Alex Mercouris On Russian Journalists

His comment on my last article on the safety of Russian journalists was so good, involving detailed and seemingly original research, that I thought it would be good to highlight it in a separate post. Also like the lawyerly way he goes about making his argument. 🙂

I have spent the last few days working through the websites of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) and of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). I have read through their case studies. I would just like to make the following points:

1. Both the CPJ and the IFJ come across to me as sober and honest organisations. Though they use different methodologies and therefore come up with different figures their articles on deaths of journalists in Russia and elsewhere impress me as well researched and well intentioned. I can see no agenda other than a desire to protect and increase the safety of journalists.

2. Though they use different methodologies and come up with different figures both the CPJ and the IFJ say about Russia essentially the same thing, which is that the situation there with respect to the safety of journalists is improving and that the Russian authorities are making a genuine effort to come to grips with the problem and that this effort is starting to achieve success.

3. @ K.F., in that connection, I have to point out that the link you have provided to the website of the CPJ not only bears out my last point and the point Anatoly made in his article, but makes the diametrically opposite point to the one you are trying to make. It reads:

“Russia and Mexico, two of the world’s most murderous countries for the press, are heading in different directions in combating deadly anti press violence. The Committee to Protect Journalists found improvement in Russia as journalist murders ebbed and prosecutors obtained two high profile convictions”.

By contrast the CJP reports that the situation in Mexico is going rapidly from bad to worse.

4. As it happens if you follow the methodology of the CJP (which is considered more rigorous and more authoritative) then the improvement in Russia in recent years becomes even more marked. The CJP reports no journalist killed in Russia for journalistic activities in 2010 and only one journalist, Khadzimurad Kamalov, killed in Russia in 2011. It reports no journalist killed in Russia so far this year. Moreover five of the last six journalists killed in Russia were killed in the northern Caucasus, which as is well known is a war zone and is therefore especially dangerous for journalists (as are for example Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan). The remaining sixth case, which is the only case of the last six cases to have involved a journalist killed for her journalistic activities in Russia outside the northern Caucasus, is that of Anastasia Baburova, who was killed in Moscow on 19th January 2009 when she left a press conference in the company of the human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was also killed in the same attack. Baburova’s and Markelov’s case has been solved with a young couple, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, having confessed to and been convicted for the crime.

5. I would add that of the 77 journalists the CPJ lists as having been killed most probably for their journalistic activities since 1991, 27 or more than one third of the total were killed in the northern Caucasus. Of the remaining 50, there is good reason to think that Politkovskaya’s murder, though happening in Moscow, was also connected to the war in the northern Caucasus with the authorities accusing a Chechen gunman of having been the person who actually shot her. This may also be true of some of the other murders of journalists that have happened outside the northern Caucasus. Moreover as I have said the CPJ’s latest figures show that the proportion of Russian journalists who have been killed in the northern Caucasus is now increasing to the point where the CPJ says that five out of the last six were killed there. Of these five one, Estemirova, appears to have had her case solved with the authorities tracing the murder weapon and the car in which she was killed to a jihadi warlord who was himself killed in an air strike.

6. Of earlier cases, there are now good grounds to think that the Politkovskaya case has been solved, with several people now confessing to their part in her murder and with the trial of her murderers pending probably in the autumn. There are also suggestions that the same group that was responsible for the murder of Politkovskaya was also responsible for the earlier murder of the Russian American journalist Paul Khlebnikov, in which case this case too may shortly be solved. However against this there have been a number of prosecutions that have failed because juries have rejected cases brought against persons the authorities say have murdered journalists. Some of these jury decisions may be because of genuine doubts about these cases and or because of the traditional suspicion many Russians have towards the police and the prosecuting authorities. However the IFJ in its report strongly hints that some of these acquittals have been due to the suborning of juries either by bribery or intimidation. The IFJ is urging the Russian authorities to take action to remedy the problem.

7. I also have some doubts about whether some of the cases listed even in the more rigorous CJP survey really are murders. The case of Ivan Safronov, a military journalist who was criticised for leaking classified information and who is the seventh most recent case in the CPJ’s list, looks to me like a suicide. The earlier and more famous case of the Novaya Gazeta deputy editor Yuri Shchekochikin, though more suspicious, could be simply a case of a violent allergic reaction to medication provided to deal with a bad case of flu.

8. In summary, what the facts show is that after a disastrous period lasting from the end of Communism to the end of Putin’s first term, the situation in Russia in terms of journalists’ safety has now improved to the point where outside the war zone of the northern Caucasus journalists where special conditions apply, journalists are now no more likely to be murdered in Russia for their work than they are in many western countries.

