Other Russia reports:
A Russian journalist and activist in the industrial town of Tolyatti had her children taken from her by police without explanation on Tuesday the Forum.msk news site reports. It looks to be the latest of such cases where the confiscation of children by the police has been used to threaten or intimidate activists and oppositionists in Russia.
An article by the journalist, Galina Dmitrieva, had been published two days prior describing the situation in the AvtoVAZ automobile manufacturing plant. Then, on Tuesday at 1:30 pm, local police came to her home and said that since her children were living in unsanitary conditions, it was possible that they could be taken away.
Russian journalist Yuri Grachev, editor of Solnechnogorsk Forum, beaten on account of his reporting and found with a broken nose, a concussion and cuts.
Russian Barbarism towards Journalists Laid Bare
The Gray Lady, a/k/a The New York Times, has finally gotten around, after more than a decade of neo-Soviet atrocities in Russia, to speaking out aggressively on behalf of its beleaguered colleagues in Russia. It’s too late to do such titanic Russian patriots as Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova or Stanislav Markelov any good, and we are still waiting for an editorial from the paper in support of the coverage, but it’s welcome nonetheless, and ought to be an embarrassment to the Obama administration because of the President’s craven, stunning silence on issues of this kind.
In a stinging pair of recent articles by veteran Russia correspondent Clifford Levy, the paper excoriated the shocking level of barbarism being displayed by the people and the government in Vladimir Putin’s burgeoning totalitarian nightmare.
Vera Trifonova, RIP. Before, and after, Vladimir Putin went to work on her.
Other Russia reports:
Nearly half a year has passed since Sergei Magnitsky’s scandalous death in a Moscow detention center sparked international outrage at Russia’s penitentiary system. Now, in a case that bears an unsettling resemblance to Magnitsky’s, a Russian businesswoman awaiting trial on charges of fraud has died in the same detention center. And like Magnitsky, her lawyer alleges that the woman died as a result of being denied necessary medical care.
According to Russian Federal Penitentiary Service representative Sergei Tsygankov, the 53-year-old Vera Trifonova died at 12:35 pm on April 30, 2010, in the intensive care unit of the hospital at the Matrosskaya Tishina criminal investigation detention facility (SIZO) in Moscow. Local police were called to the scene, established that there were no signs that the death has been violent, and have launched an investigation.
Putin, Predator of the Press
Reporters without Borders has come out with a list of the 40 worst “predators of the press” on the planet, and unsurprisingly both Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov are on it.
Here’s what RWB has to say about Putin:
Russia descends further into the Totalitarian Mire
Late last year, when the Reporters without Borders organization released its latest index of press freedom, we learned that Russia had fallen a shocking 12 places from its ranking the prior year to #153 in the world out of 175 countries under study, for the first time dropping below the crazed dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.
Last week, Freedom House released the latest results of its own ongoing study of press freedom. According to FH, Russia is doing even worse than RWB imagines. Russia is 26th out of 29 nations in Eastern Europe and a jolting, appalling #175 overall out of 196 nations under review. At rank number 175, Russia is tied with the crude African banana republic of Gambia according to FH’s seasoned analysts.
These ratings are eerily similar to other ratings held by Russia. It also doesn’t rank in the top 100 nations of the world in criteria like life expectancy or fertility. These facts are indicative of absolute, total failure on the part of the so-called “government” of Russia to build a successful, civilized state.
We cannot help but ask ourselves: Do the people of Russia have any shame at all?
Putin Throttles another Newspaper
Other Russia points to a chart, displayed after the jump (click it to see it full size), which was prepared by the Russian newspaper New Times and shows the shameless cronyism being practiced by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in regard to the Gazprom energy monopoly. Putin has filled the company’s management strata with his political and personal cohorts, and possibilities for corruption, exploitation and mismanagement are obvious.
Just days ago, Other Russia reported how Putin’s gestapo had raided the offices of New Times seeking to intimidate and silence the mighty little paper run by firebrand hero journalist Yevgenia Albats, and this story gives a clear indication of just what the Kremlin is afraid of.
Vladimir Putin is systematically taking personal control of every aspect of Russian society, and just as systematically eradicating every media outlet that might report on or criticize his doing so. The people of Russia are turning a blind eye to his misdeeds, which include mounting a new cold war confrontation with the West while ignoring every social problem faced by Russian society, such as for instance the chronic issue of orphan children on which we report in today’s issue. And to make matters even worse, the so-called “leader” of the United States, Barack Obama, stands mute and watches it all unfold, ignoring the threat to American security and values presented by neo-Soviet Russia.
