Russian Journalists Are Far Safer Than Mexican Journalists, Ordinary Russians, And Their Own Counterparts Under Yeltsin

One of the most common tropes against Russia is that critical (independent, democratic, etc) journalists there are dying like flies, presumably because of the “culture of impunity” created by Putin or even on his express orders. It is rarely mentioned that the statistical chances of a Russian journalist dying by homicide is an order of magnitude lower than in several countries widely recognized to be “democratic” such as Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, and the Philippines, or that – unlike Turkey or Israel (!) – Russia does not imprison any journalists on account of their professional work. To this end, I compiled a “Journalism Security Index” to get a more objective picture than the politicized rankings produced by outfits like Freedom House that put Russia on par with Zimbabwe.

As usual in these situations, a few graphs are worth thousands of words.

The graph above shows the numbers of journalists killed in Russia for every year since 1992 as compared with other “democratic” countries like Brazil, Mexico, India, and Colombia. As one can see, the situation has improved greatly in the past three years, with only one journalist (in Dagestan) getting killed in 2011; meanwhile, the situation in Mexico has deteriorated to levels unseen in Russia since the early 1990’s. Does this mean that Felipe Calderón is the next Stalin? Or is it that he is just faced with a drugs war that is rapidly spiraling out of control?

However, even this likely overstates the risks to Russian journalists, because there are simply a great many of them. According to the latest UN data, there were 102,300 newspaper journalists in Russia, far more than in Brazil (6,914) or India (16,079), and while data for the other two does not exist, I will assume that there are as many journalists per capita in Colombia (so 1,670) and three times as many in Mexico (13,027) as in Brazil.  You can adjust the latter two figures within the bounds of plausibility but as you will see, this would not make a cardinal difference. So let’s start calculating annual homicides per 100,000 newspaper journalists (latest figure) – a rough but valid proxy for the general level of journalistic peril in any given country.

Wow! You can’t see anything past Colombia! Let’s remove it.

So once you make some necessary adjustments for respective journalist populations, it emerges that Russian journalists have been relatively safe compared to other democratic countries throughout virtually its entire post-Soviet history. They are now safer by orders of magnitude. (The dip in Brazil’s and Mexico’s rates in 2012 are artificial as only half the year has passed).

Finally, homicides per 100,000 journalists are compared with the population as a whole. As one can see from the above graph, Russian journalists were always safer than the average Russian citizen, and are now safer by an order of magnitude. Only one Russian journalist was killed in 2010 and 2011 for a rate of about 0.5/100,000 per year, relative to an overall homicide rate of slightly less than 10/100,000. The average journalist is far less likely to have criminal or binge drinking proclivities than the average citizen (factors that account for the overwhelming bulk of homicides in Russia) so it is right and proper that their homicide rate should also be well below the national average.

The same cannot be said of the other countries we are comparing Russian journalists to. In 2010, the homicide rate in Mexico was 18/100,000 (vs. 77/100,000 for journalists), in Brazil it was 25/100,000 (vs. 14/100,000 for journalists in 2010, but soaring to 87/100,000 in 2011), and in India it was 3.4/100,000 (vs. 12/100,000 for journalists).

It need hardly be mentioned at this point that for most of the “democratic” Yeltsin period, life was riskier for Russian journalists than under “authoritarian” Putin and his “stooge” Medvedev. There were 41 journalists killed in Russia from 1992-1999, compared to 30 from 2000-2008, and 6 from 2009-today (of which 5 occurred in 2009). Does this then mean that Yeltsin, not Putin, was the real Stalin? Of course not. The journalist killings in the 1990’s were a product of the chaos and lawlessness of that time, much like the narco-related killings decimating the ranks of Colombian, Brazilian, and Mexican journalists today. As one can see from the graph above, killings of Russian journalists have always been substantially correlated with the overall homicide rate; the latter began to sustainably decline from the mid-2000’s, and from 2009, journalist killings appear to have followed suit.

Why then does Russia have one of the lousiest reputations for journalist killings in the world, whereas a purely statistical analysis implies that it is in fact now extremely safe relative to several other “democratic” countries like Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, India, and Colombia, and does not imprison any journalists unlike Turkey or Israel?

Ultimately, I think it has much to do with the unhinged hostility of the Western media to Russia. Case in point, let’s look at The Guardian’s coverage.

When a journalist is killed in Mexico or Brazil, it is reported placidly and matter of factly, the newspaper restricting itself to: Names and identities (four journos from Veracruz; Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes); possible culprits (“the work of the cartels”; “accusing local officials of corruption”); some basic context, e.g. quantity of other journalist killings in the recent past. And apart from a final sentence or two noting that “corruption means it is often difficult to define where the authorities stop and organised crime begins”, that is pretty much the harshest judgment they make.

Now turn to the Guardian’s coverage of the sole Russian journalist killed in the past three years – Khadzhimurad Kamalov, in Dagestan, 2011. The difference begins with the titles. What used to be “Four Mexican journalists murdered in last week” or Brazilian journalist and girlfriend kidnapped and murdered” now becomes “Truth is being murdered in Putin’s bloody Russia.” And it continues in the same vein, with rhetoric being substituted for facts: “Crimes against freedom bathed in slothful impunity”; “Inside Moscow, rulers who pay lip service to human rights parade only an indifference that makes them complicit in these crimes” (is Calderón or Dilma Rousseff complicit in journalist killings in their countries?); “How many more, Mr Putin? How long are we supposed to mourn fellow journalists who died trying to tell us, and their fellow Russians, what a slack, slimy, savage state you run?”

No further comment is necessary.

