One month ago this past Tuesday, at
Given the Kremlin’s barbaric, neo-Soviet attitude towards the Politkovskaya assassination, the logical question to ask now is: Who’s next? Five targets are readily apparent: Lidia Yusupova, Marina Litvinovich, Svetlana Gannushkina, Yulia Latynina and Yevgenia Albats. Ironically, all are female. There’s no doubt but that the leading voices in favor of democracy in Russia today are women (Russian women are dramatically healthier of body than Russian men, whose abuse of cigarettes and alcohol is notorious and whose average lifespan is shockingly brief, and perhaps this leaves them better equipped in terms of fortitude as well). Outrageously Lidia, widely touted as a contender for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has only a stub entry in Wikipedia, and the same is true of Yulia (Wiki has requests for assistance with these entries posted) while Yevegenia, Svetlana, and Marina have no entry at all. Readers are asked to consider providing/supplementing these entries to Wikipedia as a first step towards creating the kind of international recognition that these three women deserve, recognition which would not only give them due respect for risking their lives in the cause of democracy but also help facilitate financing their heroic efforts and give them so protection against retaliation (LR does not do this kind of thing herself as she'd be accused of bias). Obviously, more could have been done to recognize and protect Politkovskaya while she was alive, and her killing should serve as a wakeup call for all concerned with the development of democracy.
1. Lidia Yusupova
The awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace prize to a pair of economists responsible for inventing the “microcredit” that facilitates the development of small businesses in the third world was nearly as great an affront to the worldwide battle for democracy as the prior award to terrorist Yasir Arafat. The prize should have gone to Yusupova, winner of the prestigious Rafto Human Rights award from Norway, who puts more on the line in any given day for the cause of democracy and peace than all the economists who ever lived combined. Here’s what Reuters reported about her in the run-up to this year’s Nobel announcement:
The cramped apartment on the outskirts of
Will it happen to Lidia too? To a large extent, that’s up to us to decide. Will we publicize her work? Make financial contributions to facilitate it? Or will we wake up tomorrow and read another horror story, just like Politkovskaya’s?
2. Marina Litvinovich
For her service to her country,
Monday night, Kasparov's right-hand person, the political consultant Marina Litvinovich, left the United Civil Front office just after 9. About an hour later, she opened her eyes to discover that she was lying on a cellar awning and someone was trying to ascertain if she was all right. She was not: She had apparently been knocked unconscious by a blow or several blows to the head. She had been badly beaten, was bruised all over, and was missing two of her front teeth. Nothing had been taken from her: not her notebook computer or cell phone or money. She spent three or four hours in the emergency room that night, and she spent another three or four at the police station the following day. She found the police to be extraordinarily polite and considerate -- and, as the organizer of many of Kasparov's public speaking events and any number of protests, Litvinovich is something of an expert on police behavior. Some higher-up had apparently been sent down to the station to handle her case. At the same time, she told me, "I am not stupid and I could see what they were getting at: that I was just walking down the street and passed out. That I must be in poor health." Litvinovich is 31 years old and healthy. "And that I fell in such an unfortunate manner that I got bruised all over." Litvinovich has a bruise on her leg that, the doctors told her, was probably caused by a blow with a rubber baton. The police suggested it may have been a car bumper. Litvinovich pointed out that her clothes were so clean that she was wearing the same trousers and coat the following day. She clearly was not hit by a
That wasn't the first time
3. Svetlana Gannushkina
As the Washington Post recently reported: “Svetlana Gannushkina, a refugee rights activist, tops a list of 89 people published by a radical nationalist group, the Russian Will, which has urged ‘patriots’ to take up arms and execute her and other friends of ‘alien’ peoples.” The Post reported further: “‘I am horrified at what happened with Anya,’ said Gannushkina, using Politkovskaya's nickname. ‘Of course, I understand that considering what happened, we are all under the same threat.’ Gannushkina said she first learned in August of the Web site calling for her to be killed as an ‘advocate of alien migrants.’” The Post revealed that “information on the targeted activists and journalists, including their phone numbers and addresses, has spread to numerous other nationalist sites and blogs and Gannushkina has received phone threats.
