Skip to comments.3 Men Acquitted in Murder of Russian Journalist [Anna Politkovskaya]
Posted on 02/19/2009 2:48:30 PM PST by ETL
MOSCOW: A Moscow jury ruled unanimously on Thursday to acquit three men in the 2006 murder of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, frustrating state prosecutors' hopes of putting to rest a case that cast a shadow over Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Politkovskaya was a strident critic of the Kremlin, and her killing in 2006 underlined the shrinking freedom allowed dissenters in Russian society. Investigators and colleagues concluded that someone had ordered her death to silence her, and some suspected the hand of state officials in the crime.
But the three men who were tried on murder charges in a cramped courtroom this winter were peripheral figures: two shaggy-haired young Chechen brothers accused of acting as a lookout and a driver for the suspected triggerman, who has never been arrested, and a former police investigator accused of organizing logistics for the killing.
By skirting the single most important question -who ordered the killing of Politkovskaya- the proceedings made the case more corrosive.
(Excerpt) Read more at iht.com ...
Thought you might be interested in this news.
Hard to believe. /s ;-)
Coming to a neighborhood near you!
Yushchenko: Russia blocking poisoning probe
By Bonnie Malkin and agencies, September 12, 2007
Mr Yushchenko before and after the poisoning
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has said officials in Russia were hindering an investigation to determine who was behind his poisoning during the 2004 presidential election campaign.
The president told The Times Russian laboratories were refusing to provide samples of the dioxin poison, even though he had discussed the matter with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin. He also said Russia was refusing to extradite three suspects.
"Three laboratories in the world were producing dioxin of this formula. It is very easy to determine the origin of the substance; there is nothing magical about it," he told the Times.
"Two laboratories provided samples but not the Russian side. This, of course, limits the possibilities of the investigation process."
Mr Yushchenko, a pro-European politician who wanted to bring his country out of Russia's shadow, fell seriously ill on September 6, 2004 as he was competing in presidential elections against a pro-Moscow candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, now prime minister.
After months of tests in an Austrian clinic, it was determined that he had ingested a massive amount of the poison dioxin.
Although he survived, his face was left bloated and pockmarked, and he has had to undergo regular treatment to rid his body of the toxin.
In an interview with Le Figaro he said he believed the dioxin used to disfigure him was made in a Russian lab.
Mr Yushchenko did not directly accuse the Russian government of being behind his poisoning, but he did say he had "practically put all the pieces together" and the attempt against him "was not a private action".
"The investigators know when, what meal, where, who. There is information on three key people who are in Russia," he said, adding that he had spoken about the matter to Russian President Vladimir Putin last December.
"Since then, unfortunately, there has been no response. I am convinced that after these people are questioned the facts will be proved."
Mr Yushchenko told Le Figaro that his pro-European instincts were unchanged, and that he still intended to have his country one day join NATO.
Hunt starts for Yushchenko's poisoner
By Julius Strauss, Dec 13, 2004
A criminal investigation into the poisoning of the Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko began yesterday after tests showed that his blood contained 1,000 times the normal level of dioxin.
The poisoning caused the severe chloracne which led to the disfigurement of his face.
The results of the investigation are likely to prove politically explosive amid feverish speculation that Mr Yushchenko was the victim of a Cold War-style poisoning by members of the country's intelligence services.
The inquiry, announced by the Ukrainian authorities last night, will be led by a prosecutor general who recently took on his post as part of a deal between the opposition and the authorities aimed at ending the country's political stand-off.
Several officials have recently defected from the government to Mr Yushchenko's camp, increasing the likelihood that the truth behind the apparent attempt to kill him will be made public.
Last night Mr Yushchenko, who returned to Kiev from a private clinic in Vienna with his wife, Kateryna, and baby, sought to draw a line under the case until after a new round of presidential elections on Dec 26.
