Kommersant reports that police investigating Anna Politkovskaya’s murder have settled on a dominant theory about who killed her. Police have descended on the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk because they suspect that the killer is linked to former policemen there. Kommersant reporter Sergei Mashkin writes,
“Information received from Khant-Mansiiskii police was the reason why investigators from the General Prosecutor and operatives from Russian MVD Criminal Investigation Department departed [to Nizhnevartovsk]. One of the police there saw someone who looks like their former colleagues—Mayor Alexandr Prilepin and Colonel Valerii Minin. Presently there is an international search for them for crimes they committed in Chechnya.
However, the investigators have been unsuccessful in finding the mayor or the colonel. Possibly the police informant was mistaken or former colleagues warned the fugitives beforehand. As a result, the investigators had to be satisfied with interrogating Prilepin’s and Minin’s comrades and even their relatives.”
Prilepin and Minin are wanted in connection with the 2001 the kidnapping and death of a Chechen man named Zelimkhan Murdalov. Politkovskaya, working in tandem with Memorial, reported his disappearance and murder in Novaya gazeta in 2002. The articles were instrumental in Former Police Lieutenant Sergei Lapin’s conviction to eleven years in prison for the murder. People connected to Lapin are suspected because according to court documents, Lapin told Politkovskaya in a 2002 email, “You have ten days to publish a retraction. Otherwise the policemen you have hired to protect you will be powerless to help.”
There are three theories about who murdered Politkovskaya. The involvement of people close to Lapin was one theory. The others suggested that Razman Kadyrov had Politkovskaya murdered or that she was killed by opponents of the Kremlin to destabilize Russia.
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By Sean — 12 years ago
Just when you though anarchist studies was a dead subject, Mark Leier, the director of the Centre for Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University in Canada has published a new biography of the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin. You can read Walter Moss’ review of the book in the Moscow Times. It sounds like a good read, though sadly Leier doesn’t take advantage of the voluminous amount of Russian sources.
I’ve always found Bakunin an attractive figure. Alexander Herzen paints a wonderful picture of him in his memoirs My Past and Thoughts. Bakunin’s debates with Marx are a classic moment in revolutionary intellectual history, though when you think of about it, it is wholly unimportant in the big scheme of things. Unfortunately, not everyone is so convinced of its irrelevance to current politics.
About ten years ago I went to an anarchist convention in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park. The main attraction was not only the book fair, but the fact that Jello Biafra was speaking. When I ventured outside the pavilion for a break from the anarchist hubbub, I came upon a lone Spartacist member peddling the League’s newspaper the Workers Vanguard. Not having much exposure to the Sparts at that time, I began talking to him. What followed was a lesson in American radical politics.
While I was talking to the Spart, an anarchist approached and began denouncing the Trotskyist for a number of political historical crimes: betraying Nestor Makhno and being on the wrong side of the Bakunin-Marx debate. The Spart rebutted with similarly silly accusations. There was a good lesson in this comedic moment: both of these fools were completely irrelevant. And how could they not be? One was speaking about a debate that happened in 1848 as if it was yesterday, and the other was selling a newspaper that had little pictures of Lenin and Trotsky inside the front page.
As a postscript, I did subscribe to the Workers’ Vanguard that day. It wasn’t because I found the Spartacist line attractive in any way, but because it was cheap and I was into collecting radical newspapers at the time. The paper never really impressed; it was mostly concerned with resurrecting revolutionary corpses from a bygone time. Though I must say, it did give me a few laughs, especially when a few months later they published three issues revisiting that damn Bakunin-Marx debate.Post Views: 642
By Sean — 11 years ago
Saturday’s Feb. 10, BBC telecast to the US portrayed an “aggressive” Russian President Vladimir Putin “lashing out” at the US during a weekend gathering in Munich. The White House was then quoted as being “disappointed” with Putin’s comments. This BBC segment had an excerpt of an interview it conducted with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Ivanov claimed a one sided American approach to handling global trouble spots.
