An editorial in the Moscow Times:
A February ruling by Judge Tatyana Adamova of Moscow’s Savyolovsky District Court must go down as among the most absurd in Russian history.
Adamova presided over the defamation case brought by opposition leaders Vladimir Ryzhkov, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who in answer to the question “What do Nemtsov, Ryzhkov, Milov really want?” on his December live television call-in show said: “Money and power. … In the ’90s, they stole billions of dollars.”
This is an outlandish and reckless claim that previously had never been alleged — except perhaps by a few crackpot bloggers on LiveJournal — much less proven.
Sergey Matyunin, editor of RussianLawOnline.com, writing in the Moscow Times:
In April 1992, just before the British parliamentary elections, the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, an organization consisting of about 50,000 members, distributed 1.5 million leaflets throughout Britain. The leaflets explained the candidates’ affinities — who was for or against using human embryos in drug-testing trials.
Phyllis Bowman, head of the society, was charged with an offense under the British Representation of the People Act, which prohibited spending more than £5 by an unauthorized person on giving away information about candidates. Bowman, who at the time was almost 70, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. “There is something slightly ridiculous,” said Judge Nicolas Valticos, “in seeking to give the British government lessons in how to hold elections and run a democracy.” Yet his colleagues did not follow suit and, in 1998, ruled against Britain.
Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
A video titled “Primorye Partisan” has been making the rounds on the Internet. It was made by a gang of self-proclaimed guerrillas in the Primorye region that led an armed attack against policemen. They are suspected of killing two policemen and wounding six others between February and June.
One of their slogans is “Grab a weapon and save your soul” — something that is close to what guerrilla fighters in the Caucasus have said and done. Imagine that these guerrillas surfaced in the United States and started shooting at cops. I think the public would call them the new Manson family.
In Russia, Criminals wear Uniforms
The symbol you see at the left, a diamond with a black dot in the center, is a coded symbol used among Russian criminals. This particular one means: “Осужден по ст. 144 УК РФ – кража личного имущества.” And that translates as: “Convicted of Art. 144 of the Criminal Code – the theft of personal property.” In other words, it’s the symbol for “thief.” When you get sent to a Russian prison, you may well pass the time by tattooing yourself with such a symbol, if you want proclaim to all the world your pride in being a criminal, and indeed to announce just what sort of felon you are.
You may find this a rather obscure bit of trivia about Russia, and it surely is, until you look at the following photograph taken last weekend on Pushkin Square in Moscow. It’s a photograph of a police colonel confronting Yuri Schevchuk, the Russian Bruce Springsteen, and preventing him from singing with amplification as part of a protest against the Putin dictatorship. We wrote about this event in our last issue.
The Independent reports:
An alleged arms dealer nicknamed “The Merchant of Death”, who has been pursued by global law enforcement organisations for years, is to be extradited to the US to stand trial.
The news comes amid allegations that the authorities in Thailand succumbed to persistent pressure from Washington.
A court in Bangkok ruled that the Viktor Bout, a Russian who prosecutors say sold guns to dictators and militants in war zones across Africa, South America and the Middle East, should be sent to the US to face charges that he tried to sell arms to outlawed Colombian rebels.
Wearing leg irons and an orange prison jumpsuit, the 43-year-old Russian, whose exploits have inspired Hollywood movies, vowed to prove his innocence.
In Putin’s Russia, the Law is for Sale
Our last editorial focused on the extent to which Vladimir Putin’s so-called “legal system” has been fundamentally corrupted, to the extent that it cannot fairly be said that Russia has a legal system at all. Immediately after it appeared, we received a stunning practical example of what this means to ordinary Russians.
A study by the Clean Hands and Association of Russian Lawyers human rights groups has revealed, after analyzing 6,589 complaints from ordinary people received between July 2, 2009, and July 30, 2010, that positions in law enforcement are for sale: “the job of an aide to a district prosecutor could cost $10,000 [and] the job of a traffic police officer is the most popular position, carrying a $50,000 price tag.” Why Russians are willing to pay such huge fees for a job is clear: “Citing Interior Ministry data, Clean Hands said a standard bribe in Russia averaged 44,000 rubles ($1,450) in mid-2010, almost double the average of 23,000 rubles at the start of the year.”
