Category Archives: terrorism

SPECIAL EXTRA: Bin Laden is Liquidated, Russia takes the Credit

With the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Bin Laden was elevated to the realm of evil in the American imagination once reserved for dictators like Hitler and Stalin. He was a new national enemy, his face on wanted posters, gloating on videotapes, taunting the United States and Western civilization.

— The New  York Times, Front Page, May 2, 2011

In yet another new low in the sordid annals of Russian history, while the world was being reminded on the front page of the American “paper of record” about the evil that was Josef Stalin Russia, which has been busily rehabilitating Stalin, was attempting to claim credit for the liquidation of Osama bin Laden:

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Two kinds of Russian Terrorists

An editorial in the Moscow Times:

“I felt terrorized!” the young woman told a Moscow Times journalist.

The young woman had not been at Domodedovo Airport, but instead was driving home when a Volvo owned by the Federal Guard Service — with its familiar EKX number plates, which drivers know as an acronym for “Drive Anyway I Want”— and a presidential administration Mercedes entered the oncoming lane and forced her and all the other drivers into the shoulder.

Were the government vehicles speeding to an urgent meeting to resolve a national crisis? Doubtful, since it was a recent Friday evening rush hour and they were heading away from Moscow’s center, toward the elite’s residential area.

Other drivers aren’t so lucky.

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Most people are more than willing to complain on the Internet or in their kitchens that Medvedev has little chance of succeeding in his fight against corruption. But at the same time, given the chance, they would eagerly snatch a piece of the corruption pie that comes their way. This is exactly why an increasing number of Russians would like to have a government job for themselves and their children. Polls over the last 10 years consistently show that young people entering universities view government jobs as being the most promising — and lucrative, despite the low official salaries.

You may think, if you are a crazed Russian nationalist or Russophile lunatic, that it was some evil Western “russophobe” who wrote those words, but it wasn’t. It was Kirill Kabanov, a Russian and chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, a Moscow-based nongovernmental organization.

And he was stating fact that has been proven scientifically by organizations like Transparency International, namely that Russia is the most corrupt major nation on this planet, at all levels of society, from top to bottom.

Last week, the world saw the devastating consequences of this paralyzing corruption when yet another bomb exploded in Moscow, killing three dozen and injuring nearly two hundred more — this time inside one of the nation’s leading airports.   Unable to respond with anything more than palpably corrupt neo-Soviet denunciations, Putin’s Russia was exposed for that fraud we have long known it to be.

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The world must stop the Sochi 2014 madness. Now. 34 dead and 170 injured Russians today, tomorrow they will be foreign athletes and sports fans unless the world acts now. (Note:  The blast occurred at 4:30 pm on Monday January 24th.  As of 7 pm, two and a half hours later, state-sponsored Russian TV had reported nothing about the blast.  This is how the Russian government responds to risks to public safety, and how it will continue to respond.)

Russia Defends a Terrorist

Jackson Diehl, blogging at the Washington Post:

International criminals with ties to the Russian government are accustomed to enjoying impunity. A couple even sit in the parliament despite being charged by foreign police with murder. So it’s not surprising thatthe extradition from Thailand to the United States Tuesday of Viktor Bout, a notorious arms trafficker known as the “merchant of death,” has prompted loud cries of outrage from Moscow.

“Extreme unjustice,” fumed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Said the Foreign Ministry: “There is no doubt that the illegal extradition of V.A. Bout came as a consequence of unprecedented political pressure” from the United States.

You’d think that the Obama administration had kidnapped a national hero. So it’s worth recalling just who Moscow is defending. Bout, a 43-year-old former Russian army translator, has for two decades supplied weapons or cash to rogue regimes and terrorist movements around the world — including the Taliban and al-Qaeda. He has fueled massive bloodshed in Africa, flying weapons into places like the Congo, Liberia, Sudan and Sierra Leone.

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Another Original LR Translation: Eternal Values in Putin’s Russia

Eternal Values:  A Breakdown in Communiciation


April 9, 2010

by Maya Kucherskaya

Translated from the Russian by LR Staff

As always, corrections to the English text are Welcome

Maya Kucherskaya

The investigation into the terrorist attacks in the Moscow metro is in full swing. Already well known are the names and ages of the suicide bombers, their resumes, and whose wives they were.

