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Ron Radosh

The Meaning of Putin’s Expulsion of Journalist David Satter

January 15th, 2014 - 10:04 am

The expulsion of journalist-historian David Satter from Vladimir Putin’s Russia is indeed — as Satter himself puts it in today’s Wall Street Journal – “an admission that the system under President Vladimir Putin cannot tolerate free speech, even in the case of foreign correspondents.”

Satter was in Russia as an investigative reporter for Radio Liberty’s Russian service, the successor station of the old Soviet-era Radio Free Europe.

No one is better equipped to cover today’s Russia, over which Putin presides as a tin-horn replica of Joe Stalin. Satter’s book Age of Delirium, which he subsequently made into a documentary film, reveals in poignant interviews what it was really like to live in the Soviet Union in its post-Stalin days. His most recent book, It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past, explores how Russia’s failure to understand and investigate what the decades of the Soviet experiment meant for their people’s lives permitted another authoritarian regime to develop under Putin.

So when the Russian authorities learned that David Satter was now going to reside in Moscow as the base for his reporting gig, they could not have been happy. Satter’s months there coincided with the planning of the forthcoming Sochi Olympics and the renewal of terrorism said to be from Chechen Muslims. It is also a period for investigating what Satter calls “unanswered questions from the past,” such as who was responsible for the 2004 massacre at the Beslan school, who bore responsibility for the murder in London of major Putin political opponent Alexander Litvinenko, and who murdered crusading journalists Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova.

Of course Putin’s Russia is not the old Stalinist Soviet Union, but there are great similarities. Putin and his cronies, as Satter says, hold total political power and also control the country’s most valuable economic assets. Rather than create socialism in one country, as Stalin would have it, Putin has created crony capitalism, in which one set of approved leaders gets it all for themselves. The country is on the verge of economic collapse, held aloft only by artificially high prices for oil and gas. (Satter covered all this in Darkness at Dawn:The Rise of the Russian Criminal State.)

Clearly, in this precarious time for Russia and as Putin stakes his reputation on an unsullied Olympics, his security forces do not want a man of character such as David Satter reporting. New terrorist attacks have been taking place, and Satter is the man who provided evidence that past terrorism acts, such as the 2007 apartment bombings which the Kremlin blamed on the Chechens, were really carried out by the FSB, the successor agency of the old KGB.

Satter provides more information about his expulsion on his own website. There is only one conclusion as to why he was expelled, not even given permission to gather his belongings from his Moscow apartment and to retrieve his journalistic notes: “The real reason for my refusal,” Satter writes, “was the one given by Alexei Gruby in Kiev. I was expelled from the country at the demand of the security services.”

This is indeed “an ominous precedent for all journalists,” as well as for free speech in Putin’s Russia.

How will the journalistic community respond? Will they take their credentials and just cover the Olympics — which would give much-welcome propaganda via publicity as determined by Putin’s controlled news apparatus — or will they protest Satter’s expulsion and threaten to report independently once in Russia?

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
We have a sitting president threatening to rule by decree and the MSM is happier than a pig in a mud hole. Who cares what Putin does in that hell hole the communist created in Europe. Our own elected officials are so busy filling their war chests and running for re-election that they are as happy as the MSM to have Obama do the job they were elected to do. We need a total change of people in our government, and when we restore freedom and liberty here then we can worry about others.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Americans are funny; their economy is tanking, free speech has practically been abolished, religion is under attack, the NSA the spy agency of the American government has been given a blank check to pry into every space of the American State, their solders are fighting in dying in a useless war, their education system totally sucks, their culture is in the gutter but Radosh wants to tell us that Russia is the one in trouble.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Start fighting for other countries' liberty when your freedoms at home are dying is also a sin of altruism (yes, my Randian view). We need people talking the truth to power right here, right now. Russians will follow suit.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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my stepmum just got Mercedes CL-Class CL63 AMG only from working part time off a laptop. read more www.joBsaa.CoM
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin's Russia is not the USSR. Stop beating that drum.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Useful idiots indeed!
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin discourages abortion and laws protecting perverts. I think he is in the right path there.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting that they chose to expel Satter. I know a little about Russia, having lived there, and have found his writing on Russia to be top notch. IMHO he is more than a journalist; it might be more accurate to call him a scholar.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have a sitting president threatening to rule by decree and the MSM is happier than a pig in a mud hole. Who cares what Putin does in that hell hole the communist created in Europe. Our own elected officials are so busy filling their war chests and running for re-election that they are as happy as the MSM to have Obama do the job they were elected to do. We need a total change of people in our government, and when we restore freedom and liberty here then we can worry about others.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Americans are funny; their economy is tanking, free speech has practically been abolished, religion is under attack, the NSA the spy agency of the American government has been given a blank check to pry into every space of the American State, their solders are fighting in dying in a useless war, their education system totally sucks, their culture is in the gutter but Radosh wants to tell us that Russia is the one in trouble.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Radosh is still fighting the last war. He doesn't seem to realize that the cold war is over and that the war front is now inside the US.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Start fighting for other countries' liberty when your freedoms at home are dying is also a sin of altruism (yes, my Randian view). We need people talking the truth to power right here, right now. Russians will follow suit.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin: flat tax, discouraging abortion, promoting big families, fighting perverts.
Obama: well...
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fascinating, but where do you stand, Ron?

The Obama Regime has tens of millions of Useful Idiots who refuse to accept anything, but the Obama Myth and the sanctity of Global Warming, no matter how ridiculous the assertions become. How can we draw informed opinions from one journalist who was thrown out of the country. The expulsion may have been for other reasons. The winter olympics will test the resolve of a closed community. Still we know from our own experience, crony capitalism is an economic depressant, but it does disperse power and control among elites who will support the regime in everything.

http://skooksjournal.com/?p=666
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
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