To the ridiculous and offensive suggestion that corruption is just part of normal life in Russia, clean hands offers this devastating response: “Such an interpretation is pretty widespread, but it is nothing else than a means of manipulating public opinion in a bid to justify the growth of corruption in Russia.”
Lawless, Barbaric Russia
Last week, Vladimir Putin was “shocked, shocked” to find bread prices rising in Russia as grain prices soared because of his badly bungled agricultural policies. As in Soviet times, one had the clear impression that Putin was threatening to round up and shoot the evil capitalist millers and bakers who dared pay attention to market reality and make him look bad. And Putin was was also aggressively carrying out a neo-Soviet coverup of the wildfire disaster that, as we show in in our other editorial in this issue, has laid Putin low.
The two great Roberts of Russia-blogging, Amsterdam and Coalson, coincidentally teamed up last week to offer the world three devastating accounts of the extent to which Vladimir Putin’s Russia has degenerated into a lawless, barbaric state unworthy of respect from civilized democratic nations.
Welcome back to the USSR!
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.
Remember how the Kremlin has just enacted a new law allowing the KGB to warn anyone who criticizes the Kremlin to stop, and if they don’t to jail them for up to two weeks without charges or trial? Now read the following with redoubled horror. Paul Goble reports:
Half of all inmates in Russian penal institutions, Russian officials say, but the Russian government currently spends only about a dollar a week on their medical care, a situation that means many who suffer from diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and syphilis will be released back into the civilian population uncured.
Nikolay Krivolapov, deputy head of the Federal Penal System, has said that 340,000 of those incarcerated in it, roughly half the total prison population, were ill. Of those, 67,000 have psychological problems, 55,000 are HIV positive, 40,000 suffer from tuberculosis, and 15,000 have syphilis.
The prison official added that the Russian government currently spends approximately 33,000 rubles (1100 US dollars) on each inmate, but of that “less than 2,000 rubles” (65 US dollars) is devoted to medical treatment of any kind. Consequently, many of the prisoners become more ill during their incarceration.
Paul Goble reports:
More than two-thirds of Russian businessmen say playing by “the rules of the game” is more important in their work than obeying the law, with only one in five saying that obeying the law takes primacy over such informal arrangements, according to the results of a poll released at the end of last week.
Commissioned by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) asked 1200 businessmen in the largest sectors of the Russian economy in 40 subjects of the Federation about their attitudes about law and informal rules.
“Two-thirds of the participants of the investigation [conducted last summer] are convinced,” VTsIOM said, “that the priority for [their] enterprises is the observation of accepted ‘rules of the game in the business community’ (69 percent),” while 20 percent said that their priority is “following the letter of the law.” A survey VTsIOM carried out a year earlier, the polling agency said, found that 45 percent thought “rules of the game” were most important, while 41 percent said obeying the law was the most important, a remarkable shift given President Dmitry Medvedev’s frequent invocation of the need for Russia to become a law-based state.
Russian Barbarism Unbound I
In yet another stunning act of Russian barbarism last week, the Tverskoi District Court in Moscow ruled that the malignant henchmen of dictator Vladimir Putin are beyond the law.
The court stated that to allow a lawsuit against employees “who are directly subordinate to the president” would result in “a direct or indirect interference in the constitutional and legal activities of the president who enjoys immunity as the head of state.”
Though the decision was actually taken in April, it did not surface until the court posted it on its website last week. The press spokesperson for the court refused to comment. The Moscow Times reported:
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.)
Russia sinks to a Pathetic new Low
Vladimir Putin’s neo-Soviet KGB state sank to a shocking new low last week when it turned to public advertisements on the Internet to locate an attorney to defend it from a burgeoning onslaught of lawsuits in the European Court for Human Rights, suits which Russia routinely loses at great financial and public relations cost.
Is Putin’s Russia really so absolutely incompetent, clueless, and friendless, that the only way it can find competent lawyers is by advertising for them as if it were any other helpless company adrift on the legal seas? Are there really no lawyers employed by the Kremlin itself who could be called upon to do battle in the courtrooms of Strasbourg?