One was a girl 17 years old.  At 16  she’d left home to be with her beloved, a famous  rebel fighter, who she first met on the Internet. Then she married him and shared his life, waiting for him at home after his military operations, greeted and fed him.  That is, she did so until he was killed in battle.  Along with that man, who was her reason for being, all meaning went out of her life.  She had nothing left except her love for him, and en empty soul.  She had no family, no education, no life experience, so what was she to do?  As she saw it, her only alternative was to meet him again in the afterlife.  It was not difficult for her to meet her end with enthusiasm, knowing that she was doing the will of Allah and avenging her beloved. The sooner the better!  The warlords unflinchingly took advantage of the young girl’s desperation.

The second female bomber, 28-year-old Maryam Sharipova, was in no way similar to the first.

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EDITORIAL: With Friends like the Russians


With Friends like the Russians

The world learned last week why the United States has not yet been able to apprehend mass-murdering lunatic Osama bin Laden.  It’s really quite simple, actually.

Russia has been “helping” America to find him.

Apparently, two key facts about Russia have eluded the attention of America’s leaders:  (1) Russia hates America and approves of bin Laden’s campaign of terror, and (2) even if that weren’t true, Russia is no more capable of finding bin Laden than of holding a contested presidential election.  The lack of leadership, indeed the outright ignorance and stupidity, emanating from the Obama administration in Washington DC is palpable.  This is clearly a government which will live in infamy.

If you want to really understand how absolutely benighted America’s policy on Russia really is, you need look no further than the chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, one Alcee Hastings of the U.S. Congress.

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EDITORIAL: Medvedev and Hamas

Russia shakes hands with Syria and Hezbollah


Medvedev and Hamas

Éminence grise Russia blogger David McDuff is back in form, publishing a devastating and carefully researched condemnation of Russia’s recent diplomacy in regard to Hamas.

Just as Russia is aggressively supporting the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon by funneling weapons to them through Syria, it is equally aggressively reaching out to the lunatics of Hamas in Palestine, terrorists who are actively supported by the other leading rogue regime in the Middle East, Iran, to which Russia is channeling nuclear technology.

Russia’s hypocrisy here is truly breathtaking, as McDuff makes clear:

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Russia and the Muhammad Cartoons

Last Thursday was “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” The Rationalitate blog reports:

As you may or may not have heard, tomorrow is Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, which has pissed off half the internet and even got Pakistan to block Facebook. I think the most recent trigger was a (double) episode of South Park that either displayed or mocked the image of the prophet, but I’m not really sure. What I have found interesting about this whole controversy is its possible origin: more than one former Russian spy has claimed that it’s a ploy by the Russian secret services to drum up anti-American resentment, as part of a broader campaign of active measures dating back to Soviet times.

This all sounds pretty outlandish, but here is what Thomas Bogart, a historian at the International Spy Museum and Oxford Ph.D. recipient had to say:

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Pipeline to Terror


Russia, purveyor to Terror

Russia proudly announced last week that it plans to deliver vast quantities of offensive weapons, including fighter jets and armored attack vehicles, to Syria, as well as defensive systems for nuclear technology it also plans to to hand over the the rogue regime in Damascus.

So Russia is a pipeline to Syria.  That crazed dictatorship, of course, is itself a pipeline — to the Hezbollah terrorist organization which is committed to the destruction of one of America’s closest allies, Israel, as well as to the United States itself, no differently than Osama bin Laden.  In fact, as Pajamas Media reports, Russia is even manufacturing covert weaponry which appears to have terrorists as its primary market.

We can’t help but wonder:  How would Russia react if the United States decided to begin pumping dangerous offensive weapons into a country that was well known to be supplying the same weapons to the terrorist “bandits” of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia?  Would Russians be inclined to say “that’s America’s right, it’s none of our concern?” Or would they be outraged and demand that the U.S. cease such actions immediately?