9. I would again point out that murders of journalists are by no means unknown in western countries. In my previous comment I mentioned the unsolved murder in Britain of the BBC journalist Jill Dando who was shot dead apparently by a contract killer outside her house in 1999. The CPJ also lists six journalists killed for their journalistic activities in the United States since 1993 with several cases unsolved and with several clearly bearing the hallmarks of contract killings. One was one a prominent Spanish speaking journalist who was killed in New York because of his work exposing Columbian drugs cartels. The CPJ report on his killing mentions that death threats continued to be sent to his newspaper for some time after his murder. Another cases, seemingly still unsolved, involves a Haitian born journalist who was killed in 1993 in Miami. The CJP report on his killing mentions that two other Haitian born journalists were also killed in Miami the previous year and are not therefore included amongst the six US journalists listed as having been killed after 1993. It seems that these two previous murders and that of the Haitian journalist killed in 1993 may be connected and might have been revenge attacks carried out by supporters of the ousted Haitian President Jean Baptiste Aristide. Lastly the CJP reports one killing of a US journalist who was shot in the street but whose case the US authorities treat as “unexplained” in a way that would certainly trigger charges of a cover up if it were to happen in Russia.

10. Lastly, I would point out that whilst there has not been a single case of a journalist whose murder in Russia has been securely linked to the government, there have been numerous cases of journalists whose murders were almost certainly due to opponents of the government. Those journalists killed in the northern Caucasus by Chechen or jihadi terrorists obviously fall into that category. I would also point out viz KF’s reference to the recent “Anatomy of a Protest” documentary on NTV that the most recent case in Russia of violence against journalists was the beating up of two NTV journalists by opposition supporters during the opposition protest and riot on 6th May 2012.


  1. Thank you for your comment Mr. Adomanis. It is the perfect illustration of intellectual nihilism, self-deception and escapism Russia apologists are forced to execise, either in the form of sophisticated apologism of Mr. Adomanis or angry infantilisim of Mr. Karlin, in order to defend putinism. You, sirs, are not russophiles, but putinophiles.

    You Mr. Adomanis typed almost 1400 words but you still could not explain away the fact that Russia is #9 in the CPJ impunity index. But you tried by saying that:
    -Northern Caucasus is not really Russia, and thus should not taken into consideration
    -There could be convictions in murder cases in the future, especially if Russians would just trust the police and the justice system.
    -Ivan Safronov’s fall from the window of his apartment looks here from Washington like a suicide.
    -Yuri Shchekochikin’s death could be simply a case of a violent allergic reaction to medication provided to deal with a bad case of flu.
    -It was a long time ago and it never happened anyway
    -“А у вас негров линчуют”

    You, and Mr. Karlin here, have chosen one parameter, number of killed journalists, to indicate that…, yes, what excatly? That Russia has no more problems with safety of journalists and freedom of the press than the West in general? That things are really, really, really getting better in Russia? Really?

    • Infantile as I may be at least I take care to get the name of the person I’m critiquing right. 🙂

      Otherwise, *yawn*. Same old, same old.

      PS. Are you by any chance the Polish nationalist known as “Keif” who comments at Adomanis’ blog?

      • Unfortunate but understandable error. Though after quick browse through Mr. Mercurious blog I wouldn’t say thought that Mr. Mercury is at the same level of sophistication as Mr. Adomanis is. His postings are at least usually and most of the time intriguing to read.

        Mr. Anatoliy Karpin, Did you or did you not call Mexicans ugly and fat? Is that infantile argumentation or not?

        Same old, same old, but Russia still stands #9 in CPJ impunity index, doesn’t she?

        I might be Keif or I might not be. I might be Polish or then not. Unless you once again retreat to infantile agrumentation ad hominem it should not matter at all.

        • First result on googling “Russian women”

          First result on googling “Mexican women”

          I rest my case.

          PS. You’re still displaying your chronic inability to get names right.

          • The image that is the first result on googling “Russian women” comes from the mail order bride website “”. Are mail order brides something that Russia should be proud of?

            Speaking of weight problems it seems that the problem in Russia is just the opposite:


            I know, that was waaaaaay back in 2007, Lilliputin must have fixed the problem by now.

            • But WHY is the global mail bride industry dominated by Russians (well, Moldovans and Ukrainians, mostly) and Philippino/Thais? Because they’re considered hot. Proof by market.

              Today, Russia is becoming one of the shortest nations,” said Alexander Baranov, senior specialist with the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Interfax reported.

