Day: November 26, 2006

Hain Attacks Kremlin

Reuters reports that Britain’s Northern Ireland Minister, Peter Hain, has attacked the Kremlin and President Putin in the aftermath of Alexander Litvinenko’s murder:

“The promise that President Putin brought to Russia when he came to power has been clouded by what has happened since, including some extremely murky murders,” he told BBC television.

“His success in binding a disintegrating nation together … must be balanced against the fact that there have been huge attacks on individual liberty and on democracy and it’s important that he retakes the democratic view,” he added.

Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells has hinted that the Litvinenko poisoning may have serious diplomatic consequences for relations between Britain and Russia, while Hain also characterized the present state of relations between the two countries as “very difficult”.

Andrei Nekrasov on Anti-democracy

In the international edition of the Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Alexander Litvinenko’s friend, the documentary film director Andrei Nekrasov, has published a Letter from Russia, written from Litvinenko’s bedside as he lay dying of nuclear poisoning.

Two excerpts:

The communist paradox of servility in the name of freedom has been replaced by materialistic freedom in the name of servility; a profoundly misunderstood freedom, that is.

A lot of it may be ascribed to the general condition of modern man, but it takes one attentive look to see behind the thin mesh of international brand names and well-groomed appearances of the “New Russian” women and men an amazingly outdated bigotry, boorishness, and xenophobia in the contemporary mainstream Russian culture.

“Foreigners from the South are coming here for the easy gains and with criminal intentions”. That is not a political slogan of a right-wing party, but a tagline of a prime time “information” programme, and you can bet with reasonable safety that none of those slick young people filling that fancy overpriced café would find such televised prejudice in any way questionable.

It’s cool, it’s fashionable to be nationalistic, to be anti-Asian, anti-Orange” (Ukrainian revolution), and it is, actually, even more fashionable to be anti-West.

The West is the past, we are the future.

Never mind that the brand names are Western, never mind that the statistics say that the Russian population is on course to a demographic crunch. We have rediscovered faith in ourselves, in our state and our president, and our faith is stronger than your logic.

Logic says that the rediscovery of faith coincided with or followed the surge in oil prices and the war crimes in Chechnya; logic also says that the monstrous corruption (clearly on the increase under Putin) and persisting gangster rule is wrecking the country as a whole, its prospects, its strategy, even that somewhat cryptic mission we Russians believe our country has in history.

But for the visible minority cultivated by the present regime such logic has no validity. Logic in general is not in vogue here at the moment, just as human rights are not recognized as a value by some humans who are very protective of their own rights.

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… the far right wants more than merely being tolerated, it wants Russia for itself.

Its only weapon is murder. Political murder.

Not murder to prevent an information leak or to get rid of an awkward witness. Murder to shock, to provoke, to frighten, to denigrate. Both in Russia and the West.

With murder’s help the West shall be shown its place – that of impotence in the face of new Russian power and old Russian values. The more universally respected the victim the better.

International recognition used to be a protection for Soviet dissenters; it has since become a liability for Russian defenders of human rights.

And while Putin’s very own balancing act – which some call “stability” – goes on, while humanist democracy has no following, support and the passion that nationalism seems to have, one thing is certain: innocent people, courageous and honest people will continue to be murdered.

People like Anna Politkovskaya. Because she was murdered in a tug of love between Putin and the far right. Fascists vying for power kill to claim – with the spectacular impunity of their crimes – Putin as their ally.

They kill to watch him go through the exercise of refusing to feel shame. They kill to test a comrade before taking the field in earnest.

All signs are that Putin has passed that test.

Litvinenko on Beslan

On September 8 2004, shortly after the Beslan hostage tragedy, Alexander Litvinenko gave a long interview to the Chechenpress news agency. I published part of it in this blog five days later, in an English translation, and I want to republish it now, as I think it gives some idea of why Litvinenko was so dangerous to Russia’s security services, and why he posed such a threat to them.