"I don't want this factor to influence the election in some way, either as a plus or a minus" he said. "This question will require a great deal of time and serious investigation. Let us do it after the election. Today is not the moment."
He went on to praise the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who demonstrated for weeks in sub-zero temperatures until the authorities agreed to a new vote. "We haven't seen anything like that for the past 100 years. I think it would be appropriate to compare this to the fall of the Soviet Union or the fall of the Berlin Wall."
Viennese doctors said at the weekend that tests showed Mr Yuschenko had ingested a near-fatal dose of dioxin, probably in his food or drink.
Confirmation that he was poisoned is likely to improve his chances in the run-off. Doctors have given him the go-ahead to return to the campaign trail but said it may be years before his face returns to normal.
The disclosure that Mr Yushchenko had ingested dioxin, an extremely rare poison, has increased suspicion that the regime of the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, which had the most to gain from his demise, may have been involved.
Mr Yushchenko fell mysteriously ill in September after a late dinner at the country house of Volodymyr Satysuk, the first deputy chairman of the SBU, Ukraine's intelligence service and the successor to the KGB.
Other senior security officials were present including Ihor Smeshko, the head of the SBU. Mr Yushchenko began suffering agonising abdominal pains the day after the dinner. He partially recovered but his face has been left bloated, covered in lesions and turned bluish-grey.
A Ukrainian parliamentary investigation concluded that there was no evidence he had been poisoned and suggested that his liver became infected after the party ate sushi that had not been refrigerated properly. Government officials privately dismissed his claims that he had survived an assassination attempt, saying he had probably drunk too much brandy or contracted herpes.
However, suspicions that members of the intelligence services could have been involved grew yesterday after doctors disclosed that the poisoning was only confirmed because of a newly pioneered test and would otherwise have been untraceable. Dr Michael Zimpfer, director of the clinic in Vienna that treated Mr Yushchenko, said it was only after blood and tissue samples were sent to Amsterdam that doctors were able to confirm their suspicions.
"Until recently there has been no testing available. This may be one of the reasons that this kind of poisoning, if it was a criminal act, was chosen." Some opposition politicians have voiced suspicions that the Russian security services may have been involved in an attempt to incapacitate Mr Yushchenko, who has called for closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union and Nato.
The Kremlin campaigned hard for Mr Yanukovich ahead of the elections and President Vladimir Putin twice visited the former Soviet republic. At least one Russian analyst has disputed the diagnosis offered by the Viennese doctors.
Yuri Ostapenko, the head of the Russian health ministry's poison centre, said: "Dioxin is not a poison with immediate effect. Its toxicity builds up over years, dozens of years, and it is impossible to receive a dose one day that would poison you the next."
Religion of Peace.
Yes, it sounds like it.
Disappointed they didn’t answer, “go on a murderous rampage”?
Why would Chechen brothers murder the woman who was reporting on anti-Muslim activities of the Kremlin?
Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?
By Michelle Malkin
October 8, 2006
Chilling news from Russia
[Michelle links to a no longer accessible ABC News article]:
"Russians and Chechens alike mourned journalist and critic of President Vladimir Putin Anna Politkovskaya on Sunday, saying her murder was a political killing to stifle the free press.
The United States said it was shocked and profoundly saddened by the murder of the 48-year-old mother of two, who won numerous prizes for her dogged pursuit of rights abuses by Putins government.
But there was still no word from the Kremlin, whose campaign against separatist rebels in the violent southern province of Chechnya had often been the target of Politkovskayas investigative reporting.
On Sunday, Putin chaired Russias powerful Security Council to discuss various issues of internal and external policy, the presidents Web site www.kremlin.ru said, but made no mention of Politkovskayas murder.
She was shot dead on Saturday at her apartment block in central Moscow in a killing prosecutors linked to her work.
Washington and the European Union urged Russia to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation to bring to justice all those responsible for this heinous murder. Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika has taken charge of the probe.
