Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Beslan ushers in Putin’s new age of terror
The Sunday Times ^ | October 17, 2004 | Anna Polikovskaya

Posted on 10/16/2004 4:53:56 PM PDT by MadIvan

The Russian leader’s journalistic nemesis, Anna Polikovskaya, reveals the brutal truth about her country today

Over the greater part of Russia, October sees the beginning of the winter frosts. This year it also finds the country in the leaden grip of a seemingly endless process of mourning. Last week saw the 40th day of our remembrance of those who died at Beslan. The second anniversary of the Nord-Ost tragedy, when many died after a siege at a Moscow theatre, will fall on October 23-26.

In the middle of that anniversary, on October 24, it will be two months since two women, Chechen suicide bombers, blew up two aircraft almost simultaneously. As if that were not enough, this month sees the fifth anniversary of the second Chechen war, officially referred to by the Russian government as an “anti-terrorist operation”.

This is a terrorist campaign visited by the Russian state on the peoples of Chechnya and Ingushetia, which now serves only to provoke further terrorism. Votive candles for the dead are the consumer goods most in demand in Russia. We are burning ourselves up in our own terrorist and anti- terrorist Molotov cocktail. What is the Kremlin doing about this situation? What remedies has our top leadership come up with to save the Russian people from living in fear and under the threat of terrorism? Well, first President Vladimir Putin gave a grim speech in which, in the style of President George W Bush, he described what was going on in Russia as “a war”. War is war and he promised serious measures.

Alas, we soon found out that the Kremlin’s strategy included nothing along the lines of a Putin road map for finally settling the Chechen crisis, which lies at the root of the problem.

He proposed instead to abolish the direct election of provincial governors, thus undermining the constitution and doing away with the country’s political foundation of federalism. He proposed that the president should be empowered to dissolve Russia’s legislative assemblies without legal safeguards and that all parliamentary deputies must be attached to a political party, ruling out the possibility of political activists standing as independents.

In a lather of craven servility the two chambers of our parliament, the Duma and the federal council, hastened to acquiesce, promising to ratify everything just as quickly as they could. The prosecutor-general’s office, charged under the constitution with ensuring observance of the law in Russia, got in on the act by introducing a number of amendments to the criminal code. Not only did these increase the severity of penalties for terrorism and corruption, which would have been justified and generally acceptable to society, but they also abolished the crucial and fundamental principle that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, in the case of those suspected of terrorism or corruption.

The prosecutor’s office proposes that the burden of proving innocence ought to rest with the suspect. Even a selective abolition of the presumption of innocence has a simple corollary: nobody is innocent any more. In today’s Russia this will mean that anybody on whom the security services need to pin anything can be found guilty.

The government is preparing an “anti-terrorist” inquisition, an anti-terrorist terror on the back of Putin’s political rampage as he exploits the Beslan tragedy. Incapable of ruling democratically, he is trying to build a police state in the Soviet image with himself at the head.

He has proclaimed a doctrine of isolationism as a means “of survival in a period of fighting international terrorism”. It is Bolshevism for the 21st century, allowing agents of the security services to combat those they have already described as “the new enemies of the people” using every means at their disposal. Except their brains: they need make no effort to collect evidence.

In its burdensome history Russia has had a Red terror, the Bolshevik terror that took its name from the colour of Lenin’s flag; a White terror, the response of the White army to the Reds. Now, reflecting the blue of his secret policemen’s epaulettes, we are to have Putin’s red, white and FSB-blue terror.

The new state terror was first restricted to Chechnya, where there has already been no presumption of innocence for five years and which is an “anti-terrorist zone”, a ghetto where anyone can be arrested. Nobody has been able to count on knowing what crime he or she is alleged to have committed before being tortured, shot and vanishing.

