Five years ago, Paul Klebnikov was murdered as he left his office in Moscow. Shot nine times. See the Russia Today video above for the details of the case. Since Klebnikov’s murder in 2004, the number of journalists killed in Russia ranges from tens to 44 depending on how you categorize them. The number of journalists attacked is even higher. According to the Glasnost Defense Foundation, since 2004 the number of journalists who’ve been attacked because of their work is in the hundreds. Sadly, the frequency in which reporters are attacked and killed in Russia makes Klebnikov’s death a grim statistic.
I was fortunate enough to meet the Klebnikov family last November when Paul’s widow, Musa, invited me to speak at their annual event to honor Mikhail Fishman, the recipient for the Paul Klebnikov Prize for Excellence in Journalism. Musa, and Paul’s brothers Peter and Michael were very gracious. And they have created a wonderful community of friends, family, and colleagues to commemorate Klebnikov’s work. It was an honor to be invited and to meet them. My thoughts go out to them this day.
It is also thanks to them that Klebnikov’s death is not simply a grim statistic. His memory is constantly evoked thanks to their tenacity in putting pressure on American and Russian officials to find Klebnikov’s killers. One can only hope that the announcement that officials from the US Justice Department will join the case will bear fruit.
His memory is also kept alive by his colleagues at Forbes, who have published a special report “Remembering Paul Klebnikov” to commemorate the five years since his death.
There isn’t much more to say. The dangers of exposing the malfeasance of rich and powerful in Russia are well known. Too well known.
All I can say is, fight on Musa, fight on . . .
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By Sean — 10 years ago
The people want to know is the eXile‘s demise the result of a government inspection or money? Well, you see, the two can’t be untangled. Already in dire financial straights, the impromptu inspection scared the paper’s investors away, leaving it in debt and flat broke. Searching for whether it was the chicken or the egg doesn’t say much here. I think for the eXile, government attention simply nudged it off the financial cliff. As Yasha Levine explained on the eXile blog, “News of the [polite chinovniks’] visit had our investors fleeing instantly.” Now broke, the eXile is now begging for money to keep its website’s server up.
Why the eXile has finally attracted the government eye is easy to explain. Limonov, it’s offensive articles, and its love of pissing in the face of anything and everyone. The big question everyone is asking is why now? After all, wasn’t Medvedev supposed to bring a thaw to Putin’s free speech freeze out? There is no easy answer to why the eXile got inspected at this moment. Was it the recent articles on the clan war? Was it Ames writing of the new President, “Don’t you just want to pick Medvedev up and hug him and squeeze him? Or zip him up in a squirrel costume and put him in a habittrail, then just watch him run around, gnawing on a salt lick or rolling around in wood chips? We do. And we’re not afraid to say it either.” I doubt it. They’ve said a lot worse in the last 11 years.
I don’t think asking why now is as important as asking from where. The answer from the latter is sure to shed light on the former. I doubt the order to inspect the eXile came directly from the Kremlin mount. Russia’s chinovniki are so obsequious to those above that I wouldn’t doubt one of them is make a little campaign to with hopes please the new boss. That or Russia’s middle management haven’t got the message to back off the media. Are they not getting Medvedev’s hints that he plans to “protect the media” and even going so far as to shoot down the proposed amendment to the media law?
Or did the order come one of Russia’s board of directors embroiled in a clan war. Ames has published a few articles on the matter. Did they finally prick the ears of the wrong silovik? Then of course there are the alleged complaints by some Russian citizens that they were offended by the eXile. At least this is what the chinovniki told Ames in their meeting. Could it be that the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage works like America’s FCC, which goes after “indecency” on radio and TV based on consumer complaints? Is the eXile Recession Penis merely the Russian equivalent to Janet Jackson’s nipple? Perhaps but unlikely.
Unlikely first and foremost because nothing in Russia seems to ever happen by chance or according to the rules. Conspiracy is always in the air and be sure there is always a Russian boyar plotting and pulling the strings. Given the long list of harassment and threats the eXile have gotten over the years, it’s hard to think that they recent salvo against has anything to do with chance.
Plus it’s not like the eXile is alone here. Over the last month, a number of media outlets have come under fire in what appears to be a larger campaign. In late May, the Novosibirsk nationalist newspaper Otchezna was closed by local authorities for extremism. Also in Novoskibirsk a TV show set in WWII called “Jeeps against Tanks” has been suspected of extremism. The fear is that the show’s popularity might inspire youth to wear swastikas. A little over a week ago, the largest Russian radio company, Russian Media Group, was raided by tax police. A week before that, the Moscow liberal paper Nezavisimaya gazeta got an eviction notice from the Moscow city government. Konstantin Remchukov, NG’s editor/owner, said the notice was retaliation for running articles critical of Moscow boss Yuri Luzhkov. Ingushetia authorities also moved to close down the opposition site Ingushetiya.ru for extremism. The site is still alive but only because its server is outside Russia. The Bashkir government adopted the “On the Working Against Extremist Activities” law. Finally, the Kursk Provincial Duma is seeking to “sharply strengthen” the extremist law.
It appears that alongside Medvedev’s anti-corruption campaign there is an anti-extremism campaign in the making. Just yesterday, Medvedev gave a speech calling for the media to help curtail extremism. “We will fight with these problems with all available means,” he said. These means include the security organs, the justice system, and the Russian press. I would assume that the 53 hate crime arrests the Russian authorities have made so far this year is part of this campaign. True enough Russia has a big problem with skinheads, nationalism, and racial violence. There are real extremists out there. But the extremism law is so elastic that anyone can be labeled as such if some lowly chinovnik desired it.
