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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Anna Politkovskaya: Putin's Russia
Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Politkovskaya: Lynch laws is the order of the day
Anna Politkovskaya made her name reporting from Chechnya for Russia's liberal newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.

She was also the author of two books in English, A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya (2001), and Putin's Russia (2004).

Her writing was often polemical, as bitter in its condemnation of the Russian army and the Russian government as it was fervent in support of human rights and the rule of law.

The following are extracts from Putin's Russia by Anna Politkovskaya published by Harvill. (Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited.)

THE RUSSIAN ARMY

"When [Putin] first appeared on Russia's political radar screen as a possible head of state rather than as an unpopular Director of the universally detested Federal Security Bureau (FSB) he began making pronouncements to the effect that the Army, which had been diminished under Yeltsin, was henceforth to be reborn, and that all it lacked for its renaissance was a second Chechen war.

Everything that has happened in the northern Caucasus since then can be traced back to this premise. When the Second Chechen War began, the Army was given free rein, and in the presidential elections of 2000 it voted as one for Putin. The Army has found the present war highly profitable, a source of accelerated promotion, more and more medals, and the rapid forging of careers...

An arrest in Chechnya
Few Russian journalists are now writing about abuses in Chechnya
How exactly Putin has helped the Army we shall see in the stories that follow. You can decide for yourself whether you would like to live in a country where your taxes sustain such an institution. How you would feel when your sons turned 18 and were conscripted as "human resources". How satisfied you would be with an Army from which soldiers deserted in droves every week, sometimes whole squads or entire companies at a time.

What would you think of an Army in which, in a single year, 2002, a battalion, more than 500 men, had been killed not fighting a war but from beatings? In which the officers stole everything from the 10-rouble notes sent to privates by their parents to entire tank columns? Where officers are united in hatred of soldiers' parents because every so often, when the circumstances are just too disgraceful, outraged mothers protest at the murder of their sons and demand retribution.

PUTIN AND THE SOVIET UNION

I have wondered a great deal why I have so got it in for Putin. What is it that makes me dislike him so much as to feel moved to write a book about him? I am not one of his political opponents or rivals, just a woman living in Russia.

Quite simply, I am a 45-year-old Muscovite who observed the Soviet Union at its most disgraceful in the 1970s and '80s. I really don't want to find myself back there again.

CHECHEN CHILDREN

On April 8, two nine-month-old twin baby girls were declared shaheeds - martyrs for their faith - in Chechnya. They came from the tiny Chechen farmstead of Rigakh and were killed before they had learned to walk.

It was the usual story. After the March 14 election relentless military operations were resumed in Chechnya. The Army, in the form of the Regional Operational Staff Headquarters for Coordinating the Counter-terrorist Operation, announced that it was attempting to catch Basaev: "A large-scale military operation is under way to destroy the participants of armed formations."

The scene which confronted Imar-Ali Damaev, the father of the family, would have turned the most hard-headed militant into a pacifist for life, or into a suicide bomber
They failed to catch Basaev, but on April 8 at around 2.00 in the afternoon, as part of the "military operation", the Rigakh farmstead was subjected to a missile bombardment. It killed everyone there: a mother and her five children.

The scene which confronted Imar-Ali Damaev, the father of the family, would have turned the most hard-headed militant into a pacifist for life, or into a suicide bomber. His 29-year-old wife, Maidat, lay dead, holding close their four-year-old Djanati, three-year-old Jaradat, two-year-old Umar-Haji, and the tiny nine-month-old Zara. Their mother's embrace saved none of them. To one side lay the little body of Zura, Zara's twin sister...

Anna Politkovskaya
A new book by Anna Politkovskaya is to be published in English in 2007
All the murders of children since 1999 in bombardments and purges remain unsolved, uninvestigated by the institutions of law and order. The infanticides have never had to stand where they belong, in the dock; Putin, that great "friend of all children", has never demanded that they should. The Army continues to rage in Chechnya as it was allowed to at the beginning of the war, as if its operations were being conducted on a training ground empty of people.

This massacre of the innocents did not raise a storm in Russia. Not one television station broadcast images of the five little Chechens who had been slaughtered. The Minister of Defence did not resign. He is a personal friend of Putin and is even seen as a possible successor in 2008. The Commander-in-Chief himself made no speech of condolence.

CONTRACT KILLINGS

Late yesterday evening, Paul Khlebnikov, editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Forbes Magazine, was murdered in Moscow. He was mown down as he left the magazine's office. Khlebnikov was famous for writing about our oligarchs, the structure of Russian "gangster capitalism" and the huge sums of easy money certain of our citizens have managed to get their hands on.

Also last evening, Victor Cherepkov was blown up by a grenade in Vladivostok. He was a member of our parliament, the State Duma, and famous for championing the weakest and poorest of this land... As he left his campaign headquarters, he was blown up by an anti-personnel mine activated by a trip-wire.

Yes, stability has come to Russia. It is a monstrous stability under which nobody seeks justice in law courts which flaunt their subservience and partisanship. Nobody in his or her right mind seeks protection from the institutions entrusted with maintaining law and order, because they are totally corrupt.

Lynch law is the order of the day, both in people's minds and in their actions. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The President himself has set an example by wrecking our major oil company, Yukos, after having jailed its chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin considered Khodorkovsky to have slighted him personally, so he retaliated.


SEE ALSO
Obituary: Anna Politkovskaya
07 Oct 06 |  Europe
Russians win human rights prize
12 Jan 05 |  Europe

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