The Further Unraveling of Democratic Russia

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When Russian sociologist Yevgeny Gontmakher, writing in the newspaper Vedomosti, outlined a "Novocherkassk 2009" scenario (a reference to the 1962 strike at the Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Factory) in which massive job layoffs, precipitated by falling oil prices, would cause social unrest, both the paper and author were sternly warned that they could be prosecuted for "inciting extremism." He should, though, be congratulated for his prescience. A month later, the Kremlin instituted massive tariffs on imported automobiles in an effort to "protect" the Russian automobile industry. Imports fell dramatically, jobs in the port of Vladivostok dried up, workers protested, and Putin sent in the truncheon-wielding Chekists to throw the protesters in police vans. It was an underreported story in the United States (though the New York Times did a good piece on the Vladivostok uprising, few others noticed), probably because such anti-democratic actions by the Putin regime seem to us so banal at this point.

In other underreported Russia news, being a journalist for the independent daily Novaya Gazeta is still one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Der Spiegel has a decent piece on the recent murder of Anastasia Baburova, an investigative journalist at Novaya Gazeta who was shot in Moscow by a masked gunman using a silenced pistol. Her companion, human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who served as counsel for the murdered Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politskaya, was also gunned down.

It was an execution in broad daylight, in the middle of Moscow's "Golden Mile," a neighborhood of high-priced mansions and old townhouses not far from the Kremlin. Once again Izvestiya, a pro-government daily, was quick to assign blame for the killings to the West.

Markelov had worked closely with the Russian human rights organization Memorial, whose offices were recently raided by government forces. They confiscated hard drives full of material related to Stalin's various purges.

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  1. Pardon my obsession, but:

    shot in Moscow by a masked gunman using a silenced pistol.

    I wonder what the gun control laws in Russia and Moscow might be?

  2. Once again Izvestiya, a pro-government daily, was quick to assign blame for the killings to the West.

    I’m curious to know how they figure that we would would want to assassinate independent journalists.

    Sort of the same vein of logic as the “Nick Berg video was faked to make islamists look bad” argument.

  3. This Russian situation is starting to look really bad, like Cold War II bad.

    Good thing our armed forces aren’t tied up with useless wars against bogeymen like “terror” and “drugs”.

    Oh, wait…

  4. I wonder what the gun control laws in Russia and Moscow might be?

    IIRC, they’re pretty loose, but not, you know, USA loose.

  5. Good thing our armed forces aren’t tied up

    You’d rather they were fighting the Russians?

  6. You’d rather they were fighting the Russians?

    God no, but Putin can really do whatever he wants if we are tied up around the world. I meant it as more of a deterrant, peace through strength and all that…

    Because in Soviet Russia, Russians fight… oh, nevermind.

  7. Who finds anything Moynihan says about human rights the least bit credible anymore? This man could not bring himself to find any fault with Israel’s recent treatment of the Gazans, whether that be the occupation, the blockade, or the slaughter of 1300 people hundreds of whom were women and children. Russia though is on the “accepted list of boogeymen” for right wingers, so blast away Michael!

  8. Here he complains about the threatened prosecution of a Russian writer and arrest and detainment of protesters. Hey Michael, what do you think of the hundreds of Palestinians who are currently being “detained” without trial by the IDF?

    And the horrible slaying of a Russian journalist, terrible. But hey Michael, no word from you on the killing of Akram al-Ghoul by the IDF, a Gazan judge who resigned when Hamas took power but who had relatives working for Human Rights Watch?

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/09/israel-investigate-former-judge-s-killing-gaza

    Lastly Michael laments the illiberal tariffs Putin foolishly instituted. Hey Michael, what’s the current tariff on automobiles in Gaza, enforced at gunpoint by the IDF?

    Consumptives don’t hack this much.

  9. Who finds anything Moynihan says about human rights the least bit credible anymore? This man could not bring himself to find any fault with Israel’s recent treatment of the Gazans, whether that be the occupation, the blockade, or the slaughter of 1300 people hundreds of whom were women and children. Russia though is on the “accepted list of boogeymen” for right wingers, so blast away Michael!

    A person does not need to be right every time in order to be right this time.

  10. Well yes he’s right about all this. But he’s also sold out more than PS3’s were…

  11. I must take exception with the phrase “women and children.” As in, “27 people were killed, including 6 women and children.” I mean. I’ll give you the children part, but the woman part just seems so outlandish. We’re all people, yes?

  12. The tumbleweeds rolled by as the stranger entered the bar through the swinging doors. Tipping his hat up as he sat before the bar he winked at the bartender as he approached.

    “Name’s Moynihan, not from these parts. What’s good around here? What do you serve?”

    The bartender, wiping the bar replied “well, we have whiskey, brandy, vodka and our special today is standards.”

    “Strandards huh,” the stranger said belching “make mine a double.”