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EDITORIAL: Medvedev the Destroyer?


Medvedev the Destroyer

The funny thing is, he does not look like a destroyer, he looks like a ginormous dweeb. What a disguise!

“Identify those involved in committing this heinous crime. Destroy the ones trying to resist. Show no mercy!”

Such are the alleged words of Russian “president” Dima Medvedev in regard to perpetrators of the March 2010 subway bombings in Moscow.

And lo and behold! Just a few weeks later the FSB reported that it had “destroyed” three of the two bombers’ accomplices, including their guide to Moscow and their guide to the bombing locations, after meeting “stiff armed resistance.”

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Russia after the Subway Bombings

Paul Goble, writing in the Moscow Times:

When a terrorist incident occurs in Russia, a Moscow commentator says, it is unlikely to cost even those officials whose responsibilities included preventing it their jobs, but experience with earlier cases suggests that such incidents will likely cost the Russian people their freedoms without providing them with any additional security.

In a commentary in Wednesday’s Novaya Gazeta, Andrey Lipsky wrote that where governments see themselves as the servants of the people, a terrorist incident is likely to lead to “a rapid change of political power” — or at least the ouster of officials responsible for security — as well as to “serious measures for increasing the security of citizens. And often both together.”

But in a country like Russia, he continues, officials view terrorist acts as another reminder that they “are not in a position to fulfill their chief function — the defense of their fellow citizens” and consequently are convinced that at the very least they should exploit the situation to retain their “own control over the country.”

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SPECIAL EXTRA: Blood on the Russian Rails

What used to be the Nevsky Express

At 9:30 pm Moscow time on Saturday, the Nevsky Express high-speed train bound from Moscow for St. Petersburg derailed.   Three hours later, the Kremlin’s RIA Novosti newswire reported 10 passengers had been killed and 130 injured. But five hours after that, RIA was reporting that two dozen had been killed only 90 injured, and indicating that “the death toll could rise as new bodies were being taken out of the deformed railroad cars.”  32 passengers were reported missing. Nearly 700 people were on the train.  By the following afternoon, it was clear that more than three dozen had perished, triple the initial a report.

Quoting an anonymous source in “law enforcement,” RIA Novosti also reported on the cause of the derailment:  “Preliminarily, an explosion occurred under the ninth car,” it stated. “There was a clap. The last two cars almost fell apart. I’ve seen such things only in movies,” a passenger named Alexander told the newswire.

Once again, Russia rescue efforts were pathetic and infuriating.

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EDITORIAL: Russia and Hezbollah


Russia and Hezbollah

For a country that claims to be the victim of radical Islamic terrorism, Russia is amazingly willing to support such terrorists as long as they are inflicting their horrors on other countries:  Two Internet sources, DEBKAfile and Joseph Fara’s G2 Bulletin, are reporting the discovery of close links between Vladimir Putin’s KGB and the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

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Russia’s KGB and Islamic Terror

DEBKA reports:

Western intelligence sources in the Middle East have disclosed to DEBKAfile that a special unit of the Russian Federal Security Service – FSB, commissioned by Hizballah’s special security apparatus earlier this year, was responsible for the massive discovery of alleged Israel spy rings in Lebanon in recent months with the help of super-efficient detection systems.

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A Question for Vladimir Putin

We’d like to ask Vladimir Putin:  If you can’t protect supreme court  judges and cabinet ministers in the Caucasus from lethal acts of terrorism, how in the world do you imagine you’ll be able to protect Olympic athletes in Sochi?

Putin and Bin Laden are like Peas & Carrots

Anthony Julius, writing on the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog:

As President Obama contemplates his foreign policy inheritance, it is likely that he will ponder most deeply two topics – the continuing threat posed by al-Qaida, and Russia, or what has become known as the war on terror and what was once known as the cold war. What he is unlikely to do, however, is to identify any connection between the two threats. But that would be unfortunate, not least because the men who lead them, notwithstanding the many differences between them, have identical perspectives on one specific issue.

