Monday, February 28, 2005

"Us" and "Them"

Masha Gessen, writing about a new Kremlin youth movement:
Imagine for a minute that in some country other than Russia -- say, in the United States, or in Britain -- there appeared a political organization that called itself "Us." Not U.S. as in the United States, not Us as in Us Magazine, but Us as in "us vs. them." Imagine further that this is an organization that supports, and is evidently supported by, the country's current government. Now imagine the hue and cry, the outrage of all the righteous people who argue that an organization that openly divides its own country into those who are "us" and those who are "them" is despicable -- and a government that supports and even inspires the use of the rhetoric of war against its own citizens is criminal.

Welcome to Russia. A group calling itself "Nashi" held its first congress at a resort hotel outside of Moscow on Saturday. The word nashi, which literally means "ours," references Soviet movies about World War II. It's an inspired choice: On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, 1940s patriotism is the only sort that virtually all Russians are willing to own. Nashi is the sort of word that one used in describing a battle scene in one of those movies -- "Nashi just bombed the hell out of them" -- when there could be no question of where the viewer's loyalties lay. Nashi is also the kind of word one can apply to a sports game -- but only, tellingly, when a Russian team is playing a foreign one. In other words, the most accurate translation of Nashi is Us.
The rest of Masha Gessen's article is here

The Difference

You never believed in the meaning of this world, and you therefore deduced the idea that everything was equivalent and that good and evil could be defined according to one’s wishes. You supposed that in the absence of any human or divine code the only values were those of the animal world – in other words, violence and cunning. Hence you concluded that man was negligible and that his soul could be killed, that in the maddest of histories the only pursuit for the individual was the adventure of power and his only morality, the realism of conquests. And, to tell the truth, I, believing I thought as you did, saw no valid arguments to answer you except a fierce love of justice which, after all, seemed to me as unreasonable as the most violent passion.

Where lay the difference? Simply that you readily accepted despair and I never yielded to it. Simply that you saw the injustice of our condition to the point of being willing to add to it, whereas it seemed to me that man must exalt justice in order to fight against eternal injustice, create happiness in order to protest against the universe of unhappiness. Because you turned your despair into intoxication, because you freed yourself from it by making a principle of it, you were willing to destroy man’s works and to fight him in order to add to his basic misery. Meanwhile, refusing to accept that despair and that tortured world, I merely wanted men to rediscover their solidarity in order to wage war against their revolting fate.

Albert Camus, writing in 1943

More on Mari Situation

More on the situation of Mari people in the Russian Federation, from UNPO
(Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation):
The irony is that Russia has now been caught in its own trap. The Maris say that Russia is abusing their human and cultural rights and they appealed for help to other Finno-Ugric peoples, including Estonians. Russia has constantly accused Estonia in violating the rights of Russian-speaking population. These accusations found no confirmation. All international commissions, including those of EU and OSCE, found no jamming of Russian-speakers.

Cultural rights of Russians in Estonia are better protected than those of Maris in Russia. Estonia has is a round-the-clock public radio programme in Russian, TV news in Russian, a number of Russian private radio stations and a Russian TV station. None of the organisations of minorities in Estonia have ever complained of any infringement of their civil or human rights.

This is a contrast to what takes place in the Russian Federation.

The situation of Mari cultural rights in Russia is pitiful. The TV and radio programmes in Mari language in the autonomous Republic of Mari El are reduced to a minimum. Only brief news on the TV and less that an hour of Mari radio broadcasting have remained.

The Russian propaganda war against the three Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - is a result of fear that the former colonies give a bad example to others by demonstrating rapid progress in contrast to their fading down under the Moscow rule. However, having raised attention to the issue of human rights by falsely accusing its neighbours, Russia was now accused by its own minority in bad practices of establishing the reign of terror for its minority peoples and eroding their cultures and languages.

The issue of violation of human rights of the Mari minority will now be examined at the European Parliament. Its commission on ethnic minorities and regional languages has included the issue of violation of human rights of Maris in its agenda.