It is that clueless, and there are no such persons. Russian “law schools” exist in name only, since the very definition of “law” is unheard of in Putin’s Russia. Russians simply have no idea whatsoever how to behave in a real Western courtroom where judges cannot be bribed and government edicts have no force.
A Senator on Monday asked Washington to cancel U.S. visa privileges for 60 Russian officials and others over the death in jail last year of a lawyer for what was once Russia’s top equity fund, Hermitage.
Senator Benjamin Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who chairs the human rights monitoring U.S. Helsinki Commission, asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to scrap visa privileges for those accused of ties to the death of Sergei Magnitsky.
Human rights activists have said Russian authorities subjected Magnitsky to conditions amounting to torture in a failed bid to force him to testify in their favor in a battle with Hermitage over tax fraud allegations.
“While there are many aspects of this case which are impossible to pursue here in the United States, one step we can take, however, is to deny the individuals involved in this crime and their immediate family members the privilege of visiting our country,” Cardin said in a letter to Clinton made public on Monday.
“The United States has a clear policy of denying entry to individuals involved in corruption, and it is imperative that the U.S. Department of State act promptly on this matter.”
Chuvashov and his Rotten Country
You tell us, dear reader: What does the murder of Moscow judge Eduard Chuvashov tell the world about Vladimir Putin’s Russia?
(a) That the Putin government was too stupid to realize that Chuvashov’s life was in a danger despite many threats arising from his sentencing of racist nationalist thugs?
(b) That the Putin government was too callous to care whether Chuvashov lived or perished?
(c) That the Putin regime wanted Chuvashov dead?
(d) That the Putin regime was too incompetent to protect a marked judge even though it wanted to protect him?
We’re hard pressed to say, and just as hard pressed to say which would be the more horrifying if it were true.
We document in today’s issue Russia’s appalling misconduct in regard to the Polish plane crash, it’s equally revolting pandemic corruption at the highest levels of law enforcement, and now its bloody, brutal violence against the very few remaining Russians who would stand for civility and justice. Viewing this smoking carnage, we see no hope for Russia. We cannot see how the nation can right itself when it is plagued by so many disasters all spawned by the malignant, evil regime of a clan of KGB spies that Russians worship as if they were demigods.
We believe this is the beginning of the end for Russia as we know it.
ABC News reports:
Stanislav Sutyagin was planning to sell his large black Mercedes but it now has a huge dent in its right side. He’s getting money to fix the damage, but it’s not coming from his insurance company or the driver who hit him. The government is compensating Sutyagin after Moscow cops ordered him to park his car in the middle of a five-lane highway to block a car they were chasing.
The suspects slammed into the car carrying Sutyagin and a friend, but kept on going. The traffic policemen who had ordered Sutyagin to place his car sideways, and stay in it, told him that neither he nor the other two cars in the barricade would be reimbursed for damages because the fleeing silver Audi managed to escape.
Dymovsky in the Dock
A month ago we reported on the announcement of criminal charges against Russian Police Major Alexei Dymovsky as a result of his YouTube appeal to Vladimir Putin to help him stop corruption in the ranks.
Now, Dymovsky has been arrested. He faces up to ten years in prison and a period of pretrial incarceration, next to criminals he may have personally jailed, for an indefinite period without bail while he awaits trial. He’s already been fired for speaking out against the abuse of his profession.
Paul Goble reports:
Nearly one in every three militiamen in Russia is likely a psychopath or an alcoholic, the result, a leading specialist says, of the attraction militia service has for such people, the end of psychological screening of applicants, and the sense among many in the service that, as militiamen, they are beyond the reach of the law.
In an interview published in Novyye Izvestiya Mikhail Vinogradov, the director of the Moscow Center for Legal and Psychological Assistance in Extreme Situations, says that as a result of this combination, many unhealthy and even dangerous people are to be found in militia ranks.
We Russophobes scored a massive victory late last week when we forced down Vladimir Putin’s throat a laundry list of reforms of the European Court for Human Rights designed to help that court process its massive backlog of charges against Russia more efficiently. Russia was the only one of the 47 participating states which opposed the move, and when it was faced down by the whole of Europe there was only one thing for the cowardly Putin regime to do: Back down.