With the Kremlin’s encouragement, nobody in the federal security services has given a thought to the rule of law in Chechnya or, subsequently, in Ingushetia. The prosecutor’s office has viewed this shameful lawlessness as an unavoidable side effect in restoring federal rule. The consequences have been appalling: some of those whom the authorities had ceased to regard as human beings have turned into animals, the brutes who perpetrated Beslan.

What is going to change as a result of the anti-terrorist terror that Putin is organising? We may rest assured that the number of terrorist plots the security forces claim to have foiled will rise. Not a day will go by without a success. The intelligence agencies and police will catch all the terrorists and their accomplices, who will confess all. The president will award medals to the security forces so fast that he will run out of supplies.

Acts of terrorism will, however, continue so he will need to come up with something else. Our president will erect an “iron curtain” because, according to our new ideology, all the enemies will be from outside Russia, since all the ones inside have been caught.

Still the acts of terrorism will continue. The president will have no choice but to give in to the pleas of the Russian people to restore capital punishment. Restore the death penalty, abandon the presumption of innocence and Russia will be out of Europe.

The brainwashing will begin, to persuade us that this “enemy court” is a waste of time because those who are pure have nothing to fear and those making all the noise must be impure. In every town and village of Russia there are those with whom scores remain to be settled among the police, the FSB secret police, the mayors and governors sliding down the greasy pole of power. Time to get rid of enemies at that level, too.

The authorities are so afraid of us. Every age has its own characteristics. Russia in Brezhnev’s time was cynically demented. Yeltsin’s reign was a time for casting your net wide and seeing how much you could catch. Now it is the Age of Putin, an era of cowardice, and the more afraid he becomes, the more he tightens the screws. Cowards cannot counter terrorism. That is something only the resolute and the intelligent can do.

Today we stand on the brink of an abyss. This month the funeral marches played in memory of the victims of terrorism seem to accompany the funeral of Russian democracy. The opposition has been routed and is almost silent. A political winter is closing in and nobody can tell how long we may have to wait for the next thaw.

How have Europe and the world in general taken Putin’s “anti- terrorist” policies? Viewing their reaction from Moscow, it seems they have simply turned a blind eye to it all. Instead all we get is the vodka, the caviar, the gas, the oil, the bears, people of a certain profession . . . exotic Russia seems all still to be in place.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Russia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: annapolitkovskaya; beslan; caucasus; chechnya; politkovskaya; putin; russia
I'm not fond of what Putin is doing to Russian democracy. However, I do think that the Islamists in Chechniya need to be burnt to a cinder.

Regards, Ivan

1 posted on 10/16/2004 4:53:58 PM PDT by MadIvan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: LadyofShalott; Tolik; mtngrl@vrwc; pax_et_bonum; Alkhin; agrace; lightingguy; EggsAckley; ...


2 posted on 10/16/2004 4:54:21 PM PDT by MadIvan (Gothic. Freaky. Conservative. -
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: struwwelpeter; MarMema

This article is another one of the hit pieces blaming the victims (Russians) for work of the terrorists (Chechens.) The author of this article, Anna Polikovskaya, is the Tokyo Rose propaganda machine for the terrorists.

3 posted on 10/16/2004 6:08:03 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Sneakypete, De Oppresso Liber)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: GarySpFc
This article is another one of the hit pieces blaming the victims (Russians) for work of the terrorists (Chechens.) The author of this article, Anna Polikovskaya, is the Tokyo Rose propaganda machine for the terrorists.

Maybe, but when I read of Putin's "response" in the WSJ you could have colored me dubious at best. I'm (truly) all ears: how will Putin's response improve matters?

4 posted on 10/16/2004 6:19:26 PM PDT by sionnsar (Cbs: "It's fake but true!" | Iran Azadi | Traditional Anglicans:
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan; RussianConservative
This is a terrorist campaign visited by the Russian state on the peoples of Chechnya and Ingushetia,

There - I don't have to read any more than that. This woman could go to work for and fit right in.

