Thursday, May 3, 2007

Welcome to LR Translations

This blog is a collection of original translations from the Russian press which were originally published on the Russia blog La Russophobe. Its contents are always expanding and are currently as follows (to read an article, simply click its link; to scroll and browse, open the blog archive for February in the sidebar; to search the contents, use the search window at the top [to return whole posts] or bottom [to return headlines] of the page):


By Topic

Neo-Soviet Crackdown (human rights, civil rights)
Russian Mindset (culture, attitudes)
Historical-Philosophical Analysis
Economic Performance
By Russian Publication

Novaya Gazeta
Yezhedevny Zhurnal
By Russian Author
Danilin, Pavel
Gazmanov, Oleg
Gevorkan, Natalia
Golts, Alexander
Illarionov, Andrei
Kiselyov, Yevegeny
Korolkov, Igor
Latynina, Yulia
Milshtyn, Ilya
Nossik, Anton
Osobstov, Alexander
Podrabinek, Alexander
Polyanskaya, Anna
Radzikhovskiy, Leonid
Sidorov, Nicholai
Svanidze, Nikolai
By Translator

Original Translator

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The United Russia Shakedown

La Russophobe's original translator has uncovered evidence in the Russian blogosphere of an attempt by United Russia to extort political campaign contributions under threat of force. Here's a copy of a document posted by the Russian blogger:

(click the image to enlarge it)

Here's our translation of the letter and the blogger's short post about it:


------------ Text of Letter -----------------

Letterhead: All-Russian Political Party “United Russia” (Yedinaya Rossiya), Kemerov Regional Branch

Date Stamped: November 13, 2007

Addressed to: A.K. Loginov, Executive Director, OAO “Sibirskaya Ugol’naya Energeticheskaya Kompaniya” (Siberian Coal Energy Company)

I am taking your refusal to provide financial support to the regional branch of the “United Russia” party for the upcoming parliamentary elections as a refusal to support President V.V. Putin and his policy direction.

I consider it my obligation to relay this to the Presidential Administration and the Governor of the Kemerov Oblast.

Signed: G.T. Dudyaev

Secretary of the Regional Political Council

Kemerov Regional Branch

United Russia Party

------------ End of letter -----------------

Blogger’s comment:

I don’t know whether V.V. Putin would be pleased to have his name used as part of a racketeering/”ironing” enterprise. Perhaps he would not be pleased - judging from his comments about “impostors” (prokhodimtsi). This is, however, an unavoidable consequence of his cult of personality - this is the identity the impostors will use for their fraudulent ends. And it is for this purpose that a cult is established.

Dear President Putin! II

An Open Letter to President Putin

by Vladimir Sinelnikov*

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

February 7, 2008

Dear Mr. President,

I would imagine that most of the letters sent to you contain one or another request. But I have a different purpose: I would like to direct your attention to a recent event which reflects as in a drop of water a phenomenon that is without a doubt causing much concern in Russian society. I hope that what I set forth in the letter below will cause your assistants to bring it to your attention.

About two years ago, during the day, I was returning from a film shoot in my minivan, and as we crossed the square where not long ago there stood a monument to Dzerzhinskiy [TN: Feliks Dzerzhinskiy, the founder of the KGB; his statue stood in front of the headquarters of the KGB, now the FSB, on Lubyanka Square] my vehicle was hit broadside by a car speeding through a red light, impacting right in the spot were I was sitting in the passenger seat. I could not get out of my vehicle, because I was covered in cuts from broken glass and was in a state of shock. But my driver, who was not as badly injured, was able to get out and headed for a traffic island in the middle of the square. The driver responsible for the collision approached the traffic police posted there and told them: “Listen up: I’m an FSB officer on assignment to the Russian Presidential Administration. When you write up your report, start with that.” Then right there, at the scene of the accident, he got on his mobile phone and called two people, who arrived in 4-5 minutes and claimed they were “bystanders” to the accident. After giving their eyewitness accounts they identified themselves for the report as FSB officers (thereby explaining how they were able to get to the traffic island so quickly from their place of work).