So Putin blinked.
What follows are two articles from the Western press documenting, each in its own way, the rise of the neo-Soviet Gulag prison system, where anyone the Kremlin doesn’t care for can be tortured into oblivion.
First, Russia reporter Amy Knight, writing in the New York Review of Books online:
The horrors of Soviet prisons and labor camps were described vividly in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, Yevgenia Ginzburg’s Into the Whirlwind, and later, by the Soviet dissident and former political prisoner Anatoly Marchenko, in his 1969 memoir, My Testimony. To judge from a disturbing new report about the tragic death of 37-year-old lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in late November, Russia’s current penal system is almost as bad as it used to be.
As was the case under Stalin and his successors, the treatment of prisoners reflects the deeper problems of a politicized law enforcement system that routinely disregards human rights. Now, the Magnitsky case seems to have persuaded Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to begin to address these problems—though his powerful Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has a vested interest in preserving the status quo.
Police Major Alexei Dymovsky
Hands Up, Officer Dymovsky!
Kremlin prosecutors announced on Monday that they would file criminal charges against Russian Police Major Alexei Dymovsky for “abuse of office” in connection with his YouTube plea for Kremlin assistance in dealing with widespread corruption in the ranks of the Russian police.
Once again, in other words, the Russian government is going to massacre a legitimate Russian hero and the people of Russia will not lift a finger to stop it.
The Russian Judicial Farce
One may think it outrageous, contemplating the cases of such as Galina Starovoitova, Anna Politikovskaya, Natalia Estemirova, Stanislav Markelov and Alexander Litvinkenko that no killer has ever been tried and sentenced for their murders, much less any mastermind who ordered the killings. But one must reconsider when one considers the case of Ibragim Yevloyev.
Another horrific Russian crime, and another instance in which the criminal perpetrator is a cop. The Moscow Times reports:
A traffic police officer was caught red-handed trying to rape a woman in an elevator in a sting operation Thursday, and he is suspected in 20 recent sexual assaults in southern Moscow, investigators said.
The unidentified lieutenant from the Moscow region traffic police force was detained Thursday morning as he tried to force himself onto a woman inside the elevator of an apartment building in southern Moscow, RIA-Novosti reported, citing police.
Putin’s Barbaric Axe Falls Again, and Again
Vladimir Putin continues his barbaric, Stalin-like purge of opposition figures high and low. From the most powerful judicial official to the lowliest student in Siberia, no one is safe from his murderous axe. If you merely lose you job or your place at univerisity, consider yourself lucky you are not simply shot dead.
Last Wednesday, not one but two judges of Russia’s Constitutional Court were forced to resign. Oleg Kozlovsky reports that Vladimir Yaroslavtsev and Anatoly Kononov were forced off the bench for expressing worries about the quality of Russian democracy and the independence of the courts. Yaroslavtsev gave an interview to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, while Kononov gave one to the Russian paper Sobesednik defending Yaroslavtsev and even daring to raise the subject of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Yaroslavtsev told the Spanish daily: “Nobody knows what [the FSB] will decide tomorrow. There is no consultation or discussion.”
So much for the separation of powers and the concept of judicial review in Russia. Looks like the only opinion that matters where the Russian constitution is concerned is Putin’s.
Only Russians fail this Spectacularly
Imagine your feuding neighbor claims you destroyed his car worth $7,500 and demands you pay him. Now imagine you refuse, and he files a lawsuit against you for $22,500 in damages. Why that amount? Let’s say your neighbor is Russian, and that explains a lot. You battle in court for a while, and then your neighbor agrees to drop the case in exchange for your payment of $14. Not $14,000 mind you, or $140, but $14.
Exactly this just happened in Russia’s lawsuit against the Bank of New York. After sensational headlines and vituperative allegations from the Russians about “fraud” and “theft” by the Bank, after a claim by Russia that $7.5 billion had been stolen and a lawsuit filed by Russia claiming $22.5 billion (three times more than the alleged theft), Russia settled last week for $14 million.