We are appalled by the craven cowardice of the Russian people and the American president. The systems being imposed by Putin upon Russia must bring the nation to ruin, just as they did the USSR, but before that happens, and afterwards, there will be untold suffering and danger to both the people of Russia and the world. Though Putin is the perpetrator, blaming him would be like blaming the fox if it eats chickens after the farmer places it in the hen house. The real atrocity is being committed by the people of Russia and the benighted “leadership” of the United States.
The indispensable Paul Goble reports:
In what one wishes were only an April Fools’ joke, the Russian interior ministry is reportedly preparing legislation that would require the registration of all copiers, a step sources there say is needed to combat counterfeiting but one that opposition groups fear is designed to limit their ability to communicate with the population.
Rossiskaya Gazeta has reported that the MVD plans to seek approval for a plan to require the licensing and registration of all copying machines imported from abroad, to enter that information in a data base, and thus be in a position to combat a rising tide of counterfeiting, most often of 1,000 ruble notes. Last year alone, sources at the interior ministry said, the Bank of Russia seized and took out of circulation 155,200 counterfeit bills. Fighting such counterfeiting is increasingly expensive, the sources said, and the MVD has decided that it is “logical to establish tight control over the use” of copiers of various kinds.
Reporters without Borders has issued a blazing condemnation of the Putin regime’s outrageous misconduct in repressing journalists, just as Stalin did, in regard to preparations for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Why are you so afraid of sunshine, Mr. Putin? What do you have to hide? On the latest RWB press freedom index, Russia ranks a shocking #153 out of 175 nations surveyed. Only 22 countries on the planet, then, have less free media than Russia.
As today’s closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics turns the spotlight on Sochi, the host of the next Winter Games in 2014, Reporters Without Borders would like to cast its own light on the situation of the news media in this Black Sea city and in Krasnodar, the populous southern Russian province in which it is located.
Sochi’s selection for the 2014 Games was given totally uniform coverage in the local media. Press-ganged into supporting the Kremlin policy of “the games at any cost,” they never reported the environmental concerns or the protests, such as those by the Imeretinskaya Bay residents facing eviction, except to brand them as anti-patriotic.
But this is just one symptom among many of how the media of Sochi and Krasnodar are heavily dependent on the local authorities.
The KGB Escalates its war on Russian Journalists
According to the tireless Andrei Soldatov of the Agentura.ru website, the KGB (now known as the FSB) has embarked upon a major new escalation of its warn on Russian journalists.
Soldatov points to FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov’s Order No. 343 of July 15, 2009, which not only vastly expands the number of KGB who have the power to conduct surveillance over civil society, but for the first time includes members of the FSB’s Administration of Program Support, which is responsible for work with journalists, and the administration’s Center for Public Contacts. This means that journalists are now fully subject to the interception of mail and telephone and all other forms surveillance carried out by the FSB.
What’s disturbing about this is not really that the FSB is formally providing for a neo-Soviet control over journalists, but that it is doing so openly, without fear of reprisal.
The FSB has good reason, of course, to be worried.
We were so appalled by the following item from the Russian press that we have taken the time to translate it and held our editorials from this issue, allowing this revolting material to speak for itself. No further words from our editorial board are necessary. This is truly an epic new low in the sordid history of the Russian nation.
500 Ruble’s Worth of Shame
January 21, 2010
by Ekaterina Butorina
Translated from the Russian by LR Staff
RIA Novosti's photojournalist Andrei Stenin
The Municipal Court of the Tver district of Moscow yesterday set a precedent fraught with serious potential for Russian authorities to impose a new wave of crackdowns on civil liberties. According to the decision, journalists who attend unauthorized opposition political rallies in order to report on what transpires can be treated as if they were participants in the demonstration itself, and therefore as criminals subject to prosecution just like the “perpetrators.”
The first to be accused of such “wrongdoing” RIA Novosti’s photojournalist Andrei Stenin. On January 20th, a magistrate found him guilty under Art. 20.2 of the Municipal Administrative Code of participating in an unsanctioned demonstration, held in mid-December last year in front of the presidential administration building, and fined him 500 rubles. The Director of RIA Novosti called the incident “a dangerous precedent” and expressed his intention not only to appeal yesterday’s “global solution” but also to bring to the incident to the attention of business leaders and journalistic colleagues.
