A Bizarre Pardon

I have no idea what possessed Putin.

Did he think that it would spare him Western criticism in the run-up to Sochi? Of course not. Khodorkovsky was on the back-burner. LGBT rights are West’s stick du jour to beat up on Russia.

Did he think it would improve the legal and investment climate? I sure hope not, because it would mean he is an idiot who laps up the propaganda of those who loathe him.

Did he think it would reflect well on him? Journalists are rushing in to confirm that Putin’s pardon is just as arbitrary as the original indictment. (They have a point – about the former). Even pundits who once excoriated Khodorkovsky as the criminal he was, such as Mark Adomanis, now talk of the “trumped-up charges of fraud and tax-evasion” that put him in prison.

Did he think Khodorkovsky would shut up in gratitude? There was no admission of guilt involve, and the Menatep bandit has begun agitating from his 5-star Berlin hotel already.

Russia desperately needs more Westernization. In any truly civilized country, YUKOS’ campaign of tax evasion and contract killings would have ensured Khodorkovsky would have been locked up and the keys thrown away forever.

Instead, he will busy himself with plotting intrigues, as oligarchs are wont to do in banana republics. The only difference is that Russia doesn’t have bananas.

12/22/2013 EDIT: Alexander Mercouris has penned what I consider to be the defining article on this: Khodorkovsky – The End of the Affair? Go, read.


  1. Dear Anatoly,

    May I provide you with my reading with this affair?

    First of all, it is important to say that as you absolutely rightly say Putin and Russia will get no credit at all for this decision. I don’t believe for one moment that Putin thinks he will. Khodorkovsky as you absolutely rightly say has been on the back burner for ages. No one was going to stay away from Sochi because of him and no one is going to go to Sochi because he has been released. Nor do I think will his release change a single investment decision about Russia.

    Briefly, the mystery about Khodorkovsky’s pardon is not why Putin granted it. Putin (and Medvedev) have been hinting for years that they would grant a pardon if Khodorkovsky applied for one. The mystery is why after consistently refusing to apply for a pardon for 10 years Khodorkovsky did a total about turn and applied for a pardon moreover keeping the fact secret from his own lawyers and from his family when he is due to be released anyway in just 8 months?

    It is important to say that a pardon is not an exoneration or in any legal sense an act of forgiveness. On the contrary the authorities are treating it as an admission of guilt on the principle that one can only be pardoned for something one has done so that applying for a pardon is an implicit admission that one has done something that one needs to be pardoned for. Khodorkovsky of course is today denying this but the trouble with that is that he has accepted this rationale in the past, which is why he has consistently refused to apply for a pardon up to now and why I suspect he decided to cut his own lawyers out of the decision.

    I do not know the answer to this mystery. Khodorkovsky says he did it for family reasons. Personally, unless his mother is much more ill than she seems to be, I find that entirely unconvincing given that as I said he was due to be released in 8 months anyway.

    A possible explanation for this very strange behaviour is that Khodorkovsky was concerned that he would not in fact be released in 8 months as he was due to be because he was afraid he would prosecuted over the third Yukos case. We know barely anything about that case (except possibly that the economist Guriev may be a witness). Putin in his marathon press conference indicated that he had doubts about it. Even if that is correct, it may be that Khodorkovsky was worried that he would remain in prison whilst the case was being prosecuted and since that prosecution might last for years that he might unless he sought a pardon remain in prison for years. If that is correct (and it is no more than a guess but it is an informed guess and is the only explanation which to my mind makes sense) then in effect a deal has been done:

    1. Khodorkovsky applies for a pardon. The authorities treat that as an admission of guilt (as they are entitled to do) and can cite that fact in any future Yukos connected proceedings such as those which are pending in the ECHR over Khodorkovsky’s second conviction; and

    2. The authorities drop the third Yukos case.

    Given that Putin says that the third Yukos case is problematic and given the massive political embarrassment for Russia of proceeding with it, it looks like (from Russia’s point of view) a good bargain.