In the days before her death, Politkovskaya had been working on a story about torture in Chechnya, which had been due to run on Monday, along with photographs, her newspaper Novaya Gazeta said. It said her death had disrupted the publication."
'PUTIN'S RUSSIA' by Anna Politkovskaya:
Coming soon, to a continent near you.
> Why would Chechen brothers murder the woman who was reporting on anti-Muslim activities of the Kremlin?
Not wearing a head covering? Looking like a lesbian? Showing her ankles? All perfectly-good muslim murder motives elsewhere.
Likely another kgb-Putin trick to throw simpletons off track.
The murder of internationally renowned Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in early October 2006 was yet another troubling sign of Russias retreat into its totalitarian past. Today Frontpage Symposium has gathered a distinguished panel of experts to discuss why Anna Politkovskaya was killed and what the tragic loss of her life symbolizes about the direction in which Vladimir Putins Russia is heading. Our guests are:
Andrei Piontkovsky, a member of International PEN-club, currently a Hudson Institute Visiting Fellow and author of Another Look into Putins Soul (Hudson.2006).
Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the former acting chief of Communist Romanias espionage service. He is the highest ranking official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc. He is author of Red Horizons, republished in 27 countries. In 1989, Ceausescu and his wife were executed at the end of a trial where most of the accusations had come word-for-word out of Pacepa's book.
Yuri Yarim-Agaev, a former leading Russian dissident and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Upon arriving in the United States after his forced exile from the Soviet Union, he headed the New York-based Center for Democracy in the USSR.
FP: Andrei Piontkovsky, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Yuri Yarim-Agaev, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
Yuri Yarim-Agaev, lets begin with you.
Tell us a bit about Anna Politkovskaya, her murder and what you believe her death symbolizes.
Yarim-Agaev: Let Andrei, who new Anna much better, speak about her. I will say only this. Anna Politkovskaya was a journalist well known around the world as a strong critic of Putins policy, particularly the war in Chechnya. She was murdered on October 7 in Moscow. I believe that in todays Russia independent journalists are the most direct successors of dissidents of the Soviet era. So I am not surprised that they are the main target of the KGB, which is back in power. The current KGB, though, feels too weak even to put its opponents through mock political trials. So they kill them in a cowardly way or cover up for their murderers. Anna was shot in her elevator by professional killers who escaped.
As tragic as that murder was, no less disturbing is the absence of any significant reaction to it. The Russian Duma and the political opposition do not call for Putins resignation. His approval rating among the Russian people has not dropped. Many Russian journalists suggest insane conspiracy theories that only exonerate the authorities, and they continue to speculate whether Putin will stay for a third term or nominate his successor. Western political leaders do not question their alliance with Russia in any important political or economic areas. There are some expressions of concern, but too timid to challenge Putins authority.
Anna Politkovskays name is the last in a long list of independent journalists murdered for their criticism of official policy. These killings have become a trademark of the post-Soviet era and they seem to have become accepted as the norm inside Russia and in the outside world. It looks as if by world consensus Putin has been given a license to kill his critics, which he will continue to use until he silences all of them. People in Russia understand it well. After Annas murder some prominent journalists declared that they would abstain from writing on political subjects. Many voices of desperations have been heard. People believe that this macabre process will continue as long as Putin enjoys the unconditional support of leaders of the free world.
Pacepa: Yuri is right: assassinating political opponents has been a trademark of Russias leaders. Even Nikita Khrushchev, who made a show of unmasking Stalin's crimes, was revealed as a callous killer during the 1962 West German Supreme Court trial of Bogdan Stashinsky, a KGB illegal officer who had assassinated two of Khrushchevs political enemies living in the West. The Court declared Stashinsky only an "accomplice to murder," ruling that Khrushchevs guilt was far greater. It was not at all true, the Court stated, that after the XXth Party Congress the KGB had stopped political assassinations. It was not true that Khrushchev was not addicted to crime--he himself had ordered the killings committed by Stashinsky, and he had also signed the decree rewarding the perpetrator with the highest Soviet medal.