What is that issue? Bin Laden’s and Putin’s imperialist ambitions are novel because they are driven not by a desire to create something new, but to recapture something that has past. It is now appropriate to consider an additional age of empire, namely the age of attempted restoration.

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Annals of Russian Cyber Terrorism

Network World reports:

The Web site for the president of Georgia was knocked offline by a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack over the weekend, yet another in a series of cyberattacks attacks against countries experiencing political friction with Russia. Georgia’s presidential Web site was down for about a day starting early Saturday until Sunday, according to the Shadowserver Foundation, which tracks malicious Internet activity. Network experts said the attack was executed by a botnet, or a network of computers that can be commanded to overwhelm a Web site with too much traffic. The command-and-control server for the attack is based in the United States, Shadowserver said. The botnet appears to be based on the “MachBot” code, which communicates to other compromised PCs over the HTTP, the same protocol used for transmitting Web pages.

The tool used to control this kind of botnet “is frequently used by Russian bot herders,” according to Shadowserver. “On top of that, the domain involved with this C&C [command-and-control] server has seemingly bogus registration information but does tie back to Russia.” One of the commands contained in the traffic directed at the Web site contained the phrase “win+love+in+Rusia,” wrote Jose Nazario a senior security engineer with Arbor Networks.

On Sunday, it appeared that the host for the command-and-control server had been taken offline, Shadowserver said. The motivation for the attacks is not entirely clear. But Georgia is just one of several former Soviet satellites including Estonia and Lithuania seeking to downplay their historical legacy with Russia. Georgia has angered Russia by pushing for entry to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), a pro-Western security alliance. It has also tangled with Russia over the handling of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two rebellious regions pushing for independence.

In Lithuania, 300 Web sites were defaced around July 1 following a new law prohibiting the public display of symbols dating from the Soviet era, as well as the playing of the Soviet national anthem. The hacking was blamed on an unpatched vulnerability in a Web server at a hosting company.

Estonian Web sites were pounded by a massive DDOS attack in April and May 2007. The attacks were believed to have been connected to a decision to move a monument honoring Soviet World War II soldiers to a less prominent place, which ignited protests from ethnic Russians.

Any other G-8 nations involved in incidents of cyber terrorism?

Dear President Medvedev

Other Russia reports:

In 1999, a series of apartment bombings shook Russia and propelled the country headlong into the Second Chechen War. Nearly nine years after the attacks, which claimed 292 lives, many Russians remain unconvinced by the official version of events, which holds that Chechen separatists were responsible.

Two sisters, who lost their mother in the attack, have written an open letter to President Dmitri Medvedev, urging him to mount a fully open, independent investigation. The sisters, Tatyana and Alyona Morozov, currently reside in Missouri. Their appeal (below) was published in the Wall Street Journal newspaper on May 30th.

Dear President Medvedev

In three coordinated bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk in September 1999, 292 people were murdered, including our mother Lyubov Morozova. We are writing this open letter to call on you, Dmitry Anatolyevich, to order an independent, open and full investigation of these attacks.

Although these crimes were blamed on Chechen terrorists and used to justify the resumption of a full-scale war against Chechnya later that month, there are numerous indications that Russian security services may have been involved. There is also clear evidence of a cover-up by the authorities. We do not consider this case solved.

Let us remind you of some of the facts:

