Sunday, March 01, 2015

You don't suppose the ambush and shooting of Boris Nemtsov in Moscow could have been, like, an accident?


Somebody clearly didn't wish Boris Nemtsov well.

"During the first decade of Putin’s rule, the Kremlin depicted its opponents as freaks or idiots, but now they are portrayed as outright enemies of their country."
-- Joshua Yaffa, in a post,
"Assassination in Moscow"

by Ken

Of course the murder of Boris Nemtsov not far from the Kremlin could have been a coincidence. Just like the apparent murder of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Risman sometime after he had drafted a warrant for the arrest of the country's president and foreign minister.

Hey, as we all know, stuff happens. It's a dangerous world out there. And not just "out there" -- prosecutor Risman, after all, was found dead of that gunshot wound in his own home. With regard to Boris Nemtsov, maybe there's nothing more to be known than The New Yorker's Joshua Yaffa sets out at the outset of his post the other day, "Assassination in Moscow" [links onsite]:
Just after midnight on Friday, Boris Nemtsov, a fifty-five-year-old Russian opposition politician, was gunned down as he walked across a bridge just outside the Kremlin walls. A car drove past, shots rang out, and Nemtsov was killed by four bullets to the back. His body lay on the sidewalk as police, journalists, and colleagues rushed to the scene.
Or then again, maybe there remain a couple of unanswered questions. At the very least, it would be a coincidence with a history, as Joshua points out:
The last assassination in Moscow was that of Stanislav Markelov, a human-rights lawyer, who, along with the journalist Anastasia Baburova, was killed outside a subway stop in 2009. Before that, it was the renowned journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in her apartment building in 2006. It had been six years since such people were shot dead in Moscow.
Let me make clear up top that Joshua doesn't claim to know who ordered the hit. He just thinks that, "without knowing who gave the orders, it’s possible to understand that the current political environment allowed for this to happen." And there is, he thinks, enough here to wonder about the possibility that there are some nasty doings in store.

But to back up. Who was this guy Nemtsov? He's invariably been described as an "opposition leader," and to some of us it comes as a surprise to learn that Russia has such a thing. Here's what Joshua has to tell us about him:
In the nineteen-nineties, Nemtsov was among the bright young reformers who quickly ascended the ranks under President Boris Yeltsin. He served as governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, then, in 1998, took the position of Deputy Prime Minister. When Putin came to power, Nemtsov failed to adjust, and he was pushed out of the Russian parliament in 2003. He went on to start various opposition parties and movements; although he was known for his energy and charisma, he never found wide popularity as a politician. He ran in the 2009 mayoral race in Sochi and lost. His latest party, R.P.R.-PARNAS, which had a liberal, free-market platform opposed to Putin’s centralization of power, failed to clear the five-per-cent threshold needed to gain seats in the State Duma (not that electoral results are the truest indication of potential in a political system as tightly controlled as Russia’s).

Yet Nemtsov remained one of the most visible and consistent figures of the opposition, though he had been eclipsed in recent years by people like Alexey Navalny, and was a forceful speaker at nearly every demonstration in Moscow’s short-lived season of protest in late 2011 and early 2012. He also published a series of reports on Putin-era corruption; his 2013 report on bribery and fraud in the preparations for the Sochi Olympics was widely cited by Russia’s independent press and by Western journalists. After his death on Friday, Nemtsov’s longtime friend and ally, Ilya Yashin, said that he had been preparing a new report on Russia’s participation in the war in Ukraine, which will now be published posthumously.
There's kind of an interesting, even possibly suggestive timeline here.
Nemtsov had been preparing for an anti-Kremlin march scheduled for this Sunday. Hours before he was killed, he did a radio interview urging people to attend the march, and connecting the country’s economic woes to Putin’s policy in Ukraine. “The most important reason for the crisis is aggression, which led to sanctions and, in turn, isolation,” he said. Nemtsov understood that he, along with everyone else involved in anti-Putin politics, was being pushed to the fringes, having less of a voice and a foothold in Russian society than ever before. “Three years ago, we were an opposition. Now we are no more than dissidents,” he told the Financial Times earlier this week.


"Over the past year," Joshua writes, "in the wake of the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, Russia has seen the rise of a new, much coarser and more doctrinaire political language."
During the first decade of Putin’s rule, the Kremlin depicted its opponents as freaks or idiots, but now they are portrayed as outright enemies of their country. In a triumphant address to parliament last March, as Russia was formalizing its takeover of Crimea, Putin warned of “a fifth column,” a “disparate bunch of national traitors” determined to sow discord inside the country. Its members were obvious, if at first unmentioned: people like Navalny, an anti-corruption activist who had become the most popular leader in the country’s fractured opposition; Aleksei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow, a long-beleaguered radio station that is one of the last homes for critical and liberal voices; and of course Nemtsov, a recognizable face from all his years in politics, and a favorite opponent of pro-Kremlin activists and propagandists.