    Turning now to some of the other points you make. First of all (expanding on a point I did not make very well in my interview for RT), there is no punishment severe enough given what Khodorkovksy has done. I can understand why many people feel angry about his release. However in these situations the head must rule the heart. Given that Khodorkovsky was due to be released in 8 months anyway far better to extract from him a request for a pardon – treating that as the implicit admission of guilt that it arguably is – then go through the political and legal nightmare of prosecuting the third Yukos case – especially if that case is as problematic as Putin says – or of simply keeping him in prison for a further 8 months without extracting from him the request for the pardon with the implicit admission of guilt that it arguably is allowing to go on protesting his total innocence once released from prison without having anything that might contradict that. Bear in mind that as I have said the fact that Khodorkovsky has applied for a pardon has legal significance in future proceedings in the ECHR and elsewhere and the logic of the course which has been followed becomes clear.

    For the rest, I am afraid all sorts of terrible people get pardoned especially in the US, the case of Marc Rich being just one example.


    Finally, and at the risk of a bit of self advertising, here is my interview today with RT during which I discuss some of the same points,

    • To understand the implications of what has happened see the very different response of Khodorkovsky’s associate and co defendant Platon Lebedev and his lawyers who continue to insist that they will NOT apply for a pardon precisely Lebedev continues to seek his total exoneration and he realises that seeking a pardon is contrary to that.


    • Thanks for the comment Alexander.

      I think it might ultimately be a case of assigning different weights to different outcomes. I just think in terms of PR it was in net terms a negative decision.

      Do you know how the second YUKOS case is progressing in the ECHR?

      And, considering that even Britain is making noises about leaving, is it even in Russia’s interests to remain in it?

      • Dear Anatoly,

        I understand entirely the point you make about PR. In fact I agree with it. Perhaps it was not worth the (understandable) upset this decision has caused to wring a request for a pardon out of Khodorkovsky. Perhaps it would have been better to simply release him in 8 months time and go on fighting the cases without having extracted the request for a pardon from him. There is a balance of political and legal decisions to be made and I am not absolutely sure that the right one was made though I suspect it was. One thing I do think is that it would have been a far bigger disaster in PR terms to press on with Yukos 3 especially if that case is as problematic as Putin says it is.

        To answer your two questions, I understand that the Judgment in Khodorkovsky 2 in the ECHR is still years away. Of course after what has just happened it is possible the case may be dropped completely. We shall see.

        Whether it is a good idea for Russia to be part of the ECHR is a huge subject. Overall I would personally say yes – but then I would wouldn’t I?. Seriously I think precisely because the Russian legal system has problems of both application and presentation it makes sense for the moment for Russia to have a (relatively) impartial court that can act as an outside arbiter and external check. In saying this I should however say that the Russian Constitutional Court has made it clear in a recent decision that it and not the ECHR is the ultimate authority in Russia on all constitutional questions.

        Having said this, t is also fair to say that Russia’s inclusion in the ECHR system is very much a legacy of its period of “Euro euphoria” of the 1990s, which is long since past. Perhaps in time Russia will grow out of the ECHR or will conclude that since it is not part of “Europe” and no longer wants to be its membership of the ECHR is an anomaly. A big discussion for another time.

        I would finish by saying that I believe there are many more Yukos connected cases than just those in the ECHR and that they are happening in various commercial courts all over the place. If so then Khodorkovsky’s request for a pardon is a relevant issue in all of them.

      • Absolutely Russia should pull out of the ECHR. Joining it was just one of the many things to never forgive Yeltsin for. The whole thing has just become a platform for the Russian opposition and malcontents to cry to Europe about their grievances. Entirely political. Aren’t like some 80% of their cases now against Russia?

        Russia is not part of Europe and does not need the ‘valediction’ of the ECHR for its justice system. Even on the phenomenally rare cases its judgments were in Russia’s favor they are ignored in the Western press and commentariat. When they go against Russia they are wielded like a moral stick. It is a surrender of Russian sovereignty however partial and conditional that cannot be allowed to continue. The very idea of every subordinating our legal system to theirs was a crime.

        • Dear Mark,

          I respect your points and I can see the force behind them. On balance I think that for the moment Russia gains more than it loses by being in the ECHR. However that is not to say that it will always be so. This is a good subject for debate and discussion and we should arrange it some time.