Comments

  1. And how many murders of journalists are still unsolved in Russia?

    No one has ever denied that the other countries you mentioned have also problems with safety of journalists. Is that really the group that Russia wants to belong to? Why don’t you compare Russia with Germany, for example?

    And you argumantations, as usual, is just childish. I could follow your methodology and say that Chechya is nowadays actually very safe place for ethnic Russians to live. After all, the absolute and relative number of murdered, raped and violently attacked ethinc Russians have come down significantly since the Yeltsin years. So why are Russians not moving back there?

    • And how many murders of journalists are still unsolved in Russia?

      Why don’t you go out and research the question? Then compare it with other democratic countries where a lot of journalists get killed, and get back to me?

      No one has ever denied that the other countries you mentioned have also problems with safety of journalists. Is that really the group that Russia wants to belong to? Why don’t you compare Russia with Germany, for example?

      The other countries I mentioned are all widely accepted to be democracies. My point – which I’d have thought is rather obvious – is not to argue that Russia is great in this regard, but that arguing that Russia is an authoritarian hellhole / represses media freedoms / is on the same level as Zimbabwe on the basis of journalist killings or imprisonments is completely mendacious since the real chances of a journalist getting killed are far higher in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, the Philippines, Peru, etc. while unlike Turkey or Israel it does not imprison any journalists at all.

      Obviously it would be awesome if Russia were as safe as Germany for journalists (or in general, for that matter, with its 10x lower homicide rates). It would also be awesome if it were as rich as Germany, or as civic-minded as Germany is in its non-ghetto areas. Such wishes however are irrelevant.

      Your Chechen example is stupid and every bit as childish as you claim my arguments are. Your analogy implicitly implies that Russian journalists have been systemically cowed into silence and non-criticism. In fact, anyone in the least acquainted with the Russian media will know that it is vibrant and highly critical of power, possibly to a greater extent than in the US.

      • “Why don’t you go out and research the question? ”

        Well I have dunnit. And I think you have too. That is precisely why you want to keep silent about it.

        “The other countries I mentioned are all widely accepted to be democracies”

        Yes. But killing journalists with impunity is not the only thing that makes Russia an authoritarian regime. It is actually not even the total number of killed journalisist, but rather how Russian authorities react to murders. You know it very well.

        “It would also be awesome if it were as rich as Germany”

        Yes indeed it would be great if Russia wouldn’t suck as much as she does. But all darussophiles of the world should take this as a challenge and try to make things better by exposing all things sucking instead of wasting their talent in infutile pursuit of trying to out-whine the reality. Russia still sucks, even after this posting of yours. For example here, in this subject, your comparison group of countries proves it.

        “Your analogy implicitly implies that Russian journalists have been systemically cowed into silence and non-criticism”.

        Well that is excatly what has happened. Who many opposition minded or Putin critical TV channels there are in Russia?

        “In fact, anyone in the least acquainted with the Russian media will know that it is vibrant and highly critical of power”

        That is a load of manure. The biggest problem with Russian journalism is that there is a complete lack of tradition in quality journalism. Not only on behalf of journalists, but also on behalf of cousumers, general public. Excellent study on this matter and probelms of Russian journalism can be found here:

        http://acta.uta.fi/pdf/978-951-44-7101-8.pdf

        • And I think you have too… You know it very well…

          No, and no. Please expound.

          Who many opposition minded or Putin critical TV channels there are in Russia?

          Noting this is TV we’re talking, Ren TV (and online Dozhd TV) are overtly oppositional, while most of the others including NTV frequently invite liberal and opposition voices. I know that you are a liberal and like many liberals will not be satisfied until all TV kowtows your neoliberal/pro-Western line.

          The biggest problem with Russian journalism is that there is a complete lack of tradition in quality journalism.

          Says who? Establishment Western journalists and “experts” who pour diarrhea on the likes of RT/Wikileaks while shilling for their own governments or at best giving them a free pass?

          Not only on behalf of journalists, but also on behalf of cousumers, general public.

          WTF is this even supposed to mean?

          Excellent study on this matter and probelms of Russian journalism can be found here:

          You know wading through 300 pages of text is not a minor undertaking and you have given me no convincing reason for doing so.

          • “No, and no. Please expound”

            http://cpj.org/reports/2011/06/2011-impunity-index-getting-away-murder.php

            “NTV frequently invite liberal and opposition voices”

            Yeah sure. Like in ‘Anatomy of a Protest’?

            “I know that you are a liberal and like many liberals will not be satisfied until all TV kowtows your neoliberal/pro-Western line”

            In a way that is correct, because I wish the best for Russians. West is the richest and most successful part of the world. Would be nice to see Russia joining it. Russia has tried it on her own for centuries but essentially always failed to create prosperity and happiness to the same extent as the more liberal West.

            “You know wading through 300 pages of text is not a minor undertaking and you have given me no convincing reason for doing so”

            Ok, if you are not intereseted, I quote you just one phrase which essentially sums it all:

            ‘Russian journalism increasingly substitutes the professional function to inform in the public interest in order to know for the PR function of the political power in order to shape. This hardly distiguishes the present so-called market journalism in the essence from the Soviet state journalism’

            • You may wish the best for Russians but I simply don’t see it from (most) Western governments where Russophobia remains extremely virulent and strong hence me personally not wanting them to go under western tutelage.

              We all know Western governments and media had a more positive attitude towards Russia during Yeltsin’s time when it was kowtowing to the West while at the same time the country was really going down the drain in more ways than one as Western interests and their partners in the country were looting it. You can’t blame Russians for associating being “under western tutelage/conforming to Western interests” with the disastrous Yeltsin years.

              Plus while the West may be the most wealthy, prosperous and powerful bloc today, it will not always be so forever (and with the way things are heading, that time may end sooner than we think it would), and so it will be in Russia’s long-term interest to act independently than fully join the Western bloc.