The head of Department Internal Affairs’ Moscow Division, Vladimir Kolokoltchev, stated that “law abiding citizens have nothing to fear when participating in rallies as police officers act against them in strict accordance with the law.” Tell that to Stenin, who was acting in accordance with the Constitution and the Law on Mass Media and who as a result was arrested and convicted as a direct result of police action.
Mummy & Daddy? Notice the gleam in his eye?
A Bun in Putin’s Oven?
“The most puzzling part of this story is that at press time, not a single major Russian media [outlet] has reported that Kabaeva had a son.”
That was the Russian website ReadRussia.com, discussing the delivery of a male child by unmarried 26-year-old rhythmic gymnastics champion Alina Kabaeva.
And yet, not a single major Russian media outlet had the least bit of interest in the story.
This woman is a major celebrity in Russia. She’s posed in the Russian Playboy (chickening out and hiding herself behind furs). The fact that she was pregnant and then gave birth is major entertainment news, and there is only one reason that the mainstream press would have ignored it: Namely, that the Kremlin doesn’t want it reported. And what reason could the Kremlin possibly have for being interested in the pregnancy of a gymnast?
Well, for nearly a year now, rumors have been circulating that Vladmir Putin was having an affair with Kabaeva, and now she turns up with a bun coming out of the oven and no father in sight. Where was the coverage during the pregnancy? Where is the coverage of the birth? If Putin isn’t the father, who is?
Another Russian Journalist takes the Putin Plunge
Call it “the Putin Plunge.”
Russian journalists have a habit of taking it.
In 2007, Kommersant‘s Ivan Safronov went out a fifth floor window in Moscow while working on a story about the sale of weapons by the Kremlin to Iran and Syria.
Then just last week, Olga Kotovskaya fell 14 floors in Kaliningrad, just one day after winning a court case to seize back her TV station from the Kremlin after the government moved in to silence her reporting on political corruption. The Guardian quoted Solomon Ginzburg, a deputy in Kaliningrad’s regional parliament:
Russian Journalist Oleg Panfilov
Hero journalist Grigory Pasko, writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog:
A well-known Russian journalist, head of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations Oleg Panfilov in early November moved for permanent residency from Moscow to Tbilisi. In a conversation with journalists he explained that his decision was based on the fact that in Russia unknowns were constantly threatening him through the internet with physical lynching.
This news appeared on the internet on the 9th of November. To me this «news» was known two months ago: Oleg himself had told me about his desire to forsake Russia. In so doing no arguments in the form of threats did he name. I think that in this situation, unnamed colleagues were inaccurately treating the essence of the event.
Oleg told me that he intends to live in Georgia and to read lectures at the journalism school in the Tbilisi state university, as well as to actively cooperate on the “Caucasian telechannel” being opened as of the new year in Tbilisi, which, presumably, will broadcast to the whole Caucasian region.
Hero journalist Andrei Babitsky, writing on Prague Watchdog:
Even the less discriminating viewer cannot help having one or two problems when watching Russia’s NTV television channel. In the end, the problems lie not in the ideas that guide the program-makers – there is, after all, a plethora of obscurantism of all kinds to be found on practically all the Russian channels now – but in the fact that NTV has managed to become the undisputed, invincible leader in the field of sheer unbridled nastiness, by the use of methods which reduce all reality and human motivation to biological needs.
Nashi goes to Court
Nashi, Vladimir Putin’s personal Hitler-youth cult, filed suit last week in Moscow accusing a British newspaper (The Independent), two French ones (Le Monde and Le Journal Du Dimanche) and a Germany counterpart (Frankfurter Rundshau) of libel in referring to Nashi as what is, a “Hitler-youth cult comprised of bandits and nationalists.”
It’s telling that Nashi appears to have neither the funds nor the guts to file these lawsuits in Britain, France or Germany where the reports actually occurred. Apparently, Nashi doesn’t think it could win a case in any of those places, and therefore needs to lodge the suit in the corrupt Russia court system, where a ham sandwich could make a case if it had been made by Vladimir Putin.
Also telling is that, once again, Nashi appears to be lying.
Neo-Soviet Russia, once again Gagged
Russia ranked #141 on the Reporters without Borders international press freedom survey in 2008, out of 173 nations surveyed — the bottom fifth of all countries in the world. But if you thought Russia had noplace to go but up from there, you were very much mistaken.
FinRosForum translates the essay from Yezhedevny Zhurnal that drove the writer into hiding in fear of his life from Kremlin assassination:
It is a great pity that the owners of the “Anti-Soviet” Kebab House [in Moscow] caved in to pressure from the head of the municipal council [Vladimir] Shtukaturov and prefect [Oleg] Mitvol, and took down the café’s sign.
