The Widdershins

Russian Roulette: A Guest Post by DYB

Posted on: March 12, 2015

Happy Friday the 13th Eve , y’all.  For those with paraskevidekatriaphobia, get back under your beds.  It’s safer there, and you can catch up on all of this over the weekend.  For those of us still up and reading we have a treat – a guest post by our (like The Daily Show)  Senior Russian Contributor, DYB.

I have watched the latest news from Russia, all the while scratching my head.  During the Fabulous Fifties, we were taught to duck and cover our heads while crouching under our school desks whilst the atomic bombs rained down upon us, which is even more of a head-scratcher.  We learned of the Czar, Anastasia, the Revolution, the gulags and so forth, and then Mr. Gorbachov tore down that wall.  Since then, any number of Eastern European nations have emerged from the old Soviet bloc, and I have lost any grasp, tenuous that it may have been.  I am not really capable of assessing the current developments, or even pronouncing the names correctly – just trying saying “Boris Nemtsov” with a Southern accent.  So without further ado, here is D’s most welcomed post:

 On February 27, 2015 Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back four times. He was shot within view of the Kremlin. This may be significant not just for the poetic imagery (Nemtsov was a Deputy Prime Minister of Russia under Yeltsin and was a leading critic of Putin and his policies), but also because one may wonder how the assassins managed to kill a man as famous in Russia as Nemtsov and flee the scene of the crime. There can also be no doubt that Nemtsov, as a leading opposition figure, would be followed by the Russian secret service. There’s also the issue of the security video which shows the killing: except that the actual shooting is obscured by a snow-plow. Unusual not only for the perfect timing of the passing vehicle, but also for the fact that there was no snow on the ground. So how did someone manage to shoot Nemtsov in the back behind a perfectly timed slow-moving vehicle in the most heavily guarded area of Moscow – and disappear?

Boris Nemtsov was a well-known liberal figure in Russian politics. He served in Yeltsin’s government (including as First Deputy Prime Minister, a post Putin would later occupy) and was once introduced to Bill Clinton by Yeltsin as his most likely successor as President of Russia. Gary Kasparov, the chess champion, current opposition leader and Mentsov’s friend and sometimes rival, compared Nemtsov to Clinton in an op-ed he penned for the Wall Street Journal. Nemtsov’s career crashed along with the Russian stock market in the late 1990’s. But he remained in the public eye, taking on Putin’s authoritarian rule, his regime’s corruption and the recent war in Ukraine. At the time of his assassination Nemtsov was in Moscow to lead an anti-war rally in Moscow and said he was about to publish documents proving Russian government’s leading role in the war in the Ukraine. The rally would become mass protests against his murder.

Russian media, at least Putin’s 4 main channels (you can read novelist Gary Shteyngart’s by turns hilarious and horrifying binge-watching of Russian television in this NY Times article: ), didn’t even cover the protests. Instead they showed musical showcases (think Dancing/Singing/Skating/Diving/Etc. With The Stars), movies and TV serials. Putin’s response so far has been of the “well isn’t it terrible” variety. Putin’s minions are blaming the West and maybe other opposition leaders for the death. They claim that either Nemtsov’s liberal colleagues had him killed to create a martyr or Muslims did it or the West is out to make Putin look bad. All scenarios are preposterous, of course, but reason and logic are in short supply. We only know that Putin keeps finding ways to silence his critics. From journalists like Anna Politkovskaya (assassinated), to human rights lawyers like Sergei Magnitsky (beaten to death in jail), former secret service agents Alexander Litvinenko (poisoned by plutonium), businessmen Mikhail Khodorkovsky (imprisoned), musicians Pussy Riot (also imprisoned), and political critics/rivals Alexei Navalny (still imprisoned), and now Nemtsov (assassinated)*, it is fascinating how Putin’s critics find themselves either in jail or dead. Putin has promised to personally oversee investigation into Nemtsov’murder.

The authorities did indeed just manage to arrest some men, claiming confessions have already been given. The men are Chechens, naturally. Well, we will probably never know if these exact men were involved; and most importantly, we are not likely to ever know on whose orders were they acting. But there is reason to fear that Putin’s rule has entered a dangerous new phase: the killing of not just little-known critics (previous victims like Politkovskaya and Magnitsky were not famous), but public assassinations of very well-known leaders. This death is a big threat and few critics of the Kremlin are likely to see it any other way. Going forward it will be interesting to see if the public falls back into indifference and fear of Putin – or if this murder will galvanize the opposition.


(*the list is nowhere near exhaustive.)




32 Responses to "Russian Roulette: A Guest Post by DYB"

I’m still ankle deep in wedding preps, so please dive right into this great post.

Excellent post D! That snow plow was just ever-so-convenient, wasn’t it?

Putin has promised to personally oversee investigation into Nemtsov’murder.

I am certain that will make everyone rest easy now. 😯

I know that I feel ever so much better about it…….

Off topic but Damn! Never noticed the resemblance before:

@5: Hunh. Uncanny

@6: That’s Twisty the clown from Amer. Horror Story. Uh, I mean the guy on the right, that is. 😉

And Twisted the Clown on the left, (Only time you’ll find him on the left!)

Here is what started Jeb Lund on the Kristol thang:

Steve Scalise, R-KKK-LA, third in line in the Repub House leadership says the environmentalists’ focus on climate change is “foolishness.”

And “They’re still running on this global warming agenda,” he said. 🙄

Perhaps he would like to sign onto the “ban the term” club. In the name of freedom, doncha know?
I think that Saclise is a practicing Catholic, so I’m eagerly anticipating the forthcoming statement from the Pope regarding (sshhhhh!) climate change.

chat@13: Oh yes he is a practicing Cat’lic. He’ll probably say the Pope needs to keep himself busy saving souls.

But the funny thing is that he represents SE La. You know: the place that’s not only washing away but experiencing rising sea waters. It doesn’t sound like he’s much interested in helping the pressing issues of his constituents does it?

I love how SAE’s racist chant is black people’s fault!

It’s all about the rap. However, it does point back to that entertaining double standard thing – we can call ourselves whatever, but don’t you dare! That cuts across color, religion, region, ethnicity, etc. I guess it’s pretty much the strange standard of our times.

When I heard of the murder of Nemstov, “in the shadow of the Kremlin” as professional idiot, Wolf Blitzer, kept shouting, my first thought was CIA.
That the killers were Chechens, however, makes sense.

chat said: we can call ourselves whatever, but don’t you dare! That cuts across color, religion, region, ethnicity, etc. I guess it’s pretty much the strange standard of our times.

Eh, goes for families too:

“How dare you call my sister a drunken slut, crack and alcohol addicted shoplifter who abuses her children!!!” “Yes it’s true but you can’t say it!!”


@20. Exactly on point.

Sweet Sue @ 18 > I think that the actual trigger pullers may have been Chechens (may have been) would be coincidental to who ordered the hit. We will probably never actually find out. But I suspect that it was done for Putin specifically (even if he didn’t order the hit himself) or by his admirers with the understanding/hope that he would be pleased. The environment he has created in Russia would make the latter very possible.

Here’s an interesting article on the cables that carry internet traffic/signals across the globe.

And you can find a zoom-able scrollable map here. Interesting to note that almost all of Africa’s connectedness comes from Europe. There’s hardly anything Trans-Atlantic from North or South America.

@DYB-21: I agree with your comment here. I would be willing to bet Putin was somehow involved.

For Prolix (when he’s able to get his ‘puter fixed): LSU had a chance at the SEC tourney and lost to Auburn. They *may* get an invite to the NCAA but not holding breath.

Geaux Wildcats!!

Beautiful photos of Tibetan Buddhist monks making a Sand Mandala in Nola.

What a great post DYB! I’m sad for the Russians. I think Putin was behind it. I think Putin is capable of anything.

annie@26 said: I think Putin is capable of anything.


Fredster, that is really beautiful. We are having hot weather here now, Spring is definitely here. I spent today out working on the patio.

annie, the article said the monks do those things one grain of sand and one breath at a time. I remember last year or the year before some monks were doing one of those sand things in New Jersey and a kid got in there and tromped through it! 😯

The weather here has been dreary with lots of moisture moving up from the Gulf of Mexico…just bleh.

socalannie @ 26 > I think he’s capable of anything as well. Let us not forget he’s a former KGB guy. I’m also fascinated by his “disappearance” over the past week and the speculation in the Western press about where he is. They have no idea and they can’t find out. How can the leader of a country vanish like that? It reminds me of how the Western media has to wonder about other dictatorships like North Korea, etc. Sometimes those guys disappear too and the media can’t find any infmation. If anyone thought Russia was different from a place like North Korea, this successful vanishing act by its leader suggests otherwise.

Interesting post! As for Putin disappearing, why doesn’t the NSA know where he is? They’re spying on everybody and Punxsutawney Phil, but this, which seems like the sort of thing a spy agency should actually know, catches them completely flatfooted.

I heard one interesting theory (by a Russian journalist, if I remember right) about who did the murder. Right-wing crazies trying to make Putin take a more extreme line, while simultaneously getting rid of Nemtsov for being insufficiently rigidly “Russian,” AND letting Putin know how close to the Kremlin they can rather freely operate. A three-fer. The journalist speculated that Putin’s invisibility is because he’s re-checking his security apparatus before putting himself outside the protection of the loyal palace guards.

Disappearances of formerly trusted flunkies followed by Putin’s reappearance would support the send-a-scary-message-to-Putin hypothesis.

quixote@31: Now there’s a bunch of conspiracy theorists!!

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