  • On September 23, 1999, police arrested three Federal Security Service (FSB) agents who had planted a detonator and RDX – the same explosive used in the earlier bombings – in the basement of a residential building in the city of Ryazan. The FSB explained the agent’s activities as a “training exercise,” claiming the sacks of explosives actually contained only sugar. The investigation was dropped and all evidence classified “top secret.”
  • At about the same time, a Russian soldier discovered RDX in sacks labeled as “sugar” at his army base near Ryazan. The incident was never investigated and the evidence classified.
  • On September 13, 1999, the Speaker of the Duma, Gennady Seleznev, announced that an apartment house in Volgodonsk had been blown up – three days before the attack actually occurred.
  • Mark Blumenfeld, the property manager of our house on Guryanova Street in Moscow that was blown up, told our lawyer and several journalists that FSB agents had “talked him into” changing his testimony. The agents showed him a photo of Achemez Gochiyayev, a Chechen he had never seen before, and under pressure he “identified” him as the man who had rented storage space in the basement.
  • The composite sketch based on Mr. Blumenfeld’s initial description of what the real suspect looked like disappeared from the police file and was replaced with the photograph of Mr. Gochiyaev. Meanwhile, our attorney Mikhail Trepashkin, himself a former KGB agent, told reporters that he had recognized FSB agent Vladimir Romanovich from the police sketch. Romanovich was subsequently killed in Cyprus in a hit and run incident that was never solved.
  • In November 2003, on the eve of the trial of two Chechens later convicted for transporting the explosives used in the Moscow bombings, Mr. Trepashkin was arrested after a gun had been planted in his car. This prevented him from submitting Mr. Blumenfeld’s statement to court that the FSB agents had pressured him to give false evidence. The trial of the two Chechens was not convincing to us or the world as it was held behind closed doors and human rights groups noted numerous violations of due process. Mr. Blumenfeld’s statement and the replacement of the police sketch with the photo of Mr. Gochiyayev was never reviewed by a Russian court.
  • Four people investigating the FSB’s possible involvement in the bombings were assassinated. Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov was shot dead in Moscow in April 2003 and his colleague Yuri Schekochihin died of apparent poisoning three months later. Journalist Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in October 2006 in her Moscow apartment block and a month later, former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko died of poisoning in London.

Many Russians have come to the conclusion that the bombings may have been the work of Russian security services. As for our family, our initial trust in the official version of a “Chechen trail” is long gone. We have come to believe that our mother and neighbors were sacrificed for a political end: To justify the war in Chechnya and help Vladimir Putin become president the following year. Only an objective investigation could make us change this view.

Mr. President, we are writing this open letter because we would like to believe that your ascent to the presidency will end this dark period in Russian history. You were not involved.

We realize that you owe the previous regime a debt of loyalty and gratitude. But the powers of the state were entrusted to you not to protect possible murderers. You are now in control of Russia and your position imposes a higher responsibility. Before history, the people and the memory of innocent victims, you have an obligation to find and tell the truth about these crimes.

The Kremlin Still Loves Hamas

Did you ever notice that the Kremlin expects the West to treat all those it designates as terrorists (for instance, the Chechen rebels) as such, even as it rejects and refuses to respect the West’s designations? Russia, for instance, couldn’t care less if the whole world thinks Hamas is terrorist, it goes its own way. AFP reports:

Russia will continue to maintain ties with Islamist group Hamas to foster Palestinian peace despite its designation in the West as a terrorist organisation, Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday. Speaking after talks with Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov said relations with both Hamas and its more moderate rival Fatah were essential to push the Middle East peace process forward “Russia has very good relations with Fatah, and its leader Mahmud Abbas as the overall Palestinian leader,” Lavrov said.

“Russia has relations with Hamas and we use these, and we will actively use these, to help move towards the Yemeni initiative” to foster Palestinian peace, he said. “It is impossible to resolve all of the problems without the unification of the Palestinians as a single people and as a single political-legal space,” he said. He said those taking part in the peace process should not try to “drive a wedge” between the two groups.

Fatah and Hamas penned a deal in Yemen last month to open their first direct talks since Hamas drove Fatah forces from the Gaza Strip in June. However, the two factions started bickering about the meaning of the agreement within hours of signing it. Russia has carved out a unique position in Middle East diplomacy by maintaining contacts with both Fatah and Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, the United States and Israel.

EDITORIAL: The New Great Satan


The New Great Satan

Last week Nikolay Patrushev, director of the FSB (successor to the KGB), revealed to the world the frightening news that he has discovered the new Great Satan. Russia Today (the state-controlled English-language propaganda service), Pravda (the state-controlled newspaper) and RIA Novosti (the state-controlled wire service) shouted the news, breathlessly and unquestioningly, from their rooftops.

Who is it?

Who is the new most-dangerous sponsor of “international terrorism” in Russia?

Why, it’s the NGOs, of course.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Chamber of Commerce.

