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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Editorial: Scum-Sucking Greaseball Alexei Pankin Strikes Again.

EDITORIAL

Scum-Sucking Greaseball Alexei Pankin Strikes Again


There are some "human beings" on this planet that La Russophobe despises more than scum-sucking Russophile greaseball Alexei Pankin, pseudo-journalist and columnist for the Moscow Times, but there are not many.

You never know how Pankin, an epically classic Russian loser, is going to be identified in his column. This week it's "editor of Strategii i Praktika Izdatelskogo Biznesa, a magazine for publishing business professionals," whatever the hell that means. Succinctly put, like most Russophile bagmen, he's nobody. If you Google him under images, the only result you get is the one at left, his Moscow Times image (is that a crack pipe he's smoking?) -- an image which, interestingly, doesn't even accompany his most recent column, where he's allowed just 630 words to express his "ideas." Happily, if you Google him under web, the sixth hit is La Russophobe's previous discussion of this loathsome little reptile, where we ripped him several new ones.

In his most recent opus , Pankin savagely attacks hero journalist Yevgenia Albats (a former Moscow Times columnist) in a fury of invective that instantly belies his personal hatred and jealousy of this great Russian patriot -- to say nothing of his classic Russian misogyny (he also hates Yevgenia's female editor). He's incensed that Irena Lesnevskaya, publisher of The New Times, would dare to hire Yevgenia as her political editor, and then refuse to fire her when a bunch of narrow-minded Russian men, little evolved from apes, couldn't get along with her.

Because Pankin doesn't care to, let's remind everyone just who Yevgenia Albats is. Here's what we said about her when we profiled her along with four other heroic Russian patriots (who happen to be women) that are now all targets of possible assassination by the Kremlin just like Anna Politkovskaya. As you're reading, ask yourself this: What has Alexei Pankin ever risked for his country? Who hates him enough to kill him? Indeed, who even knows his name?

We wrote this about Yevgenia back in November 2006:
Yevgenia Albats, host of a controversial radio talk show on the Ekho Moskvy station, one of the last bastions of independent journalism in Russia, is the heir apparent to Politkovskaya. As identified by the International Consortium of Journalists

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 Union. She was an Alfred Friendly fellow in 1990 and a fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University in 1993. Albats also free-lanced for several publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and the CNN bureau in Moscow. She has a graduate degree from Harvard and has testified before the U.S. Congress on human rights abuses during the war in Chechnya, which she covered.

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’ Russia, ‘The State Within a State" is a sobering reminder that whatever you believe about the influence of the secret police now, the world in which the Hydra-headed K.G.B. flourished is just three short years behind us.” Albats cagily said nothing to condemn Putin when he first rose to power, giving him all the rope he needed to hang himself. She told PBS’s Frontline just after he came to power: “Obviously, I don't think that's a good idea to judge Putin just by his KGB past. It's not right, because that's the way KGB used to judge us Soviet citizens--just because we are not party members or had the wrong last name or belonged to the wrong nationality or confessed to religion. I do believe that people are capable to change, and that ten years in the democratic circles did make a certain impact on Putin, as well.” But she also fretted: “The mentality of the KGB officer is that they were taught to be an extreme statist. . . . those who believe in the Russian imperialistic notion of being a great empire. That kind of mentality was taught and developed inside the KGB. And we clearly can see that Putin is that sort of extreme statist. For him, as for many of those who worked in the KGB, the state always comes first.” Thus, she now has a solid base from which to launch her assault on the Kremlin, which may see silencing her as its only alternative given that she cannot be discredited.

If you read Russian, you can also keep up with Albats on her blog.
The upshot: Yevgenia has published widely-read books in English and been written about by prestigious foreign papers. Pankin hasn't. She directly confronts the power structure, risking her life for her country. Pankin doesn't. She's on the cutting edge of real journalism in Russia today, the last redoubt of courage left in a country that is rapidly starting to rival Zimbabwe. Pankin, to put it mildly, isn't. And it's eating him up inside that anybody else, much less a woman, is achieving something while he's sitting on the sidelines gaping like a slack-jawed ape.