        • God, you MUST be joking?

          If you believe what we have here in the west is “quality journalism” then you’re a damn fool — pardon the bluntness. For example, all that the major media networks (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc;) do in the US are act as stenographers for the government and the elite interests that they represent. It’s this very same “tradition of quality journalism” which brought us the disastrous Iraq war in 2003 with it’s litany of lies and propaganda which would shame Soviet-era pravda. I watched in horror as every network fell in lockstep with their leaders and did nothing but cheerlead this massive war-crime. Now they’re doing the EXACT same thing all over AGAIN with Iran. if you want a model for journalistic integrity, I think you’d best look elsewhere and get over your misguided fascination with western integrity.

          • Are you telling me that western media was not full of critical coverage already from the lead-up to the war? FOX, well, it surely wasn’t, it covered Iraq like RT, NTV, Rossiya-1, and other Russian media covered Georgia. Or any other subject.

            But again, find me a story from the main Russian TV channels that is in any way critical of Putin.

            • So I see you are a brazen liar. The US, British and Canadian media did not make a single squeak against the official lies justifying the Iraq war. When Tony Blair claimed Saddam could nuke Europe in 45 minutes this was repeated as solid evidence and justification for intervention. Every conspiracy theory spouted by Chalabi was treated as legitimate intelligence by the western media. During the Iraq war and until recently the western media would systematically repeat the line that “the majority of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11″. This was a clear case of legitimizing Bush’s war. The same media *never* refers to “most Russians support Vladimir Putin” when discussing Russian elections trying to puff up the 5% liberast opposition into the voice of the Russian majority.

              • What I also find downright bizarre, is that we constantly here these Opposition figures claim that Putin Stole the election? Stole from whom!? Zyuganov? Putin was around 40 points ahead of him, so why would he need to needlessly cheat? No mainstream journalist from any major publication saw fit to point out this obvious fact, nor did they even bother to mention who Putin exactly “stole” the election from. Perhaps the opposition should come up with a platform that appeals to the broad Russian populace instead of taking money from western NGO’s, sucking up to the west and referring to Russians who support Putin in very derogatory terms.

                BTW, if there was an American opposition group in the US taking money from a foreign government/NGO to rage against DC, they would be thrown in Guantanamo, denied due process, and such groups would be deemed a “terrorist organization.” I’m actually surprised that Putin/Medvedev haven’t cracked down on this blatant interference in their political system. So much for western integrity.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              An example of the writings of a Russian columnist who is always critical of Putin:

              http://en.novayagazeta.ru/columns/50803.html

              From REN-TV about the Magnitsky case:

              From REN-TV about corruption:

              REN TV criticizes duma:

              • Yes. Novaya Gazeta. We all know what happens to journalists who write for that newspaper.

                Novaya Gazeta is hardly a mainstream newspaper. Wasn’t it Putin who said that Politkovaskaya and her newspaper are “well-known only in the west” and “insignificant”. Is Putin wrong in his assesment?

                Then about REN TV. Where is the critisism for Putin in those clips?

                What is the audince share of REN TV in Russia? I would say that it is well-known only in Moscow and insignificant. And it is not even really opposition-minded.

              • First, to Novaya Gazeta, you can add a whole host of others (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Vedomosti, to a certain extent Kommersant), as well as a slew of online publications (Gazeta.ru, Slon, EZh, Snob, GQ, RIA, Echo of Moscow).

                What exactly is the fact that Novaya Gazeta is not a mainstream paper (though it is available at any typical kiosks that sells papers) have to do with anything? Many people obviously do not like being fed liberal dirt on their own country. Should the Kremlin then subsidize sales of NG to try to appear the liberals? (This is not even a rhetorical question, as it funds Echo of Moscow via Gazprom).

                The same goes for Ren TV. That it is not popular has nothing to do with authoritarianism and everything to do with popular preferences and democracy of choice (which you despise).

              • “online publications”

                Online publications can potentially reach only about half of Russians. Russia has a very low internet penetration for an industrialized country.

                “Should the Kremlin then subsidize sales of NG to try to appear the liberals?”

                No. What Russia should do is to improve her impunity index ranking and the freedom of the press ranking. That is not done by subsidizing newspapers.

          • Not just Iraq and Iran, but the eurozone debt crisis. Over time I’ve been doing research into the structure of the eurozone and more and more I find a lot of what passes for “quality journalism” about the possibility of a Greek exit is literally a waste of time and space. Only recently have I seen some media stories talking about what seems like the far more likely possibility: Greece issuing a parallel currency (or more specifically “registered warrants” or IOUs as happened in California during it’s budget crisis) under emergency measures. But far too often I’ve read stories that don’t seem to be based on anything other than the author’s wishful thinking.

            For instance the only Greek party which wants to abandon the euro and reintroduce the drachma is the KKE (Greek communists) and they are not going to get a majority and will probably not even make it into a coalition government. So essentially they are the fringe. Plus Greeks themselves have shown (with ever increasing margins) that they support the euro. The latest polls had 78% of Greeks supporting the euro. So if all the major parties support Greece using the euro and the vast majority of Greeks support the euro, where is the support going to come from for Greece to voluntarily leave the euro? Even if a Greek government wanted to abandon the euro, unless it had majority support from the population it would run up into a brick wall as irate citizens, upset that the government was technically stealing their money by converting their deposits in euros into “new drachmas” would probably sue. I could easily see them winning since the only sure legal way to leave the euro is to leave the EU entirely and for that Greece would actually have to negotiate the terms of the withdrawal. So it can’t be done overnight and the money people use can’t be changed overnight either (so during any negotiation for withdrawal Greek banks would run empty as everyone took out their money and stashed it in Germany).

