Russian forces have killed Shamil Basayev, the Chechen terrorist responsible for the Beslan attack, in counterinsurgent operations in Ingushetia on Monday. Ingush Deputy Prime Minister Bashir Aushev confirmed his death. “Fragments of the bodies of two militants were found on the scene of the explosion. Basayev’s body has been identified through some of the fragments, including his head,” Aushev told Interfax. Putin said that Basayev “?deserved retribution” for Belsan and for taking hostages in Budyonnovsk in 1995. Chechen President Alu Alkhanov called the killing a moment where Chechnya could finally turn “one of the blackest pages in [its] history” and that his death means the end of antiterrorist operations in the region. The Chechen rebel site, Kavkaz Center, reports that the rebel Chechen leadership has yet to release any confirmations or comments on the matter.
As one can imagine, the news keeps coming out faster than it can be consumed. For a list of articles on the matter, go here. Most of the reports are short on details. Be sure that over the next day or so analysts and commentators will deal with the obvious question: Does Basayev??s death signal the end to the Chechen resistance and the Chechen War?
More later . . .
Update: According to the Kavkaz Center, Basayev did not die as a result of Russian counterinsugency operations as the FSB claims, but from an accident. A cargo truck carrying explosives blew up next to a vehicle carrying Basayev. Not the glorious death one would hope from a terrorist. I guess the Russians can’t really complain too much. Dead is dead . . .
It’s been a great week for Putin. He’s scored points with the global public with his BBC/Yandex.ru sponsored webcast, the Russian state has $76.8 billion in its , and that is expected to grow to $110 billion by the end of the year, Russia is hosting the G-8 this weekend, and will probably reap mucongratulationsons and respect for fighting terrorism.
However, some think that declaring the Chechen nationalist movement dead is premature. The violence did not stop after the deaths of Dzhokhar Dudayev or Aslan Maskhadov. The conflict has alreaspreadard to neighboring regions under Basayev’s inspiration, but not necessarily under his direction. So the aftermath and impact of Basayev’s death remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I think Rolling Stone, of all places, put it best, “Putin got his Osama.”
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By Sean — 13 years ago
If there is a phrase that characterizes recent parliamentary and presidential elections in former Soviet Republics it’s “colored revolution.” If I keep harping on the point that that the “revolutions” in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan have sent political shockwaves through the CIS, it’s because the actions of ruling governments continue to use it as an excuse for repression. The latest country this colored specter haunts is Kazakhstan, which holds presidential elections on Sunday. The government has already issued a warning to opposition parties that if they even attempt to erect a tent in a city square, they will be severely dealt with. Then a prominent opposition member, Zamanbek Nurkadilov, was found murdered, um . . . I mean committed “suicide” just before he was to release information about the current president, and election front runner Nursultan Nazarbayev’s corruption. I wonder if the channeling of $84 million in bribes to leading Kazakh officials, with Nazarbayev being one of them, by oil consultant James Giffen in exchange for oil rights to Mobil Oil and Texaco is the big corruption news? At any rate, the “suicide” is rightly being challenged by Nurkadilov’s family. And if that wasn’t enough, apparently relatives of oppositions are being beaten, detained, and in one case kidnapped.
It all makes you wonder what the Kazakh government will do next. They have the proverbial warnings, beatings, assassinations, and paranoia covered. What is an authoritarian state to do next? I know! How about detain and expel some foreign journalists and human rights activists because you suspect that they are trying to export “colored revolution”? This is what Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is reporting.
