Tag Archive for 'Vladimir Putin'

Russian authorities to investigate election fraud

About time!

Oh, wait…they’re not investigating the rampant and transparent fraud by Vladimir Putin and his henchmen, but that of an opposition leader running against Putin’s puppet in the upcoming presidential elections.

Apparently the Kremlin thinks Mikhail Kasyanov forged 15,000 signatures that he was required to submit to support his candidacy after Putin banned his party.

It’s amazing at which lengths the Putin Dictatorship goes to secure another .1% of votes. Kinda reminds me of what the communists did. Makes you wonder.


99% of Chechnyans vote and 99% of them vote for Putin

The Russian Parliamentary election results are in, and Chechnya ends up shining as the glorious example to the rest of the Soviet Union, um, Russia.

It seems that in this country, which was attacked by the Russians and Putin was the one who ordered the attack, 99% of eligible voters ended up voting. That, in itself, is pretty remarkable, almost Soviet-like (in Soviet Union, it would’ve been 100%, but, hey, who’s counting!). But even more remarkable is that 99% of the voters voted for the party led by Putin, the man who ordered Russia’s troops into Chechnya.

And if you believe those results, call me, I’ve got some grade A steel construction to sell you between Brooklyn and Manhattan.


Stolen Elections – Also in Russia

Watch an interesting video of Russian election officers in Moscow polling station 730 stuff the ballot box with votes presumably for Dictator Putin’s party.

It really can’t be more obvious than that. Well done Putin!

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum is covering the widespread fraud in Russian Parliamentary Elections quite excellently.


Putin shutting down critics using piracy witchhunts

If the Burmese Government was as smart about suppressing free speech and civil rights as the Russian Government is, they would’ve probably already killed all the monks in the country and gotten a medal for it from the US.

The latest tactic by the Russian Government to shut down critics involves raiding the offices of newspapers and political activists in search of pirated software. It’s pretty ingenious really when you think about it. The United States has pressed Russia for stronger intellectual property protection laws and enforcement for years. I don’t think this is what the US bargained for however.

The Washington Post is writing that in the past 10 months several newspapers, advocacy groups and political activists have been raided, their computer equipment has been confiscated and staff has been detained for questioning because alleged use of pirated software in at least five different cities.


Russian Politics Takes To The Street

[by Kerkko Paananen, originally published in Finnish]

My brother, Kerkko Paananen, who is a board member of the Finnish-Russian Citizens’ Forum, offers his personal observations on the recent events in Russia and some recommendations to those looking at Russia from the outside:

The political situation in Russia is turning ever more tense. In the following, I offer of my personal observations and recommendations to those looking at Russia from the outside.

Despite the high media visibility of the recent demonstrations on the streets of Russia’s largest cities, it must be noted that the opposition is totally incapable of challenging the position of the ruling regime, even if there were truly honest and open elections.

Putin’s regime has almost infinite financial resources at its disposal, completely outshadowing those of the opposition. Any outside assistance is also largely ineffective. The fact remains that power in Russia will not change until the people so wish.

True, a regime that flouts its own laws repeatedly is inherently unstable. Yet its actions in quelling opposition demonstrations cannot be seen as signs of its ultimate weakness. For as long as people’s material well-being continues to grow faster than people’s shame at their own political apathy, democratic pressure will not lead to Putin’s ouster.

The regime is currently fully engaged in its most important project to date: the question of Putin’s successor and division of power after he leaves office. What is at stake are the property rights of Russia’s ruling, moneyed elite. It is inconceivable that the regime would neglect or mismanage the very issue that it was established for.

The regime is depriving the opposition of any influence in the legitimate political process. When organs of representative democracy cease to fulfil their constitutional functions, political opposition moves outside of the system, where it will inevitably radicalise. By evicting opposition from the parliament and local councils, the regime is trying to delegitimise all alternatives to its own policies.

The fact that there have been several opposition demonstrations so early ahead of the coming watershed of Russian politics — next year’s presidential elections — does give rise to a certain degree of hope of a change in Russia’s direction. Ordinary cityfolk in Moscow, St Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod have witnessed these events, and the regime’s brutal reaction, firsthand.

The demonstrations showed that the extraparliamentary opposition has managed to unite those opposed to Putin’s regime behind a set of clearly defined political demands. This is something that the “established” opposition parties consciously avoided throughout.

The diversity of the “street opposition” (ranging from extreme leftists to avowed capitalists) shows that Russia’s political landscape is no longer divided according to societal models; the main political divide relates to the legitimacy of the political system itself. Historically speaking, this is a very dangerous situation indeed.

Russia’s ruling regime is quite immune to outside pressure; in contrast, support from outside Russia is vital to the opposition, which needs to know that Russia has not been abandoned outside the family of modern interdependent nations.