Devious, isn’t it? Who but the always-vigilant KGB could have uncovered such a mendacious and secretive plot?

Actually, though, Patrushev didn’t name a single specific NGO that was supporting terror in Russia, nor did he give a single concrete example of any such activity. He simply said, in classic neo-Sovietspeak: “International terrorists and religious extremists enjoy the support of certain foreign non-governmental organizations when carrying out recruitment activities.” That word “certain” was a great favorite of the Soviet criminals who ran the Politburo and drove the USSR right into the ground. It’s ever so convenient, you see, seeming to say all while actually saying nothing.

Vladimir Putin has previously declared that Russia has the right to strike terrorists wherever it finds them around the world. Thus, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and the Chamber of Commerce had better expect Litvinenko-like targeting of their CEOs at any moment. Luckily, the heroic Kremlin has already shut down the evil forces of the British Council, which quite likely was responsible for the Beslan and Dubrovka terrorist atrocities. If only the Kremlin had discovered this plot sooner! Then, surely, all those innocent Russians would have survived!

How can anyone now doubt that what we see before us today is a neo-Soviet state laid bare. It is run by the KGB, something that didn’t happen even in Soviet times. Sham elections, centralization of government, nationalization of the economy, wiping out domestic dissent and choking off the flow of information, and now the Kremlin turns its malignant eye toward foreigners, declaring them all to be dangerous foreign spies, just as was done in Soviet times.

If Russia is really such a pathetically weak nation that it needs to go to these ridiculous lengths to attack peaceful organizations, then there is no greater testament to Vladimir Putin’s utter failure as a ruler. If it isn’t, Putin is far too paranoid and malignant to be trusted as Russia’s dog catcher, much less its “president.”

Another thing that didn’t happen in Soviet times was the admission of the Russian fox into the G-8 hen house. It’s time for the Western world to to rise from its delusional slumber and realize the nature of the enemy it now faces in Russia, and to move speedily and resolutely to purge Russian influence from our democratic institutions.

If we don’t do so, then we are complicit in the horror that is to come behind the new iron curtain.

The Sunday Photos: Stability and Peace, Putin Style

Stability and Peace, Putin Style

October 31, 2007. Togliatti.
November 22, 2007. Pyatigorsk.

Postcards from Togliatti

Russia has chosen to be led by a proud KGB spy. The people of Russia have chosen to sacrifice all their civil rights and liberties, to walk back into the human rights meat grinder of Soviet-style government, supposedly in exchange for safe streets and economic stability. Ask someone who lives in Toliyatti if Russia got what it bargained for from Mr. Putin:

Russia and Terrorism

The Terror Finance Blog reports:

In addition to Iran and Saudi Arabia, which have funded and armed Hamas for decades, Russia, too, should be held accountable for the chaos in Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people. Asserting Russia’s influence in Middle East politics, President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to Hamas in February 2006, offered legitimacy to the U.S. designated terrorist organization.

Yuri Andropov, former Soviet and KGB leader may be dead, but his agenda survives with Putin, who like his former master uses terrorist organization to undermine the U.S. Indeed, Putin’s government crackdown on human and civil rights, and the brutal tactics used to consolidate Russia’s economic resources, reminds one of the former Soviet Union.

The Transparency International 2007 global report released on May 24 documents widespread Russian corruption and lack of independence in Russia’s legal system, and its courts in particular. This, according to the report, is due to the government’s growing political interference. Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s best-known opposition newspaper, claims that corruption in Russia is the rule, and “business is impossible without it.”

Moreover, Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref, speaking at an investor conference in Moscow last week, admitted that “everyone knows the Taxation Service is corrupt.” Leading investigative reporter Roman Shleinov claimed recently in London, that attempts to expose this corruption resulted in more than 2,000 dead journalists in the last decade.

Russia’s economic growth — more than $515 billion in foreign currency and gold reserves — make Putin very popular among his people, despite the corruption and his regime’s growing restrictions on civil and human rights, freedom of the press, and private, public and foreign entities. Most recently, his popularity reached over 70% approval ratings. Not surprisingly, Putin disregards whatever domestic and foreign criticism of his centralized and authoritarian government. He even declared: “I am an absolute, pure democrat… I am the only one, there just aren’t any others in the world.”

