Monday, April 03, 2006

Russian Torture in Islamic "Terrorist" Cases

Stalinism Forever

I don't agree with the choice of the word "Stalinism", but Anna Politkovskaya of Novaya Gazeta has an interesting article for the Washington Post regarding Russian tactics in coercion when dealing with Islamic students that they accuse of terrorism. Of course, this is the sort of article for which Ms. Politkovskaya has become known, she has done extensive reporting on Chechnya. As she notes, she would not be allowed to write or publish this article in the Russian Federation any longer. To be honest, I doubt you could find many Russians who would care to read it - many would tell you that the only good Chechen is a dead one.

Here is one example of how it's done. Recently two young college students from the Chechen capital of Grozny -- Musa Lomayev and Mikhail Vladovskikh -- were accused by the police and the prosecutor's office of all small, previously unsolved acts of terrorism that had occurred about six months before in one of Grozny's residential areas. As a result, Vladovskikh is now severely disabled: Both his legs were broken under torture; his kneecaps were shattered; his kidneys badly damaged by beating; his genitalia mutilated; his eyesight lost; his eardrums torn; and all of his front teeth sawed off. That is how he appeared before the court.

To get Lomayev to sign -- and he did sign confessions for five acts of terrorism -- they inserted electrical wires in his anus and applied current. He would lose consciousness, and they would pour water on him, show him the wires again, turn him around backward -- and he would sign confessions that he belonged to a gang with Vladovskikh. This despite the fact that the two defendants were first introduced to one another by their prison torturers.
Such treatment of Russia's own citizens makes Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo appear tame. I'm sure abuse of muslim Russian citizens will be just fine with fundamentalist nations such as Iran, as long as Russia keeps the missles coming.


Sean Guillory said...

I don't like her use of "Stalinism" to describe this either. It reduces a complex system to only one thing--the use of torture and imprisonment of falsly accused people. For better or worse Stalinism was so much more.

That being said, I find it a little more than ironic that it is in the Washington Post, considering that the United States is engaging in comperable practices. I wonder if the Post is engaging in a a bit of irony itself. It makes me ask can such articles about the United States be published in America? Or do journalists have to go to Russia to print similar commentary for fear of being denounced and ostrasized? Or being grouped as being a partisan of terrorists? The fact that the Supreme Court refused to hear the Padilla case today makes one wonder.

I generally like Politkovskaia. Her Putin's Russia is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Thanks for alerting me to the column. I wasn't aware of it.

andrei said...

To my mind this story is very anti-Chechen. You see, detectives are Chechens, investigators are Chechens, men who tortured poor guy are Chechens, even the prosecutor and the judge are Chechens. The only Russians in this story are actually those who cancelled the Chechen court decision and set the guys free.

W. Shedd said...

Chechens are Russian citizens, aren't there? I think it is more indicative of the power of the state to keep a particular faction or ethnic group in line. Is a story about a Native American "Indian" scout who helped US soldiers hunt rebellious tribes of Indians - reflect badly on the Native Americans or on the US governments actions?

I agree Sean - it is definitely ironic, although I do think the US press has the freedom to publish almost anything they wish. But they increasingly self-regulate due to 1) desire to sell newspapers and 2) backlash from zealous citizenry who lash out at anything too critical of the government.

But it is pretty easy to find news stories ... both good and bad ... of daily events going on in Iraq, for example.

lida said...

Russia is outstanding in torture !