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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When is an Assassination not an Assassination?

The Times of London reports on yet more hocus pokus behind the shadowy walls of the Russian Kremlin:

When news broke of a plot to assassinate the governor of St Petersburg, it seemed like another triumph of detective work for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

Yesterday, however, questions were being asked about the attempt on Valentina Matviyenko’s life, amid speculation that it was a stunt linked to a deal that could see her succeed – briefly – Vladimir Putin as Russia’s President.

The FSB announced on Saturday that it had arrested two men for planning to kill the governor. State television showed footage of FSB agents searching the men, who were face down on the ground, and finding hand grenades and plastic explosive.

The security service gave no details of the suspects other than to say that they lived in the Leningrad region. A police source told Interfax news that they were religious extremists, but did not specify which religion.

Mrs Matviyenko (pictured, right) said that she had been told of the assassination attempt but could give no details while the investigation was continuing. She praised the work of Russia’s law enforcement agencies, and appeared unfazed by the threat as she prepared for a 20 km skating race.

Mrs Matviyenko, 58, also told journalists that such attacks could be part of attempts to destabilise Russia ahead of parliamentary elections in December and the presidential ballot next March. She said: “You cannot rule out the fact that terrorist acts against politicians and employees of the State are aimed at undermining the situation and attracting attention.” Supporters of Mr Putin have repeatedly given warnings that Russia is under threat from extremists financed from abroad.

Critics have questioned, however, whether this is little more than scare-mongering to provide grounds for a Kremlin crackdown on opposition groups, and several newspapers ran sceptical editorials asking why anyone should want to kill Mrs Matviyenko {LR: Maybe it was the hairstyle that caused somebody to go postal?}.

A front page report in Noviye Izvestia carried a headline asking whether it signalled the start of “Operation Valentina the Great” to place Mrs Matviyenko in the Kremlin.

This was a reference to earlier reports that the Kremlin was plotting a public relations effort to promote Mrs Matviyenko’s candidacy as part of a deal with Mr Putin to be a one-term president before his return in 2012. She has denied any intention to stand.

Mrs Matviyenko, Russia’s most prominent female politician, is a close ally of Mr Putin and known as the First Lady of Russia’s northern capital.

She was elected governor in 2003 and helped Mr Putin, who is a native of St Petersburg, to strengthen his grip on the city, which is traditionally more liberal than Moscow. He appointed her for a second term in December.


nikolay i. said...

The picture is not Mrs Matviyenko. Please check this online.

Veronica Khokhlova said...

The picture - taken by Alexander Belenky/The St. Petersburg Times - is of Anna Markova, who ran against Matviyenko back in 2003.

La Russophobe said...

Thanks for the correction! Especially since it turns out the real lady is even more horrifying!

Russin patriot said...

Wrong illustration to the article!
Not the first time. Though it is the right illustration to the what La Russophobe is about: the blog (at least in the blogger part) is trying to speak and judge about the things of which they do not have enough expertise.

La Russophobe said...


That's pretty funny, coming from somebody who spelled HIS OWN NAME WRONG! HA!

Actually, big newspapers with huge staffs of professional editors make mistakes every day. The New York Times posts corrections in every issue (unlike Russian papers, which never admit their errors and don't publish letters to the editor).

Your attempt to make something significant out of a mistake shows your pathetic desparation (and you don't even go so far as to cite another post where such a mistake was made).

We make mistakes all the time. The difference between you and us is that we admit it and correct them, and we take risks, do work, publish, and achieve, while you cower in the shadows like the pathetic little loser that you are.

Hundreds of people read this blog every day, and it's been linked to by more other bloggers than any other comparable blog in the world.

How many people read YOUR blog, silly little boy?