Who Ordered the hit on Kashin?

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Perhaps the one positive aspect of the vicious beating of Kommersant journalist Oleg Kashin on Saturday is that the list of suspects is confined to a small number of people — just like an Agatha Christie novel.

The first suspect is Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko. (He denies any role in the matter.) Sooner or later, Strelchenko’s enemies get their heads bashed in. Two years ago, Khimkinskaya Pravda editor Mikhail Beketov’s head was beaten so badly that he will probably never recover from the severe brain damage he incurred. On the recent anniversary of that beating, the Khimki leader of the Right Cause party, Konstantin Fetisov, suffered head injuries after he was attacked. Two days later, it was Kashin’s turn.

The second suspect is Vasily Yakemenko, head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, the spiritual leader of the “Putin-jugend.”

In August, Kashin dug out an unflattering story about Yakemenko. Anastasia Korchevskaya, a minor who attended the 2008 Seliger camp held by the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth group, decided to brag about her personal connections to the organizers by posting a photo of herself with Yakemenko on the Internet. The caption read: “Seliger 2008. Yakemenko still thinks I am madly in love with him.” Yakemenko responded, “Korchevskaya, just because you came over to my tent twice for a couple of nights doesn’t mean that I think you are in love with me.” The blog was deleted shortly thereafter, but before that Kashin had made a screenshot of the interchange and turned the incident into a scandal.

Kashin’s opponents realized that they couldn’t convince Russians that Kashin is an “enemy” based only on his comments about Yakemenko. Something much more incriminating was needed. Then, as luck would have it, Kashin published an interview in Kommersant with an anti-fascist leader who had broken the windows of Khimki City Hall. The interview enraged Young Guard, which responded by posting an article titled “Traitor Journalists Should Be Punished!” on its web site.

There is a third, but less likely, suspect — Pskov Governor Andrei Turchak. Kashin, in one of his blogs, insulted Turchak in an act of carelessness. Turchak, a former head of United Russia’s youth movement, responded by demanding an apology from Kashin — a demand that was worded in such a way that it resembled a threat. Turchak’s office has wished Kashin a speedy recovery and declined to comment on the ongoing criminal inquiry.

There is a list of suspects in the Kashin beating, and there is not the slightest chance that the attack was simply a random act of violence. In a best-case scenario, the beating was the initiative of some fascist organization that was upset with one of Kashin’s Khimki interview. But in all likelihood, a senior official was involved.

President Dmitry Medvedev pledged on Monday to punish those found responsible for the Kashin beating, even if the perpetrators turn out to be senior officials. Since our list of suspects is well-known, asking Medvedev to “take measures” against the attackers without naming a single suspect is cowardly. If we demand nothing more than that the authorities “take measures,” they will respond by saying, “Measures have been taken.”

The real prize for courage should go to Moscow art curator Marat Gelman, who wrote in his blog that he believes Yakemenko ordered the attack. Yakemenko has sued Gelman and is threatening to sue me and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov for linking him to the attack on Kashin.


7 responses to “Who Ordered the hit on Kashin?

  1. According to legal experts such crimes are prepared with precision by professionals, Russian citizens are too terrified to come forward to give evidence as witnesses and the people that order the attacks “are too important to be prosecuted” in today’s Russia (RIA Novosti, November 7). An independent investigation by Novaya Gazeta points at the pro-Kremlin authorities in Chechnya as being guilty of ordering the murder of Politkovskaya.

    According to the Chairman of the Russian Union of Journalists, Vsevolod Bogdanov, some 300 journalists were killed in Russia over the last 20 years and almost none of these crimes were solved (RIA Novosti, November 9).

    Kashin boasted that the exact address of his apartment “is not known to anyone he does not know personally,” since it differs from his official registration address. According to Kashin, he kept his whereabouts secret due to security concerns (Kommersant-Vlast, October 19). On the night of the attack on November 6, at 12:20 am Kashin arrived home by taxi. Earlier in the evening Kashin visited a friend’s apartment, a café in the center of Moscow and purchased a mobile phone for his father. Kashin walked several steps to the locked entrance to the yard of his apartment block and then the hit squad attacked. Kashin’s apartment block has two entrances from two different streets and the attackers seem to have known where to carry out an ambush (Kommersant, November 8).

    It is obvious that Kashin was followed by a professional surveillance team during his movements on November 5, and for at least a week before to establish his exact whereabouts, his pattern of movements, to pick a time, when he would be returning home alone, late at night, with no witnesses around. Kashin’s taxi seems to have been followed by a surveillance vehicle that gave the attackers operative information on what entrance to lay an ambush and that the field was clear for a hit. Most likely the same surveillance vehicle picked up the hit squad after the attack (RIA Novosti; http://www.lifenews.ru, November 9).

