at the times.”

The poets of the thaw era were liberating figures, and have frequently been likened to the West’s most word-drunk rockers and singer-songwriters: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen. They were political, sexy, a bit louche and sometimes ridiculous. They squabbled. Mr. Yevtushenko seemed to be alluding to poets too, when he asked, “Why is it that right-wing bastards always stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity, while liberals fall out among themselves?”

Continue reading