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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kremlin Tries to Blame Politkovskaya Killing on Russia's "Foreign Enemies"

An interview from the BBC contains the following:

It might be interesting to hear the thoughts of the Lithuanian Government on this. In the spring they announced plans to sell the only crude oil refinery in the Baltic (Mazeikiu Nafta) to a Polish company, against the wishes of the Russian government who wanted a Russian firm to take it over. At the end of the summer oil supplies were halted because of damage to the oil pipeline. The Lithuanian government described this as a "political accident". In the last few days a huge fire caused about 45m euros' (£30m) worth of damage to the plant. The Lithuanian Prime Minister says the fire was probably caused by a "technical fault" rather than "external factors". But in Brussels eyebrows have been raised. In such a climate, will European leaders dare raise freedom of the press and human rights? They always say they do. The Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, smiles genially when I put this to him. "Do they?" he grins. He argues that Europe is conditioned to be scared by Russia. Not long ago the fear was of a strong Soviet Russia threatening invasion. It never happened. Then it was a weak Russia flooding Europe with starving refugees. It never happened. To him, energy is the latest trendy worry and it too will come to naught. I ask him about the murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and the perception of many in the West that the Russian government was behind her killing. He says: "Of course the killing produced a negative image in the world but that's no reason to believe anyone in the government was behind it: it's like shooting yourself in the foot. Two weeks before that killing took place there was a piece on the internet about preparing for a coup d'etat in Russia and step one was killing that journalist. One should look in another direction than the Kremlin beyond Russia's borders there are people who want to force a change in Russia and some of them are living in your country."

"Some of them are living in your country," huh? Apparently, he's referring to Boris Berezovsky. OK. That's one theory. But isn't it just as credible that the Kremlin would kill Politkovskaya and blame it on Berezovsky, who it has been unable to reach by legal means so far? Maybe if the British government believed Berezovsky killed Politkovskaya, they'd be willing to extradite him?

How neo-Soviet can you get?


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