The Rise of the Russian Gestapo
Those Nazis sure do love them some Russia! Little wonder, of course.
Back in January, we republished a piece from Global Voices reporting on the persecution of a young Russian woman who dared to the commit the “crime” (in racist Russian eyes, at least) of marrying a Chinese man and admiring Chinese culture on her blog.
A few days ago, the American neo-Nazi website Stormfront picked up the link in its forum section, sending any number of neo-Nazi thugs scurrying through our virtual pages and leading them to make comments like “boy do I love the Russians” and “they are taking the most direct approach (more than other whites) in the streets, they are a tough folk that’s for sure.”
We’ve previously reported on how right-wing lunatics like Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul and David Duke wet themselves when thinking about the racist dictatorship that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Look the other way in Russia, however, toward the “police,” and the situation is little better.
Putin’s Failure in Chechnya and the 2014 Olympics
Worry is rising over the risk of terrorism at Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics. Last week’s deadly attack on a hydroelectric station in Russia’s deep south only added to the concern. The number of attacks in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus was up 57 percent last year, and unlike the Chechen wars of 1994–2001, these killings have been the work of a bewildering array of rebel groups, some motivated by radical Islam but others by separatism or clan warfare.
The Kremlin keeps pouring money and firepower into the region, and it’s backfiring. In Chechnya and Dagestan, the human-rights group Memorial has reported a sickening history of nighttime kidnappings, rapes, and extrajudicial killings by -government-backed death squads. A senior police source in Dagestan says local clans, many of them linked to law enforcement, are encouraging the violence, seeking to bring down more chaos on rival clans. Somehow Moscow needs to break the cycle of violence—or face the possibility of trouble at the 2014 Games in Sochi, less than 200 miles from last week’s attack, in the foothills of the Caucasus.
— Newsweek magazine, 7/24/10
The Caucasus rebels grow bolder and bolder, the failure of Vladimir Putin’s policies in the region grows ever clearer and more complete. And the world, finally, is getting wise to the insanity of allowing the 2014 games to push forward in this environment.
Just two weeks ago, we reported on a sensational direct attack on Ramzan Kadyrov in broad daylight in the capital of Chechnya.
Then last week, for the first time the Kremlin was forced to admit that an electric power station had been bombed and critically damaged by rebel fighters. Instead of declining as Vladimir Putin promised it would, violence in the Caucasus region is escalating dramatically with every passings day. And the threat to the games grows ever more dire.
Russia as a nation of apes
Vladimir Ryzkhov, writing in the Moscow Times:
After art curator Andrei Yerofeyev was convicted last week by Moscow’s Tagansky District Court of inciting religious hatred with his 2007 “Forbidden Art” exhibit, he said, “We did not lose. … It was the country that lost because the country has denounced its own art.” Much worse, however, the judge and prosecutor in the case showed the state’s clear affinity for the reactionary, extremist forces in Russia who are demanding strict censorship in arts and education. What’s more, the position taken by law enforcement agencies and courts violated the country’s basic constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
The criminal case against Yerofeyev and his associate Yury Samodurov were filed by outspoken conservative State Duma Deputy Alexander Chuyev and various religious groups and private individuals. The court ruled that Yerofeyev and Samodurov’s exhibit, which featured artwork depicting Jesus as Mickey Mouse and Lenin, violated Article 282 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits “the incitement of national, racial or religious enmity and the abasement of human dignity based on religious affiliation.” As a result, the court fined Samodurov 200,000 rubles ($6,500) and Yerofeyev 150,000 rubles ($4,900).
Foreign Policy offers a long feature on dissident oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s neo-Soviet persecution by the Putin Kremlin, which Dave Essel highly recommends:
He has been stabbed, spied on, and sent to solitary confinement. His oil company assets have been seized by the state, his fortune decimated, his family fractured. And now, after nearly seven years in a Siberian prison camp and a Moscow jail cell, he is back on trial in a Russian courtroom, sitting inside a glass cage and waiting for a new verdict that could keep him in the modern Gulag for much of the rest of his life. Each day, he is on display as if in a museum exhibit, trapped for all to see inside what his son bitterly calls “the freaking aquarium.”
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once Russia’s richest man, the most powerful of the oligarchs who emerged in the post-Soviet rush of crony capitalism, and the master of 2 percent of the world’s oil production. Now he is the most prominent prisoner in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a symbol of the perils of challenging the Kremlin and the author of a regular barrage of fiery epistles about the sorry state of society from his cramped cell. In a country where the public space is a political wasteland, his case and his letters from prison evoke a different age.
“No doubt,” he wrote us from inside the glass cage, “in modern Russia any person who is not a politician but acts against the government’s policies and for ordinary, universally recognized human rights is a dissident.”
The Washington Post reports on yet another wave of Hollywood fare casting Russians as villains. Nice work, Mr. Putin. Hopefully, Mr. Obama is watching.
It’s 2010, and the Cold War has never been hotter.
Piper Perabo is brushing up on her Russian in the cable series “Covert Affairs.” The movie “Farewell,” a fictionalized version of the career of Vladimir Vetrov, a KGB spy who squirreled state secrets out of Russia in the 1980s, is scheduled to open in Washington next week. The recent sleeper spy story, by turns jaw-dropping and reassuringly benign, wound up providing welcome credibility cover for this week’s summer Cold War throwback: “Salt,” a swift, frenetic action thriller starring Angelina Jolie. In this stylish and absurdly violent kick in the keister, Jolie assumes myriad disguises and punches way above her weight as a CIA agent accused of being a Russian sleeper spy — a notion so alien when Kurt Wimmer first wrote the film that, for years, it languished in studio outboxes.
Even after “Salt” was green-lighted, its producers enlisted no less august a team than former Central Intelligence director R. James Woolsey and former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge to help market the movie and to pre-empt the inevitable criticism that “Salt’s” plot is either hopelessly dated or risibly improbable. (The Washington endorsement suggests another mystery: How does a studio persuade the Justice Department and FBI to prolong a decade-long investigation until a few weeks before your movie comes out?)