Beginning the next day the leadership of the traffic police special cases unit became the target of unprecedented pressure from federal and Moscow city law enforcement agencies, which demanded that the FSB officer Subbotkin, who was driving the car that rammed into mine - and who loudly proclaimed at the scene of the accident that he worked for you, Mr. President - be exonerated from all responsibility for the accident. But that’s not all. Without any request whatsoever from the police, Subbotkin brought to the traffic police investigations office a videotape which, it turns out, the FSB makes 24 hours a day of the square where the accident took place. Unfortunately for him, he did not anticipate that analysis of the tape by independent experts would only further prove his responsibility for the accident. But a fact remains a fact, and the tape was entered into the case file.

Despite all the pressure that was placed on him, the traffic police investigator refused to declare that my own driver, and not Subbotkin, was responsible for the accident. The most the investigator would agree to do was write was that he could not determine who was at fault. And for that he was immediately sent into retirement. I appealed in a letter to the chief of the FSB Personal Security Directorate, General Kupryashkin, setting before him a single question: whether it was true what Subbotkin said at the scene of the accident, that he was an FSB officer. And also whether the two “bystanders” who supposedly saw the accident were FSB officers as well. (Again, they themselves gave their names and places of employment in the course of the investigation at the scene of the accident.) In a letter signed by one of Kupryashkin’s assistants, it was confirmed that they were all FSB employees. I am attaching this letter because one point is worthy of your attention: in this letter, the agency does not give an assessment of the conduct of any of its officers - neither Subbotkin, nor the false witnesses. Furthermore, while confirming their affiliation with the FSB, the respondent nonetheless did not give the officers’ last names, and confirmed their involvement in the affair only as anonymous figures. But instead he assured me that they (“they” who? the witnesses?) had “not threatened” me, although I never said a single word about this, and never even saw the witnesses.

After this I wrote a letter to the chief of your administration, Mr. Sobyanin, in which I asked him to confirm or disconfirm that Subbotkin is an FSB officer on assignment to the Presidential Administration. I received an official reply, delivered to me by state courier, signed receipt required, which said that Subbotkin is in fact an employee of your administration.

Then I turned to the courts, and here, Mr President, several additional circumstances came to light that are worthy of your attention. The judge demanded that I state Subbotkin’s place of residence - i.e., provide his certificate of domicile - even though in the accident report he wrote his address in his own hand, and it was accurate enough that a telegram sent there to determine the damage he inflicted on my car reached him. It turns out, Mr. President, that Mr. Subbotkin’s place of residence is not at the address given by him, but another: Bolshaya Lubyanka, Bldg 1/3. I know that you once worked at this address, as does Mr. Patrushev [the current head of the FSB], and that this is the location of the KGB’s prison, but I cannot imagine where in this vicinity Subbotkin might be residing. I can’t help but ask: for what purpose would we have a regulation, written or unwritten, that gives intelligence officers the right to register as their domicile their place of work? Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to change such a law, if it exists, or extend it to all organizations, including my television company?

I do not know why - I do not want to imagine why - but the court lost my case file on two separate occasions, and was not even able to tell me the date on which the court supposedly returned my documents to me. So twice I had to start all over again, pull together all the necessary documents, and again pay the court fees. And then, just after my story appeared on the website of the Russian organization “For Human Rights” (Za Prava Cheloveka), the judge who twice lost my case file suddenly disappeared, and the whole process had to begin again from a blank piece of paper. In this way, Mr. President, my story proceeded for two years. And then, just when the my case was finally going to court, who should appear but Mr Subbotkin (I should note that he never once appeared in court these two years, but suddenly he turned up, as soon the court found him responsible in absentia and ordered him to pay for damages to my vehicle). And here occurs the main turn of events that is worthy of your attention. Subbotkin filed a retaliatory suit, alleging that my driver was responsible for the accident.

But that’s not the main thing. Subbotkin also demanded that I be held responsible for tarnishing his image and honor as an FSB officer, referring to the fact that the above story, word for word, appeared on the website of the “For Human Rights” organization. He does not deny that he presented himself at the accident site as an FSB officer; does not deny that he personally delivered to the traffic police a videotape produced by the intelligence services; and he does not deny that he called his FSB colleagues to serve as false witnesses. But he accuses me of taking the liberty of drawing to public attention the fact that he is a member of the intelligence services. [TN: Emphasis in the original.]