Russia’s long tradition of autocratic regimes seems to empower Putin’s undermining of Russia’s recent history of democratic capitalism. With ever-increasing frequency, Russia uses its corrupt courts to legitimize nationalizing and confiscating private and public corporations from entrepreneurs who built their wealth and the Russian economy on the ashes of the crumbling Soviet infrastructure. Those allowed are holding onto their corporations and vast personal wealth, carrying out Putin’s agenda of centralization and consolidation of domestic and even global strategic resources and industries such as aluminum and steel, and above all, energy.

Putin began consolidating Russia’s energy industry four years ago, with the now familiar ploy of accusing oil company Yukos, and its owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky with tax fraud. Russia’s biggest, state-owned gas and oil company, Gazprom, and its state-owned oil company, Rosneft, grabbed the bankrupted Yukos assets, and Khodorkovsky was sent to prison for nine years. Since then, Yukos’ foreign shareholders are engaged in costly lawsuits outside Russia in attempts to recover damages.

In September 2006, alleging environmental violations, the Russian government revoked the Royal Dutch Shell company license to operate the world’s biggest liquefied gas development in Sakhalin. Less than three months later, Shell was forced to hand over control of the $22 billion project to Gazprom.

The latest casualty is the international oil company BP. The Russian government threats to revoke its development license, culminated when Putin publicly stated: “how much longer do we have to tolerate this?” On June 22, BP was forced to sell its 62.9% stake in the world’s largest natural gas field in Kovykta — worth an estimated $20 billion — to Gazprom for only pennies on the dollar, a mere $700- $900 million.

So it’s no surprise that Canadian investors in Magna International, an auto parts manufacturer and supplier, look askance at plans to sell 20 million shares and partial control for $1.54 billion, in exchange for entry into Russia’s market. The proposed buyer, Russian Machines, is a manufacturing giant controlled by Vladimir Putin’s billionaire crony, “Aluminum King” Oleg Deripaska, whose entry visa to the U.S. was recently revoked.

Deripaska, rumored as Russia’s wealthiest oligarch, would get only 42% of Newco, the new holding company that would control Magna, rather than the 94% that those shares represent. Moreover, according to the agreement, the Canadian owners and executives of the company would receive the equivalent of $883 per share, — though their shares are worth some $93. That doesn’t compute. “When smart, rational people do things like that, and nobody can tell me why — I start getting suspicious,” said one Magna shareholder.

Considering Deripaska’s close personal ties to Putin, Magna shareholder skepticism rose on hearing an assurance from the Canadian company chariman, Frank Stronac, that Putin “endorsed” Deripaska as a business partner. Why is that important, they rightly wonder? Rather than giving Magna entry into Russia’s market, it indicates that Deripaska’s foothold in the company would lead to yet another Russian takeover, and a total loss for Magna’s existing Canadian shareholders.

That would fit Deripaska’s reputed practices, which are often disputed. In May 2007, Deripaska settled a $500 million lawsuit in which his former partners in Tajik Aluminum Smelter TadAZ charged him with fraud and sought an estimated $220 million, plus costs, interest, and damages. Another former business partner, Michael Cherney, is now suing Deripaska for violations of an agreement granting Cherney 20% of RusAl. Initially, Deripaska denied the agreement. Since the document surfaced, Deripaska has been attempting to evade the British lawsuit by claiming lack of jurisdiction. Unless he settles this dispute, too, his plan to take RusAl public for $30 billion in London later this year may be affected.

All this leaves one questioning the wisdom of U.S. officials, who are now inviting further Russian investment in and joint venture with U.S. businesses. On June 18, U.S. Deputy Treasury secretary Robert Kimmitt declared: “We want to be sure they consider investment opportunities in the United States.”

But smart buyers, bankers and regulators will worry about the provenance of assets offered in Russian IPOs — and how long it will take before Russia “legally” confiscates and fully controls those assets. Moreover, those assets may well be used to fund Islamist terrorist organizations.