Ron Rosenbaum

Putin's Shame: A Journalist's Murder and The Triumph of a KGB Thugocracy

Any time a courageous dissident journalist is murdered for trying to tell the truth all our freedoms die a little. Yesterday they died a lot. Nothing in a long time has struck me as viscerally as as the murder yesterday October 7 of Ana Politkovskaya, leading investigative critic of KGB thug Vladimir Putin.

I have a feeling that the entire history of the past 20 years, indeed entire post-1945 trajectory of world history will have to be re evaluated from the point of view of this repulsive crime and what it represents. And don’t tell me there’s no proof Putin didn’t order it himself. Whether or not he gave the order, does anyone doubt it serves his purposes in terrorizing all opposition to the KGB-style dictatorship he’s now installed.

According to the Times she was killed as she was preparing a report for Monday’ s papers “about torturers in the government of Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the pro-Krelim premier of Chechnya [a story] that included evidence and pictures.”

But there’s a bigger story here: the tragic failure, for which Western politicians and “shock treatment” free market economists bear much repsonsibility, to manage the transition of the former Soviet Union from police state to something more benign. Now after more than a half century of risking the nuclear annihilation of the human species to “win” the Cold War, it could be argued that things are not much better off than after the the fall of the Wall, and–for the average citizen of Russia–in some ways worse.

I used to mock the theories of Anatoly Golitsyn the Svengali of the CIA’s mole-addled guru, James Angleton, who portrayed perestoika, glasnost, and the “collapse” of the Soviet Union as a devious KGB plot to fool the West into giving the apparatchiks breathing room to re create their police state rule. It’s obivously paranoid to believe that it could all have been deliberate, as Golitsyn belived, but it’s not unrealistic to see the results as not much different than if it had been a preconceived plot. The KGB (or its equivalent) now rules Russia openly the way it once did clandestinely.

Let us hope that the death of Ana Politkovskaya will not mark the triumph of these malign forces, but rather a signal for a tidal wave of outrage that may be the last chance to prevent the people of that acccursed land from hurtling straight back into irretrievable darkness again.