  2. Philip Owen says:

    The number of bananas in the shops is indeed a marker for the real commitment to a market economy.

  3. Khodorkovsky will crawl away unrepentant and defiant to some sheltered Western oligarch-hole like London and use his billions stashed overseas to wage an anti-Russian media/NGO/paymaster of the liberal opposition campaign that will make Berezovsky look like the crude rank amateur he was. The legal technicalities about pardons and guilt will mean less than a rat’s ass in the memetic storm to come. He will be celebrated and feted by the Western press and governments with audiences like an uncrowned king-to-be, documentaries and talk show appearances about his horrible life in the “Penal Gulag”, maybe joint appearances with the Pussy Riot/Voina anarchist girls?. Who will get to play him in Hollywood do you think – Brad Pit or George Clooney? They should have pursued the third case against him or better yet charged him with organizing the murders we all know he is guilty of, kept him locked away for ever, removed his internet and press access, and thrown away the key. The Kremlin, and Putin specifically, will rue the day they tried to play magnanimous and released him. Mark my words…

    • Dear Mark,

      All that you say about the PR fest around Khodorkovsky is true but it is important to remember that unless a decision had been taken to press on with Yukos 3 it would have happened in 8 months time anyway when Khodorkovsky was due to be released. Of course if the authorities had pressed on with Yukos 3 there would have been a PR fest of a different though arguably even more unpleasant kind. At least when the PR fest happens the Russians are now in a position to say (1) that he repeatedly lost in the ECHR and (2) that he admitted his guilt when he applied for a pardon. I am not for a moment overestimating the effect these points will have but why give away arguments at all especially when the only price paid is keeping him in prison for 8 more months and dropping a case (Yukos 3) that presents legal and political problems?

      • I have to disagree with you. The memetic storm of Khodorkovsky’s release will be much greater than any potential fallout from following through with extra cases against him. There is nothing like physicality, video, and the ability to speak to the camera to generate hysteria in the Western media. Kept away in court and prison – he was always at a distant third person perspective. Easily forgotten in the new cycle after the 15 minutes of infamy. Now he will campaign in person, and actively, with the full force of his ill-gotten lucre against Russia. And he will make a much more compelling lighting rod than Berezovksy ever could.

        Whatever the ECHR says – no one cares if it doesn’t fit the narrative, it is just ignored. In the Western media and political sphere – the first two cases against have already been universally declared unjust and fraudulent. What is one more if it kept him locked away? Just another 15 minute shower.

    • When I went to the RT studio I also noticed how angry some of the people there were. Having said that I don’t know that this is an error and I certainly don’t think it was made under pressure. I don’t get the impression of any very great pressure to release Khodorkovsky at all. As I hope I have explained, there were reasons to make this decision. Khodorkovsky will no doubt tell his story and we will doubtless have to put up with many of the fables and fantasies he peddles and it’s quite likely he will team up with the likes of Borodin and Browder but over time people will get bored with the story as they always do especially when (as in this case) there is no substance behind it.

      • That first is a good point. Yes people in the RT studios in Moscow were also shocked and angry. They felt betrayed. Because understanding the way the information war works much better than the Kremlin, they fully realize how much harder their jobs and lives are about to become.

        • …..and it is a very good thing that people are angry. It shows that what Khodorkovsky has done is not forgotten. Given what Khodorkovsky did, if they did not care and were not angry it would be very worrying. I would add what all of us know – many of the people who work for RT are young even if they obviously are well informed. It shows what a long shadow the 1990s cast and how even younger generations continue to have their views formed by them.

          However what that to my mind also shows is that the danger from Khodorkovsky is not so great. Yes he has his fans in Russia but they are few and marginal. He has many more fans in the west but it is difficult to see what he can help them do beyond what they are doing already. At the end of the day it is opinion in Russia itself that matters. Provided that remains alive to what Khodorkovsky is and represents then even (or especially) if he follows the course of Berezovsky (about which by the way I am not sure) then any intrigues he engages in will like Berezovsky’s end up strengthening Russia rather than weakening it.

