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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Another Original LR Translation: Latynina on the Politkovskaya Arrests

La Russophobe's professional translator offers yet another invaluable window into the Russia press, this time from the pen of hero journalist Yulia Latynina writing about the arrests in the Politkovskaya case:

The Trotskiy-Berezovskiy Process

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

August 28, 2007

by Yulia Latynina

I once observed that the Russian General Prosecutor has a simple option available to him for solving the murder of Litvinenko. He can simply have Mr. Lugovoi confess that he killed Litvinenko on orders from Berezovskiy.

This method has one clear advantage: such a confession could never be refuted. It also has the shortcoming that our enemies in the West - who as everyone knows seek only to sling mud on the great and free nation of Russia - will doubtless never believe such an obvious and complete confession, for about the same reason that in the 1930’s neither the confessions of Bukharin nor Rykov persuaded those in the West who watched the Trotskiy-Bukharin trials. Instead of decisively proving the treachery of Stalin’s enemies, these trials for some reason were taken in the West as proof of the totalitarian nature of the regime.

It is hard to say whether it was planned from the very beginning to expose the murder of Litvinenko in the manner of 1937 (or, for example, arrange it so that the murderer killed himself, leaving behind a letter written before his death). But instead, one way or another, Mr. Lugovoi pranced out on the “Echo Moscow” radio program, crying out: Here I am, alive and well, friends! And with that he closed the subject himself.

FSB Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Anatolevich Ryaguzov, accused in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, never had such an opportunity. If the murder had taken place somewhere in London, and a surveillance camera had caught, for example, Pavel Anatolevich thirty seconds before the murder with a pistol in his hand, then, undoubtedly, the colonel could have come on “Echo Moskow” and explained that the above-mentioned frames were fabrications and provocations by the enemies of the Russian government. And in that way he might have saved himself.

I assume that the people arrested (at least some of them) are in some way actually connected with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. But something tells me that in the West they will not believe that the murder of Politkovskaya, or of Litvinenko, or for that matter the recent poisoning of Pavel Basanets, were committed on the orders of those abroad with the aim of destabilizing the situation in Russia - as was suggested by General Prosecutor Chaika.

But why did Chaika make his announcement just now? I personally see three possibilities.

First, and simplest, is that the stink had already started to leak out, and revelation of the fact that the killers had been arrested was unavoidable. (Your humble reporter, for instance, heard last week about their arrests from some Chechen acquaintances.) It turns out to be a very unpleasant story. Ten people were arrested, some of whom were members of an ethnic crime group that specialized in contract murders, while the others were intelligence officers who specialized in providing operational security and support for contract murders, tracking down victims, etc. If this fact is revealed inconclusively, the public can draw its own conclusions. And they will also be unpleasant. For example, the public may decide that intelligence officers, hoeing the difficult row of enabling murders, would hardly take orders from enemies of the regime, who might ruin their entire business, but would easily take orders from those who would ruin their business only if they refused. I personally consider this answer the most plausible.

It is simple: a professional, conscientious investigator caught the killers. And now they need to weaken the effect of the fact that the killer was caught with an announcement about those who ordered the killing.

The second possibility is that such an announcement will ruin the case. It will work out like it did with Kholodov. The case will die during a jury trial due to “pressure” or “lack of evidence”; even though the killers are present, and the person who ordered the murder has been identified, the case will still fall apart. I personally consider this possibility less likely, simply because it is easier just to imprison the killers, no matter who ordered the murder, and then either kill them in prison or release them with new identities.

The third possibility is that the General Prosecutor issued his announcement exactly at the beginning of the Big Fall Presidential Fight and coinciding with two very significant events. Specifically, with the blowing up of the Nevskiy Express and the arrest of the “Tambov” leader Vladimir Kumarin, which speaks of a mysterious undercover squabble. [TN: The Tambov region of Russia, about 400 km southeast of Moscow, is widely known to be the home of an especially vicious organized crime clan.] It is noteworthy that Chaika yesterday reported to Putin first about Kumarin, and only afterwards about Politkovskaya. (This, aside from everything else, means that the take-down of the “Tambovs” was sanctioned at the very highest levels, and that this enormous geological event will bring about a grandiose cleansing of the “tails” of the ruling elite, and it has no connection whatsoever with the minor Saint Petersburg asset-stripping and business interests of Matvienko’s son, as I pointed out in vain on the Saturday program “Access Code”.)

But a presidential campaign that begins with the arrest of Kumarin and the presentation of an FSB lieutenant colonel as the one who killed Politkovskaya “on orders from enemies in the West”, will end with nothing short of Armageddon.

The thing is, a public trial against the “enemies of the people”, even if they live in the West, will cut Putin off from his path to retirement. Because in the West they may suppose (not without basis, perhaps) that Putin did not know about the murder itself. But about the trial he could not help but know.

This is two different regimes - a regime in which political enemies of the president are killed, and a regime in which they are not killed. And it is another two other sorts of regime as well - a regime in which political enemies of the president are simply killed, and a regime in which in the course of a show-trial the killers eagerly throw out the black name of the one who ordered the murder: comrade Trots… pardon me, Berezovskiy or Nukhaev.

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