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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another Russian Speaks on the Litvinenko Killing, Another Exclusive LR Translation

Here is another original La Russophobe translation of a Russian article which appeared in Yezhedevny Zhurnal under the byline Alexander Osovtsov (pictured). The author cuts to the heart of the matter regarding the Litvinenko, Gaidar and Politkovskaya attacks: No matter whether Putin gave the order or had nothing to do with it, it's credible that he gave the order. His reputation is a mess and that's a problem all by itself. Unfortunately, there are too few Russians capable of realizing this basic fact.

I’m often reminded of the way in which the now deceased Chechen rebel commander Shamil Basayev lost a foot. A Russian colonel arrived at Basayev’s besieged hideout in Grozny and told him that for $100,000 safe passage out of the city could be arranged. The colonel then promptly led the credulous Basayev into an ambush. Quite likely, the Russians felt this operation was a brilliant success, even though it didn’t manage to take out Basayev, since a great many of his followers were wiped out. It is likely, however, that they didn’t ask themselves what precondition was necessary for the success of their plan, namely the fundamental credibility reflected in the idea that a Russian officer would sell out his country for money. Basayev, well versed in the ways of Russians, was all to ready to believe this proposition. Would Russians have fallen for a similar ploy if a German officer had appeared at Stalingrad with such a proposition? It seems unlikely.

And I was reminded of this reality once gain in listening to the different points of view being advanced in regard to the recent attacks on Politkovskaya, Litvinenko and Gaidar. Four theories have been advanced as the identity of the perpetrators:

1. Russian special forces acting on Putin’s orders
2. Pro-Putin oligarchs acting in Putin’s interests
3. Enemies of Russia seeking to discredit the government
4. Anti-Putin oligarchs seeking to discredit pro-Putin oligarchs
Although these four variants appear substantively varied, they are united by a common theme: That murder is viewed as an acceptable means of advancing policy by those in charge of our country. Indeed, two of the variants proceed from the supposition that it’s possible to discredit those in authority with a murder, because the world will believe they might have done it.

And in fact, when news of these three attacks was released, nobody in his right mind said: “No! Vladimir Putin is not capable of ordering such murder!” Nobody could write or say that Putin (or the other authorities mentioned) would not go to this length under the right circumstances. The only question is whether those circumstances were present or not. Nobody would even think of raising issues like honor, personal or professional, as being a restriction.

When John Kennedy was assassinated, I don’t recall many people openly willing to blame his successor Lyndon Johnson or his adversaries in the Republican Party for the killing. And the same thing in similar cases in Sweden and elsewhere. But the situation is different in our country, even among our most ardent patriots, similar to what you might find in Lebanon or Sri Lanka. What sort of people rule over us, if the question of whether they killed or not simply turns upon whether it was advantageous for them to do so or not?

Indeed, Putin himself has said so. When Politkovskaya was killed, he attempted to defend himself by arguing that the killing was more harmful to Russia’s interests that she and her writings were. You didn’t hear a word from him along the lines of “I’d never do anything like that,” now did you? And I asked myself the same questions, trying to determine the identity of the killer: Whom would it benefit, and how much.

What has our country become, if this is the way we think about our leaders?

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