          Let me finish by saying that arresting, prosecuting and jailing Khodorkovksy were extraordinarily courageous decisions, which were fundamental in turning Russia round. The decision to release him now after he himself asked for a pardon completes the victory. He is a discredited man who no longer represents the mortal danger to the country that he did back in 2004. Pushing forward with problematic cases be they Yukos 3 or the murder cases where many of the witnesses have escaped to Israel and are beyond reach would have been an unnecessary gamble that would have placed the victory won over him at risk. Keeping him in prison for just 8 more months would have achieved nothing and would have been counter productive when he has himself applied for a pardon so that the government is in a position to release him from a position of advantage.

    • Fedia Kriukov says:

      Strange people you got on twitter. He got proved wrong even before he posted his one-liner. http://world.time.com/2013/12/19/khodorkovskys-pardon-another-sign-putin-is-winning/

      Personally, I think there is some deeper calculation behind (there always is with Putin), but the fact that no satisfactory explanation is provided shows total disrespect for the public, and especially supporters, that has become deeply ingrained in Russian political culture under Putin. Well, in all honesty, that disrespect might be well deserved.

      • Dear Fedia.

        I think the government has given its explanations: Putin has said that Yukos 3 is problematic (something many suspected) and Peskov has said that Khodorkovksy’s request for a pardon is an admission for guilt. Since Khodorkovsky is due to be released in 8 months in the light of these two facts nothing further is achieved by keeping him in prison other than to satisfy a wholly understandable and appropriate desire for vengeance. Given what Khodorkovsky did that feeling is understandable but as I said in these cases the head must rule the heart.

        If you want to understand fully the implications of what happened consider the response of Khodorkovsky’s lawyers. Obviously they knew nothing of his request for a pardon. They initially sought to deny that he had requested it and made it clear that they had not requested it on his behalf. Khodorkovsky even became concerned enough that their denials might jeopardise his release that he felt obliged to tweet that no one should speculate about his request for a pardon until he had spoken to his lawyers himself. This may by the way be the first hint of something I have long suspected – that there were differences between Khodorkovsky and his lawyers with Khodorkovsky’s priority being to get out of prison whilst his lawyers having been focusing instead on the impossible task of proving him innocent.

      • I think the comments to that article are the most interesting bits of reading rather than the article itself. Not one of the comments so far (at the time I wrote this) seem to show any support for Khordokovsky and in the contrary seem to show respect for Putin. Even a US army veteran respects what Putin did. I guess the media and their oligarch handlers are slowly losing the dominance they had on public opinion even in the West. Maybe in 20-30 years time we will see more balanced reporting on Russia.

        • Simon Shuster always makes me laugh – you know what he’s going to say before he even clears his throat, and his column for Time is so uniformly and unvaryingly Russophobic that there is probably a picture of Shuster under the Time logo next to the word “Russophobia” in the dictionary – and his gig at Time is a nice little niche he has carved out for himself in reporting; he doubtless does very well out of it. Especially among the reality-deniers who believe him when he suggests the decision to skip going to Sochi on the part of the deeply unpopular Barack Obama and a handful of deeply-unpopular Euro-politicos – including the pompous Dalia Grybauskaite – constitutes a “serious threat of a boycott”.

          Dalia Grybauskaite announced she would not go to Sochi because of – among other things – Russia’s human-rights record.


          Quite apart from the likelihood that she had no intention of attending anyway – she doesn’t look the sports type, unless the Olympic events now include a pie-eating contest – the Lithuanian parliament is currently considering a slate of “anti-gay/anti-transgender” laws that makes Russia’s look mild by comparison.


          Yet Lithuania holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

          Simon Shuster is the perfect illustration of the line that divides those who have something to say and those who have to say something. Khodorkovsky’s ability to number such lightweights among his defenders is pretty much the oppposite of an endorsement, and the notion he was pardoned in order that Putin could ingratiate himself with his western critics is comical. Exactly as predicted, they all quickly assigned any credit for the decision everywhere except to Putin anyway, and anyone could see that was going to happen. Not to mention all taking away exactly the wrong lessons from it.