The issues that the Mari minority complains about were touched on by U.S. President George W. Bush at his meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin but without precisely pointing at a specific nation. At the joint press conference following the meeting, the American President stressed:

"Democracies always reflect a country's customs and culture, and I know that. But democracies have certain things in common: they have a rule of law and protection of minorities, a free press and a viable political opposition."

APPENDIX - Uninvestigated crimes against journalists and opposition leaders during the presidency in the autonomous Republic of Mari El of Leonid Markelov, a man openly contemptuous of democratic processes:

November 21, 2001: Aleksandr Babaykin, assistant chief editor of the opposition newspaper The Good Neighbors, is brutally killed in the centre of Yoshkar-Ola, the capital city of Mari El.

November 2001: Leonid Plotnikov, assistant chief of department of the publishing house Periodika Mari El, is killed.

November 2001: Aleksei Bakhtin, journalist of the regional newspaper, is killed.

March 12, 2002: Vladimir Maltsev, chief editor of the newspaper The Good Neighbors, is attacked in the evening and caused severe bodily injuries.

March 14, 2002: The door of the Vladimir Maltsev's apartment is poured over with fuel and put on fire by unknown persons.

August 14, 2004: a pogrom is made in the apartment of Valentin Matveyev, a public figure and author of critical articles in The Good Neighbors.

October 4, 2004: masked bandits, armed with weapons and acting in the name of the Department of Criminal Investigations, attack the apartment of an employee of the human rights organization Citizen And Law.

October 2004: journalist Vitaliy Igitov is attacked. Earlier, in personal conversations, Leonid Markelov called Igitov the man who had insulted him most.

January 7, 2005: correspondent of the Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe Yelena Rogacheva is attacked.

February 7, 2005: Vladimir Kozlov, chief editor of the international Finno-Ugric newspaper Kudo+Kodu, Member of the Consultative Committee of the World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples and leader of the all-Russian movement of Mari people Mer Kanash, is attacked and severely beaten.

APPENDIX: The report of the Moscow-based Mari El Association requesting for international support

The Climax of Political Terror in Mari El 7 February 2005

An unprecedented hunting against the leaders of political opposition in the Republic of Mari El, Russia, has reached its climax. Vladimir Kozlov, chief editor of the international Finno-Ugric newspaper Kudo+Kodu, Member of the Consultative Committee of the World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples and leader of the all-Russian movement of Mari people Mer Kanash, was attacked and severely beaten yesterday.

See also: the Mari Page

Mari People Appeal

Tallinn, Estonia
phone +372 630 7477
fax +372 631 1239

Dear cultural workers, human rights activists and politicians,

May we ask you to join this Appeal by signing it on the Internet page

With regards,
Merle Haruoja
General Secretary



We the representatives and friends of the Finno-Ugric peoples of the world call on the Russian authorities at all levels to take immediate steps to end the attacks on members of the democratic opposition in the Republic of Mari El. We urge international human rights organizations to join us in this cause.

In recent months, the local government of Mari El has done nothing to stop the rising tide of discrimination and attacks against the Mari people, thus creating the impression that it supports or may even be behind them. We note with regret that the authorities have done nothing to identify those who earlier this month attacked Vladimir Kozlov, editor-in-chief of the Finno-Ugric newspaper Kudo+Kodu and head of the all-Russian movement of the Mari people, Mer Kanash, beating him nearly to death.

The Mari people are an important part of the Finno-Ugric world, and this summer they are scheduled to host the next world congress of Finno-Ugric studies. Consequently, it is especially important now that the Russian authorities in Moscow and in Mari El do everything possible to end the abuse of the rights of the Maris.

21st of February 2005

Prof. Paul Goble, USA
Prof. John Hiden, United Kingdom
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament
Dr. Tytti Isohookana-Asunmaa, former Minister of Culture of Finland
Béla Jávorszky, former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia, Hungary
Prof. Kyösti Julku, Finland
Prof. Olavi Korhonen, Sweden
Mart Laar, MP, former Prime Minister of Estonia
Leena Laulajainen, writer, Finland
Dr. Lennart Meri, former President of Estonia
Mart Meri, Editor-in-Chief, Estonia
Pertti Paasio, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland
Prof. János Pusztay, Hungary
Prof. Raimo Raag, Sweden
Kari Rydman, composer, Finland
Prof. Pauli Saukkonen, Finland
Toomas Savi, MEP, former Speaker of the Parliament of Estonia
As. Prof. Tõnu Seilenthal, Estonia
Veljo Tormis, composer, Estonia
Riitta Uosukainen, former Speaker of the Parliament of Finland
Arvo Valton, writer, Chairman of the Association of Finno-Ugric Literatures
Prof. Kalevi Wiik, Finland
NB: OVER 3500 people have signed as of February 28, 2005