Yes, I knowingly passed this information to the respected organization’s website. And I will say further: this story became the subject of an hour-long program on the radio station “Svoboda” (Freedom), in which I was joined by the recently-elected Russian Duma deputy and retired FSB General Kandaurov. On the program, Kandaurov gave his unambiguous assessment of Subbotkin’s conduct. At the end of the program I asked him to answer a question for me. “I thought,” I told him and the program’s listeners, “that this story would end approximately as follows: I would be invited to FSB headquarters, where they would admit their involvement in what happened, and tell me that Subbotkin would not be able to discuss the matter with me because he was fulfilling his duties in a garrison somewhere near Chita [TN: city in eastern Siberia]. Or will they instead just send the tax inspector to visit my television company?” I asked. Kandaurov smiled and answered, “After the website affair, and now this hour-long program on ‘Svoboda’, they will first apologize... And then they will send the tax inspector.”

Kandaurov was halfway wrong, but also turned out to be halfway right. No one has apologized, and Subbotkin is not in Chita, but continues to work in Moscow, in your administration, Mr. President. Moreover, regarding the tax inspector, I was apparently provident in my thinking. In his retaliatory suit Subbotkin demands of the court that I present a legal document specifying the date my driver began working for me as driver at the television company, what kind of personal relationship he has with me, in what capacity he had the right to drive, etc., etc.

In court Subbotkin begged for the mercy of the court, requesting he be allowed to pay the court fees in installments (the same court fees that I had to pay twice), because he was living in poverty. Nonetheless, he had two lawyers accompanying him to court. It would be interesting to know who paid the not insignificant sum for their fees - Subbotkin, or the agency that shares in his injury at having their honor and dignity tarnished?

Dear Mr. President, I will get to the point. The story of my automobile accident is an everyday occurrence in our lives; it is a matter for the courts, experts, etc. But what worries me, and not only me, is something different: this story has been dragging on for two years; official letters from the FSB and the Presidential Administration convince me that these authoritative organizations know very well who works for them and why I asked for their answers. Now, as Subbotkin is filing his retaliatory suit regarding the offending of his dignity as an FSB officer, it has become clear that there is no talk of his being sent to Chita. Subbotkin understood what his senior managers indicated to him by their two years of utter silence: you’ve done everything just right, Subbotkin. With regard to this I have some thoughts and questions: who is Subbotkin related to, or whose daughter did he marry? Not one of your daughters, of course - yours are too young. I don’t know if Patrushev has any daughters, but the circle of influential people is not so narrow and tight. But perhaps it is even worse than that? Perhaps all members of the intelligence services now allow themselves to think that the day has arrived when they can behave like this. The untouchability of the head of the government, guaranteed by the Constitution, the untouchability of his narrow circle, and now the bureaucratic riff-raff with their government-issued personal weapons – they are all a threat to society as a whole. Not yet 20 years have passed since we became convinced of this. And look where that led the previous regime as well.

My friends and colleagues urged me not to send this letter to you. Yes, yes, Mr. President, alas, everyone is thinking about this nowadays, fear is in the air. But I have behind me films about Chernobyl, Sakharov, and the interrelationships between the people and the authorities, and I have those ten days in the life of Yuri Lyubimov, which the Politburo of the USSR allowed him to spend in his Motherland to reproduce his performance of “Boris Godunov” at the Taganka Theater.

On your decree, Mr. President, I was awarded the Order of Valor for the film “The Bell of Chernobyl” [1987], which was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for being shown in every country of the world having television. This was the last “unreleasable film” (полочная картина) of the Soviet era, having been released to viewers in the new era. Military men, with whom I am nowadays working on upcoming films, tell me that this is the only medal that cannot be earned while serving “on the parquet” [in the rear]. I am proud of this medal and remember it now, as I grow depressed while shooting a series on international terrorism in places that would make one envy Chernobyl. That’s why I’m writing you this letter regardless.