It is a pity because the demand of the authorities was against the law. It is a pity because this was an attack on the freedom of enterprise — specifically, blackmail on the part of the fire department and the health inspectorate. It is a pity because the complaints of the veterans are idiotic, base, and stupid. It is a pity because a name like “Anti-Soviet” calls for standing firm, not for caving in.
Paul Goble reports:
Like other despotic regimes in the past, the current Russian government appears to have crossed the Rubicon separating “an authoritarian regime from an openly bandit-style one” with its campaign of persecution against Moscow journalist Aleksandr Podrabinek, Yezhednevny Zhurnal commentator Vladimir Kara-Murza argues.
In his most recent column, Kara-Murza notes that “force has accompanied the chekist regime from the first days of its birth – from the bombings of the apartment houses to the murders of rights activists and journalists. But until recently, the powers that be have sought to muddy the waters about who bore responsibility.”
The Podrabinek case “shows the true worth” of claims about “‘the liberal president,’” and has “become for Russia a sign of things to come: For the first time since the days of the USSR’s KGB, the Kremlin regime … has openly and without shame unleashed a persecution campaign against a journalist who was brave enough not to agree with the general line.”
The Anatomy of Russian Barbarism
We’ve never before adopted somebody else’s opinion as our own. We do so today. Everything that follows was written by the Committee to Protect Journalists. We do not simply agree, we adopt it as our own, and we condemn the cowardly Western leaders who have allowed this atrocity to pass virtually unnoticed, to say nothing of the craven mainstream Western journalists who are the colleagues of the oppressed heros of Russia. At least a few major sources have covered this statement, but many others have not and none have taken the steps they should have, years ago, to stand up for their victimized brothers and sisters behind the new iron curtain.
Only Iraq and Algeria outrank Russia on the list of most life-threatening countries for the press. Seventeen journalists have been murdered in Russia since 2000. In only one case have the killers been punished. This is a sorry record for a great and powerful nation that embarked on democratization after more than 70 years of brutal repression.
That is why the Committee to Protect Journalists is releasing an unprecedented report that calls on the international community to help reverse this slide toward lawlessness. Our mission is to protect journalists, and we are less and less able to do so in Russia. Though we continue to appeal to Russian authorities to bring to justice those who murdered our colleagues, we can no longer leave it at that. This report is more than an expression of our outrage. We propose concrete guidelines and present hard facts for restarting investigations into these unsolved murders.
Let us be perfectly plain. Any state that turns a blind eye—or worse—toward the assassination of reporters cannot call itself a democracy. When journalists are threatened, democracy itself is threatened. Along with the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and an autonomous civil society, free media is one of the essential pillars of a healthy society. Remove one, and the whole structure may collapse.
Cowards and Traitors at Condé Nast
The face of betrayal
Martin Luther King always said he’d much rather battle the white sheets of the KKK than those so-called “moderates” in his own ranks whose cowardice so often betrayed him. We feel his pain especially sharply this week.
The September issue of GQ magazine bears a huge photo of the face of deceased pop star Michael Jackson on its cover and weighs in at a massive 320 pages, if you count the final one which has a sample of LaCoste cologne for men. It’s the “Big Fall Style Issue” and begins with dozens of pages of fashion advertising interspersed with the issue’s table of contents, making it virtually impossible to survey the list of articles in any efficient way.
The cover makes no reference whatsoever to the eight-page investigative article you will find beginning on page 246, written by seasoned war correspondent Scott Anderson and entitled “None Dare Call it Conspiracy.” You also won’t find the article anywhere on the magazine’s website, and National Public Radio reported that the Russian version of GQ won’t even carry the piece in its hard copy, much less online (Bloggasm has more details). The article accuses the Putin regime of planting the bombs which leveled two Moscow apartment blocks in 1999, and then using those massacres as justification to attack Chechnya days later. These are the same explosive allegations that got Alexander Litvinenko poisoned with radiation by the KGB.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of the GAWKER website, however, you can read the brilliant, courageous and absolutely essential article in both Russian and English from the comfort of your browser. UPDATE: The story is now online in HTML format thanks to the efforts of the blogosphere. It’s one of the most important pieces of reporting on Russia in the last decade.