(via MAK)

Choosing Freedom

Choosing freedom is not, as we are told, choosing against justice. On the other hand, freedom is chosen today in relation to those who are everywhere suffering and fighting, and this is the only freedom that counts. It is chosen at the same time as justice, and, to tell the truth, henceforth we cannot choose one without the other. If someone takes away your bread, he suppresses your freedom at the same time. But if someone takes away your freedom, you may be sure that your bread is threatened, for it depends no longer on you and your struggle but on the whim of a master. Poverty increases insofar as freedom retreats throughout the world, and vice versa. And if this cruel century has taught us anything at all, it has taught that the economic revolution must be free just as liberation must include the economic. The oppressed want to be liberated not only from their hunger but also from their masters. They are well aware that they will be effectively freed from hunger only when they hold their masters, all their masters, at bay.

Albert Camus, Bread and Freedom (1953), translated by Justin O'Brien.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hunting the Chechen Books

Prague Watchdog has published my translation of an essay by Arlene Blum, entitled How They Hunted The Chechen Books. From the essay's opening paragraphs:
Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings," wrote Heinrich Heine.

The poet’s maxim can be applied with justice to any totalitarian regime. As a matter of fact, these two processes often run parallel, and sometimes the second precedes the first: first the human being is destroyed, and then all traces of his existence, left in printed and written sources, are erased.

In the Soviet period a frightening technique was invented: first total genocide was declared, and then this was followed by “bibliocide” – the mass removal and subsequent destruction of whole editions of books and other national printed material.

An eloquent testimony to this is provided by the contents of the restricted access collections of the major libraries, which were given the name “spetskhran”, and attained colossal dimensions – up to half a million volumes. They mostly contained the books of forbidden authors – those who were declared to be “unpersons” and were subject to “vaporization”, if one recalls the terms used by the civil servants of the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

The Soviet spetskhrany, like the regime as a whole, were also distinguished by another feature: not only people, but also peoples, were subject to “vaporization”. As a result, all books bearing any relation to such “unnations” must be struck from memory. They were subject to destruction, with the exception of numbered copies left for the restricted access collections of the major book repositories.

I hope you'll take time to read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Human rights activists under attack

The PRIMA news agency reports an attack on human rights activists in St Petersburg:
RUSSIA, St. Petersburg. 18 February around 11 p.m. three unidentified men attacked the Memorial Research Centre in St. Petersburg. They brutally beat the duty member of Memorial’s staff Emmanouil Polyakov. A man of advanced years, he sustained serious injuries and may lose both his eyes.

Irina Flighe, director of the Memorial Research Centre told PRIMA-News correspondent that Emmanouil Polyakov remained without medical assistance for 12 hours until he was discovered on 19 February by a member of staff who turned up for work. The nature of his injuries indicates that he had been beaten mainly on the head and more than likely kicked.

The assailants broke into the safes and stole office equipment. Irina Flighe believes that the attackers knew that an elderly man would be on duty that night and that nobody would turn up there on Saturday morning. They also knew the outlay of the Research Centre’s premises, the director suggests.

Irina Flighe noted that this by far was not the first crime against human rights activists in the recent time. 14 August 2003 masked men attacked one of Memorial’s offices in St. Petersburg which also resulted in the theft of office equipment. Then the attackers were identified as they had visited the office earlier without masks to have a look around.

11 December Memorial Research Centre’s executive director Vladimir Shnitke was also attacked by unknown assailants.

19 June, Nikolai Ghirenko, an ethnologist who carried out expert analysis of publications that fuelled interethnic hatred, was killed in St. Petersburg.