I have nothing to share with Subbotkin. But the manner in which they relate to him in his place of work is a very important sign, of the most profound sort. Especially now, on the eve of the presidential elections. This is my first letter to you and, probably, it will be my last. Letters to presidents - they’re not my genre. But I want to tell you one thing, having now taken up my pen: it seems like there is a plan being worked out today to cause society to completely condemn the 1990’s. But from those years we got not only the oligarchs who robbed Russia blind, but also those who created the democratic basis for our life today, and, to get right to the point, those who make up the political elite in today’s society. The intelligentsia that was formed in the 1990’s is a part of our society not compensated by anything or anyone. “Without me the people are incomplete”, said the great Russian poet. Without the intelligentsia the people are also incomplete. The year after Sakharov’s death in Padul, Italy, there was a reading of his writings. The head of the Russian delegation, Anatoly Sobchak [TN: former mayor of Saint Petersburg, and Putin’s first boss after leaving the KGB], invited me to join the delegation and bring my recently completed film “Sakharov – the Man and the Era”. The delegation was small, but included Yuri Karyakin, Gleb Yakunin and Yelena Bonner. Now I think to myself, how sad it is that these people are not around you today. But instead we have Subbotkin at the scene of a traffic accident, proclaiming to the police that he is Your Man. And in court they make it clear that no one is allowed to make encroachments on the honor of an officer of the intelligence services and a member of the Presidential Administration.

Mr. President, my story is not about a personal offense, but about my fear for the society in which I live, along with you, and your children, and mine.


Vladimir Sinelnikov

General Director and Artistic Manager

Television Studio “Kloto”


*Here is a brief biographical statement on the author, from a 2005 interview published in the Russian-American newspaper Novoye Russkoye Slovo:

Vladimir Lvovich Sinelnikov founded one of the first independent television stations in Russia, “Channel 31”, and is currently the owner and artistic director of the television studio “Kloto”. He has written screenplays for approximately one hundred documentaries, and has been awarded numerous prizes at national and international film festivals. Among the films and television serials based on his screenplays: the four-part series “The Bell of Chernobyl” [1987]; “The Academic Sakharov - A Man for all Time”; “Mirages and Hopes” [1996]; “Memories of the Present”; and “The Final Myth” [1999]. His current project, a series on international terrorism, is being partly financed by the Ukrainian businessman and patron of the arts Vadim Shulman.)

For readers of Russian, the full text of Sinelnikov’s correspondence with the FSB related to his traffic accident with Subbotkin can be found on the website of the organization “For Human Rights”, at:

Humped and Dumped

Prologue: It seems that Nashi has now served its purpose to the Kremlin and is going the way of all things, before it becomes too confident and hence threatening to the insecure but nonetheless malignant little troll who struts upon the Kremlin's parapets. We predicted some time ago, in a translation of Nashi's bizarre call for middle managers that Nashi would not make good on its promise to help all its young "volunteer management trainees" get jobs in "major Russian corporations." In this regard, the following piece establishes that Nashi has now shown itself to be nothing more than a classic Russian pyramid scheme, just like the infamous MMM. (Remember them?). The authors of the following piece devastatingly refute any positive interpretation of why Nashi was disbanded - for example as some kind of a move away from the Putinjugend model, maybe because of Medvedev being named as his successor. This is nothing but: (a) a tactical move, to save the Kremlin a pile of money that Putin and Co. can then sock away in their Swiss bank accounts; (b) a strategic move, for making the group less obviously tied to the Kremlin, so it can become even more violent and cruel; and (c) a cynical loss of interest by the crass manipulators who used to run the organization, who never had any long-term vision for Russia at all, only for themselves.

Humped and Dumped

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

January 29, 2008

The youth movement NASHI ["us slavic Russians"] is ending its existence as a centralized, federation-wide project. The leader of the organization, Nikita Borovik, announced to the newspaper “Kommersant” that the regional leaders of Nashi decided at a recent conference to preserve only five of their previous 50 regional offices - in Vladimir, Ivanov, Tulskiy, Voronezh, and Yaroslav. Activists from other regions will still be allowed to participate in special Nashi projects (“Our Army”, “Volunteer Youth Brigade”, Orthodox Corps”, Lessons in Friendship”, etc.). Sources in the Kremlin told the newspaper that there were no longer any plans use Nashi activists actively for political purposes, and Nashi-generated crowds would not be needed in the coming elections. Still, there would be no “formal closing” of Nashi, according to the Presidential Administration: the authorities would not leave the young people “unsupervised”. A portion of the group’s financing would also remain - like the 10 million rubles allotted for the group’s traditional summer camp at Lake Seliger. So what has long been predicted has finally come to pass: the big, bad old men used the starry-eyed little Nashisti for their own PR purposes, and now... “Thanks for the memories, goodbye.” Experts are certain that Borovikov’s announcement is only the “first cut”, and eventually the remaining five offices will also be closed, and financing for the group will be completely cut off.


