White House Cowardice: Not a Word Spoken in Defense of Boris Nemtsov

A remarkable statement appeared in the New York Times recently. It read: “The White House issued a statement condemning Mr. Nemtsov’s arrest.”

The statement was remarkable because it compressed so much dishonesty and inaccuracy into less than a dozen words. The link the paper posted was not to any page of the White House website but -- of all things -- a page from state-controlled Russian wire service ITAR-TASS.

The statement quoted did not come from the White House at all. It came from Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council.

And there is no “condemning” in the statement. It merely asserts that the NSC was “surprised” by Nemtsov’s arrest.

Has reading gone the way of the dodo at the Gray Lady?

You may remember Boris Nemtsov -- former first deputy prime minister of Russia, former governor of a major Russian state -- as I’ve written about him before on PJM. Way back in May 2008, we were among the first to introduce the world to Nemtsov and his heroic struggle for democracy and American values in Russia, and my blog La Russophobe provided an English-language translation of his extensive writings exposing the pervasive policy failures of the Putin regime.

Since then, Nemtsov has come under relentless assault from the Kremlin and has been repeatedly jailed for daring to speak out in public about his criticisms of the regime. In fact, when he attempted to publish the latest installment of his research the Kremlin simply seized the entire print run.

But even with all that, the arrest to which the Times was referring was “surprising” to say the least, for two reasons.

First, this time Nemtsov had actually managed to obtain a permit to speak in public and to assemble a crowd. In neo-Soviet Russia, the permit is required or arrest is sure to follow. But now it is clear that the permit is meaningless -- that anyone can be arrested at any time for criticizing the neo-Soviet Kremlin.