Gannushkina said she asked prosecutors to investigate the group's activities in August, but prosecutors have failed to launch a probe. A spokesman for the Moscow Prosecutor's Office declined comment.” Gannushkina’s response? The Post states: “Gannushkina said she would continue her advocacy work despite the intimidation, rejecting her colleagues' advice to hire a bodyguard, because she did not want to put anyone in danger. ‘If I intend to live here, I intend to live and not hide in a burrow,’ she said.”
Gannushkina is the director of an organization called the “Migration Rights Network” which is operated under the aegis of the major Russian human rights group Memorial. She is also a member of the Human Rights Council and the leader of her own organization, the Civil Assistance Committee. Here is an example of the types of issues she confronts on a daily basis:
In 2005, in 10 areas of the Russian Federation (Central Russia, the Volga Region, and Siberia) 39 people were held on charges in of so-called Islamic extremism, according to Vitaly Ponomarev, Director of the Central-Asian Program of the Human Rights Center Memorial, at an October 31 press conference, "Anti-Muslim Repressions in Central Russia" at the Independent Press Center. Scores of people are under investigation. No less than 40 percent of those under investigation undergo torture, noted Ponomarev. Recently in central
Gannushkina is, then, one of the people who are actually doing the things that Politkovskaya was reporting about, and hence a natural target of Kremlin ire, perhaps concealed behind the veil of neo-Nazis or other nationalist groups.
4. Yevgenia Albats
Yevgenia Albats, host of a controversial radio talk show on the Ekho Moskvy station, one of the last bastions of independent journalism in
She was the first Soviet journalist to investigate the Soviet political police, the KGB, when the communist regime was still in control. She is the author of KGB: The State within the State. In 1989, she received the Golden Pen Award, the highest journalism honor in the then-Soviet
Albats’ book, a vigorous attack on the secret police organization of which President Putin was the former spymaster, makes her an automatic target of Kremlin ire, and her brilliant Moscow Times columns only escalated the level of confrontation. But the Moscow Times is published in English and reaches a very narrow audience; Albats move to Russian-language radio brings her to the forefront of Kremlin opposition. Recently, she launched a staunch defense of Politkovskaya on her radio program, one which caused Russophile Moscow Times columnist Alexei Pankin to label her as espousing “democratic sympathies that verge on Bolshevik intransigence.”
Reviewing her book, the New York Times wrote: “That Ms. Albats could conduct her courageous research at all suggests at least a glimmer of change in the ancient Russian apparatus of secrecy. Still, for Americans rushing to feel good about the ‘new’
If you read Russian, you can also keep up with Albats on her blog.
5. Yulia Latynina
If Yevgenia Albats is not Politkovskaya’s successor, then the mantle surely falls to her firebrand colleague at Novaya Gazeta, Yulia Latynina (also a columnist for the Moscow Times and an Ekho Moskvy radio commentator like Albats). No description of this amazing woman can suffice, one must let her words speak for themselves. Here’s a transcript from one of her broadcasts:
Good day, this is Yulia Latynina and “Access code” is on the air. First, as always, some questions from the internet. I have a bunch of questions I’m going to try to answer here about Abkhazia, about Yuganskneftegaz, about the terrorist act in Taba, even about the Russian national soccer team’s loss. But first I would like to briefly mention one interesting item which went practically unnoticed by the Russian press but was very much of interest to Western newspapers. That is the report of the governing council of
As I already said, none of this aroused very much curiosity in
But we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about the fact that the war in
Listener Alexei (
Yu. Latynina – thanks for the question, I’m of course quite surprised that it turns out we’re ruled by Gaidar and Chubais here in
How much longer Latynina will be allowed to go on like that is anybody’s guess. It’s actually quite mild compared to some of her commentary, such as this from the pages of the 2004 Moscow Times:
In the next decade,
This is the courage of a Solzhenitsyn, willing to be packed off to a gulag in order to stand up for the future of her country. But it appears that only men, like oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, merit prison sentences from the Kremlin. Women like Politkovskaya get a bullet in the back in the night. Will we stand up for Yulia before it’s too late? We shall see.