  4. Shawn Buskov says:

    Very interesting analyses provided by all in this thread.

  5. Khodorkovsky’s pardon is part of an amnesty for 2,000 prisoners which was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution. The imprisoned Pussy Riot women will be pardoned as well.

    I can understand the puzzlement at Khodorkovsky’s pardon given his behaviour on release: he immediately scarpered off to Germany, supposedly to be at his mum’s bedside, only to discover she was already back in Russia. (Did his lawyers not keep him informed of her treatment and her movements?) The German Foreign Minister had lobbied for Khodorkovsky’s release and Germany must have fast-tracked his visa application so he could fly out the moment he walked out of prison. It’s not so much the fact that Putin has pardoned Khodorkovsky but the peculiar behaviour of the German government in giving him shelter so soon on his release that should merit attention.

    Moscow Exile over at the Kremlin Stooge has noted that Edward Snowden’s application for asylum was turned down by Germany on the grounds that he had to be in the country or in a Germany embassy and his application would take months to consider and process. Possibly someone managed to smuggle some grains of German soil through Russian customs into Khodorkovsky’s jail cell so he could sit on it while filling out the papers.

    • moscowexile says:

      It’s also been stated today that Khodorkovsky knew full well of his mother’s return to Russia from Berlin when he flew poste-haste off to the German capital, where he is now ensconced in the Adler-Kampinsky Hotel, which establishment fits cosily between the embassies of the United States of America and that of the United Kingdom.

      Seems like he had to tend a briefing.

      • Dear Jen,

        I don’t think it has anything to do with the amnesty because there was never any serious possibility of Khodorkovsky being covered by it. It’s just possible that one of the factors that propelled Khodorkovsky to seek a pardon was that he realised that he would not be covered by the amnesty but to be frank I doubt this.

        Khodorkovsky has now given a press conference and an interview for New Times in which he has tried to explain why he applied for a pardon when he consistently said he would not do so.


        The trouble is that this explanation actually tells us nothing. He says that he never ruled out a pardon request before and that a request for a pardon is simply a one line request for clemency and does not imply an admission of guilt. He then explains his previous reasons for refusing to apply for a pardon and his decision to apply for a pardon now with these very strange words:

        “My lawyers conveyed to me that a decision on pardoning may be made. And that the confession of guilt is not put forward as a condition for my release. That was a key issue since Medvedev’s times. It was absolutely not critical for me to appeal for pardon. The trial was a frame up and everyone realised it perfectly well. To write one false paper (this refers to a pardon request containing a confession of guilt – AM) in reply to another false paper (the verdict in the second Yukos case – AM) – I would not feel any moral discomfort in relation to that. And there was only one problem that was not false in this false paper (the pardon request – AM) – the confession of guilt. Because as soon as I write that I recognise my guilt, plenty of people whom I respect will themselves be in a very difficult situation. Actually any person who used to work for Yukos would become vulnerable”.

        Unpacked, what this intricate language says is that Khodorkovsky would have had no compunction openly confessing his guilt in a request for a pardon if that had got him released because as the entirety of the proceedings against him was fraudulent the admission would also have been fraudulent as made in fraudulent proceedings rendering the confession fraudulent as well.

        Khodorkovsky then says the reason he didn’t do it was not because he was innocent but because of the impact his confession might have had on other people.

        The first point to say about this is that it is not what Khodorkovsky has said before. What Khodorkovsky is now saying that he would have signed a confession of guilt if this has got him released but he did not do so not because he is innocent but because of the effect this might have had on other people. This is a most extraordinary statement given his longstanding protestations of innocence, which were the reason he previously gave for refusing to request a pardon.

        The second point is that I for one cannot see how Khodorkovsky’s admission that he had no moral qualms about signing a pardon request containing a confession of guilt can be anything other than an acknowledgement that the pardon request he has now signed is an admission of guilt, which is of course what the government says it is.