Soon after that trial Khrushchev introduced a new "methodology" for wet affairs" (the KGBs euphemism for bloody operations), requiring: (1) political assassinations be handled strictly orally; (2) any evidence pointing to the KGB should be dismissed out of hand as ridiculous; (3) after each political assassination the KGB was surreptitiously to spread "evidence" accusing the CIA or other convenient "enemies" of having done the deed. Indeed, since Khrushchev, Russias political police has never owned up to any political crime.
Anna Politkovskaya, a strong defender of Chechnyas independence, is the last name in a long list of Russians suspected of having been murdered by the KGBs successorthe FSBbecause they criticized their government. The night of November 20, 1998 was shattering for millions of Russians: Galina Starovoitova, the countrys leading female critic of the KGB, now re-baptized as the FSB, was also shot dead while entering her apartment building. Her most trusted aide, Ruslan Linkov, was shot as well, but he survived. While some 10,000 mourners gathered to pay their respects to Galina, Ruslan was visited by his worst nightmareVladimir Putin, the head of the FSB. Putin held Ruslans hand for more than an hour and kept reassuring him: Its all going to be okay. Its all going to be okay. It wasnt. During the following investigations, Putins FSB insinuated that Ruslan had killed Galina.
A year later, Putin, a 25-year KGB veteran, became prime minister. In a 14-page article entitled Russia on the Threshold of a New Millennium he defined the countrys new political future: The state must be where and as needed; freedom must be where and as required. In the same article he labelled the Chechens effort to regain their independence as terrorism and pledged to eradicate it: Well get them anywhereif we find them sitting in the outhouse, then we will piss on them there. The matter is settled.
Twelve Russian journalists who reported on Putins human-rights abuses in Chechnya or the corruption of his government have been killed in contract-style murders since he became President. Two of those murdered represented the American media: Iskandar Khatloni, killed in 2000, was employed by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Paul Klebnikov, killed in 2004, was editor of Forbes Magazine. No assassin has been brought to justice in any of these slayings.
Piontkovsky: I knew Anna for many years. She was a very brave woman facing death many times during her trips to Chechnya. But I personally was struck by another kind of her courage - not physical courage but the moral kind. She wrote incessantly about unspeakable atrocities committed in Chechnya - abductions, tortures, massacres. Instinctive reaction of the majority of our people was rejection of this terrible truth. Her countrymen, even the most close to her, didn't want to know this uncomfortable truth. She was a lonely hero, dedicated to the only mission - saving the memory of the victims and the honor of the country. To share this mission with Anna was unsustainable. Her husband divorced her and her country divorced her. And the absence of any significant reaction to her death, which Yuri notes, just emphasized this unpleasant state of our society.
So, when on her funeral day, Mr. Putin tried to humiliate her by remarking: "she had been uninfluential," he was right in some down-to-earth sense.
But if St. Peter has read Anna's book "Putin's Russia," I think Putin may find at the Pearly Gates that Anna was more influential that he would like to believe.
In Jerusalem there is a lane of righteous where people who saved Jews during the Second World War are buried in honor. There must be such a lane in Heavenly Jerusalem also.
Anna`s place now is there.
FP: Thank you Mr. Piontkovsky, for such touching words.
So is there going to be any kind of real investigation into this murder? Or is the investigation simply a joke because it will lead back to the very people ordering the investigation itself?
It is safe to presume there will be no justice, correct?
Yarim-Agaev: From the start, I placed the main responsibility for Politkovskayas murder on Putin. Although there were no objections from the other panelists, I need to elaborate my position, since some believe that we do not have enough evidence for that.
These people confuse a criminal sentence with a political verdict. The standards of proof for these things should be very different. A criminal case should be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; in a civil case, the standard is lower: clear and convincing evidence.
