According to the most recent available statistics, Russia has an intentional homicide rate of 14.9 per 100,000 citizens. Only 13 countries on this planet have a higher rate.
The rate in the United States, by contrast, is 5.0 per 100,000 citizens — three times lower.
So it was strange, to say the very least, to hear Andrei Sitov, the Washington bureau chief of ITAR-TASS — the government-operated Russian version of Reuters — ask White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs whether the recent murder spree by Jared Loughner in Arizona was not an indication that while freedom generally was an “American” thing, “the quote, unquote ‘freedom’ of the deranged mind to respect, to react violently to that” was not also very “American.”
He added: “It’s the reverse side of freedom. Unless you want restrictions, unless you want a bigger role for the government.” In a separate statement Sitov clarified he meant that that “this is a cost that your country pays for freedom.”
Then, Sitov went further: “After the exchange Sitov told Politico he had heard of ordinary Russians who reacted to the shooting by saying, ‘And these people lecture us.’ He added, ‘If you want to stop this, you have to be willing to restrict some freedoms.’”
In other words, Sitov was clearly attempting to claim that Russia, where freedom is less, isn’t plagued by the ravages of intentional murder to the same extent America is. He was arguing that the Arizona murders proved the legitimacy of Russia’s anti-freedom, pro-dictatorship society and the illegitimacy of American calls for reform in Russia.
In other words, Sitov was lying.
He was spewing propaganda in the manner of Josef Goebbels, using a great American tragedy to score political points with his Kremlin puppet masters by totally disregarding the unquestionable fact that Russia’s experience with murder is far more devastating than America’s despite Russia’s total lack of freedom.
Russia, in other words, is living in the worst of all possible worlds. All the hardships of dictatorship, and none of the benefits. Good luck pointing that out to Russia’s press secretary in the Kremlin, though.
Russia has plenty of infamous serial killers. The most spectacular was Andrei Chikatilo, who murdered nearly sixty women and children before being apprehended, making Loughner look like Mother Theresa. Stories about brutal murders, including barbaric acts of cannibalism, flow out of Russia like a tsunami of blood.
And Russia has a variety of murders totally unknown in the U.S. — murders of opposition political figures and journalists not by madmen, but by but skilled assassins acting for political purposes, likely at the behest of the state. Here Russia’s recent roll of horror is seemingly endless: Starovoitova, Yushenkov, Shchekochikhin, Klebnikov, Politkovskaya, Estemirova, Markelov.