The Estemirova Fraud in Putin’s Russia
We carry a photograph in today’s issue which makes it appear that a malignant Vladimir Putin is controlling a puppet Dima Medvedev by remote control. Truly, one picture is worth a thousand words. Or, in this case, screams.
At a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, Medvedev claimed that the Russian government had identified the killer of hero journalist Natalia Estemirova.
The man Medvedev has fingered for the crime is conveniently dead, therefore there won’t be any trial. He’s conveniently an anti-government militant, therefore apparently neither the Kremlin nor the Kadyrov regime in Chechnya can be blamed. And Medvedev himself admits the Kremlin has no idea who ordered the killing — and the killer being dead, no prospects of identifying him.
It is as if the U.S. government blamed the killing of Martin Luther King on Malcolm X after X was himself murdered. It is farce, in equal parts pathetic and tragic, of a kind only Russia can produce.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:
The day before, Natalya Estemirova had seen off two colleagues from Moscow. Yelena Milashina, a reporter with the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Tanya Lokshina, an advocate with the international group Human Rights Watch, had traveled to Chechnya on separate assignments. Like many visiting journalists and human rights defenders, Milashina and Lokshina had stayed with Estemirova. Her Grozny apartment had become a headquarters for such visitors; Russian and international journalists often made it their first stop. Estemirova was their primary source, consultant, fixer, translator, protector.
Estemirova was to travel to Moscow shortly, Milashina recalled later, so on July 14, 2009, the friends said goodbye with the words: “I’ll see you soon.”
by Dave Essel
Russia may be trying to ostrich away the crisis and claim that its crisis is just part and parcel of the world economic crisis. But metrics are everywhere and crop up in the oddest of places.
Here is a metric from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry that shows that Russia is suffering worst by far – naturally.
First it was Natalia Estemirova.
The came Andrei Kulagin.
And now we can add yet a third vicious assault on human rights activists in Russia in just the past few weeks: Albert Pchelintsev.
Other Russia reports that Pchelintsev is the regional director of the “Against Corruption, Deception and Dishonor” movement and states that according to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, Pchelintsev was attacked on Saturday evening as he returned home and was shot in the mouth with a stun gun. After undergoing reconstructive surgery, he remains in serious condition and cannot speak. The gang of attackers allegedly shouted at him: “You won’t be able to speak out now for a long time!” Other Russia adds: “The rights leader had taken an active role in recent municipal election in Khimki, and strongly criticized town officials during the campaign. Pchelintsev also wrote a column dedicated to corruption in a local newspaper. In 2008, the activist helped to open a community office where citizens could report and document cases of corruption. He is one of many activists from Khimki to be attacked in recent years.”
Russia’s streets flow red with the blood of its patriots, struck down by their own countrymen and indeed their own government. And perhaps the most apalling of all is the craven silence of the American White House. Shame on you, Mr. Obama! How many heros must perish before Obama will know it is too many are deign to speak up?
Ramzan Kadyrov, Murderer
“You understand that you are putting yourself in grave danger. You need to change your style of work.”
–Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, spokesman for Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, to Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights NGO, at a meeting on July 10, 2009, four days before Orlov’s lead journalist, Natalia Estemirova, was kidnapped in Grozy, murdered and dumped at the roadside in Ingushetia.
The man with the golden gun
You may find those words shocking, but they are nothing compared to what Kadyrov himself was prepared to say to Estemirova herself, in person. He stated: “I have blood from my hands to my elbows.” This was after calling her into his office to criticize her reporting of human rights abuses by his military cadres. It was after Kadyrov “yelled at her, asked questions about who she lived with, where her relatives were and how old her daughter was.” Alexander Cherkasov, a Chechnya expert at Memorial, told reporters at a news conference: “With Kadyrov she spoke like a schoolteacher — she put this D-student in his place. But he knew how to do more than just spit wads of paper from the back row.”
Of course, the Russian media is not reporting any of it.
The following is an extract from a 2,600-word article by Natalya Estemirova on the situation in Chechnya written in August 2008 but published only after her killing on the pages of The Independent:
The abductions in Chechnya started nearly a decade ago. In 2000, Russian forces took control of practically the entire territory of the republic, and started extensive mop-up operations in villages
Thousands of murders and abductions took place; these operations were declared to be an efficient method in the fight against rebels. In reality, however, the troops and police were looting the houses of unprotected civilians, at times taking away everything from them, from cars and furniture to shampoos and female underwear.