Thus far the government has detained and looks to expel two Ukrainian journalists who were invited by the youth group Youth Information Service of Kazakhstan to cover the elections. This isn’t the first foreign expulsions. Over the last few weeks the government has expelled hundreds of Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Tajiks as well as Chinese and Turks. In addition around 500 people have been detained in Almaty, which is a center for the opposition. The government states that the expulsions were a result of a sweep for illegal immigrants. Others think it’s to prevent oppositionists from hiring immigrants to attend anti-government protests. All I have to say is who the hell knows. I know one thing, even without out all the repression to prevent colored revolution, I doubt there will be one anyway. But I guess we will have to wait until Sunday to be sure of that.Post Views: 439
By Sean — 12 years ago
I have this week’s edition of Novaya gazeta in front of me. The cover is all black with a center photo of Anna Politkovskaya. Above the photo it simply says “Anya.” There is a short editorial at the bottom of the page. It begins, “She was beautiful. She only became more beautiful with age. Do you know why? At first we receive our face from God unfinished, and then we make it ourselves. That is how we live. Still they say, in maturity the soul begins to appear on the face. Her soul was beautiful.”
Anna Politkovskaya’s murder has sent shockwaves not only across the Russian body politic, but the world. Almost every newspaper in Moscow had her murder as their cover story. Many of Russia’s state owned television channels heaped praise on Politkovskaya. They may have ignored her in life, but her tragic death couldn’t be so easily swept under the rug. Even NTV quickly reported the murder as political. Its evening Sunday talk show Voskresenyi vecher devoted a half an hour of its programming to discuss the murder, speculated on who committed it, and the threat it poses to the Russian press. Suggestions ranged from the Putin administration, nationalists and fascists, and Razman Kadyrov, the young Prime Minister of Chechnya and Putin proxy.
It is difficult to capture the Politkovskaya’s courage in words. She was a rare breed of journalist in Russia, who braved and eventually gave her own life to report on human rights violations in Chechnya and her native Russia. Internationally known, she has three books in English: A Small Corner in Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya (2003), A Dirty War (2004), and Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy (2005). The latter was not published in Russia because of its harsh criticism of the Putin’s rule. What separates her books from most journalistic accounts is not the acerbic words she uses to condemn those who don’t hesitate to stomp on humanity; it is the deep humanism that pervades her prose. While violence may dehumanize her subjects, often to a bloody pulp, she resurrects them to their full humanity. This is an art in any language let alone in Russian journalism where the cost for telling the truth has now become the lives of 42 journalists since 1992.
Details of her murder are brutal. On Saturday afternoon Politkovskaya was returning from Ramstore, a Moscow supermarket chain. She brought up two bags of groceries to her apartment and went down to fetch the remaining three bags. As she stepped out the elevator, the killer shot her four times. Twice in the heart. Once in the shoulder. Though the first two killed her instantly, the shooter let one final bullet into her head.
Her neighbors didn’t hear anything because the killer used an Izh pistol with a silencer. He dropped the pistol at the scene. The weapon had its serial number filed off. A neighbor discovered Politkovskaya’s body five minutes later at 4:15 pm. Needless to say, the murder was a professional hit.
The apartment building surveillance cameras captured the shooter but only from the back. It is being compared to video from the Ramstore cameras in hopes to getting his identity. The killer was a male, 180 cm tall in dark clothes. Police were able to compose a sketch from witnesses from a nearby pharmacy. There is talk that he was aided by a female.
There is no doubt that Politkovskaya’s work was the reason for her death. More than anyone she exposed Russian terror, either direct or by proxy, in Chechnya. She dared to speak when everyone else was silent. She was an opera singer among the tone deaf. Her bravery poured out of the last letters she wrote. The last article she published in Novaya gazeta was titled “Vindictive Collusion” (No. 74, 28 September) she wrote, according to Kommersant,
“Most of the followers of Kadyrov, Yamadaev and Kakiev are fighting on the side of the federal forces to avoid blood vengeance or to take vengeance,” she wrote. “Members of those divisions are involved in the same kidnappings and commit torture and murder. Their cruelty has long been comparable to the death squads’ of Russian officers in the special services, but their activities are more selective.” Specific cases of kidnapping, with the names of those she considered their perpetrators—fighters and heads of the law enforcement structures controlled by Ramzan Kadyrov, were given in the article.