    Football hooligans, skinheads and nationalistic extremist groups have been blamed for organizing the attack on Kashin (ITAR-TASS November 9). This is clearly nonsense, possibly deliberately spread by authorities: the highly professional surveillance and organization of the crime clearly implicate past or present police or security service personnel. The same pattern was part of the Politkovskaya killing, when a professional surveillance team followed her for more than a week –and she also lived in a discrete rented apartment. Last month the Federalnaya Sluzba Okhrani (FSO) –Federal Guarding Service (the Russian equivalent of the US Secret Service) denied Kashin accreditation to a meeting between Medvedev and selected rock musicians in a Moscow Rhythm & Blues Café. The FSO told Kommersant: Kashin was “blacklisted” for being detained by riot police in 2007 after taking part in an unauthorized opposition march. As a blacklisted person, Kashin was under constant special surveillance by Russian police and special services (Kommersant, October 13).

    Human rights activists and opposition figures have linked the attack to the campaign around the Khimki forest, slated for partial destruction to make way for a government-backed St. Petersburg to Moscow toll highway. Kashin criticized local authorities over their handling of the issue and recently interviewed a member of a leftwing “antifascist” group, who was arrested and detained for several months for taking part in a protest against the Khimki forest destruction (Kommersant, October 21). The toll highway is financed by Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s old time judo buddy. Putin has publicly supported the highway amid growing protests. Last week another close friend of Putin from St. Petersburg, the president of the Russian railroad monopoly RzHD, Vladimir Yakunin, announced: “The orgy of protest over the [Khimki] road must end. All legal decisions have been made, contracts signed, but work is being blocked and money –lost” (Vedomosti, November 3).

    Opposition figures have accused the Kremlin of being behind the attack on Kashin and have demanded the “immediate resignation” of first deputy chief of the presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov. Former Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, directly implicates Putin and Medvedev in the crime (Kommersant, November 10).


  2. Hundreds rally in Moscow to protest attacks

    MOSCOW (AP) —

    About 500 people came out on a rainy Sunday afternoon to protest the beatings of journalists and activists linked to a dispute over a forest just outside the Russian capital.

    The protesters on the square in central Moscow held photographs of reporter Oleg Kashin and environmental activist Konstantin Fetisov, who were savagely beaten in separate attacks this month.

    Read more:


  3. All of this reflects directly on Obama and through Obama directly on the democratic party. Obama does not care as he is merely doing as much damage a possible until he is stopped.

    One would think, however, that the democratic party establishment would be alarmed!! No such thing!!

    • Obama is going to be re-elected in 2012; you know this, right?


      Would you care to put $10,000 into an escrow account and bet on it?

      • No, I doubt it. He would need to get LA bombed by islamists, with 5-6 thousands people murdered in the attack, and then start two-three wars – Iran, and, say, Malaysia and Pakistan to win elections. Because it’s been some time reelections in the US are won in this manner.

  4. Goebbels’ Guide for Russia

    15 November 2010
    By Victor Davidoff

    Young Guard’s site also published an article with a photograph of Kashin titled, “Traitor Journalists Should Be Punished!” This prompted blogger Jabberwokie to note the similarity between the style of Young Guard’s publications and newspaper articles about the show trials of the 1930s: “Just change the names and titles, and they are exactly the same.”

    Blogger Yarsolidarnosc discovered more unsavory activity by pro-Kremlin movements. In Yaroslavl, Steel, the student branch of the pro-Putin youth movement Nashi, posted on its site a document titled, “The Movement’s Commandments of Honor.” They simply translated the “Ten Commandments of National Socialism” written by Joseph Goebbels with “Russia” replacing “Germany” and without reference to Jews: “Your Homeland is Russia. Love it above all others and in deed more than word. The enemies of Russia are your enemies. Hate them with all your heart. Be proud of Russia. You have to right the be proud of a homeland for which millions have given their lives.”

    Steel’s claim to fame was when it placed photographs of liberal politicians and human rights activists on stakes during the annual pro-Kremlin summer camp in Seliger. Now we know where they may have looked for inspiration.


  5. Chechen president under fire ahead of murder trial


    Umar Israilov, 27, was shot dead on a street in Vienna in January 2009. Austrian investigators and activists have alleged the killing was linked to Israilov’s opposition to Chechnya’s pro-Kremlin leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. In August, prosecutors charged three men in the slaying but said there was not enough evidence to charge Kadyrov.

    The trial starts Tuesday. Before the proceedings, Vienna lawyer Nadja Lorenz said she and her supporters will present evidence linking the defendants to Kadyrov, known for his strong-arm rule.

    “This will lay the foundation for holding Kadyrov accountable later — that’s what we’re working toward,” said Lorenz alongside other human rights proponents amid tight security. “We have to use whatever legal means we have to stop the torturers of this world.”

    Heinz Patzelt, head of Austria’s chapter of Amnesty International, said he saw the trial as a key chance to establish evidence against Kadyrov that could then be used as a “very important jigsaw piece” in other, larger proceedings against him.

    “There’s an enormous responsibility on the judge, on the jury, on the public prosecutor, to raise the right questions and to give very brave answers,” Patzelt said.

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