Skip to comments.Putin Expels Foreign Reporter from Siberia
Posted on 12/13/2012 9:08:34 AM PST by No One Special
On November 20, 2012, Moscow Times reporter Howard Amos arrived in the Siberian city of Chita for a planned one-month sojourn along the Chinese border to Russia's far-east outpost of Vladivostok. He was to report on the life and times of the region, where Chinese influence grows by the day.
Less than ten days later, Amos was on his way back to Moscow, hopes dashed and dreams destroyed in classic Russian fashion. His adventure offers penetrating insights into the true nature of Vladimir Putin's neo-Soviet state.
Amos described his first morning waking up in Siberia this way:
After a bad night on a lumpy bed ... I couldn't stomach the watery breakfast of pale, congealed eggs - a so-called "omelet." The cold pancakes with fluorescent yellow jam, though, were edible.
His last morning, nine days later, started out like this:
At 6:50 a.m. there was a loud banging on my door. I was instantly awake. But it was one of the hotel cleaners. She said that I needed to show my passport at reception before I checked out.
After the passport was checked, Amos was called before the authorities and told that he didn't have the right stamps to authorize a reporter to conduct journalism activities. He was informed that for this crime he could be expelled from the country for three years.
The local authorities had been tracking the reporter, reading his blog entries on the Moscow Times website, and had determined they didn't care for his depictions of their region. They told him he had to stop publishing and could continue his journey only as a tourist, not telling anyone he was a reporter and not collecting the news. Upon learning that its reporter wouldn't be allowed to report, the Times cancelled the trip and ordered him back to Moscow.
Two days before getting the kibosh, Amos had made his closest visit to the Chinese border and had been arrested by the KGB (now the FSB) for his trouble. He entered the town of Zabaikalsk without realizing that foreigners are not permitted there except in transit, unless they have special permission from the government. Amos wrote:
The car I was in was tailed as we drove around the town in the morning. And as I was sitting down to my first real Chinese meal of the trip so far, two border guards appeared and asked for my documents. They escorted me out of the restaurant and into their green van, parked alongside two other vehicles. They explained that I was in the area illegally, and fined me 300 rubles ($10). Then I was interviewed by a black-coated FSB officer who had scars around his mouth. He looked at the photographs on my camera and asked me a range of questions: from where I had learned Russian, to which university I had attended, and the details of my employment history. They let me go after about 40 minutes.
A glance at Amos's reporting from the region around Zabaikalsk makes it readily apparent why the KGB was unhappy:
The swimming facility in the military town of Yasnaya was closed in the 1990s, but after the army pulled out last year, the doors to the sports complex were smashed in, the colorful notice boards were torn down and the empty pool began to fill up with garbage. An unused residential building nearby is being dismantled from the top down by locals who sell its bricks for no more than 60 kopeks (2 cents) each. The signs of decay in Yasnaya are the beginning of a familiar process in the Zabaikalsky region. As troops are moved away from the Chinese border, the civilian residents of towns once entirely oriented toward the military are left to survive amid abandoned apartment blocks. Fearful for their homes and bewildered by change, a few elderly inhabitants of Yasnaya are attempting to halt what they see unfolding before their eyes. "We are like [expletive] in the eyes of the administration," said Mikhail Shagirev, 63, who moved to Siberia 34 years ago to work on the Baikal-Amur Mainline railroad.
Life in Siberia is bleak, and getting both bleaker and more Chinese. Russia's population is rapidly dwindling, especially in Siberia, while China's is furiously expanding. Chinese expansion into Russia's Far East is inevitable, and made all the easier by Russia's neglect of its Siberian population as it tries to revive the Cold War and to establish a new oligarchy in the West. Siberia's dire straits are an extremely sore spot with the Putin Kremlin, and the last thing it wants is further light shed on the topic.
If the Kremlin is willing to be this brazen with a foreign reporter employed by an English-language publication, you can imagine the lengths it might go to if it were dealing with a Russian. Until recently, there was hope: although Putin was liquidating both television and print reporting with gusto, a free Internet might counterbalance his dictatorship. But Putin's recent moves have clearly shown that he is ready, willing, and able to muzzle the runet as well.