In both of these cases, however, we are depriving the person of his basic rights to freedom or property. It takes much less to prove that a person is not fit for the highest political office, (which is a privilege rather than a right), and the following evidence should be quite sufficient:
 The pattern of unsolved murders of Putins critics.
 No denunciation of those murders on Putins part, which should have said that these independent journalists were true Russian patriots, and that those who silenced them were enemies of Russian democracy.
 No independent investigation. On the contrary, Putin instantly declared that he would take the Polikovskaya case under his personal control. This is a major conflict of interest.
Responsibility for Politkovskayas and other murders, however, goes far beyond Putin and his henchmen. First, it rests with those many Russian who approve Putins policy, including the physical elimination of his critics. Responsibility also lies with those who, although disapproving of those actions, do not want to sacrifice their comfort or political interests to stop them. This very wide circle includes most of the Russian opposition and human rights elite, and Western politicians and intellectuals.
Let me give several examples of seemingly innocuous events that took place within a short time of the Politkovskaya murder. The Spanish king Juan Carlos enjoys bear hunting in Russia. Bush welcomes Nazarbayev to the White House. At Lincoln Center, New York intellectuals celebrate Alexander Nevsky, possibly Russias most chauvinistic and pro-Stalinist movie. Now imagine for a moment the same audience enjoying a Nazi propaganda movie a few days after some Jewish massacre and you will see how, in light of Politkovskayas murder, the above-mentioned events turn into an acceptance if not approval of what is going on in the former Soviet Union.
Over the same period I saw on the History Channel episodes showing American longshoremen boycotting the unloading of Soviet cargo and ordinary Americans breaking bottles of Stolichnaya vodka in response to the Soviet Unions shooting down a Korean airplane. Maybe that reaction was not very refined, but it was right. And it had quite an effect.
Hardly anyone is ready to share responsibility for these murders, particularly those who denounced them in whatever cautious and nominal form. They believe that their statements of concern fully exonerate them and they even feel self-righteous, forgetting how they helped Putin to gain and consolidate power. The moment they disassociate themselves from Putin, these people feel relieved of any responsibility for what happens in Russia. That is why their protests are so weak and ineffective.
That was not the case with dissidents of the Soviet era. Although totalitarian society denied us any right to influence its policy, and punished everyone who spoke out, we still felt responsible for what was going on in our country. That is why our actions and words had such an effect.
There are still a few people in Russia who feel responsible for what happens there, and Anna Politkovskaya was one of them. That is why her words were so effective. If more people in Russia and around the world would assume at least a tiny piece of that responsibility, they might save the lives of people like Anna.
Pacepa: The truth of the matter is that Putin has continued the nefarious Soviet legacy that the political police has the right of life and death over the population. At least 335 hostages were dead following the catastrophic police rescue operation at the Beslan school in North Ossetia in 2004, which in many ways was a repetition of the 2000 rescue in the Moscow theater, where the KGBs successor flooded the hall with fentanyl gas and caused the death of 129 hostages.
In fact, as time goes on, I am more and more struck by the remarkable similarity between Putins reliance on the political police and that of my former boss, Ceausescu, who also was educated at a military school in Moscow and managed his countrys political police--the Securitate--until the day he became president. The Securitate was the first institution Ceausescu visited after being enthroned as ruler. I was there. You are the elite of Romania, Ceausescu told us. You, not the sclerotic academics, will make our country an industrial power. You, not the drunken diplomats, will take our foreign policy to new heights. Soon after this inspiring pep talk, Romanias Communist Party and government were quietly subordinated to Ceausescus political police. Weeks after I was granted political asylum, in 1978, the Western news media reported that Ceausescu had demoted four politburo members, fired one third of his cabinet members and replaced 22 ambassadors. All were undercover Securitate officers whose military documents and pay vouchers I had regularly signed off on.