So what does this simpering little weasel have to say about one of the great journalists in Russia's history? Hold your nose and have a look:

If you believe what is written in the news and conversations among journalists, then it would seem that Raf Shakirov -- the well-known former editor of both Kommersant and Izvestia and the current editor of the New Times weekly magazine -- is about to suffer again at the hands of the Kremlin. The last time this happened was in September 2004, during the hostage crisis in Beslan. The day after government troops stormed the school, Shakirov filled much of Izvestia's pages with graphic photos showing heaps of dead children's bodies. The Kremlin demanded his resignation soon after. Whether his editorial decision was appropriate is debatable, but there is no justification for the Kremlin's interference in the affairs of a private newspaper.

In any case, the current growing conflict between the New Times and the Kremlin is not so much dramatic as it is bizarre. The intrigue began at the end of 2006, when television businesswoman Irena Lesnevskaya bought the New Times, which was popular during glasnost but later fell in standing. She named Shakirov as editor in chief, and a short time later, installed journalist Yevgenia Albats as political editor. The shock felt by the journalistic community at these appointments was so great that I still regret failing to play the role of bookmaker with my colleagues at work: Will Shakirov quit now or after a few months?

If one accepts the definition of a Russian "democrat" as someone who attributes all that is wrong in the world to government authorities and President Vladimir Putin, then it would be impossible to find any two more contrasting individuals to run a single publication. Shakirov's views are far from radical. His interpretations of the authorities' actions is based on a fundamental presumption of innocence. Albats, on the other hand, is the type of "democrat" who is inclined to blame Putin personally for the appearance of sun spots.

Shakirov is modest and speaks quietly. Albats' hot temperament is more like that of Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Wherever she is, her voice is the only voice you hear. Shakirov loves facts, but Albats loves only her own "correct" opinion. I will never forget how, on her Ekho Moskvy radio program, Albats demanded that a young journalist repent for an article she wrote on the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya -- simply because Albats did not like the article.

I know a few good journalists who reconsidered joining Shakirov at the New Times once Albats started working there. The web site Gazeta.ru published a woeful list of people who could not tolerate working with the political editor. They ultimately left the magazine and Shakirov endured all of this patiently .

And there is a twist that adds some spark to this affair: According to Kommersant, Gazeta.ru and independent sources, the Kremlin expressed its dissatisfaction with the magazine's owner about the degree to which it expresses its opposition views. Lesnevskaya has never been one to buckle under pressure from anybody. She responded by closing ranks around Albats, declaring that anyone who doesn't like it can go take a hike. That "anyone" might very well turn out to be Shakirov, notwithstanding his public comments to the contrary. If that happens, he will become the sacrificial lamb for both the authorities and the opposition.

What is most disheartening in this matter is that the Kremlin leadership does not consider it below its dignity to meddle in the affairs of a small-circulation publication. At the same time, Lesnevskaya showed foolish courage by investing money in a respected brand and then destroying it with her own hands, appointing editors who were, from the start, fundamentally incompatible.

In the end, common sense and professionalism suffer most in these types of cases, and in Russia, these are in short enough supply as it is.

Let's review this column in detail. If we read between the lines, we can actually learn a few things about how the Kremlin is persecuting journalists, and justifying that persecution in the eyes of the world. It's a sad commentary on how under-prepared we are to deal with the rising neo-Soviet menace that news of the latest Kremlin attack on Russia's vestigial free press comes from a source of Pankin's ilk. His comments are in bold:

She named Shakirov as editor in chief, and a short time later, installed journalist Yevgenia Albats as political editor. The shock felt by the journalistic community at these appointments was so great that I still regret failing to play the role of bookmaker with my colleagues at work: Will Shakirov quit now or after a few months?


Would it be too much to ask for Pankin to actually interview Shakirov and ask him what he thinks about Albats? Could it be that what prevents this is that Sharkirov has no idea who Pankin is and won't take his calls?

"I know a few good journalists who reconsidered joining Shakirov at the New Times once Albats started working there."


He knows them, but won't name them? Did they ask for anonymity? Why? Or is he simply lying, afraid that if he named them it would be obvious they were hacks (or did he simply make up this statement entirely)? Would it be too much to ask for Pankin to quote just one named professional journalist of standing making derogatory comments about Albats.

"According to Kommersant, Gazeta.ru and independent sources, the Kremlin expressed its dissatisfaction with the magazine's owner about the degree to which it expresses its opposition views."