            And how could it be expelled since there is no mechanism for this in the ECB or in the EU treaties? Greece could be cut off from accessing ECB emergency funds, but that would require a 2/3rds majority on the ECB’s council which includes the heads of central banks of other troubled countries like Spain, Cyprus, Italy, etc
            (not to mention the Greek central bank head as well). I can’t see those central bank heads voting for a measure that will force Greece out and set a precedent for their own expulsion in the future.

            We seem the same shallow analysis with Iran. Leon Panetta and Iran both agree that Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons but the media seems to insist that this isn’t the case – I suppose the media knows more than Panetta.

            • Considering the education level of most journalists it is highly doubtful they understand much about the stories they cover. This is probably part of the job description. A journalist can’t be too smart and undermine the spin being spewed by Ruppert Murdorch et al. with some intelligent analysis. Infantile drivel is what I see most of the time in the media. For example, there were recent news stories that Iran has 20% enriched Uranium with the claim that this is obviously for nuclear bombs. The drones that wrote this nonsense didn’t even bother to use Google to verify their “gut feelings”. You can’t make nuclear bombs with 20% enriched Uranium but you do use it in research reactors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enriched_uranium).

    • For someone critical of methodology you choice of comparison is certainly interesting.

      Sure, lets compare Russia to Germany. Lets also engineer a German collapse on par with the consequences of a loss in a major war, lets completely obliterate its cultural and social values, lets tear down its economic system and rebuild it anew fanatically following the worst excesses of robber-capitalism, lets launch a fundamentalist insurrection within its borders and finally lets also arrange for the whole of the Western world to continually pour crap on it throughout its next decades of recovery.

      Then we MIGHT, just MIGHT begin to approach the situation evenhandedly, placing both German and Russian authorities in similar situation and getting a fair assessment of their performance.

      To expect Russia to perform on the level of Germany, when it is still really in the recovery mode after all it went through in its recent history… I do not know what you are smoking, but it MUST be good!

      • Looking at Germany and Russia now one could begin to wonder which country actually won the WW II? Ok, I admit, maybe Germany sets the bar way too high for Russia. But what about Estonia? It went through pretty much the same as Russia (except that Estonia hasn’t had the benefit of having such a magnificent and genius leader as Putin for the last decade or so), but still outperforms Russia in many, many aspects.

        • Estonia is the size of a small Russian oblast. Why not then compare Russia with Latvia? Or Georgia? Or Tajikistan? Or – rather more convincingly – with Ukraine and Belarus?

          • Ok, I admit, maybe Estonia sets the bar a touch or two too high for Russia. As does the Latvia then too. Tajikistan and Ukraine, they are in same league with Russia what it comes to safety of journalists and freedom of the press and sadly many other things too.

            Speaking of safety of journalists – what does it have to do with the georgaphical size of a country? Or what is population size difference when comparison between countries regarding freedom of the press becomes invalid? Come on, that is just ridiculous. Or, if it is really so that many of the problems Russia faces are because of her geographical and population size, then there is a simple solution: independence for all oblasts, so that they can be tiny like Estonia.

            • There was one Latvian journalist killed in 2001 for 2-2.5 million Latvians, or two journalists killed in the Baltics from 1992-today for 7 million Balts. So Latvia is practically no better than Russia adjusted for population (74 for 143 million) and the Baltics as a whole only slightly better than Russia. Try again.

              You are the one who started talking of geographical size. Don’t put words into my mouth. Population size (or more specifically, the size of the journalist pool) is obviously extremely relevant when talking of the risks facing any one particular journalist when the only data we have to go on are gross figures.

              While I’m aware your suggestion is tongue in cheek, giving independence to all the oblasts will solve absolutely nothing in this respect barring other changes because then any killings would simply as they would have done anyway, i.e. a dozen in Dagestan, a couple in Moscow, one or two in random oblasts like oblast or Primorye, etc. because virtually all those journalist deaths come from offending local elites or commercial interests. I find it hard to believe you could not have realized this by yourself.

              • No, you said “Estonia is the size of a small Russian oblast”. I admit i did not know what you meant. I guessed you must mean geographical size, population size or some size in some yet-another-alternative-karlin-measurement. My point was that a country’s size of any kind have very very little to do with problems of press freedom.

                Now if “the Baltics as a whole [is] only slightly better than Russia” then why don’t be a man and update you posting to include the Baltics as a whole or as individual countries in your charts? I know you won’t do it because it would make your spinning look even more ridiculous.

                And like I said before it is not only the number of murders but how authorities react to them. I quote CPJ:

                “CPJ research shows that deadly, unpunished violence against journalists often leads to vast self-censorship in the rest of the press corps”

                According to CPJ Russia is the 9th worst country in the world in this regard.

            • Of course a lot of problems Russia faces is due to the georgaphy and population (not only size but ethnic composition) – compare her to Estonia or Germany? What nonsense. Compare her to Turkey, Mexico and other BRICs and you’ll quickly realize that Russia’s a good place to live.

              • Mexico has a higher Human Development Index than Russia.

              • The HDI is a bad measure as its Education component only measures mean years of schooling (with no adjustment for quality, i.e. therefore useless) and the Health component only measures life expectancy (which is depressed in Russia by the free choice of many Russians to drink a lot of vodka). If it relied on, say, infant mortality rates, then Russia would do considerably better. Mexico is also has many fat people and its chicks tend to be ugly, though its cuisine and climate are better.

              • Of course HDI is a bad measure because Russia scores so low. Once again, Russia needs an alternative yardstick to measure up.