Just days after Putin became prime minister he went to the Lubyanka to celebrate a memorable day, the creation of the Soviet political police, which had killed tens of millions of people. Several years ago we fell prey to the illusion that we have no enemies, Putin told a meeting of top security officials. We have paid dearly for this. Russia has its own national interests, and we have to defend them. In 2005, some 6,000 former KGB officers were holding the most important positions in Russias central and regional governments.
In December 1989 Ceausescu ordered his political police to open fire on the revolting population, and on Christmas Day he was executed for genocide. In September 2004, the Chechens set a $20 million prize on the head of the war criminal Vladimir Putin, whose political police had killed thousands of Chechen nationalists. Politkovskayas killing should arouse the rest of the world to condemn the Kremlins habit of assassinating its political opponents.
Piontkovsky: I completely agree with my colleagues that Putins regime bears moral, political and legal responsibility for Anna Politkovskayas murder. She has been murdered by the same gang that three years ago poisoned another contributor to Novaya Gazeta, Duma Deputy Yury Shchekochikhin.
At that time those star-spangled FSB generals were still just petty thieves extorting protection money from furniture stores, without any particular ideological fig-leaf. They got away with the murder of Shchekochikhin and of many others. They became emboldened, acquired a taste for it, and the most enterprising of them, who by now were asset stripping oil and gas companies, broke through into the charmed circle of the world's richest people.
In order to maintain themselves on this vertiginous peak in a country one third of whose population lives below the poverty line, they need to fool the people, to point the finger at enemies of the nation - the West, Caucasians and other non-Russian peoples living in Russia, the few journalists still intrepid enough to criticize the Putin regime.
The last document over the signature of Anna Politkovskaya was an appeal to society and the state authorities to Stop the Persecution of Georgia. I am proud of the fact that my signature is alongside hers.
Anna Politkovskaya knew that she was doomed in Putin's Russia, and spoke about this on more than one occasion. Her revelations about the massive violations of human rights in Chechnya, which continue to this day, about the shameful behavior of the state authorities during the catastrophic hostage-takings of the audience of the Nord-Ost musical in Moscow and of schoolchildren and their teachers and parents in Beslan, was a red rag to the regime. There had already been more than one attempt to kill her.
It is symbolic, and was almost predictable, that she should be murdered in these dog days of the repulsive xenophobic bacchanalia that has seized Russia. This is a time when everybody, the human trash in the streets, the intellectual menials of the regime, have received from the demons ensconced in the Kremlin what Dostoyevsky called a dispensation to be dishonorable.
And Yarim-Agaev is absolutely right when he emphasize that à particularly disreputable role in abetting Russia`s descent has been played by the "Statesmen" who are said to lead democratic countries of the West. They have known the answer to the famous question, Who is Mr Putin? for a long time now. Anna Politkovskaya (among many others) warned them who they were dealing with. Her books have been translated both into English and French and have been widely reviewed .But some of them want to participate in exploiting the Shtokman gas condensate deposit in the Barents Sea. Others seek Russian votes in the UN Security Council. And so they carry on pretending that Putin is a respected member of the Club, their Club,and one of them. And the worst of all, it may be true -- as in the immortal final scene of George Orwell`s "Animal Farm".
FP: Gentlemen, as we go into our final round, feel free to rejoin to what has been said. Also kindly say a few words about what you think the U.S. must now do in terms of policy toward Putins Russia.
Yarim-Agaev: What do we need to know about Putin and his government? That in foreign policy, the U.S. remains for them enemy number one, and that they would support anyone who tries to undermine American power whether it be North Korea, Iran, you name it. That in domestic policy they consider their major enemies democracy, human rights, and the free market, and they will try to suppress them by all means, and to bring back under their control most parts of the former Soviet Union.