The crackdown on Russia media is a well worn story. The NY Times revisited the issue of media (self-)censorship again this weekend. Surprisingly the English language press which is always ready to point out the next tiptoe to Russian autocracy, authoritarianism, fascism, Stalinism or whatever is the political flavor the week, have been virtually silent about the eXile‘s travails. No outcry from the NY Times. No snarky editorials from WaPo. The London Independent, which two years called the eXile “a breath of fresh air” amid “tightly controlled and increasingly cowed Moscow media,” hasn’t made a peep.
Besides the Moscow Times, the Daily Georgian Times, and something called the Foreign Policy Passport, the English Language media either doesn’t know about the story (unlikely), doesn’t care (likely), and is in fact happy (most likely). In fact, the whole incident seems to have thrown people’s political conscious into contradiction with their emotions. As the Moscow Times reported, one American victim of eXile pranks would only speak to them “on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be quoted saying negative things about the newspaper as it was being shut down.” The anon-moron said, “[The eXile] never really called anyone to ask questions, and they made 90 percent of it up.” Translated: “I’m glad those fucks finally got what they deserve, but it’s not politically correct to say so.” I guess eleven years of farting in everyone’s face doesn’t exactly ingratiate you to the establishment. So there are no crocodile tears for the poor eXile. Oh well, I doubt Ames and the gang are expecting any.
Given the context, perhaps there is an answer, or should a say a theory, of why the eXile now. It is part of the overarching campaignism of Medvedev so he could establish his footing as boss. This is not to say that the eXile is more significant than any other Russian press organ. Their appearance on the radar is far more modest. The eXile as the sole English language forum for Limonov coupled with its own brand of uncompromising bile made it an easy target for the chinovnik looking to fulfill signals from above. Since the usual outcry from the English speaking Mandarins is unlikely to come (perhaps if they were some thieving oligarch they would get more sympathy), an irascible English language bi-weekly already teetering on financial collapse is an easy gnat to crush.Post Views: 121
By Sean — 9 years ago
Two more human rights workers have been kidnapped in Grozny, the Russian media is reporting. According to Ingushetia.ru, Zarema Sadulaeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov were taken by unknown gunmen from the office of “Save the Generation,” a non-governmental youth organization that provides medical and psychological help for youth and children traumatized by violence in Chechnya. Alexandr Cherkasov of Memorial told Ekho Moskvy:
“Around 2 p.m. unknown armed men entered the office of “Save the Generation.” Two were in civilian clothing and three were in black uniforms. They introduced themselves as representatives of the security organs. They took Zarema and her husband, and after some time returned and took their cell phone and her husband’s car. When they are now and which agency abducted them is unknown.”
Chechen security organs say that it is too early to say whether Sadulaeva and Dzhabrailov were kidnapped. “According to eyewitnesses, Saduleava and her husband went into the car voluntarily. No force was used against them,” a representative told Interfax.
Too early to say? It’s not like this is the first time this has happened. Well, if they were indeed taken by Chechen security agents then the MVD should know where they are and why they were taken. If not, then they were kidnapped by persons posing as Chechen police. I don’t know which is worse.
The kidnappings come a few days after Ramzan Kadyrov denied allegations in an interview with Radio Svoboda that he was involved in last month’s abduction and murder of Nataila Estemirova . When asked whether he would consider creating an independent commission to investigate her murder, Kadyrov replied,
Why invite people from outside to do that if we have our own laws here? Are investigations in the Russian Federation conducted worse than in other countries? A full investigation is being carried out.[Memorial head] Oleg Orlov blamed me [for Estemirova’s death]. That human rights defender violated my human rights. He should have protected me as an individual and thought about what he was going to say. But he accused me of being a murderer. He said that Kadyrov killed Estemirova. I told him, “Mr. Orlov, you’re an adult. Be a real person for once in your life and tell me why you violated my rights?” He replied saying, “That’s not what I meant. I meant you in your role as president.”
They [human rights activists] are all lawyers. The texts they write follow the letter of the law. [Orlov] told me he blamed me as president, as the guarantor of the constitution. They’re very good lawyers. But if they say that Kadyrov or his people are to blame, let them prove it. Why would Kadyrov kill women that no one needs?[Estemirova] never had any honor or sense of shame. And still I appointed her head of a [civil society advisory] commission with the mayor of Grozny as her deputy. I wanted to be objective about addressing the issue. But she didn’t like it. She would say stupid things. I told her, “You’re a woman, and we’re trying to do something for the people. But if it doesn’t work, don’t blame us.” I said I would show her the city budget and told her to try to do better. She said, “Yes, I understand.”
So I said I’d disband the commission, thanks very much for your work, but I don’t trust you. I didn’t treat her gently. I didn’t tell her I loved her. I told it like it was. We were both acting in our professional capacities. She was the head of the commission, and I, as the president of Chechnya, was evaluating her work. So why am I to blame? Let the investigators conduct their work. If Kadyrov or his people are to blame, let them be tried and jailed.
Well that’s reassuring . . .
Here is more Kadyrov in his own words:
Post Views: 129
By Sean — 1 year ago
Christine Evans is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research interests include Modern Eurasian mass culture and communications and play, leisure, and consumption. She’s the author of Between Truth and Time: A History of Soviet Central Television published by Yale University Press.
Watch some Soviet TV!
KVN Final, 1964
Vremya news broadcast, 1977
Chto? Gde? Kogda? (What? Where? When?), 1982
Dramarama, “70s Tv,” Stuck in Wonderamaland, 1989.Post Views: 496