                Drinking vodka is a very unhealthy habit, so I do not see why health problems caused by it, of which death is obviously the most serious, should be excluded from the health component? Besides, infant mortality significantly lowers the overall life expectancy.

                2009 PISA scores in reading, maths and science tell us that overall Mexico scores about 10 percent lower than Russia. Russia on the other hand scores about 10 percent lower than Estonia. So is the 10 percent difference a lot or a little? You tell me.

                “Mexico is also has many fat people and its chicks tend to be ugly”.

                Honestly, I’m disappointed. Is calling Mexicans ugly really the best you can do?

              • Drinking vodka is a choice, and indeed many people do fun stuff that would otherwise lower their LE (e.g. doing drugs, or doing extreme snowsports, or doing extreme snowsports while on drugs) whereas infant mortality is a good proxy for the overall quality of the healthcare system. It also has an increasingly negligible effect on LE once it falls below 50/1,000 or so.

                Of course the difference is significant. It translates into about 8 IQ points.

                I’d much rather live in a country where dudes are alcoholics than where chicks are fat. Sorry to hear you think otherwise (not really).

              • Yes, when it comes to partner selection I do prefer chicks over dudes.

        • “Looking at Germany and Russia now one could begin to wonder which country actually won the WW II?”

          If Nazi Germany had won the WWII, Nazi Germany would have implemented General Plan Ost, under which most of the Slavic population in the European part of the USSR would have been killed or driven away from their homes so that tens of millions of them would have been killed or died of starvation, exposure, and disease.

          And it looks from your casual remark like none of this would have upset you.

          • Looking at Russia now it feels like somebody has indeed implemented Generalplan Ost there. Consider, for example, that in 1950 Russia had about 100 million people. Another BRIC nation India had then about 300 million people. India has now 1,1 billion people. So without Generalnyi plan Ost implemented by the Russians themselves in the form of Soviet Union Russia’s population could be around 300 million. What a huge loss of lives.

            • “Looking at Russia now it feels like somebody has indeed implemented Generalplan Ost there.”

              Indeed. The “FreeMarketDemocraticReformers” of Yeltsin’s time did.

              Fortunately, they have been removed from power in Russia, and Russia is recovering. Russia’s birth rate is about the highest of any major European country.

              Unfortunately, the “FreeMarketDemocraticReformers” still have power. For instance, they still control Latvia.

              Deaths exceed births in Latvia by over 1.5 to 1.

              • No-one ever forced Russia to screw up herself as badly as she did. Blaming free democratic market reforms per se for Russia’s epic sucking is oversimplifying. Similar reforms succeeded in many other post-communist and post-Soviet countries and they are now functioning market economies and democracies.

                Latvia has demographic problems which are in someways similar to Russia’s. I know how it hurts all the darussophiles of the world, but in almost in every, if not in fact in every single, international comparison Latvia scores higher than Russia.

              • “No-one ever forced Russia to screw up herself as badly as she did. Blaming free democratic market reforms per se for Russia’s epic sucking is oversimplifying.”

                Yeltsin approved of the things the “FreeMarketDemocraticReformers” did, yes.

                “Similar reforms succeeded in many other post-communist and post-Soviet countries and they are now functioning market economies and democracies.”

                Hardly. Russia has had one of the mildest population declines of the Soviet successor states. Less than, for instance, Romania and Bulgaria too.

                “Latvia has demographic problems which are in someways similar to Russia’s.”

                Latvia’s demographic problems are far worse than Russia’s. Russia began pulling out of her death spiral in the mid-2000s. Latvia’s death spiral has greatly accelerated since 2008.

                “I know how it hurts all the darussophiles of the world, but in almost in every, if not in fact in every single, international comparison Latvia scores higher than Russia.”

                Russia’s birth rate is a full 50% higher than Latvia’s.
                Russia has substantial immigration. One tenth of one percent of Latvia’s population flees the country *every month*
                Russia’s per capita income on a PPP basis is higher than Latvia’s.
                Russia pays about 3% of GNP to service foreign debt. Latvia pays over 25% of GNP to service foreign debt.
                Russia’s unemployment rate is about 5%. Latvia’s unemployment rate is about 14%.
                Latvia is in a death spiral. Russia’s population is increasing.

                http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2012/04/27/978171/from-more-russians-with-longer-life-expectancy

          • Before I thought you were just pretending to be obtuse, but with this you’ve proven yourself to be the real deal.

            India’s population grew a lot because it was (and is) poor and fertility rates are very high, while mortality rates have fallen due to the Green Revolution and very basic public health measures. About 40% of its children are still malnourished today BTW. That is hardly a symbol of success. Russia was a fully industrialized society from 1970 or so, therefore strong population growth is not be expected. For comparison, Germany’s population increased from 68 million in 1950 to 82 million today. Latvia has seen virtually zero population growth between 1950 and 2010. By your own (ridiculous and nonsensical) standards – “what a huge loss of lives.”

            Demography and development aren’t the only topics on which your ignorance is showing. Had Generalplan Ost gone through, Russia’s population would be 25 million or so as per its plans.

            • “Latvia has seen virtually zero population growth between 1950 and 2010″

              That is true. Latvia was after all occupied by the Soviet Union, and that had enormous negative effect on all aspects of life. For example, the number of ethnic Latvians in Latvia have never recovered to the pre-occupation levels.

              “For comparison, Germany’s population increased from 68 million in 1950 to 82 million today”

              So now it is ok to compare Russia to Germany? What would have happened if there was no Soviet Union is in no way less valid speculation than what would have happened if the Nazis would have implemented the Generalplan Ost.

              • “That is true. Latvia was after all occupied by the Soviet Union, and that had enormous negative effect on all aspects of life.”