I have only one question: Is Putin a megalomaniac, or is he doing this because he's got Islamic terrorist states RIGHT ON HIS BORDERS??

Until I hear some solid evidence to the contrary, I'm going to assume it's the latter, and that once the Islamikazis have been wiped out (and that's evidently what it's going to take), Russia will be able to reclaim whatever "democratic" rights have been lost.

5 posted on 10/16/2004 8:48:59 PM PDT by fire_eye (Socialism is the opiate of academia.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GarySpFc; Askel5; eleni121
In red letters across the top of Novaya Gazeta's website:


"Criticism on the part of the press is useful for all levels of the regime" (V.V. Putin, September 24th, 2004)

I have mixed feelings about Politskovskaya. I hate her Euro-cynicism, but do admire her tenacity. After two (three?) attempts on her life, she may be the Russian free press's martyr-in-waiting.

Too bad we haven't had journalists like that in 50 years.

Why does she bother? It must be a Russian thing. Someone recently wrote me about this character trait:

Znaesh' li tu russkuyu skazku pro dvukh lyagushek, kotorye popali v banki s molokom? Odna podumala - vse ravno mne otsyuda ne vybrat'sya, slozhila lapki i utonula. Drugaya dolgo-dolgo barakhtalas', sbila maslo, zalezla na nego i vybralas'...

"Do you know the Russian fairy tale about the two frogs, who fell into the milk can? One thought - it doesn't matter, I'll never get out of here, and so it stopped swimming and drowned. The other frog floundered about in the milk for a long-long time, until it churned out a piece of butter, climbed up on top and jumped out..."

Here's Ms. Politkovskaya's review of Fahrenheit 911, FWIW.
6 posted on 10/16/2004 9:43:36 PM PDT by struwwelpeter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: struwwelpeter

I'm coming up with a graphic for that. Thanks!

(Ever hopeful ... =)

7 posted on 10/16/2004 10:11:51 PM PDT by Askel5 († Cooperatio voluntaria ad suicidium est legi morali contraria. †)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: struwwelpeter
I have mixed feelings about Politskovskaya. I hate her Euro-cynicism, but do admire her tenacity. After two (three?) attempts on her life, she may be the Russian free press's martyr-in-waiting.
Or she may simply be a drama queen. I can think of no better route to fame for a reporter than to have threats against her life. Have you noticed Geraldo likes to show video of Taliban bullets flying around his head. Now he's famous. Likewise, I am amazed at ineptness of the FSB in poisoning this woman. It is a miracle they ever caught Penavosky(sp?).
8 posted on 10/16/2004 10:24:27 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Sneakypete, De Oppresso Liber)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan


9 posted on 10/17/2004 1:59:40 AM PDT by lainde (Heads up...We're coming and we've got tongue blades!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan

We should become allies with Russia against Islam. Islam is our enemy.

And we are its enemy.

10 posted on 10/17/2004 2:08:35 AM PDT by TomasUSMC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
I'm looking for those Yahoo video-still images of the Beslan massacre.

I've done several googlings and can't come up with the images.

Would someone here do me a favor and attempt to retrieve them? I've tried on two different OS...very odd.

11 posted on 10/22/2004 6:46:59 PM PDT by Mamzelle (Fast Eddie and Big Betty--let them sue McDonald's and leave us alone)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
Beslan ushers in Putin’s new age of terror

A campaign of terror on terrorists?
And the journalists say that like it's a bad thing...

(No different than the mealy-mouthed politically-correct babbling of the
city officials in Columbia, that an Islamic charity funneling $$$
to baby-killers got shut down.)
12 posted on 10/22/2004 6:50:39 PM PDT by VOA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mamzelle
links to yahoo pictures expire in a matter of weeks. BBC Photo Essay: The Siege at Beslan, Russia
13 posted on 10/29/2004 1:19:51 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Tailgunner Joe
I understand that our government is concerned about the violations of civil liberties in Russia by the Putin administration. That said, I'd also agree with President Putin that you gotta do what you gotta do to stop the terrorists.

