Remember how dangerous it is for any Russian to criticize the Putin regime over Chechnya, as best illustrated by the murders of Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova and Stanislav Markelov, a recent interview by Boris Nemtsov is truly breathtaking in its courage. Paul Goble reports:
The North Caucasus at the present time is “our Palestine,” Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov says, the result of the deal between Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov in which the former has purchased the loyalty of the latter for cash and at the price of allowing the Chechen leader and his minions to do what they like throughout Russia.
If Russia is to escape from this dilemma, Nemtsov said in the course of an online press conference, several steps are necessary because as the Manezh violence shows the problems of that region are no longer confined to it but rather spreading throughout Russian society.
Other Russia reports:
Editors at Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s most well-renowned opposition newspapers, fear that the publication may be shut down in the coming year.
Following months of legal battles, a Russian court declared in September that a decision by Roskomnadzor (Russia’s federal media supervision agency) to issue an official warning against the newspaper for “propagandizing nationalistic views” was valid. Since a publication can be shut down after two such warnings, Novaya Gazeta editors say that the court’s decision spells the beginning of the possible end of the newspaper.
The only thing surprising here is that it took the Kremlin this long to “think” it up. The Moscow Times reports (hero journalist Grigori Pasko als0 has commentary, including a link to the Russian source material over at Robert Amsterdam’s blog):
A Moscow journalist has filed a complaint over an article in the daily newspaper Izvestia suggesting that lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were lovers and that their slaying in central Moscow last month was a crime of passion.
Der Spiegel reports:
Nowhere in Europe is life more dangerous for journalists than in Russia, and no Russian newspaper has had as many of its journalists killed as Novaya Gazeta. After the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anastasia Baburova, the newspaper’s publisher wants to provide its reporters with guns.
A simple glass case stands next to the door leading to the editorial offices of the Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Inside are displayed the newspaper’s trophies, including the mobile telephone that former first lady Raisa Gorbachyova gave the paper a decade and a half ago, as well as various awards and certificates.
But the display cabinet also contains shrapnel that was removed from the bodies of war correspondents during surgery, and the computer that investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya used to write her articles. The upper shelf is reserved for the portraits of the victims of contract killings: Politkovskaya, Yuri Shchekochikhin and Igor Domnikov.
Now space will have to be made for two more portraits. They are still hanging on the wall, together with a black ribbon of mourning: a photo of prominent attorney Stanislav Markelov, 34, who represented the newspaper in various trials, and a portrait of Anastasia Baburova, 25, who wrote about Russian fascists for the paper. Neo-Nazis have been celebrating her violent death on the Internet since she was killed last week — and plotting to hunt down other journalists.
Dmitri Sidorov, Washington Bureau Chief for the Russian newspaper Kommersant, writing in Forbes magazine:
Stanislav Markelov was buried in Moscow Friday, Jan. 23. A well-known lawyer and human rights advocate, he was murdered Jan. 19, not far from the Kremlin. His killer also mortally wounded Anastasia Baburina, a journalist for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The 25-year-old Baburina, who had been walking alongside Markelov, died in the hospital several hours after the shooting.
Novaya Gazeta, where Baburina worked, has lost many of its leading lights in recent years. Among them was Anna Politkovskaya, who had written about human rights violations in Chechnya; she was shot. Another probable victim was Yuri Shchekochikhin, who was poisoned. He had written about a corruption scandal involving high-ranking officials in the security services.
The double murder of Markelov and Baburina comes as yet another dreadful confirmation that to be a human rights advocate, or an investigative journalist without Kremlin sanction, is equivalent to a death sentence in today’s Russia.
There are Few Like him Left
Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia
“Take care of yourself, ok?” Masha, a young nazbol hugged me, looking in my eyes. That day some of the people who gathered at Prechistenka, the place where Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova died, said similar words to each other. This pointless phrase had a new meaning in the context of the three deaths that happened on “black” Monday, the previous day. It finally became clear that anyone with any visibility in the civil society [community] could be killed: an attorney, a journalist, an activist. And one can only guess at who will be next.
It becomes especially frightening if one looks at the ranks of that same “civil society” – a few thousand people in all, who often know each other.