                The number of people in Latvia, including the number of ethnic Latvians, increased quite a lot between 1950 and 1991. Births exceeded deaths substantially every single year.

                It’s just since 1992 that both the total and ethnic Latvian populations have been dropping. Deaths now exceed births by over 1.5 to 1.

                Looks like “FreeMarketDemocraticReform” is worse for people than “Soviet genocide” ever was.

              • I don’t agree with rkka’s narrative in full, but on facts he is correct. Here is a graph of the Latvian population.

                The early 1990’s could in substantial part be explained by Russian emigration, but that ceased to be a significant factor a decade later.

                As regards if there were no USSR, there would have been no collectivization famine (about 2 million excess deaths; 2.5 million once the 1947 famine is included) or mass shootings (less than one million), so Russia’s population would be maybe 5 million higher assuming the demographic profile (LE, TFR) remain unchanged. While the population MIGHT be higher due the higher LE Russia might have had had it developed under a capitalist system in the 20th century, in counteraction it’s also entirely possible that it would have experienced a large drop in fertility in the 1970’s or 80’s (as did Germany, Italy, Japan, etc) as opposed to the 1990’s. All told, its population now would be perhaps 160 million or 165 million. I.e., nowhere close to 300 million.

                Of course, without WW2, it’s population would be more like 20 million higher, around 180 million, due to the 13 million deaths. (I.e., contrary to revisionist propaganda peddled by your likes, four years of war against Nazis was an order of magnitude more demographically damaging than 30 years of Stalinism; and this applies all the more so to countries that were directly occupied by the Nazis, like Ukraine and Belarus). However, WW2 was an extraneous event, so removing it in a comparison is uncalled for.

  2. An excellent article in all respects Anatoly. I would just add a few points:

    1. Viz your correspondent K.F, the British authorities have still not found the murderer of the BBC journalist Jill Dando. As we know the mentally deficient man they initially imprisoned for her murder turned out to be innocent. Are we to suppose that because Jill Dando’s murderer has never been found the British authorities killed her?

    2. If only one journalist (Kamalov) has been killed in Russia over the last three years then I suspect that the murder rate amongst Russian journalists over those three years has fallen to the level of European countries. As I said in my previous paragraph, the unexplained killing of the BBC journalist Jill Dando shows that such killings (like murders generally) can and do happen even in the stable democracies of western Europe. Bear in mind that Dagestan where Kamalov was killed is still a war zone and conditions there do not compare with those in western Europe. However elsewhere in Russia and in Moscow and St. Petersburg it now seems that they do.

    3. What made the deeply offensive comments the Guardian made about the murder of Kamalov so disproportionately extraordinary is that they are actually contained in an editorial. In other words they express the opinion of the Guardian as a whole and carry its authority. The Guardian may have published brief reports about murders of individual journalists in places like Mexico, Brazil, India and Columbia (though if so it has never given them much prominence) but it has never to my knowledge gone so far as to devote an editorial to them. If that is not an example of gross bias I do not know what is

    • Dear Anatoly,

      Incidentally, on rereading the Guardian editorial I notice that it gives totally different figures to yours. Thus the editorial claims that 200 journalists have been killed since Putin came to power whereas your article puts the number for the total number of journalists killed during the Putin and Medvedev Presidencies at just 36, whilst the editorial also says that four journalists were killed in Russia “since the beginning of the year” (ie in 2011), whereas your article says that only one, Kamalov, was killed in that year.

      Am I to presume that the Guardian is just making the numbers up or is it counting dead journalists in some original way? If so then this might be an appropriate matter to take up by way of complaint first to the Guardian and then ultimately to the Press Complaints Authority?

      • I’m going by the CPJ’s statistics.

        As far as I understand, the reason for the discrepancy is that it has a fairly conservative methodology on inclusion. But it DOES seem to be more or less consistent across countries so their figures are valid.

        For instance, it has gotten flak for listing 8 imprisoned journalists in Turkey, whereas some argue that the real figure is an order of magnitude higher.

        This is of course a tricky issue. When does someone become a journalist? Are bloggers journalists? Cameramen? Is getting accidentally shot or blown up in a warzone murder? What about manslaughter? What about murders that clearly have no connection with their work and are simply bound up in the ordinary “background” violence of life in their country?

        The Wikipedia list of killed Russian journalists sheds light on this issue. Considering just 2010 alone, one journalist died after a beating received in police custody in a detoxification center. Presumably, unconnected to journalism; the Russian police tends to be brutal in general. Two of those listed died in car accidents! I guess if these far laxer standards are used, you can indeed arrive to the horrifying figure of 200 journalists killed under Putin. But then you’d have to apply similar standards to the Yeltsin period, and other countries; an exercise The Guardian isn’t going to embark upon any time soon.

        The report Partial Justice by IFEX, using another methodology, finds 96 journalists killed in Russia in 1996-2006; twice more, than the 50 given by the CPJ for 1991-2009. However, they too seem to be consistent in their methodology, as they also find a doubling of killings for Brazil, Mexico, and India, and a quadrupling (!) for the US. Their chart on page 8 also shows the same general pattern as the CPJ or general homicides: A vast spike in the early 1990’s peaking in 1995, a modest trough, then another fat peak in 2000-2006, followed by a fast decline.

        • Dear Anatoly,

          I am going to write to the Guardian to ask for an explanation of their numbers. Don’t hold your breath. There may never be an answer or at any rate a satisfactory answer or an answer that makes sense. Still it was C.P. Scott who said facts are sacred so I’m going to put his newspaper to the test.

          I’ll try to get the letter off tomorrow.