Do you notice how deeply buried this statement is in the text, and how it appears only after Pankin has trashed Albats? Do you notice how mild his commentary on this outrageous fact is, merely finding it "disheartening . . . that the Kremlin leadership does not consider it below its dignity to meddle in the affairs of a small-circulation publication." Why is his language so strong in regard to Albats and so mild in regard to the Kremlin? How, dear reader, would this piece have been any different if it had been written by a KGB spy seeking to justify the Kremlin's actions by shifting the blame to the newspaper itself? He adds: "In any case, the current growing conflict between the New Times and the Kremlin is not so much dramatic as it is bizarre." In other words, don't worry, be happy. So much for Pankin's defense of his colleagues.

Whether his editorial decision was appropriate is debatable, but there is no justification for the Kremlin's interference in the affairs of a private newspaper.

Notice exactly the same thing happens here, when he discusses a prior attack on the paper by the Kremlin. Before mentioning what the Kremlin did, he first declares that the journalist himself might have been wrong.

If one accepts the definition of a Russian "democrat" as someone who attributes all that is wrong in the world to government authorities and President Vladimir Putin, then it would be impossible to find any two more contrasting individuals to run a single publication.

This sentence is totally devoid of meaning. The first part of it has nothing to do with the second, and neither one is explained or even vaguely comprehensible. This is what passes for "writing" and "journalism" in neo-Soviet Russia. When one considers that the MT probably interviewed other Russophile idiots to fill this spot in their roster and Pankin was the best of the lot, one's skin begins to crawl.

I will never forget how, on her Ekho Moskvy radio program, Albats demanded that a young journalist repent for an article she wrote on the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya -- simply because Albats did not like the article.

Gosh, Mr. Pankin, thanks for the fair, factual description of the contents of the article, and thanks for naming the journalist so we can check out your claims for ourselves. This man clearly learned his "journalism" under Brezhnev.

Shakirov's views are far from radical. His interpretations of the authorities' actions is based on a fundamental presumption of innocence. Albats, on the other hand, is the type of "democrat" who is inclined to blame Putin personally for the appearance of sun spots. Shakirov is modest and speaks quietly.


In other words, Shakirov is a "good boy" who knows how to behave himself according to the edicts of Alexei Pankin, whilst Albats dares to go her own way. And a woman, too! But still, Shakirov has been fired from a major paper, and all Pankin's brilliance has not been enough to save him, now has it? Maybe Albats is onto something after all . . .

Albats, on the other hand, is the type of "democrat" who is inclined to blame Putin personally for the appearance of sun spots.


OK, maybe Albats blames Putin for too many ills. We don't think so, but Pankin is entitled to his opinion. Does he ever ask, however, whether Shakirov, or he himself, or anyone at all, blames Putin insufficiently for things that are actually his fault? Of course not. Impressive, isn't it, how Pankin documents his claim with facts, showing specific examples of how Albats accused Putin of acts which he was later proved not to have taken? This style of "journalism" is exactly what occurred in Soviet times, when Pankin learned his "craft." What, pray tell Mr. Pankin, has Mr. Shakirov actually achieved by way of advancing his own brand of "democracy" in Russia? Can you name a single practical achievement? You certainly don't actually do so, that's for sure. What maniacs like Pankin always choose to overlook is that if the Russian people had been more like Albats when Stalin was consolidating his power, then millions of Russian lives might have been saved. That they were more like Pankin explains why Russia was obliterated by Stalin and continues to this day along its pathway to self-destruction.

* * *

It seems the Moscow Times has stopped publishing letters to the editor, and that's a pity. Moreover, unlike in past times, there are apparently no e-mail addresses for the editors available on its "contacts" page. However, you can still visit the page and fill out a letter-to-the-editors form. La Russophobe asks that you do so, and call for the MT to fire this stinking little pustule of a "man" and replace him with a Russophile who at least has some remote semblance of intelligence and character about him. Frankly, this maggot is giving Russia a bad name. We've never called for someone to be fired before, and we don't do it lightly. But if the Moscow Times fired Pavel Felgenhaur, one of its greatest columnists, then Pankin is simply a no-brainer. It's simply amazing that the MT could allow one of its columnists to launch a personal attack on Albats, a former columnist of the MT itself, and a gross error in judgment on the part of a paper we here at La Russophobe have boundless affection for.

That error should now be redressed.

1 comment:

Dr. Michel Bouchard said...

I have to agree with you on this one. The picture with the pipe is truly pompous. Reminds me of something one of my professors told me many years ago (who smoke a pipe): "a pipe gives a wise man time to think and reflect before speaking and a fool something to suck on..."