By saying this, I do not reveal any secrets. All of this is in Putins and his retinues records and resumes. Most of them are career KGB officers who were brought up with the above-mentioned principles and loyally serve them. Actually, Putins KGB record is his only identity. In fairness to him, I must say that Putin has never pretended to be someone else nor has he ever denied his allegiance to the KGB. He never repented, but rather took pride in his KGB service. Unlike many intellectuals and politicians, Putins clique never pretends that the FSB is different from the KGB. They celebrate anniversaries of the FSB dating from 1918, and pay public tribute to Dzerzhinski and Andropov.
Putin did not seize power by force or deception. He was elected by Russians and accepted by the world not in spite of his KGB identity, but because of it. Was he elected because intellectuals were more comfortable with the KGB than with dissidents, feeling morally and intellectually superior to the former, while inferior to the latter? Was he accepted because world politicians preferred seasoned cynical politicians to idealistic novices?
Whatever the reason--inferiority complex or real politics-- all of them knew what they opted for. Putin, who has been true to his identity and his mandate, may be annoyed by those who gave him that mandate and now criticize him for his actions. That was the package deal. So far, everything that happened under Putins rule, including Anna Politkovskaya murder, is part of that package. Everyone who signed on under that deal shares responsibility for those crimes, unless he does something real to change power in Russia.
Simply bashing Putin is a futile exercise. It reminds me of Japanese employees punching an effigy of their boss only to return to their working place to serve that boss loyally.
Pacepa: Putin is, indeed, a product of contemporary Russia. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russians had a unique opportunity to cast off their political police that has isolated their country from the real world and left them ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of modern society. Unfortunately, the Russians have not shown themselves ready to accomplish that task. Since the fall of Communism they have been faced with an indigenous form of capitalism run by KGB bureaucrats, speculators and ruthless mafiosi that has widened social and economic inequities.
Therefore, after a period of upheaval, the Russians have graduallyand perhaps thankfullyslipped back into their historical form of government, the traditional Russian samoderzhaviye, a form of autocracy traceable to the 14th centurys Ivan the Terrible, in which a feudal lord ruled the country with the help of his personal political police. Good or bad, the old political police may appear to most Russians as their only defense against the rapacity of the new capitalists at home and the greediness of grasping foreign neighbors.
Moreover, the Russians have also had minimal experience with real political parties, since their country has been a police state since the XVIth century. It is perhaps understandable that it may seem easier to them to continue that tradition than to take the risk of starting everything anew.
The West cannot democratize the inscrutable Russia, whose borders still extend from the North Pole to the 35th parallel. Only her people can. For that to happen, we should help.
I applaud FrontPage Magazine for engaging people like us, who have known Soviet Communism from both sides of the barricades, in discussions about the future of Russia, and about decision-making and risk-taking. Perhaps such symposiums could reach out to attract people from todays Russia as well.
Piontkovsky: I strongly agree with my colleagues that democracy and freedom cannot be imposed on any country from outside. If Iraqis want to continue to kill one another drilling one another skulls nobody can prevent them from this business.
If Russian intellectuals are ready to serve loyally to the authoritarian regime and dismiss Anna Politkovskayas murder as a death of "an insignificant journalist" it's their own choice and their own responsibility.
But the West at least could take honest and moral positions by publicly condemning Putin's strangulation of dissent in Russia. I am very sceptical of the current US administration ability to do it.
Americans managed to talk themselves into the double stupidity: that they badly "need" Mr. Putin for solving the Iran crisis and that they should lavishly reward him and his KGB entourage for their "efforts". One of these rewards is their closing eyes on the fate of democracy and independent thought in Russia. But their policy is not only cynical but also extremely naive.
The current UN SC debates demonstrate beyond any doubt that Moscow continue to play the role of "political cover" for nukes-seeking Iranian mullahs and their crazy president. "Useful bourgeois idiots" continue to placate Putin and they missed yet another opportunity to stand up to him what they were obliged to do at least out of self-respect.
FP: Andrei Piontkovsky, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Yuri Yarim-Agaev, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium. We dedicate this panel discussion to the memory of Anna Politkovskaya and to her noble and courageous battle for freedom and truth.