It is this type of reporting that makes many think that Politkovskaya’s murder is connected to, if not was directly ordered by, Ramzan Kadyrov. The Chechen Prime Minister, of course, denied any connection to the murder stating, “Despite not always objective character of Anna Politkovskaya’s materials about Chechnya, I sincerely and humanly feel sorry for the journalist,” adding “to suppose [Chechen involvement] without any reason and serious proof means to argue at the level of rumors and gossips; it does not adorn neither the press nor politicians.” Kadyrov’s 30th birthday this past weekend was met with much fanfare. He opened the new Chechen airport, though it hasn’t been cleared for commercial travel. According to Novaya gazeta, he also used Chechen police paychecks to buy a $450,000 Ferrari. Many newspapers are also declaring that turning 30 has opened his path to the Chechen presidency.
Putin remained silent until the pressure for him to speak became too much. In a televised statement made today (some say three days too late), he promised that “all necessary efforts will be made for an objective investigation into the tragic death,” calling the murder “an unacceptable crime that cannot go unpunished.” Hopefully this statement is enough to stir the Russian police out of complacency.
Politkovskaya’s enemies were many. Kommersant and Izvestiia are now reporting there are three main theories to her murder. One is a conspiracy by opponents of Kadyrov and Putin. The idea is that Politkovskaya’s murder would undermine both Putin’s and Kadyrov’s authority. The conspiracy involves Boris Berezovsky as the mastermind. The second is that corrupt police officers from the Siberian city of Nizhnvartovsk had the journalist murdered because her investigation of their brutality in 2001 led to their imprisonment. Finally, there is the theory that influential Chechens, most likely connected to Kadyrov, had her killed in revenge from her reporting on Chechnya. Lesser theories include the involvement of fascists, nationalists, and others who have been angered by her muckraking reporting and polemical positions. Given the Russian propensity for conspiracy theories, I’m sure the Jews will surface as potential culprits at some point. As for real progress on the killing, the business daily reports that little headway has been made.
Anna Politkovskaya was buried today in Troekurovskoe Cemetery. Two thousand people attended. Her reporting angered many but that’s what good journalism is supposed to do. Many loved her and her work despite her detractors. Hundreds of people have left flowers at her Moscow apartment. Others are demanding that the Russian government make the case a priority. Her newspaper, Novaya gazeta has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the killer’s capture.
In her final interview with Radio Svobodna on September 28, Politkovskaya had one wish: “Personally I only have one dream for Kadyrov’s birthday: I dream of him someday sitting in the dock, in a trial that meets the strictest legal standards, with all of his crimes listed and investigated.”
If that day ever comes, it will because of all the work she did. Rest well, Anya.Post Views: 601
By Sean — 12 years ago
Central Bank of Russia First Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov’s killers have been caught. Or so we are told. On 16 October, Kommersant published a rather detailed tale of how Kozlov and his driver Alexander Semenov were victims of three hired killers, Alexey Polovinkin, Maxim Proglyada and Alexander Belokopytov. The three are 35 year old citizens from Ukraine, but form the description of events provided by Kommersant, the three are hardly experts in the field of contract killing. If their story is true, they were duped themselves. The mysterious intermediary that hired them for the job didn’t pay them. This led one of the suspects to voluntarily contact the police out of fear for his life.
Yet, despite their confessions, police believe that Polovinkin, Proglayada, and Belokorytov have more to tell. Their description of the “intermediary” sounds like something right out of X-Files or All the President’s Men. As Kommersant reporter Sergey Dyupin writes:
Although all three suspects have confessed to their parts in the killings, investigators are convinced that they have more information to provide. Polovinkin, who was the only one to speak to the intermediary, for instance, says they met only in the dark and that he is unable to describe him. Their communications could be traced, except the suspected abandoned their phones “somewhere” in the forest and have forgotten their own and the intermediary’s phone numbers.
Nevertheless, if one follows Kommersant’s account the Kozlov murder is a rare example of an open and shut case. Except that it all sounds a bit too simple for the killing of such a high profile figure like Kozlov.
