Posts Tagged ‘journalist’
Clifford J. Levy, The New York Times’ Moscow correspondent, has provided us excellent reporting over the years, and he really hit it out of the park today with an in-depth look at the violence and lawlessness muckraking reporters in Russia must contend with. We had heard for some time that Russia was a dangerous place in which to practice journalism (Reporters Without Borders just topped their list of worst media predators with Russia and China), and of course we knew the sad case of Anna Politkovskaya, a courageous reporter whom the Putin regime murdered in 2006 for her reports on Chechnya, but Mr. Levy’s report lays bare the pervasion of violence against reporters in Russia:
“Last spring, I called for the resignation of the city’s leadership,” Mr. Beketov said in one of his final editorials. “A few days later, my automobile was blown up. What is next for me?”
Not long after, he was savagely beaten outside his home and left to bleed in the snow. His fingers were bashed, and three later had to be amputated, as if his assailants had sought to make sure that he would never write another word. He lost a leg. Now 52, he is in a wheelchair, his brain so damaged that he cannot utter a simple sentence.
To the north on the M-10 highway from Khimki is a city called Solnechnogorsk, where a newspaper, Solnechnogorsk Forum, was publishing exposés about how local politicians were seeking to do away with elections to maintain power.
The newspaper’s editor, Yuri Grachev, is 73. In February 2009, several men assaulted him as he left his home, putting him in intensive care for a month with a severe concussion, a broken nose and other wounds.
Police officials first said he was drunk and fell down. Then they said he had been the victim of a random robbery, though all that was taken was a folder with material for the newspaper’s next issue. The muggers have not been found, and politicians from the governing party, United Russia, said the attack had nothing to do with Mr. Grachev’s work.
These are not isolated instances, and they serve as a grim reminder of the relative liberty journalists enjoy in America. Our media may be choked with propaganda, our reporters systemically lied to, our independent media ruthlessly crowded out of existence by the news-manufacturing combines, but to my knowledge, journalists in America, even decidedly inconvenient ones such as Glenn Greenwald or Naomi Klein, do not have to contend with car bombs and assassination attempts. This is something which I think we take for granted, and which I only think we will miss, if we do at all, once it has been taken away from us.
The on-again, off-again relationship between the US and Kyrgyzstan appears to be on once again, as US officials stolidly refused to comment on brutal police action in the post-Soviet state. State Department officials cited Uzbek expulsion of our bases after a strongly-worded statement against their police practices. Clearly the US would not relish the loss of yet another Central Asian ‘ally’.
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have all been loyal (if not always obedient) US allies after the loss of their Soviet patron, and the state department considers their military cooperation critical to our efforts in Afghanistan. Thus, bygones will be bygones – at least until their assistance is no longer required. Kyrgyzstan, in particular, has attempted to play both sides this year, announcing total closure of US bases in Februrary followed by a quick redaction in March. Evidently the Kyrgyzstani government is angling for a US-commitment to its regime stability, an outcome which, if it continues to play its cards correctly, it should likely receive.
As with all diplomatic maneuvers in the region, there is an oily bottom to our dealings with that slimy government. The Central Asian oil pipeline runs through the aforementioned countries in addition to Afghanistan (surely our only interest in that godforsaken desert). With resource scarcity becoming an undeniable fact, it would appear that free-flowing oil trumps human rights any day of the week. Not that one need look any further than Iraq for evidence.
A bidding war for these countries between the West and Russia-China appears likely. Russia has already shown its proclivity for pipeline dominance with its annual shutoff of natural gas to Europe (now three years running). In light of these considerations, a few ignored beatings is surely the least the US can do.