              Сегодня, по данным Миронова, средний рост 18-20-летних мужчин составляет 175 сантиметров, а рост российских мужчин – 177 сантиметров. Для сравнения, рост молодых мужчин в США – 178 сантиметров, а самыми высокими считаются шведы, средний рост которых достигает 184 сантиметров.

              175cm for 18-20 year olds is approximately 3-5cm shorter than average for white European males, which is not a huge difference and quite likely a result of its deep post-Soviet depression. (PS. Mexico: 167cm).

              Now this is a much better proxy for nutritional quality in Russia over time (meat consumption per capita, kg).

              • I’m afraid global mail order bride business is dominated by other factors than hottness of products. Overall the hole business is full of deep sadness.

                Although I admit there are happy stories, too. A friend of my grandfather is happily married to a beautiful and intelligent young Russian lady in her 20s.

          • Sorry, AK, but that is just weak and far below your usual standards. You shouldn’t let the pathological liar KF take you for a ride. Aside from looks and obesity averages what are the personality averages? My view is that Latino women are much less bitchy than eastern European females. If you wanted a life partner that would be a much higher plus than model-like appearance. The model-like appearance is not an average trait anywhere on this planet, BTW.

          • Scowspi says:

            Interesting to note that although Mexicans are the fattest, the next 6 fattest countries are all Anglosphere ones.

            • In my view the reason for Mexican obesity is because they have a high aboriginal component in the population. The aboriginals did not die out in Mexico like in many other parts of the New World and have mixed with Hispanic immigrants. One characteristic of New World aboriginals is low tolerance for carbohydrates. The current high carb Mexican diet is nothing like the diet of the original inhabitants. So the consequences of insulin resistance are widespread: obesity and type II diabetes.

              So Mexicans can be forgiven for being fat. Americans cannot be excused because of medical issues.

  2. melior sapientiorque te sum says:

    What the fuck does “intellectual nihilism” even mean? What an incredibly vacuous insult. Thought is intrinsically nihilistic, which is why it always questions, which is why it is distinguished from sense experience, faith, and more belief. A non-nihlistic intellect is a square circle, and this is the insult of a, what do the kids say, retard.

  3. yalensis says:

    Counter-example: I met a young Mexican woman named Mariela last year at a ski resort, she was slim and really cute. She wasn’t a member of the pampered elite either,or even a skiier, just an ordinary worker at the resort. But she was really, really cute. (And a very nice person.)
    But I digress, and this all B.S. commentary on secondary issues just detracts unfairly from Mercouris’ excellent research. Great job, Alexander Spiridonovich!

    • Group averages are important yalensis. Russians are boozers, Mexicans and Americans are fat, Poles have raging inferiority complexes, and Jews are clever. Take the red pill. 🙂

      It is also fun to troll K.F.

      Otherwise, of course, an excellent post by Mercouris. I am consistently impressed by the quality of his comments. They are not infrequently superior to the post they are addressed to. It’s a pity he closed down his blog.

      • You are trolling in your own blog?! Well, it is America and you can write what ever you want. Unlike in some other countries.

        A friendly advice to you, Anapoly: If, by chance, other participants of “The World Russia Forum 2012: How To Counter Media Bias Against Russia?” read your blog your crazy trolling of your own blog and proving that Mexicans are ugly fatsos might seriously hamper your credibilty even before you have presented your ideas. I wish your ideas are taken seriously.

        • Agreed. I should keep well away from “blasphemy” in democratic Poland.

          I wish your ideas are taken seriously. I had a chuckle at that. Pro tip: Don’t go into the bridge-selling business. You’re not cut out for it.

          • Drogi przyjacielu, twój dziecinna obsesja Polsce jest jednoznaczne. Ale strzelają puste, niestety nie posiadają nawet prostej komendy w języku polskim.

            No, seriously, I wish your ideas are taken seriously. In a same way you say Mexican women are presented by a google image search.

            • To the contrary, I think it is you who has an obsession with Russia. After all I don’t make it my life’s work to troll Polonophile blogs!

              • My replies have in no way been trolling and it was you who started the whole business with fat Mexican chicks. You even admitted it yourself just a couple of hours ago.

                “After all I don’t make it my life’s work to troll Polonophile blogs”.

                I had a double chuckle at that. First of all, there are no blogs that would “aim to give a contrarian analysis of Poland” or “expose western myths about Poland” that you could troll. Because there is no need. Unlike Russia, Poland is нормальная страна, which I believe most Russians desire their motherland also to be. Secondly, unlike yours, my salary is in a way paid by the Kremlin (or rather Russian tax payers) so Russia is my life’s work. Sometimes even an obsession. But I promise just a couple of more years and then I’m done.

