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Monday, August 04, 2008

EDITORIAL: The Trouble with Vladimir


The Trouble with Vladimir

Russia has the fifth-highest murder rate of any country on the planet. But that is only a statistic. To begin to understand the true nature of this problem, take a look at the four gentlemen show above.

Writing on Robert Amsterdam's blog recently, hero journalist Grigori Pasko tells us that this in early January this year that very quartet of Russians took a 25-year-old man named Alexei Denisov (that's him pictured below) to the "eternal flame" monument in the village of Kolchugino, located in Vladmir region, less than 100 miles northeast of Moscow, beat him senseless and set him on fire using the eternal flame.

Alexander Andreyev, Mikhail Danilov, and Nikolai Kuragin were all graduates of Russian vocational school with certifications as painters, and two of them were gainfully employed at the time of the incident. The fourth member of the quartet was anonymous in the court papers because he was a junior high school student, studying in the eighth grade. His name was Alexei Goryachev and he was 15 years old. The drunken group came upon Denisov on the evening of January 1st while he was walking home, beat him unconscious and threw him into the eternal flame, where he burned alive. Some accounts have it that Denisov chastised the wolf pack for desecrating the monument by smoking and drinking on it.

As Pasko writes: "Supposedly, even though the event was horrible, it wasn’t typical for the country as a whole. But I think otherwise – I think it is typical. And that there are more than enough events like this throughout the entire country. They simply don’t all fall into the mass media’s field of vision."

The trial of the group was to have been carried out on Victory Day but was delayed to avoid spoiling the holiday. Russians convened in Kolchugino to celebrate the holiday with a ceremony at the site of the "eternal flame" monument (shown above) just as if nothing had happened. The sentencing took place about a month ago.

That very spot, by the way, was the same one Alexei's parent's had visited on their wedding day, as per the Russian tradition (and as shown in the above snapshot from the family's photo album). When Alexei's mother appeared in the court, the victims openly laughed at her, according to Pasko.

Pasko writes: "There are thousands just like them all over Russia. They live in their cities, towns, and villages, in general quite poorly. There is often no electricity in their homes. They travel on horrible roads. And they vote in elections the way they’re told to. They couldn’t care less who is in power in the country. The powers couldn’t care less how they live or whether they’re even alive." The valiant Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Anna Politkovskaya's employer, published an account of the killing in English a few weeks after it occurred (and included most of the photographs shown here). Its reporter echoes Pasko: " Yes, they often get detained by the police. Their animal instincts often dominate over their feelings. I mean if they are hungry they can just take a bun from the shelf in a bakery and they will not think about consequences. Then again, they are easily influenced. If you are elder – I mean if they take you for an adult – and if you just offer them an apple or a chocolate bar, they will do anything you ask for. A thief might ask them to take the things out of someone’s flat and they would do it. They cannot think."

All this hardly fits the narrative being spun by the other Vladimir, the dictator Mr. Putin. But it certainly does fit his modus operandi. Putin doesn't want his fellow citizens to be able to think, because if they could they might challenge his idea that Russia should be a neo-Soviet state. He wants them to be ignorant, too, with no means of acquiring real information about the world, both because sources of information have been liquidated and because they are too impoverished to afford those that remain. He doesn't want them to be healthy, because sick people are much easier to control. And above all, he wants them to be afraid, just as they were in Soviet times, when they were like a bunch of cattle and just that easily controlled by the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin is killing Russia in exactly the same manner that Josef Stalin killed the Soviet Union. The country may stagger on a while after the fatal blow is struck, but it will stumble and fall just the same. That is, unless the Russian people rise to stop this horrible progression of history in its tracks.

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