We must realise that there are very many Russians, who are not prepared to sacrifice the future of their children on the altar of imperialist cleptocracy; who do not regard rational thought as high treason. They need our support.

Finnish Broadcasting Company program MOT covers Mari-El

Finnish Broadcasting Company’s MOT program covered Mari-El during their most recent show this Monday.

Unfortunately the transcript is only available in Finnish at the moment, but the program covered most aspects of Russian oppression of Mari-El culture brilliantly.

The unsolved murders and other violent acts towards Mari-El activists were thoroughly discussed. The journalists wanted to interview Mari-El President Leonid Markelov over the issue, but their interview request was never answered. The little dictator has a history of animosity towards Finnish media, so it’s not surprising at all. He put his propaganda machine at news12.ru in full swing though, and the questions sent along with the interview request somehow ended up on the pro Russian propaganda website with “commentary” from the morons running the site. Apparently asking about how violent acts towards Mari people never seem to result in arrests is “preparing for another Finnish provocation of Russia.” Well, you can’t really fault the logic of neo-nazis, simply because there is none.

Leonid Markelov is in good company for not commenting on the story. The Finnish President, Tarja Halonen, joined him in the club. It’s interesting to see Finnish Government staying silent on this issue. Apparently criticizing Russia is just as “delicate” as criticizing Soviet Union once was for Finnish Government officials.
The program also investigates some curious “public works” projects in the Republic. Mari-El is one of the poorest regions of Russia, but yet the President is proudly building a 2nd swimming hall (not a small one either) and a third hockey arena (the region’s best hockey teams do not play in any major league in Russia). Well, bread and circuses worked for Romans, why not for a small-time communist wannabe dictator in Russia.

The program covered the cultural oppression as well mentioning mari language school closures and firings of Mari activists from their jobs.

All in all, the show was one of the best, if not the best, coverage over the Mari-El issue in recent times. Kudos to MOT and the Finnish Broadcasting Company for showing it.


Kremlin, Inc.

Michael Specter, a reporter for the The New Yorker, has written an excellent article on how Vladimir Putin has ceased absolute power in Russia and how he’s using his iron fisted control of the Russian media to create a completely censored newsfeed to the Russian people.

The article also describes how Vladimir Putin came to power by ruthlessly surpressing free speech and slandering his opponents just before the elections in media controlled by him and his cronies.

Finally it goes onto explore why, as the article’s subtitle suggests, are all of Vladimir Putin’s opponents dying?


Russia’s “Third Way” Is A Road To Nowhere

[by Kerkko Paananen, originally published in Finnish]

The situation of NGOs has gone from bad to worse in Russia during President Vladimir Putin’s reign. The authorities are doing their utmost to eliminate the emergence of a free civil society. The government is trying to subjugate any signs of civil expression, subordinate public opinion to state interest, and incorporate civil society into the government’s statial strategy.

Many NGOs in Russia defend those most vulnerable, and it is exactly these organisations that suffer the most from government repression. Those at the receiving end of this repression are thus the weak and the helpless. If we close our eyes from this, and choose to cooperate with “front” organisations enjoying state blessing, we are not only wasting our financial support, but are doing real damage to the very people we wish to help.

Stating a few obvious facts: The Russian Federation is a state, which engages in an open war of terror against its own citizens. Authorities at both federal and local level attack, terrorise, and kill their own fellow citizens. Russia is no state governed by law.

Government pressure on NGOs does not depend on the NGOs themselves, but on the political and economic interests of the ruling elites. Authorities do not react to the actions of NGOs, but create themselves the conditions, in which NGOs are left with no way out; in which NGOs cannot avoid an open confrontation.

It is the moral duty of Finland and other free nations, especially in the EU, to help our partners in Russia to survive. We cannot let the authorities intimidate our friends, drive them into a corner, and destroy everything we have achieved together in the past ten years. It is vital to continue the work and support one another.

Finnish experts often highlight the “uniqueness” of Russia’s development; most likely, this is because we wish to monopolise the expertees on Russia. It seems that Finns have stressed Russia’s uniqueness for so long that we have begun to believe in it ourselves. The end result of this is that the average Finn has a very hazy knowledge of our eastern neighbour; even those who have visited Russia only see what they want to see.

Many are simply unable to regard Russia with common sense, according to the same human standards that we regard other states and cultures. Instead, many choose to spread all sorts of fictitious legends and metaphysical constructions about Russia. It often seems that economists have the clearest idea of what is going on in Russia, because they usually understand the value of money. And money is the only thing Russia’s ruling elite is ever interested in.

The uniqueness of Russia’s development, the so-called “Third Road”, is the artificial ideological construct that the notion of a “Sovereign Democracy” that Putin’s regime has declared is based on. This “Sovereign Democracy” is ruled by the “Power Vertical” — the authoritarian power apparatus of Putin’s presidential administration. By stressing Russia’s uniqueness, we are, in fact, lending support to the development of authoritarianism that lies behind the troubles Russia is facing today.

