Did Condé Nast Kill the Story of the Year to Appease Putin?

And then there was one.

A few months ago, mainstream journalism somehow managed to report the story that the last high-profile human rights activist in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, had been assassinated by the Kremlin's puppet regime in the breakaway region.

But little does the world know -- because of the MSM's characteristic negligence -- about the Putin regime having not one but two separate campaigns of political murder underway. One is aimed at human rights activists who seek to reveal the barbaric crimes being committed against the civilian population by Russia's forces in Chechnya, and the other targets those who would reveal the Kremlin's involvement in the series of bombings in Moscow which left hundreds dead and was used to justify Russia's 1999 invasion of Chechnya in the first place.

While the last human rights hero may have fallen, the last bombing campaigner remains alive -- for now.

His name is Mikhail Trepashkin, and the current issue of GQ contains a brilliant effort by seasoned war correspondent Scott Anderson to focus enough attention on Trepashkin's plight that the Kremlin might hesitate before whacking him.

Too bad Anderson didn't realize Trepashkin wasn't the only one who needed protection from treachery.

Anderson himself needed it, from his own editors and their malignant overlords at the Condé Nast publishing house. While Anderson was risking his life to report one of the world's most overlooked news stories, his publishers were stabbing him in the back.

The Anderson piece appeared in the September issue with no mention of it on the magazine's cover, which was emblazoned with Michael Jackson's kisser and pulse-pounding items on male fashion and grooming. National Public Radio solved the mystery -- the publisher was desperately worried about offending the Putin regime, so much so that it wasn't even going to let the article run in GQ's Russian edition at all and wouldn't place the content on the GQ website.

Enter the fearless Gawker blog, which not only posted readable images of the article but solicited and received a Russian translation, which it also promptly blogged.

For those unfamiliar with the details, the 1999 bombings destroyed two apartment blocks in Moscow and were followed within days by a full-scale assault on Chechnya, even though the rebels steadfastly denied any involvement. Anderson's reporting is revelatory. He makes four key points about the events strongly and dispassionately, having spoken at length to Trepashkin after his recent release from prison (more on that below).

These are the key facts:

1. Putin would not be in power today without the benefit of the bombings.

2. The West, including both media and government, is clearly guilty of appeasement.

3. All key figures, save Trepashkin, who have tried to tell the truth about the bombings in Russia have been murdered.

4. Trepashkin has clear, direct evidence of KGB involvement. (As if any were needed after KGB operatives were apprehended in the midst of yet another bombing, absurdly claiming that they were just practicing to meet terrorist threats).

Opening with a terrifyingly evil image of a brooding Vladimir Putin, Anderson’s article begins by making the absolutely critical point that the Moscow apartment bombings were not merely used as a pretext for invading and subjugating breakaway Chechnya -- which is bad enough in and of itself given that the rebels denied committing the heinous act -- but as justification for the empowerment of Vladimir Putin himself.

A proud KGB spy, even in spineless Russia it was to be expected that the population would have some reservations about handing over power to an organization that had just led the country to ruin. The bombings gave Putin the perfect distraction so that nobody paid attention to that disturbing fact when election day rolled around a few months later.

Anderson moves on to nail another critical issue on the bombings: Western appeasement. He quotes the father of a family that perished in one of the bombings, mincing no words:

They say it was the Chechens who did this, but that is a lie. It was Putin’s people. Everyone knows that. No one wants to talk about it, but everyone knows that.