Sergey Udaltsov, Communist Youth Avant-garde (AKM):

For me personally, the news came as no surprise. I have long expected it. From the moment the Nashi movement was created, as with many others like it, it was obvious to me and a lot of other people that the movement was contrived, temporary and in essence something of a commercial project, especially for the movement’s leaders, who I suspect have already received their due dividends. Most significantly, from the very beginning this group had no discernible ideology; just support for the president and his policies - essentially apologia for the authorities and forceful suppression of all their opponents; no ideology or anything resembling it here, just storm troopers.

Hence, everything that is happening here is to be expected, with plenty of precedent: recall the movement “Walking Together” (Iduschiye Vmeste), which also lasted a few years and then passed away, and which almost no one remembers today. Following its demise, “Walking Together” was essentially reincarnated as “Nashi”, but I think this time we are seeing something other than re-branding: there will be no successor organization. What happened was that Nashi had accumulated such an aggressive image that the authorities themselves came to see that the continued existence of such a movement carried with it more minuses that plusses, especially considering how negatively it was viewed from abroad. I think this is the reason they are now closing it down. Although, of course, the sacred pedestal never remains vacant for long: new people will appear, young and ambitious, wishing to build their careers and businesses upon it. There will be successors of some sort, but I think they will be of a different sort than we see today.

Besides the negative image there is other reason the movement was closed: the people who headed Nashi had already gotten everything they wanted from it. Mr. Yakemenko has essentially joined the government, and a string of Nashi functionaries have landed in the Duma (parliament) - after which they just lost interest. Hence, on the one hand Nashi was no longer needed by the Kremlin, and on the other was no longer needed by its own leadership: everything they wanted, they had already gotten out of it, and as far as they were concerned, I think, the rank and file could just go to hell.


Ilya Barabanov, journalist/correspondent, The New Times

In the end they will not completely close “Nashi”. Why? Because it is much easier, having cut off their financing, to simply keep them alive as a small and, at first glance, hardly visible group of assets, ones that can be called upon when the need arises to advance certain interests. Nashi as a large bureaucratic machine required too much financial investment. And the absence of any connection to a political party made their activities look to everyone like the work of the Presidential Administration.

This image was advanced as well by regular meetings between the movement’s leaders and first Vladimir Putin then Vladislav Surkov. Considering the absurdity of most of Nashi’s activities, its very existence, far from helping, actually hurt the image of the authorities. The group “Young Russia” (Rossiya Molodaya) presents a more beneficial structure for the Administration. Their actions are not viewed as being those of Surkov, so they can permit themselves to be throwbacks/barbarians (“otmorozheniye”).

Having chopped up Nashi into a series of smaller subgroups, the movement’s handlers in the Administration can still use these assets in the future for more pointed and radical actions, since in the eyes of the mass media and public opinion the Kremlin bureaucrats will not be responsible for them. More simply put: small, impersonalized structures, which no one associates with Surkov, Putin or his successor, are much more useful than one huge money-sucking monster committing outrages in front of the Estonian embassy.

So the Nashi movement will continue, in the form of a series of small groups, and one can anticipate their radicalization. The destruction of Nashi is simply the destruction of a corrupt bureaucratic machine. Put in economic terms, the Kremlin bureaucrats are optimizing their assets. And it will hardly affect their colleagues from “Young Russia” at all. The Kremlin ideologues will always need for one purpose or another a group of thugs (“otmoroziki”), ready at any moment to pick up crowbars and baseball bats. It’s a little more complicated with the “Young Guards” (Molodaya Gvardiya). After the December elections, their reason for existence will have disappeared. I think they can expect a slow death, beginning immediately after the presidential elections. The authorities will stop funding them - and as soon as they stop giving them money, the kids will skedaddle.