Representatives of the Russian FSB (KGB) are currently making assertions to the Western press and media that Litvinenko was “small fry” and “not worth killing”. On the contrary, he possessed much knowledge, even a small part of which would have been enough to cause severe damage to the international reputation of the Russian federal government.

In connection with the extremely intricate and incomprehensible situation with the personalities of the people who participated in the hostage-taking in Beslan, the correspondent of the “Chechenpress” agency turned to a specialist for an explanation. The questions are answered by former Lieutenant Colonel of the FSB, Aleksandr Litvinenko.

Question: Aleksandr, could you please explain to our readers how it could happen that the persons who seized the hostages had previously been in the hands of the FSB, and how all of them managed to be freed simultaneously and to organize and conduct such an action?

Answer: According to the internal orders which regulate the operational secret service activity of the organs of the FSB of the Russian Federation, for persons who have been arrested on suspicion of their participation in illegal armed units, organized criminal associations which repeatedly used dangerous forms of violence and terrorism, a file of operative work progress is opened (a so-called file of operational control or development, and if more than two people are suspected of criminal activity, a file is opened for the group). During the work on the mentioned case, measures are taken for the operational tracking of the criminal cases, and secret measures are taken with regard to the prisoners. I.e., they are being followed, and in this connection they are constantly under the control of the special services.

If the persons involved in these cases are sentenced, the cases are transferred to be dealt with by the subdivisions of the FSB in whose area the object is serving his sentence in the form of prison. The operational files are continued during his stay in the prison colony, and after he has finished the prison period and is released, they are sent to the FSB organs at his place of residence. When the object is released and reliable, and checked information has been acquired that he has completely stopped carrying out criminal activity, the operational file is reassessed into a file of operational observation, and continued for about five years, as a rule.

If the criminal case is abandoned because there is no criminal issue, or it cannot be proved, as well as on other rehabilitation grounds (though this is extremely rare), the operative subdivision, as a rule, continues for some time with the control or observation of the object while he is free, and it isn’t stopped until confirmation is obtained that he has completely ended his criminal activity.

Additionally, there are frequent cases when people who are arrested for insignificant crimes are controlled or dealt with like persons suspected of more serious crimes. The operational measures of the FSB with respect to the objects are stopped in the following cases: no confirmation that the person has been engaged in criminal activity; the person foregoes criminal activity; death; reaching the age of 70 for men and 65 for women, and also in connection with their recruiting into the secret service apparatus of the RF FSB (then agency files are opened on them).

If we examine the case of those who have been tracked down in the hostage-taking in Beslan town, and the fact that they proved to have been free after their arrest by FSB organs and that they committed the hostage-taking after that, then I am absolutely sure that they couldn’t have left their prisons under any circumstances, without having come into the view of the FSB. Especially if we consider the fact that they were categorized in their criminal cases as active participants in bandit formations, persons who were close to the leaders of the Resistance, terrorists. I don’t have any doubts that after their detention and arrest, in the places where they were kept under guard by the FSB organs, active operational measures were conducted with regard to them, and first of all, measures directed at turning them to secret collaboration with the FSB. And only after they had been recruited, after all the operational information known to them about people the FSB is interested in had been obtained, and an additional check as newly recruited FSB agents, they were released in order to fulfill assignments for the special services.

This is the only possible way to explain the fact that these people who had previously been sitting in prisons under active surveillance by the FSB, suddenly all together turned out to be free and then under one command planned and carried out this action. Moreover, none of them allegedly reported the planned hostage-taking to the FSB. It is possible that some of them might have kept the FSB “in the dark”, and when it became known, they were already in the school building. But it’s 100% sure that Chechens who are arrested for terrorism and participation in bandit formations don’t have other ways to freedom than to flee or to be recruited. And most likely, Khodov, who was wanted for terrorism, wasn’t arrested by the militia organs at his homeplace, because he was a secret agent of the FSB, and he wasn’t removed from the arrest warrant in order not to reveal him to his operational environment, just as they did back in the old days at the Moscow UFSB with their known agent, the terrorist Maksim Lozovsky, nicknamed “The Colonel”.

(translation by N.S., with my minor editing)