No example was given to support Ivanov’s view. The BBC frequently utilizes this tact, leaving not so informed viewers with unanswered points of relevance. To fill in the blank on this particular: an American official recently visited Moscow with the brazen attitude that Kosovo could be independent and that the basis for such didn’t apply to pro-Russian former Soviet territories in dispute. There’s nothing “aggressive” about that stance? Forget about the BBC doing a comparative breakdown to review whether Kosovo has the best case for independence (which it doesn’t, as those familiar with my commentary know).
The mentioned BBC segment ended with Arizona Senator John McCain welcoming Putin’s candor, while believing that the Russian president was aggressive. Talk about role reversal! Those on the Russocentric side who are familiar with McCain, are well aware of his overtly Russia and Serbia unfriendly statements over the course of time.
A Sunday Feb. 11, New York Times article uncritically described CIA Director Robert Gates’ statement after Putin’s address as taking a high road for seeking an end to what Gates termed was Cold War language on Putin’s part. This makes no sense whatsoever. With two competing superpowers during the Cold War, there was less of a uni-polar world. Putin’s Munich commentary is against one power dictating to the rest of the world (not to be misread as Putin seeking a return to the intense bi-polar rivalry of the Cold War).
At the Munich meeting, Putin firmly stated that any solution on Kosovo must have the full support of Serbia. Too bad he didn’t add that Trans-Dniester should receive prompt international recognition as an independent state. In addition to some leading American foreign policy politicos outside of government, how many times has the neo-conservative/neo-liberal influenced Bush Administration said that Kosovo has a “unique” case for independence unlike Trans-Dniester and some of the other disputed former Soviet territories? (mind you, I’m not lumping the disputed former Soviet territories as having the same degree of legitimacy)
Ever since the breakup of Yugoslavia – German mass media at large has been decidedly anti-Serb in its slant. Arguably more so than what’s evident in Anglo-American mass media. The Serb population in Germany is small when compared to that country’s Croat and Muslim populations. Germany’s being on the losing side in two world wars against Serbia might further explain the bias as well.
This slant was shown in a recent Der Spiegel interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. When Lavrov noted how UN Resolution 1244 calls for a return of Serb military personnel to Kosovo – Der Spiegel shot back with a – that’s unreasonable quip. The interview left that point without follow-up. To fill in the blank: it’s not unreasonable for Serbia to have its troops and government staff on Serb territory. UN Resolution 1244 calls for both. Kowtowing to the law of the jungle is a bad model (in this instance, basing one’s decision on how Albanian nationalists will behave if they don’t see their agenda supported).
A related bias is shown in the Western non-sympathy for Trans-Dniester’s view. Romania is a recently inducted EU member which actively backs Moldova’s hypocritically applied Soviet era border claim on Trans-Dniester. Unlike Trans-Dniester – Romania was also an ally of Germany during World War II.
In the background of these biases is the Berlin-Moscow relationship. The present reveals how the two can be on relatively good terms with each other, while maintaining different historical sympathies towards some others on the European continent. The last decade saw Germany re-ignite its WW II relationship with Croatia as Russia showed its historical favoritism with Serbia. In some instances, the vestiges of two world wars appear to linger on.
Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. In addition to Sean’s Russia Blog, his commentary has appeared in the Action Ukraine Report, Eurasian Home, Intelligent.ru, Johnson’s Russia List, Russia Blog, Serbianna, The New York Times, The Tiraspol Times.Post Views: 562
By Sean — 11 years ago
By most American commentators’ assessment, George Bush’s seventh State of the Union Address was significant for the ritual of it, rather than the substance. The LA Times stated that it “felt even more compulsory than usual” and that Bush “seemed at times to be going through the motions.” On
, the proverbial elephant standing in the middle of the chamber, the paper stated that “he said little that was particularly original or helpful.” On the Iraq issue the NY Times stated that he “added nothing to his failed policies.” The Washington Post lobbed lighter criticism. Bush goal, the daily stated, was not so much to convince anyone about the solvency of his new course for Iraq, but more to “drive home the point that the “consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.” The Post agreed with Mr. Bush, writing, “On this, [he] is assuredly correct.” Thus spoketh Iraq ’s leading newspapers. America
There is much one can say about the substance or lack thereof in Bush’s speech. His rhetorical platitudes appear farcical when confronted with the reality the
faces. His move to statements of bipartisanship and domestic issues, however genuine or necessary, appear more as a means to fill the time and avoid the dire situation in Iraq. The fact that Bush had no fresh ideas on the war signals that he has either tired of giving them or that he feels his original views can still lead to victory. United States
And the war wages on. As always, Patrick Cockburn provides a vivid picture of the situation in Baghdad. His view? “It is extraordinary that, almost four years after US forces captured Baghdad, they control so little of it. The outlook for Mr. Bush’s strategy of driving out insurgents from strongholds and preventing them coming back does not look good.” I highly recommend his book The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq for his assessment of how the US got into this debacle.
Then there is the story that very few are paying any attention to: Blackwater mercenaries. That is except for Jeremy Scahill. In a column in the LA Times Scahill gives a taste of his upcoming book, Blackwater: The Rise of the Most Powerful Mercenary Firm in the World. On Monday, a Blackwater helicopter was shot down by insurgents. The five mercenaries who survived the crash were later found with gunshots to the back of the head. Scahill believed that Bush’s call for a “Civilian Reserve Corps” in the State of the Union is a veiled move to further use “taxpayer dollars to run an outsourcing laboratory.”
Sadly, the Democrats don’t have much to contribute by way of solutions. For the last few weeks they have wavered between symbolic opposition in the form of “unbinding resolutions” or trying to formulate a rhetoric that avoids saying the word “pullout.” Despite what Bush may think and do about
, at least he has a position. The Democrats can’t even claim that. Iraq
As we all know, the State of the Union speech by the President of the United States is not simply a domestic affair. In the age of American Empire, a President’s words can have reverberations across the globe. Bush’s seventh is no different in this respect, even if it lacks any new vision for domestic audiences. For international audiences, Tuesday’s State of the
Unionwas a long drawn out way of saying “stay the course.” Still, the speech was analyzed by the foreign media, because in a way their fate is tied in varying degrees with American policy.
On that note, let’s take a look at what some of the Russian media are saying.
Sergei Strokan’s analysis, “A Speech of International Defeat,” in Kommersant argued that the speech signalled a death knell for Bush’s policies. Quoting Bush telling the American public, “whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure,” Strokan states that these words “for the first time in the entire Iraq campaign, President Bush disavowed his oft-repeated opinion that America is winning in Iraq. This time, the president did not only limit himself to saying that this is not true – he actually stooped to giving an explanation of why victory is not being achieved. “This is not the fight we entered in
,” admitted Mr. Bush, adding that the White House’s plans have been foiled by exploding sectarian violence and that international terrorism is only pouring fuel on the fire.” Iraq
Writing for the Russian state newspaper, Rossiisskaya gazeta, Sergei Chirkin, who titled his opinion, “Bush Turned the Clock,” noted that despite the troubles, the speech’s central goal was to dispel the already held opinion about the President’s political weakness.” The absence of Mr. Bush’s political capital is not so easy to hide. And because of this, or perhaps in spite of it, Chirkin notes that “the present speech would not contain large scale ideas and a long list of proposals.”
Writing in Strana.ru, Mikhail Pervushkin, in a commentary called, “Almost a Prayer,” stated, “As expected, in his speech [Bush] spoke in defense of his recent decision to send to Iraq an additional 20,000 soldiers, including 4,000 marines to Anbar Province.” Bush’s defense was met by the Democratic majority “without enthusiasm.”
One would expect that Bush’s lackluster performance would have generated more scathing rhetoric from Russia’s newspapers. However, it seems that from a scan of Russia’s other dailies, they are part of the global consensus: as a whole, the State of Union was old wine in new bottles. This wine, bottled by a beleaguered lame duck, will certainly end up having a sour taste.Post Views: 567