That said, I don't feel a whole lot of sympathy for old Vladimir after the news of the Russians spiriting away Saddam's weapons. Soooo, I'm withholding my comments on this whole issue until further news surfaces.

14 posted on 10/29/2004 1:25:16 PM PDT by Ciexyz (Feeling so much calmer now I've cancelled my cable TV. Don't miss the Demopuke spin on cable news.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: struwwelpeter
Thanks for the 911 review. It makes clear that this woman is of the Left, something, that I, for one, do not think is completely clear from her views on Russia.

I realize that Chechnya is a place long connected with banditry, now gone over to terrorism. I don't begrudge Putin's right to fight Chechnyan terrorism.

But, frankly, this in no way justifies his elimination of the budding shoots of democracy in Russia. Putin is a dictator, plain and simple. If Chechnyan terror stopped tomorrow, he would remain a dictator.

To those who tend to romanticize Putin, please look at the facts of what his government is, little more than a replacement of the Communist Party with the KGB:

Wall Street Journal, page 1, Wednesday, February 23, 2005:

"Mr. Putin him self served more than 15 years in the KGB and later headed its successor, the FSB [actually, the KGB split onto 2 organizations, the FSB (international, like the CIA) and the SVR (national, like the FBI).] Since taking over the Kremlin in 2000, he has presided over an unprecedented influx of ex-KGB men into the upper echelons of power---men whose formative years were spent learning how to undermine the West's interests.

Prominent among the ex-KGB officials who now pace the Kremlin's corridors are Defense minister Sergei Ivanov, Interior Minister Rahid Nurgaliev, and FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev, as well as the heads of Russia's arms-export, defense-procurement, and drug-enforcement agencies. A close Putin aide and former KGB man, Victor Ivano, serves on the board of flagship airline OAO Aeroflot. A favorite parlor game in Russia is to divine which other senior officials and businessmen have suspicious gaps in their resume that suggest a past with the intelligence services."

Furthermore, he is extremely dangerous to the US via his relationship with Iran. He has sponsored Iranian missile development for years, now up to 1300 miles range,

from Iran's Nuclear Option, Casemate, 2005, Al J. Venter, p. 306:

"Moscow continues to deny vehemently all direct U.S. accusations of government-sponsored nuclear and missile transfers to Iran that would be in violation of its international nonproliferation obligations. These assurances by Russia have, however, been repeatedly questioned.

"Further arguments appeared when reports surfaced in early 1998 that the Russian FSB was in fact coordinating clandestine missile technology transfers to the Iranians---allegations denied by Russian officials...Moscow has always declared that no infringements of the MCTR have been committed, but did admit the existence of 'individual contacts' between Iranian and Russian entities."

(I can give a footnote on above quote, on request.)

Russia has plans in place (according to one CIA report) to go right up to ICBMs (they can go anywhere on earth) within the near future.

from Iran's Nuclear Option, Casemate, 2005, Al J. Venter, p. 207:

"A subsequent CIA report suggests that during the next five years Iran is more likely to develop intermediate-range ballistic missiles based on Russian technology before developing an ICBM, but that the same technology would be used. 'Iran could test such an IRBM before the end of that period,' it read. In the period 2006-2010, says the document, Western strategists believe that Iran will in all likelihood test an IRBM. 'All assess that Iran could flight-test an ICBM that could deliver nuclear-sized payloads to many parts of the United States in the latter half of the next decade, again, using Russian technology acquired over the years,' says Langley. Some also think Iran is likely to test an ICBM---possibly an SLV without RV impact downrange---before 2010."

(no footnote on above quote.)

Russia is a dangerous dictatorship, no matter how Left-wing or bloodthirsty its Chechnyan opponents may be.
15 posted on 03/06/2005 9:12:37 AM PST by strategofr (Egypt moves toward democracy)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson