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Anna Politkovskaya's last political words

Eight days before the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed in Moscow, she had her last column in print in Ny Tid.


By Anna Politkovskajas

Russia's New Middle Ages

On September 15, the Samson meat factory in St. Petersburg was surrounded by a group of soldiers from so-called "Moscow faith power structures". These are formed by direct order from President Putin, who also holds his hand over them. The group put out guard posts around the factory, cut off all connection with the outside world and started torturing the director. They did not leave until he had transferred the business to him they designated as a new owner.

What happened?

The answer is simple: Basons stormed and acquired another man's property.

When the factory workers understood that there were completely lawless conditions there, they were called to the local police. The police came, but were satisfied with the explanation of the bandits / occupants commander. He stated that he was Sulim Jamadajev, commander-in-chief of the Chechnya Battalion East, the holder of the Order of All Russia, an active member of Putin's United Russia support party, and brother of Ruslan Jamadajev, Chechen state's deputy representative. Jamadaev said he was at the factory to make sure everything was "legal". When the failed director had signed the documents Jamadaev had with him, he was allowed to go to hospital. When asked what had happened to the director and whether he had been beaten, doctors replied: "He was not beaten, but tortured."

And what happened then? Maybe the torturers were taken anyway?

The answer is simple: No, no attempt was even made. As recently as October 20, no government officials had said a word about the tragedy at the factory – neither the governor of St. Petersburg, that is, Putin's usually outspoken friend Valentina Matvienko, nor Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is a very close friend of Putin and aspires to be his successor in 2008, and who is the chief of the ministry Sulim Jamadajev's battalion belongs to. Nor did Putin himself, who has everything related to Chechnya under his wings, say anything. Matvienko and Ivanov are silent because all that has to do with these "new Chechen bandits" is Putin's and only Putin's teeth. Any criticism in this area he will understand as criticism of himself.

And life went on in its usual way, as if this were something normal, as if it were the way it should go. Jamadaev and his gangsters could safely return to Moscow.

It is the Kremlin's style to ignore the boyish pranks of its own people. For example, no one from the authorities, including Putin – or rather from Putin and below – made a single comment after what happened this summer.

At the end of July, soldiers from the sister group of Battalion East, namely Battalion South, cut off the head of an enemy they had captured the day before – the rebel soldier Khozh-Ahmed Dushayev. To educate the people, they erected a public pole in the large village of Kurchalaja, where Dushayev was born. It stood for a whole day before representatives of the prosecution came and ordered to take down the head and sew it on again. The soldiers from Battalion South took some thick pieces of thread and sewed them on.

As if this was something normal. The only thing the prosecution determined was that Battalion South had captured and liquidated another "terrorist", and that there was a new feather in their cap for their anti-terror operations in the North Caucasus.

What is really going on? First, Putin carried out a so-called Chechnya of Chechnya, that is, some Chechens, the good, killed others, the bad. The good ones have been organized into four battalions named after the four directions of the sky (east, west, south and north), given them weapons, clothing, footwear, wages and control of a quarter of Chechen territory. North got the northern part, south the southern and so on.

From the very beginning, these battalions hunted up rebel soldiers and exposing potential terrorists in Chechen villages and towns. Russian authorities were generous with rewards, degrees, titles and weapons, and looked through their fingers at what the battalions were doing. And what they were doing was blackmail and banditry: companies located in their area were required to pay tribute, or they were robbed. Those who tried to avoid this were severely punished. Many were kidnapped, and illegal prisons were set up where those who would not pay the tribute were tortured.

The authorities were silent, as if completely normal things were happening. They continued to sprinkle honors on the bandits as a thank you for maintaining peace and order in Chechnya and for trusting that they would ensure that the rebel soldiers did not carry out more terrorist acts in Russia. In every way, the Kremlin blessed the Chechen policy in Chechnya. They closed their eyes to the bandit business as well as to all sorts of pranks, or growth problems in "the new generation of Chechen politicians in the new Chechnya", as the Kremlin likes to say.

Time passed, and the boys became stronger. And then came the time when there was too little space for them in Chechnya. What happened in St. Petersburg is the start of a Chechen nationalization of the whole of Russia. The total lack of reaction from the authorities to the violent takeover of the meat factory on 15 September is a handshake, it is a sign that this will be allowed in the future as well. The "peace" they sought to establish in Chechnya over the past two years has spread beyond Chechnya's borders.

Anna Politkovskaya

This text has previously been published in Ny Tid, in an abbreviated version. See Anna Politkovskaja's columns on the website

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