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!