Human rights defenders in St. Petersburg have been constantly involved with the issues of interethnic relations, they work to counter xenophobia and nationalism. Recently Memorial Research Centre and Centre for Antifascism headed by Memorial member Yuliy Rybakov announced an antifascist poster competition.

Irina Flighe is certain that their opposition to xenophobia is the most likely reason for the harassment of human rights activists and that the attacks are politically motivated. In the meantime, the authorities are ceaselessly trying to convince the public that such incidents are no more than acts of hooliganism. In the same way they call hooliganism nationalistic and racist crimes, she stressed.

Translated by Olga Sharp
PRIMA-News Agency [2005-02-21-Rus-24]
(Via justice4northcaucasus)

Silence on Evil is Creation of Evil

At Prague Watchdog, photos of the Prague rally in commemoration of the deportation of the Chechen people and in support of peace have now been posted.

Among the most telling slogans: "Silence on Evil is Creation of Evil".

The rally was addressed by Vaclav Havel, who said:

"I welcome and endorse your meeting to support resolving the Chechen conflict, based on respect for human dignity, liberty, and basic human rights. The only thing one can do is to continue appealing to the Russian government, stressing over and over again that they not prolong this historically deep-rooted suffering.

However, my appeal is not only directed toward the Russian representatives. I especially challenge the Czech and European politicians to take a clear stance against a government that is not resolving conflicts within its territory through political means, but with methods that no longer belong to developed countries in the 21st century."

Dragons and Democracy - V

A principal feature of The Dragons of Expectation is that it aims above all to examine current errors and distortions of history in so far as they affect our ability to perceive and interpret contemporary political and social phenomena. As the author remarks:
Thomas Jefferson wrote that education should be “chiefly historical”, on the grounds that we should learn the lessons of the past. In his day, “history” may have been partial or have been seen in a rather local perspective, but it was not falsified, and the themes of actuality were generally understood.
It is, for example, true to say that in the period following World War II the political Left of Europe and America was able to maintain credibility largely because of the perception, widely held, and not only on the Left, that the Soviet Communism was somehow less physically lethal and mentally or morally damaging than Nazism. This false perception was the result of “not fully abreacted distortions and even falsifications, and their acceptance by inadequately skeptical Western intellectuals.” The falsification entered into the realm of language, with a proliferation of “fine-founding general words”, the chief among which was “Revolutionary” – especially when referring to the cycle begun in Russia in October 1917.

Although the Bolshevik Revolution has been widely perceived for what it really was – a cynical coup which, in Conquest’s words, brought into being an “atavistic ideocracy”, an “empty sectarian mindset” and a “self-admitted…amorality of action”, the myth that it somehow represented a better alternative to the capitalist order of its time has still managed to vaguely persist in sections of the West’s intelligentsia, which is still hungry for “ideas-and-ideals”. For this unfortunate situation we also have to thank two of the best-known historians of the Revolution – Eric Hobsbawm and E.H. Carr – both of whom have been called “great”, or “good” historians, and each of whom has been regarded “as, to an important degree, the voice of a powerful section of the establishment.” While Carr is the more extreme case, in many ways accepting the Bolshevik Revolution as a “proletarian” overthrow of the bourgeois order, and the basis for a “planned economy”, Hobsbawm, while no longer representing the Revolution as wholly benign, still “holds it to be the crucial and critical event of the twentieth century.” While Conquest admits that there is a good case for such an interpretation, he suggests, rather sardonically, that “it is certainly of importance that [the Revolution] should be understood, and understood correctly.”

Far from being “made by the masses”, as Hobsbawm would have it, the Revolution found it hard to draw support even from its own supposed base: Lenin had great difficulty in getting his own Central Committee to back the seizure of power, “and reports from its own agents in the city districts spoke in most cases of a lack of enthusiasm for the coming revolution – as has been clear since the publication in Moscow of these reports in 1928.” Almost all the “proletarian” circles were pressing for socialist rather than Bolshevik rule, and no “mature” proletariat anywhere succumbed to “Leninism” – “indeed, the more settled section of the Russian working class – the railwaymen, the printers – were totally opposed to the Bolsheviks.”