The Moscow Times, however, reports that Nashi may not be fully on board with the Kremlin's plans. Has Putin created a Frankenstein even he can't control?

Pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi said Friday that it was seeking to double its membership this year and dismissed reports of its imminent demise. Nashi leader Nikita Borovikov said at a news conference that while the group was undergoing a reorganization, it was not drifting into irrelevance. "No one can stop us," Borovikov said.

Kommersant and Vedomosti, citing Nashi members and sources in the presidential administration, reported recently that Nashi was becoming obsolete after United Russia swept to a landslide victory in the Dec. 2 State Duma elections. Borovikov said the reports were part of a campaign to discredit the group by "small movements" and "individual politicians who have disappeared from the political skyline." He did not specify which groups or politicians were behind the purported campaign.

Part of Nashi's reorganization includes transferring power to regional centers to implement various projects, including Mishki, or Bear Cubs, a patriotic children's group under the Nashi auspices, Borovikov said. Nashi intends to organize rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg with 100,000 activists, as well as send 1,000 activists to Grozny to support reconstruction projects in the Chechen capital, Borovikov said. Nashi members are also working on the presidential campaign of Dmitry Medvedev in the March 2 election. Medvedev, expected to win in a landslide, has the backing of President Vladimir Putin, to whom Nashi has pledged fealty.

Latynina on Kasyanov

The Major’s Syndrome

Yulia Latynina

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

January 24, 2008

Now they want to exclude Mikhail Kasyanov from the presidential elections. But whatever for? So what if Kasyanov runs and gets 2% of the vote? Whom would this bother? On the contrary, it would help legitimize the election.

Remarkably, and almost simultaneously (January 21), something very similar happened: Russia issued an Interpol warrant for the arrest of Mikhail Gutseriev, accused by the Tverskiy court of fraud and money laundering.

This cannot be called an especially wise move. The problem is that the temperamental Gutseriev, unlike others who were in the process of having their businesses taken over by the authorities, did not restrain himself, but instead wrote a letter in which he accused the Kremlin of stealing his company. After which all of his company’s stock was frozen and a federal arrest warrant was issued for Gutseriev himself.

After that Gutseriev’s son was killed. The young man was involved in an auto accident in his personal car, but refused hospitalization (an ambulance crew that arrived immediately after the accident gave him a shot). He returned home, called his relatives to assure them that it was nothing serious, then went to bed - and died.

So the young man died of acute pride - he did not want to bother his father, who already had his own heap of problems without having to worry about an auto accident, a trip to the hospital, etc. Mikhail Gutseriev will always have to ask himself whether his son would have died if he, Gutseriev, had not been in the process of having his business confiscated.

But more to the point: immediately after the accident rumors started swirling around Moscow. That the accident was staged; that the ambulance arrived suspiciously quickly after the accident; that the paramedics injected Gutseriev’s son with poison. And all this was done to trick Gutseriev into coming back to Russia to bury his son. Paradoxically, the rumors were being circulated by both the enemies of FSB chief Igor Sechin - locked in mortal combat with him for the graces of the monarch - and, apparently, his followers, who were trying to highlight the omnipotence of their patron.

Gutseriev is now, as far as is known, still in London.

In this situation, issuing an Interpol warrant for Gutseriev’s arrest would seem, to put it mildly, unwise. More exactly, it was stupid.

Any legal procedure brought against Gutseriev while he is in London will end with his triumphantly receiving political asylum. Furthermore, I doubt that the British public, following the Litvinenko Affair and the Papua New Guinea-like story of what happened with the British Council, will be so skeptical as yours truly is toward the theory that Gutseriev’s son was killed by the Russian intelligence services, who were trying to take over his father’s business.

In that case, you ask, why in the world would they issue a warrant for his arrest - if up to that point he had been sitting quietly in London, not requesting asylum, and apparently even hoping to negotiate for a peaceful resolution to his case? And then, after issuing an arrest warrant through Interpol, you get not only an international scandal and refusal to extradite, but also an enraged guy from the Caucasus, with three billion dollars and a dead son?

The answer is simple: just don’t analyze the actions of the authorities from the perspective of what benefits the Kremlin (Putin, Sechin, etc.). The Kremlin is so little in control of the situation that the actions of the authorities should be analyzed only from the perspective of what benefits the Major [TN: the middle-ranking officer].