Russians have shown that, just as in Soviet times, they won't stop their leaders from crushing the press and freedom of speech. They continue to support Putin, and recently allowed him to return to office essentially as president for life. So the only remaining hope for Russia is the United States and its allies. The U.S. Congress has taken a helpful step by overwhelmingly passing the Magnitsky Act, which bans known Russian human rights criminals from contact with America and its resources. Russians are breathing fire over this move, and that's a good sign.
But ultimately, there must be presidential leadership if there is any hope of turning the tide against anti-American dictatorship in Russia, and there's little hope of getting any from Barack Obama.
Though he has said he will sign Magnitsky, he opposed its passage.
He has pursued a policy towards Putin that can only be called appeasement since his first moments in office. If he doesn't confront Putin the way Reagan confronted Gorbachev, Putin will take Russia back into the world of totalitarianism, and America will find itself enmeshed once again in a Cold War.
Looks like China will sooner or later annex Siberia. That’ll be fun to watch.
The Russians are what they are. Regimes change, but the society does not. You could have written this article in Tsarist times as early as 1500.
In Putin’s Russia, Siberia expels you?
Thought that also.
Russia is acting like Russia, not the Soviet Union.
He would not have been able to leave Sibera in the bad old days.
That the US and UN do not have higher moral ground than Russia on opposition to human rights abuses.
That the Russian/European leftist media is not anti Putin biased, just as the the leftist American MSM is not anti Romney (as example) and anti right biased.
That Howard Amos is not whining and "reporting" about Siberian conditions and government abandonment, and doesn't sound like Communist political agitation more than concern.
Finally the assumption that Putin will allow a subversive to freely roam around, that only happens in America, where the lying media have Marxist government protection.
Defaulting to the use of "KGB" is propaganda talk, as is "Cold War", Putin has no interest in a cold war, only in Russian ascension to powerful status.
Population: 1,107,107 (2010 Census); 1,155,346 (2002 Census); 1,377,975 (1989 Census)
Pretty severe drop.
Of course Russia is an authoritarian state - it always has been and likely always will be. What exactly is the US government supposed to do about it?
Putin expelled a reporter from Siberia? Man, THAT’S cold!
I agree, given all the evidence we have to observe now.
However, I would like to reiterate one point:
Russia is the first society to degenerate into total Marxist Communism and then sink even further into the most vile Bolshevism. After a self imposed genocide of more than 50 million Russians and Slavs, Russia began the long road back from Communism (credit: Ronald Reagan and the American producer).
No one has traveled this road before Russia, so we really don't know for sure how well she will do. I hope better than we think.
Russia now, and the United States (as Constitutionally founded) should not be enemies, nor friends, they should be strident rule of law competitors with some common interests.
The American Marxist DemoRat left, the European Socialist left, the Russian kicked to curb left, American MSM, European Media, and non-nationalist Russian media, ALL have a similar goal: a one world Socialist redistribution government where only approved oligarchs (like Soros and Buffet) can avoid taxes.
Obama agrees and the media genuflect like he's the Messiah, Putin disagrees and they hate him, even more when he reminds 'em that they can bleed too.
Russia is going in the right direction because of their extreme shortage of Useful Idiots, and Putin will ship 'em out one at a time if it pleases him.
Likewise, the United States has a fatal over abundance of the classic Useful Idiot.
That’s 20% drop over 21 years, much slower than Detroit which declined 25% between 2001-2010.
Mikhail Shagirev, 63, who moved to Siberia 34 years ago to work on the Baikal-Amur Mainline railroad.
BAMlog, how many died to build it?
Welcome to Siberia, here you will build railroad,
first you must put up barbwire, then you put up tent.
As somebody who has traveled to the Russian far east I want to clear up one misconception this article put forward. Compared to 8-10 years ago there are less Chinese around now. The high economic growth of China the last decade does not give a high incentive for Chinese to come work in very cold and remote Siberia. There are many more former USSR central Asians there now doing many of the jobs the Chinese used to do.