  13. Who finds anything MNG says about Moynihan the least bit interesting anymore?

  14. Dale Cooper
    Back to the Black Lodge with you doppleganger! When the real Dale gets out we’ll talk.

  15. The real Dale used up all his compassion on Tibet sadly. Which, incidentaly, the UK sold to China late last year.

    Now hand me a stone from that bucket.

  16. I wonder what the gun control laws in Russia and Moscow might be?

    IIRC, they’re pretty loose, but not, you know, USA loose.

    That’s plainly wrong. Regular citizens in Russia cannot legally own a gun. Period.

  17. Meh. If it was Obama in office in Russia, it’d be worse.

  18. I always thought if the series went on the Colonel would have entered the Black Lodge to free Dale. He seemed to have some connection with the White Lodge.

    Some people have at theory that Dale is freed when Laura is at the end of FWWM, but I can’t follow that.

  19. Maybe he wasn’t a colonel but a captain, but it was Bobby Brigg’s father.

  20. And in further thread jacking news, some retard congressman by the name of Pete King has decided that America cannot go on any longer with protection from “phone camera predators,” and is reintroducing the “Camera Phone Predator Alert Act,” requiring that all cameraphones make a noise when they snap a picture.

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/26/proposed-bill-would-require-all-cameraphones-to-make-themselves/

  21. Major Garland Briggs was certainly made of the stern stuff required to mount such a rescue effort. Can’t for the life of me remember exactly what happened at the end of FWWM – rate it pretty highly as a movie (for Twin Peaks viewers) though.

  22. And for another fun fact, the actor who played him had been a captain in the US Army.

  23. It just wouldn’t be a Moynihan post without delicious MNG tears.

  24. That’s plainly wrong. Regular citizens in Russia cannot legally own a gun. Period.

    My original intuition was wrong (the laws are not loose) but your comment is undone by about five *seconds* of googling. Permits are available (and *are* issued) all the time. Rifles and shotguns, well really long guns in general, are easier to get permits for than pistols.

  25. And in further thread jacking news, some retard congressman by the name of Pete King has decided that America cannot go on any longer with protection from “phone camera predators,” and is reintroducing the “Camera Phone Predator Alert Act,” requiring that all cameraphones make a noise when they snap a picture.

    Shouldn’t that comment be in the dumbass congressmen proposing stupid fucking laws thread?

  26. The Russkies obviously prefer to live under authoritarian regimes.

    Fuck ’em when their life goes into the shitter. They voted for authoritarian thug kleptocracy. At least twice.

  27. You free market fundamentalists fail to recognize the improvements generated by more proactive government media criticism.

  28. The Russkies obviously prefer to live under authoritarian regimes.

    Fuck ’em when their life goes into the shitter. They voted for authoritarian thug kleptocracy. At least twice.

    So did we.

  29. “So did we”

    and that’s why I drink

  30. Peter King should NOT have gone to Gaza and taken those picture of the lodge with his cell phone.

    Also, i/r/t Russia: Yikes!

  31. Funny… pretty much every other report said that it was Markelov who was shot, and the reporter just got one when she ran into a middle of this (you know, everyone wants to be a here).

    While it is entirely possible that the government was behind it, it also should be noted that just before being sent to the next world Markelov had published a rather long-winder article where he explained why being a Russian patriot is: sick, criminal, insane, dirty, and a few more choice epythets (he had 10 or 12 points there).

    So it is entirely possible that he just had a disagreement on the nature of patriotism with someone.

    But of course printing that would not jive with the current party line of “Evil Russians are killing journalists”

  32. So, what do we know about this victim?

    Well, just before he was shot, he published a piece that is highly critical of Russian nationalistm.

    Well, that rules out the Russian government…

  33. MNG, don’t get your panties in a wad. If I had to agree with someone about everything to agree with them on one thing, I would be strenuously arguing with everyone that the sky was green rather than blue.

  34. Mad Ivan,
    Have you been spoof trolling again?

  35. Before I clicked on the comments link, I tried to guess which one of the resident leftwingers would be crying about Moynihan. Yummy, yummy tears.

  36. I don’t get to do much tear-tasting these days. So far, the putzes whose tears I’d like to taste have got everything going for them.

  37. “‘So did we’

    and that’s why I drink”

    Dammit, my desk bottle is empty.

  38. Economist — I usually troll for Cathy Young, but this was good, too.

    Joe — Since I have actually read the article… it was not a critique of nationalism. It’s actually rather difficult ot deduce some grain of meaning form it, but it seems to be that “we were screwed 1000 years ago, we are screwed now, and if you don’t agree you are: stupid, coward, traitor, sick, etc.etc.” …the whole list.

    That’s certainly not a reason to kill the author, but as usual, the truth does not quite fit into the simple “evil Russian government is killing brave democratic journalists…”

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