There was an almost total lack of support even among the Bolsheviks themselves: On November 11, 1917, with Lenin and Trotsky absent, “the Bolshevik Central Committee… unanimously voted in favor of a coalition government.” It was only by playing for time, and waiting until the end of the month, when opposition had begun to fade, that Lenin was able to consolidate his power, create a Bolshevik government by means of political terror, and implement his “regime of the bayonet and the sabre”. There was still massive opposition to his rule, and the widespread strikes and demonstration were ruthlessly put down. In 1918, Lenin was almost overthrown by Social Revolutionaries, and was only saved by the intervention of Latvian regiments (the so-called “Latvian Riflemen”), as the Russian troops remained neutral.

Conquest sees the Western conception of the “proletariat” and its supposed involvement in the October Revolution, as an echo and inheritance from an earlier time – analogous to the idolatry of the “people”, which was the underpinning of the French Revolution and its adherents. Just as in the earlier revolution, the “people” often proved to be rather thin on the ground, so in 1917-18 “the party sought the proletarians in the provinces wherever it could find them.” Conquest quotes a passage from Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago:

In the first days, people like the soldier Panfil Palykh, who without any agitation hated intellectuals, gentry and officers brutally and rabidly, like deadly poison, seemed to be rare finds to the elated left-wing intellectuals and were greatly esteemed. Their total lack of humanity seemed to be a miracle of class-consciousness and their barbarism seemed an example of proletarian firmness and revolutionary instinct. This was what Panfil was famous for. He was in the good books of the partisan chiefs and the party leaders.

Conquest notes how even to this day, in books published by reputable academic presses, one can read sentences such as: “the Bolshevik Party was a product of idealistic, egalitarian and socially progressive strands in the Russian intelligentsia and working class.” He points to the misleading CNN documentary of 1999 (Cold War), which says of Lenin that “his socialist principles were meant to ensure decent education, free health care, common ownership of the land, and fairness for all under the tough guidance of the Bolsheviks.” And Conquest opens a window on the true motivations and attitudes of Lenin himself, who in his comment on the 1891-92 famine in Russia wrote: “psychologically, this talk of feeding the starving masses is nothing but the expression of saccharine-sweet sentimentality characteristic of the intelligentsia”. When Betrand Russell met Lenin when he was in power, he reported that “his guffaw at the thought of those massacred made my blood run cold.”

See also: Dragons and Democracy
Dragons and Democracy - II
Dragons and Democracy - III
Dragons and Democracy - IV


Jeremy Page reports from Beslan that victims of last September's siege have been found in a rubbish dump:
At first it looked like any other rubbish dump — a few clothes, some old shoes, broken tables and chairs. But when residents of Beslan looked closer at the junk a mile outside their town this week, they made out clumps of hair and shreds of dried skin.

In a flash it dawned on them: Russian authorities had hurriedly cleared out Middle School No 1 after the siege ended on September 3 last year and dumped everything here in an abandoned quarry.

Within an hour of Tuesday’s discovery, relatives of the 331 victims descended on the grim pile to search for traces of their loved ones.

“First they let those bandits kill our children, then they let the dogs eat their bodies,” said Susanna Dudiyeva, head of the Committee of Beslan Mothers, who lost her 12-year-old son in the siege. “Why did they not tell us about it?” she asked The Times. “It should have been examined, then buried or burnt.”

The find is just the latest example of the insensitivity and incompetence with which federal and local authorities handled the terrorist siege and its aftermath. Yet, six months on, no senior official — in Moscow or North Ossetia — has resigned or been sacked.

The Government says that it is waiting for the results of an official investigation, expected next month. But victims’ relatives say that their patience has run out. In January a group of victims’ mothers blocked a major highway for three days, demanding the resignation of President Dzasokhov, the Kremlin-backed leader of North Ossetia. Last week they took their campaign to Moscow, where they issued an open letter to President Putin, again calling for Mr Dzasokhov’s resignation. Leading the campaign are two groups — the Committee of Beslan Mothers and the Committee of Beslan Teachers — founded in the siege’s aftermath to share grief and co-ordinate aid.