Russia controlled by nationalist zealots

Andrei Nekrasov, a Russian film maker and an outspoken critic of the Putin dictatorship, has sent an open letter to Helsingin Sanomat, the leading newspaper in Finland.

The letter was sent from the deathbed of the former KGB spy, Alexander Litvinenko, who died this Saturday after being poisoned with radioactive poison earlier in the month. Mr. Litvinenko was a friend of Mr. Nekrasov’s. Before he died Mr. Litvinenko claimed he was poisoned by orders of Vladimir Putin.

The letter by Mr. Nekrasov is one of the most direct and outspoken criticism directed towards the power elite of Moscow. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the decline of democracy in Russia. Mr. Nekrasov is saying Russian democracy has regressed back to Stalin’s ideas for democracy.

Mr. Nekrasov is a brave man. Critics of Putin and his cronies have had a habit of dieing lately. And yet the European Union, under the leadership of Finland, is still talking with Russia about a new partnership agreement between EU and Russia. Politics as usual, I suppose. Money trumps little problems like murdering dissidents.


Politkovskaya’s Murder Was a Stark Message to Putin

[by Kerkko Paananen, originally in Finnish]

Novaya Gazeta’s reporter, Ms Anna Politkovskaya, was shot in Moscow on President Vladimir Putin’s 50th birthday on 7 October 2006. Anyone responsible for the murder was fully aware of this.

About a week before her death, Ms Politkovskaya appeared on Radio Svoboda’s talk show, where she expressed her wish to see Chechnya’s Prime Minister and strongman, Mr Ramzan Kadyrov, stand in front of a judge accused of war crimes on his 30th birthday.

Ms Politkovskaya called Ramzan a “coward armed to the teeth”, a brutish torturer, and the “Chechen Stalin”. Ramzan needs to be very worried about his own life, given the number of Chechens he has killed, Ms Politkovskaya added.

It is wrong to assume that because Ramzan is Chechnya’s Prime Minister, i.e., holds a high public office, that he would be capable or even willing to act like a statesman; that he would be above these sort of personal insults.

The Russian Union of Journalists has an audio tape of Ramzan directing threats against Ms Politkovskaya after Radio Svoboda’s talk show. Any serious criminal investigator would certainly be interested in such a tape.

Moscow has succeeded in Chechnya where the US failed in Vietnam: Russia has “Chechenised” the war.

The civil conflict and terror are now directed by Chechen groups against each other and their civilian backers. The role of federal troops remains to prevent the war from spreading outside Chechnya.

The central government has almost no political role in Chechnya; it has no real possibilities to influence the political situation inside Chechnya; its influence is purely military.

Ramzan’s armed militia has shown time and again that he is Chechnya’s real ruler, not Moscow’s puppet. His militia has repeatedly kidnapped federal soldiers for ransom and killed them just “for fun”.

Mr Vadim Rechkalov, a reporter who appeared on Radio Svoboda together with Ms Politkovskaya, said Ramzan is stronger in the whole of Russia’s Northern Caucasus than Mr Putin is in Russia. Ramzan is a product of Mr Putin’s weakness.

Chechnya is being ruled by several criminal groups, who have formed a loose alliance, and whose principal source of revenue is criminal activity: large-scale embezzlement of state funds, illegal oil trade, kidnappings for ransom, slave trade, and trade in narcotics.

The relationship between the central government and Ramzan is not one of mutual trust; it is a tactical alliance between two criminal organisations that are, in fact, the closest enemies.

Moscow’s biggest enemy in Chechnya are not the guerilla fighters (there are very few left), but its main ally, Ramzan, since he is the only one with the power and ability to oppose the central government.

The central government lost Chechnya when it decided to “Chechenise” the war after the death of Ramzan’s father, Akhmat Kadyrov: by doing so, the central government gave up on its goal of “winning” this war, which cannot be won militarily.

Russia is politically weak in Chechnya, and the only means for it to influence events is through violence, i.e., militarily. Now even this option is melting away. Chechnya has ceased to be part of the Russian Federation a long time ago.

Ramzan turned 30 on 5 October 2006, just two days before Ms Politkovskaya’s murder. Under Chechnya’s constitution, Ramzan is now eligible to be elected President of Chechnya.

If Mr Putin refuses to appoint Ramzan as President of Chechnya, Ramzan either takes power himself or Mr Putin orders him killed. This will not, however, alter the situation in Chechnya one way or the other: Russia has lost Chechnya for good a long time ago.


Politkovskaya’s last article in Novaya Gazeta (28 Sep 2006)
Politkovskaya’s last appearance on Radio Svoboda (05.10.2006)