What were they thinking, going after Kasyanov? Did they want to give another card to those who are going to doubt the legitimacy of the elections? Certainly not. But here’s poor Mr. Churov, Chairman of the Central Elections Commission. And if he doesn’t expel Kasyanov from the elections, then tomorrow some little cockroach wanting to take his job will come running to the Kremlin with a story about how Churov didn’t exclude Kasyanov because Churov is a secret supporter of the “Orange Plague”. What should Churov be thinking about? The strategic interests of the Kremlin, or his own job security?

What were they thinking, issuing an arrest warrant for Gutseriev? That this time a London court, hearing from Putin, Sechin & Associates, would embarrass them worse than they ever dreamed of? Certainly not. But here’s some Major, charged with going after Gutseriev. And if he doesn’t issue an arrest warrant, then tomorrow some little Captain, wishing to take his place, will come running with a story about how the Major didn’t issue an Interpol arrest warrant for Gutseriev because he’s taking money from him and plotting against Sechin. What should the Major be thinking about? The strategic interests of those who want to steal Gutseriev’s company, or keeping himself out of jail?

Oh, just imagine how much that little Major must hate those s.o.b’s who get to steal whole companies, while he, the Major, has to wince and worry as he slips 10 measly rubles into his pocket.

Liability for Chechnya

European Court Says Russia Must Pay 42,000 Euros for the

Murder of a Chechen by Policeman Federal Soldiers

November 15, 2007

The European Court of Human Rights on November 16 handed down a decision in a suit related to the murder in Grozniy of Aslanbek Kukayev, a policeman of the Staropromyslov Regional Branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

As reported by Interfax, the court found in favor of the suit brought by Khamzat Kukayev, the father of the policeman who was killed in November 2000 in Grozniy, and obliged the Russian Federation to pay him 7,000 euros as compensation for material damages and 35,000 euros for moral damages. In addition, Russia is required to pay over 7,000 euros for court costs.

In the opinion of the court, with regard to the petitioner Russia permitted the violation of Articles 2, 3 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Specifically, violation of the “Article 2 (right to life) of the European convention on human rights concerning the disappearance and death of Aslanbek Kukayev; a violation of the same Article concerning the authorities’ failure to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the disappearance and death of Aslanbek Kukayev.”

The Strasburg court also found that with respect to Kukayev’s father, who suffered mental anguish as a result of the disappearance of his son and the lack of a competent investigation, Russia had allowed a violation of Article 3 - according to which “No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The court also established a violation of Article 13 of the Convention, which guarantees the right to an effective remedy in defense of a person’s rights, as well as Article 38, which establishes a procedure for examining cases brought to the European Court. The Russian government failed to present documents that the court had requested.

As reported by the online publication “Kavkazskiy Uzel” (Caucus Knot), Dmitriy Grushkin, a lawyer with the “Memorial” organization who is representing the father of the murdered man in the Strasburg court. Kukayev disappeared in Grozniy in the year 2000. On November 26, Kukayev, a member of the patrol service of the Aslanbek Kukayev (No. 221 on the list of those who have disappeared mysteriously), together with his fellow serviceman Roslanbek Damayev (No. 134 on the same list), left for work for the last time in his life, bound for the Central Market of Grozniy. On that day, Russian Federal forces were conducting a “special operation” in the market.

According to multiple witnesses who were interviewed by members of the human rights organization “Memorial”, at 11:00 a.m. on 26 November, 2000 the central market of Grozniy was unexpectedly cordoned off by soldiers and armored vehicles. Traffic was halted for several blocks around the market, and pedestrian movement was limited. Heavy machinery, including tanks and bulldozers, moved toward the rows of stands located on Mir Street.

The market was plundered. One of the traders, a woman, tried to protect her goods. A fight broke out, involving several other women as well. The soldiers were forced to retreat to a market exit, firing over the heads of the people -- as described by “Memorial” in the first book in the series “People Live Here. Chechnya: Chronicle of Violence”, covering the period from July to December 2000 and published by the company “Zvenya” in 2003.