          • That would be an interesting exercise! I’d be happy, BTW, to make it an open letter via this blog if you so wish, or to also reprint any Guardian response.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Dear Alexander et al.,

        One of the murdered in Russia journalists that is often included in these lists is Paul Klebnikov, who was a US citizen and former editor of the Russian Forbes. The person responsible for his murder could well be resident in London.

        Another journalist included with those whose murders Putin is allegedly responsible for is a photojournalist who was purposefully run over at a night time illegal road race meeting in Moscow.

        A couple of years back, Desmond Tutu, Vaclav Havel and other self-appointed spokespersons for international human rights wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin demanding that these murders of journalists cease. Whenever, with alarming frequency, news comes from the USA that yet another gun-toting maniac has massacred numerous innocents at a school or supermarket etc, I often wonder when Tutu and others of like mind are going to write an open letter to the US president demanding that such murders cease.

        See:

        http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2010/11/putting-the-murders-of-russian-journalists-in-perspective.html

        http://www.transcend.org/tms/2010/10/reporters-without-borders-and-their-junk-index-of-%E2%80%9Cpress-freedom%E2%80%9D/

        http://fkriuk.blogspot.com/2008/02/audit-of-committee-to-protect.html

  3. An excellent post as usual, Anatoly. I imagine you have been too busy to look around much on other blogs, but even the sacred standard of statistics has been trampled. I had a lengthy disagreement with a commenter who, although she could provide no statistics of her own and confessed to be relying solely on her perceptions, insisted that official Russian statistics are just made up and so it is pointless to cite them. Where are you going to go with an argument like that? Granted, there is some disagreement on the statistical models used to arrive at totals – as indeed you have pointed out in your own comments. But if the day has come when people expect to be taken seriously when they say, “I don’t care what the statistics say – I have my own ideas”. Nicholas Eberstadt was fond of that approach in “Drunken Nation”; did you ask him to comment on that when you met him?

    Then our old acquaintance La Russophobe showed up at Mark Adomanis, and engaged in an argument spiced with the de rigueur “why can’t you stop lying” and “this is a new low in disinformation”, bla de bla, which included this priceless non sequitur” “Just imagine if Russia had no gas or oil: what then, huh? How would your Russia be looking then?” So, presumably, we have reached the moment in conflict where we are no longer allowed to use proof to substantiate our claims, such as statistics, because they are not as valuable as the perceptions of former residents – and we must take into account circumstances which require a suspension of disbelief. Yes, Russia has a lot of gas and oil, and the revenues derived from same have greatly improved the living standard, but that would not likely have been possible if that gas and oil did not exist, so living standards did not get improved after all, did they, Mr. Smarty?

    If I had to guess, I would say the deaths of journalists are regarded as something more than the death of the average schmoe who gets shot, say, during a burglary, for a couple of reasons. One, the deaths of journalists are reported by fellow journalists, who naturally feel the impact more deeply, and two, journalists are assumed to accept a much higher degree of risk than the rest of us in order to bring us “the real story”. Consequently, when they are killed it is almost always assumed they were murdered for “what they knew”.

    All I can say to that is whoever gets Luke Harding is going to be the most disappointed murderer in history.

  4. One thing that stands out from this analysis is the roughly inverse relationship to the number of journalists and their deaths. Columbia with the smallest number has the largest number of deaths per 100,000. This makes sense since there is a strong dis-incentive to be in a profession where you have a high chance of being killed. So Russia’s huge journalist population speaks volumes about the safety of journalists in Russia. It also strongly indicates that there is a lot of press freedom since you can coerce/orchestrate a smaller number much easier than a much larger number.

    India has 16,079 journalists out of a total population of 1.1 billion people. So Russia has 49 times more journalists per capita than India. India is supposed to be a solid democracy with a well developed civil society and modeled after the British.

    • *Newspaper journalists*. I could not find figures for journalists in general. As to their numbers much, of course, also depends on levels of wealth (journalists need to eat too), national IQ (dull people don’t read much), and other demographic/cultural specifics.

      • I doubt that literacy rates in Mexico and Columbia are so low as to be an issue so it is dubious that there is are vastly more TV journalists than newspaper ones. India is the biggest newspaper market in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_of_India) with 100 million papers sold per day. That link claims 70,000 newspapers but it is not clear whether each one has its own journalists or just publishes wire service news pieces. It is possible that there are more than 16,079 newspaper journalists in India.

  5. It was fascinating to read a Yahoo! News story about the proposed law in New York State (being pushed by Republicans (!) aka the Stupid Pary aka the party that pretends to give a damn about the Constitution/limited government at election time when they want endorsements from Rand Paul and the like) to ban all anonymous posts online, unless the website host takes down the address and IP of all posters (a clearly unsustainable requirement for any forum and hence guaranteed to shut down all comment threads to avoid liability, much like CISPA which Catherine Fitzpatrick endorses could shut down any forum for ‘notice of copyright’ violations — no judge, no jury, no due process).

    One could imagine the howls if Putin even thought of such a thing in Russia, yet here are journos ceding the legislation’s backers the benefit of the doubt about their lily good intentions to protect the children from anonymous cyberbullying, with no one asking how it is that a few nasty idiots on Facebook or Twitter could push a teenager into suicide in the first place. What happened to our teen’s brains that they became so vulnerable and saw life as not worth living because of a few assholes?