Posted in cold war II, corruption, editorial, journalism, journalists, neo-soviet crackdown, russia
Tagged conde nast, gq, russia, scott anderson, trepashkin
Reader and frequent commenter “Andrew” points us to the following piece by Echo of Moscow radio’s Matviy Hanapolsky on Radio Free Europe exposing the fraud that is modern Russian “journalism”:
The television screen shows an elderly woman of around 80, badly dressed. She is an Ossetian, lives in Tskhinvali, and witnessed the tragic events of last year’s Russian-Georgian war.These investigative reports always follow the same scenario: the villains are at bottom, the mid-level boss is good, but all hopes lie with Putin, and because Putin exists, a bright future awaits us.
She was recalling how Georgian troops forced their way into her home. “They were wearing American military uniforms and had American weapons,” she says. “There was a chief instructor with them, he gave them orders in English.”
The camera continues to focus on the woman as she speaks. The journalist doesn’t interrupt. He doesn’t ask how someone who has never in her life seen anything except her own cow knows what kind of weapons and uniforms the soldiers wore, or how she could be sure the commands were in English.
The journalist knows, which is why he doesn’t interrupt. He and his group are the authors of this disinformation series that will be triumphantly screened by Russian state TV channels.
The woman was told what to say, and she is saying what she was told to. The journalist doesn’t conceal his face: state TV and radio pay handsomely, and the Russian media operate on the principle “five minutes of ignominy and you can live comfortably for the rest of your life.”
Translator’s Note: Neo-Nazi Russia is putting a toe in the water to test the political mood of the country. In a supremely emetic move, it has been announced that . . .
Stalin’s Grandson Sues “Novaya Gazeta”
30 July 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
Ekho Moskvy radio station has just broadcast the news that Stalin’s grandson, Yevgenii Dzhugashvili, has had a writ served on Novaya Gazeta, complaining about an article entitled “Beria Was the Guilty Party” published in that paper on 22 April this year. The writ is against the newspaper itself and the author of the article Anatoli Yablokov. The writ demands that the paper publish a retraction stating that Yablokov’s remarks about Stalin are baseless, untrue, and defamatory of Stalin’s honour and reputation. In particular, the plaintiff is concerned with the words: “Stalin and the Chekists are bound by great bloodshed and the worst of crimes, above all against their own people”. The plaintiff is demanding moral damages of 10 milllion roubles and also that a retraction be published. Yevgenii Dzhugashvili’s case has been accepted and will be heard by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court.
[This of course is the court whose name has become a byword for justice perverted by instructions from on high to its judges (or which simply has the most prejudiced and stupid judges in the world). The world laughs and weeps as Russia degradates.]
Russia’s Lethal Profession
Today we highlight the heroic efforts of the journalists at Novaya Gazeta as they struggle to preserve some vestiges of democracy and civil society in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. A recent report by the International Federation of Journalists reveals that all Russian journalists interested in telling the truth risk their lives every day they go to work. In light of the ongoing efforts of Putin’s Kremlin to shut down newspapers that don’t parrot the Kremlin line, it’s clear that we now face a fully realized neo-Soviet state.
A True Russian Patriot Speaks
Dmitri Muratov, Russian Patriot
When asked his dream, he answered: “To see no more of my reporters killed.”
When asked why he continues to risk his own life, he replied:
Because we think that a newspaper is a service provided to a fair people. Because I don’t want the world to think that my country is a country where the gene of Stalin will live forever. There is a question why today in official text books in Russia – on a number of official sites, including the ministry of defence – Mr Stalin is called ‘an efficient state manager’, when what they would like to say is that efficiency in management is the same as violence. Why would the ruling elite do that in Russia? What they probably mean to say, and what they try to make us believe, is that the state, the government, is the supreme value of our life, the sun, the god. And corruption is the special profession attached to this god.
When asked about the motivations of those who govern Russia, he answered bluntly: “They want to rule as Stalin did and live as Abramovich does.”
SPEECH OF DMITRY MURATOV
Editor-in-Chief, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow
Delivered at the Opening Ceremony of the IPI World Congress and 58th General Assembly upon being awarded the ‘IPI Free Media Pioneer 2009’
7 June 2009
This morning by the way, the shareholder of our newspaper, Mr Gorbachev called me. And Mr Gorbachev asked me to transfer best greetings to all of you. And I asked him back, Mr Gorbachev what do you think would be appropriate to say in the speech today. Mr Gorbachev replied that unfortunately you know yourself the answer to this question.
We are aware that this award is a tribute to Anna Politkovskaya, to Yuri Shchekochikhin, to Igor Domnikov, to Anastasia Baburova and to Stanislav Markelov. And this will be placed in our newspaper in front of their photos.