        That this is so is surely the real reason why Khodorkovsky did not make a pardon request minus a confession of guilt before. By Khodorkovsky’s own account there would have been nothing to prevent him doing so. Perhaps Medvedev or Putin would have rejected such a request but it would surely have greatly increased the pressure on them to release him. Given that Khodorkovsky now says that he would have no qualms signing a pardon request containing a confession of guilt but for its effect on other people he would have no reason not to make a request for a pardon which did not contain a confession of guilt.

        I am far from sure that Medvedev and Putin would have rejected such a pardon request. All I understood them to say was that they would consider a request for a pardon if Khodorkovsky made one. Paragraph 89(c) of the Russian Constitution does not require a prisoner to apply for a pardon in order for one to be granted. It is a question in Russia of either practice or secondary law that a convict must first request a pardon before one can be granted. As the government has again made clear in connection with the pardon request Khodorkovsky has just made, this is because a request for a pardon is a request for clemency by a convict whom the state has convicted of a crime and is therefore treated as an admission by the convict of his guilt.

        It’s difficult to see Khodorkovsky’s previous refusal to apply for a pardon – even one that contained no confession of guilt – as anything other than an acceptance of this logic especially in light of his admission that he would have signed a request for a pardon that included a confession of guilt were it not for the effect this would have had on other people. .

        I have to say that Khodorkovsky’s complicated comments look to me like a carefully crafted explanation of why he requested a pardon, which he had previously said he would not do. I doubt they will impress the ECHR especially if the ECHR decides that the embezzlement proceedings were not fraudulent as he says. In fact I think the ECHR will find his explanation bizarre and (in light of its previous findings about him) will take particular note of his admission that he would have been prepared to sign a confession of guilt in order to obtain a pardon but did not do so only because of the effect this would have had on other people.

        As to why Khodorkovsky applied for a pardon now when he had previously consistently refused to do so and when he was due to be released in 8 months time despite the fact that the government would treat it as an implicit admission of guilt, we really are none the wiser. His comments may suggest that the Germans have given assurances that he will stay away from Russia, not interfere in its politics and not pursue further litigation in connection with Yukos. He has specifically ruled out legal action to recover Yukos’s assets. He has also said that he will not involve himself in Russian politics.

        If there has been a deal (which it seems there has been) it is not clear what the Russians have given in return bearing in mind that Khodorkovsky was due to be released in 8 months anyway. My best guess is still that they promised not to prosecute Yukos 3. If so then given how problematic and politically embarrassing Yukos 3 almost certainly is they have got a good deal.

  6. If Anatoly will forgive a little blog whoring I have discussed the reasons Khodorkovsky has given for applying for a pardon and why I don’t find them convincing on my blog:


  7. Pussy Riot claims release is a PR stunt and calls for boycott of the Olympics.


    • moscowexile says:

      The Russian president must be really shitting himself now!

      • If she truly believes it’s a PR stunt, she’s probably more than welcomed to return to her cell and serve out the remainder of her sentence.

        How’s that for principle?

  8. It…might…make it harder for the IOC to take a tenable decision against Russia. I question Putins thought process for jumping on this winter olympics thing in the first place. Next year this time we could find out that he got chumped out to the tune of USD – 15 billion over Ukraine…OTOH could be the western media, the gays, the semites, petty stupid russian girls, collectively picked the wrong time to start sniffing glue. Stand by…here it comes.

  9. Does the fact that Vladimir Putin makes special mention of ‘evils of genderlessness’ in his leatest speech speak volumes about his own insecurity about his masculinity?

    • moscowexile says:

      I shouldn’t think so, though the nature of this enquiry probably speaks volumes about its poser.

  10. Are you going to do a post on the twin bombing in Russia?

    Wait I forgot state sponsored terrorist attacks in Russia is a subject Russia commentators dare not talk about.

    • Try not to be more of a fool than nature intended. State-sponsored terror attacks, good God, give me strength. They might well be state-sponsored, but not, I suspect, by the state you were thinking of. You are just incapable of saying “terrorist attacks in Russia” without “state-sponsored” attaching itself to the beginning, no matter how stupid such an attribution is.