It wasn’t long before the political technologists in the Kremlin and those who do their bidding in the media—whether at state-run television channels with national reach or on pro-Kremlin Web sites that publish memes and jokes disparaging the West and Russia’s small number of liberals—seized on the idea, releasing pseudo-documentaries on the evils of the fifth column and designing graphics that surrounded their disembodied heads with images of space aliens. For a while, a giant poster hung on the side of Moscow’s main bookstore with the face of Nemtsov, among others. “The fifth column: there are strangers among us,” it read. The most apocalyptic and vile of Russia’s television hosts, Dmitri Kiselyov, a man who once warned that Russia could turn the United States into “radioactive ash,” took pleasure in naming and insulting members of the so-called “fifth column.”
What's more, Kiselyov said, "Putin legalized that term in the political language of Russia. We know their names." And "that act of legalization, as Kiselyov aptly put it," Joshua writes, "means any number of people or factions could have murdered Nemtsov. " And he notes that "in an interview two weeks ago, Nemtsov admitted that he was afraid Putin could have him killed, but 'not that much.' " Apparently not enough -- though it could be argued that if President P really, really wants you dead, there's not all that much you can do about it.

Of course we don't know whether that's what happened. Just that somebody sure didn't wish Nemtsov well, and went to a fair amount of trouble to make that wish come true. Still, there is that "political environment. "In the hours after Nemtsov’s death," Joshua writes, "Vladimir Ryzhkov, a co-founder of R.P.R.-PARNAS with Nemtsov, told Echo of Moscow that he blamed 'the atmosphere of hate that was artificially created' by the state and its supporters." At the same time, President Putin, calling the killing "a provocation," said "that he would personally oversee the investigation."

Surprisingly, this doesn't seem to reassure Joshua. It has, in fact, pretty much the opposite effect, "evoking Stalin’s oversight of the prosecution of Sergei Kirov’s supposed killers in 1934."
Will Nemtsov’s death similarly presage a wave of political purges? In the current climate, almost anything seems possible. Either the authorities would kill someone who poses little real political danger, or they have given rise to a venomous hatred that they can no longer control.
You don't suppose it could have been an accident after all, Nemtsov's death?

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At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt anyone thinks the Nemtsov killing was an accident. The question is, who would benefit the most from it: Putin, for whom Nemtsov appears to have been a minor irritant or the US which badly needs a propaganda boost in its effort to gain control of the Ukraine.

I do have to chuckle over the sincere concern that "in the wake of the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, Russia has seen the rise of a new, much coarser and more doctrinaire political language." What does Joshua have to say about Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland?

I'd suggest Putin, former KGB head (booga booga!), is no more, or no less, responsible for Nemstov'd death that is GHW Bush (former head of the angelic CIA) in the surgical mutilation and subsequent death of Bill Casey who didn't quite make it to the congressional hearings regarding Iran/Contra at which he was to be a critical witness. This was the almost comic book revelation of the "US government as uber-Mafia" phase of the "great experiment." (When do we get the "full investigation" on THAT?)

The Nemstov report will be very interesting. Can we expect it to include detailed info on his funding sources? Can we be SURE he actually wrote it, as opposed to, say the CIA, which would gladly relinquish credit in return for the increased credibility of an "insider" author?

Will the report at least show that Putin has spent more in his "participation in Ukraine" than the $5 billion, minimum, we have spent for the overthrow of the (previous) democratically elected government of the Ukraine, Russia's western neighbor and former soviet socialist republic? (It's anyone's guess for the cost of the daily, diversionary, Orwellian, media "Putin-hate" that has been employed for cover up.)

Of course, IF the report IS published then the question is: how can Putin be SO stupid as to publicly kill the messenger but fail to block the message?

And if it ISN'T published then we say, in the great "prove-a-negative" ploy perfected against Saddam Hussein: "We have 'evidence' of a report of Russian involvement in Ukraine.
Putin the devil must be suppressing it."

In any case, the nuclear winter caused by our unilateral forcing of WWIII just might be the antidote we need for global climate change!!!

At 1:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign the comment above @ 1:20AM

John Puma

At 2:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A note on Nemtsov from Webster Tarpley who forgets more history in any five-minute period than the total knowledge thereof ascribable to the entire US media:

" (T)he anti-Putin Russian oligarch Boris Nemtsov was assassinated in Moscow. As a “young wolf” shock therapist and privateer in the Yeltsin government, Nemtsov sang the praises of what he called “bandit capitalism.” Nemtsov helped direct the process of nomenklatura privatization, by which the state property of the USSR was dished out to greedy adventurers who thus became the post-Soviet oligarchs. Nemtsov then sought a career as a demagogue with his reactionary “Union of Right Forces,” but he got nowhere. Most likely some cabal within NATO intelligence decided that he was worth more as a martyr than as a failed rabble rouser. It is certain that Putin had no reason to fear him. The western media are scurrying to canonize him as St. Boris the “towering figure” of the post-Soviet era (Washington Post), but his mourners were dominated by fellow oligarchs like Chubais, who incongruously prattled about democracy."

John Puma

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that article is some fun agit-prop, eh? Murder, intrigue and a lovely white-washing of a mobbed up Neo-Liberal thief... I'm sorry, "reformer"... why, Joshua can even rationalize the fact the guy only polls at about 1%!

Kudos for at least keeping it entertaining, Joshua!

I love how the US media can make corrupt, mafia-connected murder victims into "heroes." It just goes to show how far the establishment media can sink when it wants to.

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do realize how much you hurt your credibility regarding everything else you write when you pass along the stenography like this, don't you?


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