Grozniy resident Khava Magomadova: “At 11:00 a.m. the market was surrounded by soldiers, some of them in masks. Under the guise of checking passports, they chased the traders from their working places and right in front of everyone began taking merchandise from the tables. After opening the merchants’ lockers, they began to load up their Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and other vehicles with boxes and crates of alcohol and food products. I had goods worth 22,000 rubles disappear.”

Zarema Abubakorova, a resident of the Grozniy region: “I was working at the market on November 26, when the Russians started roughing people up outrageously. They stole merchandise, food, boxes of vodka, cigarettes and equipment. When two police officers from the Zavodskyy Region tried to intervene, they took away their identification and led them away somewhere. Things stolen from my locker included raincoats, jackets, suits, and shoes, worth 50,000 rubles. Only a few of my colleagues managed to hide and preserve their goods.”

While some soldiers plundered the market, others kidnapped young people: at least 20 people were detained. A few of them managed to ransom their way to safety, but the fate of most of them is still unknown. Two women also disappeared from the market, also perhaps taken by the soldiers.

A student at Chechnya State University, who requested anonymity: “I went to the central market to buy some clothes. Suddenly a panic broke out, people started running around in confusion. It turned out that the Russians had surrounded the market and were conducting a document check. Although I presented my passport and student identification, they took me to a vehicle with several dozen other young men who were being detained. On the road I managed to negotiate with one of the soldiers, who let me go in exchanged for money. Several other people from my group also managed to buy their release. I don’t know what happened to the others. I only know that their relatives are looking for them. If I hadn’t had some money with me at the time, I’m sure mine would be looking for me now.”

The policemen Aslanbek Kukayev and Roslanbek Damayev were in camouflage uniforms and had with them their identifications as members of the police force. At about 12:00 noon they were detained by soldiers of the federal forces. Presenting their credentials, Kukayev and Damayev “demanded the soldiers explain what was going on. But then, in front of a multitude of witnesses, they themselves were placed in a truck with some other Chechen policemen who had also been arrested.

According to witnesses, the vehicle stopped at the Grozniy Teachers College, where Kukayev and Damayev were taken off by a group of six soldiers. The truck then continued on, and after a little while shots were heard. By evening of the same day, all of the Chechen policemen who had been detained had returned home. Except for Aslanbek Kukayev and his fellow officer.

Khamzat Kukayev immediately began looking for his son Aslanbek. He appealed to the Grozniy city prosecutor, as a result of which a criminal case was opened. He also turned to the FSB and Commandant of the city.

After 4 months, on 22 April 2001, soldiers of a mobile unit of the Federal Forces discovered two corpses at the entrance to a basement in the Teachers College building during a search of the area. Expert analysis determined that the bodies were those of the missing policemen: Aslanbek Kukayev and Ruslanbek Damayev.

Both of them had been shot in the head. On 12 May the criminal case on the disappearance of Kukayev and subsequent discovery of his body was passed to the military prosecutor’s office. After a few days the military prosecutor returned the case to the civil court, on the basis that no military servicemen were involved in the crime.

On 28 May 2001, the civil prosecutor’s office officially closed the case “on the basis that no individual could be found subject to being identified as a suspect.”

Having exhausted all possible means of investigating and punishing those responsible in Russia, Khamzat Kukayev appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. In the view of the petitioner, with respect to the death of his son there were violations of Article 2, para 1 (right to life), Article 3 (right to not be subject to torture or inhuman treatment) and Article 13 (the right to effective remedy in defense of one’s rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the list compiled by “Memorial” of people who have disappeared in Chechnya, Aslanbek Khamzatovich Kukayev, date of birth 1976, is listed as a member of the Chechen OMON. According to eyewitnesses, he was detained and taken away in the direction of the “Khankala” military base. Criminal case number 12332 was opened in the Grozniy city prosecutor’s office on 13 December 2000, in accordance with Article 126, chapter 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (kidnapping of a person), and was investigated by agencies of the prosecutor’s office of the Chechen Repulic. In the middle of 2001 the case was closed in accordance with Article 195, chapter 3 of the Criminal Code (“inability to find an individual subject to being identified as a suspect”). The bodies of Kukayev and Damayev were discovered on 22 April in the ruins of the Grozniy Teachers College.