    It’s kind of like the Fox News segment that’s gone viral where Judge Andrew Napolitano said the first person to shoot down an illegal surveillance drone would be an American folk hero and patriot. If you watch the clip carefully you’ll notice that all the Fox hosts can do is tutter nervously as Charles Krauthammer (a neocon extraordinaire no less) surprises everyone by endorsing what the libertarian-Ron Paul-supporting Judge said. It would be as if Russian journos all start to laugh nervously when someone comes on the air and denounces Putin. The rules are different but there are unwritten rules in the West too that this liberast troll has been expounding. There are actual, pitched battles with U.S. taxpayer-funded Mexican Army helicopter gunships, heavy machine guns, mortars and even RPGs just four miles from the Mexican border with Texas, and entrails/cut out intestines of Twitterers/Facebook posters about the cartels have been dumped within a few hundred meters of the U.S. border from bridges on the Mexican side, and yet all the likes of even Texan Russophobes like Prof. Craig Pirrong a few hundred miles from this want to talk about is Russia. Talking about the encroaching national security state or how far the cartels’ reach goes into the U.S. government could be dangerous, after all. @ReginaldQuill tweets about Argentine airports having cash sniffing dogs but won’t discuss the increasing de facto criminalization of cash via DHS ‘see something, say something’ anti-cash campaigns.

    This is why I gave up on shaming these people via Tweets. They have no shame. They have no cojones either as the U.S. sinks into an authoritarian police state. They can tweet now and then about Corzine but they won’t actually show up when Holder speaks in Texas and picket outside demanding that he and Corzine be thrown in jail and put on trial together for their crimes. No, they just content themselves with what a hell Russia must be while hell is being steadily constructed around them.

  6. Sorry what I meant in the first paragraph above is that the Yahoo! News writers bend over backwards to praise the NY state lawmakers intention to protect the children from cyberbullies but won’t just come out or even quote the ACLU near the top as denouncing the law as the blatantly unconstitutional crap that it is and demand the lawmakers’ impeachment for even proposing such a thing. The cone of silence and self-censorship descends on a country gradually.

    I should correct this that at least Yahoo! (probably after taking 99% negative comments in their threads) did publish this Daily Caller piece quoting UCLA law professor (and perhaps Russian-born) lawyer Eugene Volokh:

    http://news.yahoo.com/ny-republicans-propose-unconstitutional-ban-anonymous-online-comments-203305247.html

    So perhaps there are a few Americans left who can be shamed and asked where are their balls while their furiously tweeting about the latest outrage in Venezuela or Argentina or Syria.

  7. “Just imagine if Russia had no gas or oil: what then, huh? How would your Russia be looking then?”

    Yes imagine if the USA hadn’t been the world’s top oil producer during WWII, imagine there was no oil in Alaska, or Texas, or North Dakota…where would everyone be then? Pure counterfactual idiocy.

  8. As to the free press in Estonia… Yes, in theory. But in practice: nearly nothing positive about Russian politics, nothing negative about US politics. A lot of publicity for the hard-line Russian opposition figures, no mention of the moderate and very good jounalists writing e.g. for the RIAN. Estonia is an US client state. Democratic, but hardly liberal.

  9. First the independent opposition media in Russia is not independent it is financed by western connected Russian oligarchs, western NGO’s and indivisuals.

    Murder of journalists are connected to organised crime activities of mafia clans and networks created by western powers through economic shock therapy and privatisation the exact same thing happened in Mexico in the 80’s, and Serbia and the Balkans during the 90’s and numerous Latin American countries.

    The western media is neither free or independent with those who actually control the major mass media are connected to private military/financial and policy making groups with I think about 5 major corporations control and if you want to be un-PC the simple fact is that like Russia and Ukraine during the 90’s Jews control the western mass media so in this regards do we expect to hear any criticism of the Criminal Russian oligarchs that are dual citizens and connected to the western elite like the Rothschilds and the British establishment? (Berezovsky, Guisinky, Khoderkovsky, etc).

    According to the mass media:

    Serbs committed genocide to create “a greater Serbia” conspiracy in the Balkans.

    Saddam had WMD and supported Al Qaeda.

    Kosovo is not a narco terror state.

    There is a global Islamic terrorist network lead by Bin Ladin that operates banks and front NGO’s freely in North America and Europe.

    No connection between Al Qaeda and Chechen terrorism and no western support for Chechen terrorist groups.

    The official 9/11 narrative is pretty much accurate with the exception of failure to act on pre-9/11 warnings the nature of which is never fully disclosed in the MSM.

  10. Russians love them some Will Smith. What a racist country!

    http://www.deadline.com/2012/05/men-in-black-3-opens-to-1-3m-midnights/

  11. John in UK,

    “Serbs committed genocide to create “a greater Serbia” conspiracy in the Balkans.” I just flagged @ReginaldQuill to Twitter for abuse/offensive content because he called Alex Jones a sack of $hit who supports the massacre of Syrian children, when those posting/tweeting online are not posting any evidence other than Hillary “we came, we saw, Gaddafi died” Clinton’s good word that this was the work of Assadists and not Libyan Al-Qaeda mercenaries who were busy slaughtering black Libyans and guest worker Africans in their homeland a few weeks ago or Muslim Brotherhood types. I’m sick of these Twitter bully boys getting to shut down other people at the drop of the hat, it’s about time some of them tasted that medicine.

  12. AK,

    Do you have any idea why Russia hasn’t ratified the WTO agreement as yet to become a formal member? Isn’t the deadline for ratification June 15th?

  13. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. @ 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. 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.

    9. 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.

    10. 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.

    • The only one with a solid motive to kill Khlebnikov is Berezvosky due to the expose book “Godfather of the Kremlin”. So if the same individuals were involved in Politkovskaya’s murder then we have the mastermind: Berezovsky. In Khlebnikov’s book Berezvosky’s use of Chechen mafia to secure assets in Russia is documented. So these hired guns can be treated as Beresvosky associates.

      The UK sure knows who to give asylum to. I guess it still fancies itself running pirate operations on the Spanish Empire but now against Russia.

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