      • I am not talking about Russian security apparatus although there are former members of the intelligence and special forces in former Soviet states that are aiding Chechen groups like in Belarus. I am talking about the well known states like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan and less well known to the ill informed Turkey and Qatar and a few other countries like Finland and Britain.

        The role of the US extent in supporting Chechen terrorism is debatable. I doubt they are being trained in military camps in the US not that it is needed when they were being trained by private British security contractors.

        Lobby groups and financial interests are pretty well known who provide good PR and keep Chechen groups off the US terrorism watch list that at a minimum allow the recruitment and trafficking of terrorist to operate for jihad in Chechnya prior to 9/11 that made that attack possible and at most with good evidence to support it at least during the Clinton presidency of actively supporting it.

        • And you have never seen that subject discussed elsewhere? I have seen a good deal of discussion of Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s alleged threat to Putin to turn up the heat in Sochi unless Putin abandoned his “support” of Assad, not to mention the sheltering of Chechen “freedom fighters” in Finland as well as that country’s hosting of their website, KavKazCenter.

          • That’s pathetic. That’s the best you can come up with the Bandar threat and the public controversy of KavakCenter in Finland?

            That is just a blip of what Chechnya and Caucasus/Eurasian policy is all about and how it ties into post cold war policy and the war on terror.

            Perhaps you should look at 9/11 again and the Chechen connection.

    • “The assertions that Russian security services are responsible for the bombings is at least partially incorrect, and appears to have given rise to an obscurantist mythology of Russian culpability. At the very least, it is clear that these assertions are incomplete in so far as they have not taken full account of the evidence suggesting the responsibility of Wahhabis under the leadership of Khattab, who may have been seeking retribution for the federal assault upon Dagestan’s Islamic Djamaat.”

      Dr. Robert Bruce Ware of Southern Illinois University

      According to research into the bombings undertaken at the Conflict Studies Research Centre, UK, the conspiracy theory that the FSB was behind the bombings was kept alive by Boris Berezovsky.

      (The CSRC was a component of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom that arose in 1972 at the British Royal Military Academy from the Soviet Studies Research Centre (SSRC) and whose purpose was to examine any Soviet military threat. In 2006, CSRC was absorbed into the Advanced Research and Assessment Group (ARAG), another component of the Royal Military Academy, which was subsequently disbanded. CSRC is now an independent, privately funded body providing expertise in security issues with a primary focus on relations with Russia, and specialist knowledge on military, domestic political, and cyber security questions.)

      Researcher Gordon Bennett of CSRC has pointed out that neither Berezovsky nor his team (which included Alexander Litvinenko, who was co-author of the book “Bombing Russia”, a book that has been panned far and wide by academics and researchers) provided any evidence to support their claims.

      In the BBC World Hard Talk interview on 8 May 2002, Berezovsky was also unable to present any evidence for his claims, and he did not suggest he was in possession of such evidence which he would be ready to present in a court.

      It should be recalled that Berzovsky’s mendaciousness was strongly reprimanded by a senior British judge during his 2013 case against Abramovich in London. The judge in question, Mrs Justice Gloster, stated in her summing up: “On my analysis of the entirety of the evidence, I found Mr Berezovsky an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes”.

      In other words, she was politely calling Berzovsky a malicious liar.

      Of course, I should imagine that there are very many who would suggest that the FSB has infiltrated CSRC, Southern Illinois University and many other academic institutions and research organizations that have crticized suggestions that “Putin did it”; that this criticism is the result of the machinations of the dastardly FSB and its agents, who are lurking under everyone’s beds in the free world and are always ready to sow seeds of doubt and confusion amongst those who fight for freedom and democracy.

  11. The “johnUK”- character is a neo-liberal kind of Sorosian/otporian spammer on several sites, most notably on the Soros “Serbian” flagship B92, English edition. Check him up there. A “debate” with him and his ilk is as useful as banging the head into the wall, he will just keep repeating according to a script.

    • What are you talking about? The only other forum blog I comment on is Underground Serbian Café and Grey Falcon and Vinyard Sakers blogs under the name “jack”.

  12. Any thoughts about US journalists David Satter being banned from Russia for 5 years?


    Is there more to the story than meets the eye?