Kozlov was no friend of the corrupt world of Russian banking. In fact the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Central Bank of Russia recently uncovered a widespread money laundering ring that involved a “Georgian criminal organization.” The case was opened in 2005 based on investigations by the state run “Deposit Insurance Agency” did of two banks, Rodnik and New Economic Position. Kozlov’s started the DIA in 2004 to improve banking transparency. While one can’t help questioning the timing of the sting given tensions with Georgia and the government racist targeting of Georgians, according to a press release from the MVD’s Department of Economic Security, the ring, which consisted of Print Bank, Vek-Bank, Investkombank Balkom, and UKB Tsenturion, laundered up to $500,000 a day. According to the MVD, the ring has tight relations with Georgians, former fighters in Abkhazia, as well as Russian criminal organizations.” The release even made claims that the some of the money was being sent to fighters in Abkhazia to ensure “a small triumphant war.”
It is the simple explaination given by the killers and repeated by the police that makes explanation of Kozlov’s murder difficult to swallow. The involvement of three Ukrainian failed businessmen and a dark and spooky “intermediary” sounds too easy.
“The crime is solved. Quick and simple” writes Novaya gazeta reporter Igor’ Korol’kov with skepticism. “This is either a really a rare success which happens “once in a thousand years” and becomes well know to every detective. Or there is something here that is not as it seems. Detectives say that when everything easily and immediately comes “to light,” it cannot not be suspicious.” What follows is Korol’kov’s break down of the many aspects of what the police are reporting.
First, Korol’kov suggests that there are cases when would-be killers approach police, but this usually occurs before the murder, not after. This is because, unlike in the United States, plea bargains don’t exist in Russia and therefore “the criminal world cooperates with the police only in cases if the person is being intimidated or tortured.”
Second, he asks what many people are wondering. If the killers were so afraid for their lives, why have they divulged any information about the mysterious “intermediary” or about who hired them? Surely, they would give up all the information they have so the police could protect them?
Thirdly, Korol’kov doesn’t buy the official version the cops are providing to the media. That version paints a picture of three Ukrainian bunglers who killed Kozlov because they were told that “he conned good people.” The killers didn’t have much of a plan, but instead seized the moment when Kozlov was coming out of Spartak stadium. Considering that Kozlov was such a high profile figure, this version sounds too far fetched or too good to be true.
Instead Korol’kov points to another version floating around. One that suggests that there is a more widespread conspiracy at work. He writes,
“According to another version, given to the mass media, the killers nevertheless prepared just in time for the murder. And they themselves chose the place to shoot.
There are very many gaps in the version about the voluntary confession of Kozlov’s supposed killers. Possibly they explain the leaks various sources have let out, every one of which possesses information according on their rank. Possibly the investigation has still not sculpted a single version from the killers’ confession, thereby completely cloaking other genuine reasons why the killers turned up. But from what I know from sources close to the investigation in the General Procuracy, several gaps complicate the investigation itself. And it doesn’t eliminate the version about the [killers’] support. About the attempt to direct the investigation along a false path. A group of people can only play the role of killers, telling everything about themselves and nothing about the intermediary or client of the murder. The account is simple: delighted investigators will throw out all remaining versions and they will develop a single version, passing [the killers] off as quite intelligent and resourceful people. And after a time the killers will retreat from their previous testimony, thinking up some other kind of justification for their “confession of guilt.”
“This is the only version and it is set forth with a singe purpose: so that the investigation doesn’t make the head dizzy.”
Essentially, Korol’kov argues that Kozlov was one of those rare Russian officials that take “state affairs personally.” “He did not simply ceremoniously perform his function as the First Deputy Chairman, but aspired to achieve real results.” This is what made him a danger to so many corrupt banking groups, making his assassination by a few failed Ukrainian business men concerned about a banker who “conned good people” difficult to swallow.Post Views: 458