              • So you’re one of those corrupt ivory tower think tankers writing about New Cold Wars who nobody reads apart from similar types? Explains quite a lot. Congrats on the scam. Perhaps I should retract the bridge-selling comment.

  4. Dear Alexander,

    Now that the exiting discussion on Russian vs. Mexican women seems to be over, let me congratulate you with the excellent post.


  5. Apologies to all (barring K.F., who remains an itch in the ass) for the digressions above, which some might find insulting.

    I’d come back from the bar last night and perhaps expressed some opinions a bit too bluntly. Henceforth, they will be limited to the other blog, which you are of course free not to visit.

  6. Speaking of “of intellectual nihilism, self-deception and escapism [hardcore Russophobes] are forced to execise”…I’ve been ‘suspended’ by Twitter after asking one Russophobe groupy straight up whether she’s paid by DHS. No personal insults. No four or five letter words like the kind hurled at Meghan McCain all day (not saying she deserves it, and she’s not her insane warmongering father, but PMSNBC is a pretty turgid channel — at least Fox News allows the Judge on from time to time while laughing nervously wondering if they’re due for the no-fly list for having him on).

    Apparently some folks on Twitter can hurl obscenities and libelous accusations all day long with impunity, but I ask one teensy little question and I get kicked off, without even so much as being allowed to delete my own account. Bastards.I reported them for abuse and ‘aggressive following’, and I see they’re all still there.

    Screw Twitter, and screw the folks they work for to direct the tweeting swarm into the most ridiculous, celebrity-worship and irrelevant issues while tweeters about DHS, TSA groping and the like get suppressed. The folks who ignore evidence of Cointelpro pro-Statist trolling online like this:

    and this:

    deserve to get groped by the TSA good and hard.

    And as for AK’s veering into the Sailer and manosphere…well, by increasing American standards that Russian plus size model is actually about normal for a twentysomething.

    And one more thing, I don’t think the troll above has ever lived in a typical U.S. barrio. In fact, the Mexicans/Central Americans in the U.S. are generally far more obese than their sisters South of the Border. Blame Mon-satan and corn syrup along with a love of taquerias.

    • Twitter and Facebook are pathetic attempts by America to control social interaction on the internet. I have never visited either and doubt the whole world will join them and reduce all other opinion exchange venues to nothingness.

  7. My point is, and I’ll stop digressing after this comment promise…young Mexican women IN MEXICO still look pretty darn good, considering Mon-satan’s creeping inflitration of their country’s staple maiz/corn crop and Mexican Coca Cola being the sugariest and most consumed per capita on the planet. And not just on the telenovelas.

    It’s just that the American diet is particularly toxic to the Mexican genes when there’s not as much frame to hang all the obesity on in the first place. I am not racist against Mexicans, I merely resent one country getting to dictate the U.S. immigration policy and using euphemisms like ‘undocumented and unashamed’ to basically assert that Mexicans who entered illegally (even if I’m willing to legalize those who came with their parents through no fault of their own, provided they’re working and willing to sponsor their parents who had them here) deserve to go to the head of the line. Unless they serve in the military (though that brings up echoes of ancient Rome) um, no.

    Somehow when they discuss ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ despite the articles finding the occasional undocumented Iranian they don’t have legalizing undocumented Ukrainians in mind. People say well duh there’s the geography but Canada doesn’t let in heaploads of Americans or Mexicans, they go for Chinese and Indian migrants from thousands of miles away.

  8. A sudden shift from the Guardian. The recent stabbing of a journalist in Moscow, possibly over comments about the Prophet Mohammed, has produced this article by Miriam Elder.

    What struck me immediately about this article is that the death toll for journalists since the fall of Communism is now put at about 50. This compares with the “around 200” supposedly murdered since Putin came to power in 2000 alleged by the Guardian in its editorial of 18th December 2011 quoted in your post. No explanation for the change.

    PS: Anatoly, the Guardian would have received my letter before Miriam Elder wrote her piece. However it will have had to have acted very quickly if Miriam Elder’s piece was affected by it.

    • By the way I do wish the Guardian (as Miriam Elder in this piece) and other western media would stop saying that Anna Politkovskaya’s murder is “unsolved”. The person the police alllege organised her killing has confessed to his part in it and a number of other people including the suspected gunman have been arrested and charged. Whilst no one has so far been tried or convicted a trial is now pending and to say that the case is “unsolved” is misleading to say the least.

    • Well, maybe your letter is having an effect – congrats! Noe let’s wait to see if we get a response from them…