In the past two months they have become increasingly politicised, joining forces with families of victims of other terrorist attacks to try to change the culture of unaccountability that pervades the Government.

Not only do they blame Mr Dzasokhov for failing to prevent the 31 Chechen militants from taking 1,100 people hostage, they are still enraged that his spokesman repeatedly lied when he said that there were only 354 hostages and that they were being given food and water. “The Ossetian people have only one future under this President — the cemetery,” said Vissarion Aseyev, a deputy in the North Ossetian parliament who helps to run the Committee of Beslan Teachers. Like many Beslan residents he fears that Mr Dzasokhov will seek Kremlin approval to serve another term or install a successor of his choice. Either way North Ossetians will have no chance to vote him out of office as President Putin abolished elections for regional leaders after the siege. With the tacit support of the Kremlin, the Government has begun a campaign to discredit and intimidate the Beslan mothers

Friday, February 25, 2005

Zara Murtazaliyeva

From: "IHF, Joachim Frank"
Date: Fri Feb 25, 2005 5:28 pm
Subject: Moscow: Young Chechen Woman Unfairly Sentenced to Jail Term. IHF Calls for Fair Appeal Proceedings


Young Chechen Woman Unfairly Sentenced to Jail Term
IHF Calls for Fair Appeal Proceedings

Vienna, 25 February 2005. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) has written an Open Letter to leading Russian judicial, law-enforcement and human rights authorities about the case of Zara Murtazaliyeva (born 1983), who has been convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to a 9-year prison term. Independent observers have recorded that her trial in the Moscow City Court violated international standards of due process and Russian law and that the charges were fabricated.

A copy of the Open Letter is attached.

For more information:

Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director, +43-676-635 66 12 (mobile)
Eliza Moussaeva, IHF Consultant, +43-1-408 88 22-21 (work)
Svetlana Gannushkina, chair of the ˜Civil Assistance" Committee; member of the council of the Human Rights Center ˜Memorial"; member of the Human Rights Commission of the President of the Russian Federation; +7-095-251 53 10 (work) or +7-095-105 91 45 (mobile)

Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Vyacheslav Lebedev
Via facsimile +7-095-290 19 94
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Ustinov
Via facsimile +7-095-921 41 86
Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Lukin
Via facsimile +7-095-207 76 30


Vienna, 25 February 2005

Dear Sirs,

We kindly ask for your attention to the case of the young Chechen woman Zara Murtazaliyeva (born 1983), who was sentenced on 17 January 2005 to nine years in prison by the Moscow City Court after having been found guilty of charges of preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in Moscow; involving other people in the commitment of a terrorist act; and illegal acquisition and storage of explosive substances.

Murtazaliyeva`s defense lawyers as well as human rights defenders who monitored the trial are convinced that the charges against her have been fabricated. During the trial before the Moscow City Court, the prosecution was unable to give any evidence that would have substantiated any of the charges brought against her.


In September 2003, Zara Murtazaliyeva, a part-time student of the Linguistic University of Pyatigorsk and resident of the Naurskiy district of the Chechen Republic, arrived in Moscow in order to find a job and help her family.

In December 2003, she was stopped on a Moscow street for a routine document check. In the police department where she was brought, the young woman met Said Akhmaev, an ethnic Chechen officer of the Moscow Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (UBOP). A few days later, Akhmaev visited her at her working place and offered her a room in a hostel for free. Shortly after that, Murtazaliyeva moved into this room together with her Russian friends Anna Kulikova and Darya Voronova, both of whom had converted to Islam. Later it was revealed that they were video- and audio-taped during the entire time they lived there, as the room offered by Akhmaev had been bugged with eavesdropping devices.

On 4 March 2003, Murtazaliyeva was stopped by the police again, this time near the metro station "Kitai-gorod", not far from the place where she worked (for an insurance company). She was brought to a Department of Internal Affairs (OVD) office on the other side of the city, at Prospekt Vernadskogo, allegedly to verify her identity. There they checked her documents and took her fingerprints. Then she was asked to wash her hands, which she did, leaving her bag behind her. When she returned into the room, the officers took a briquette with plastic explosives out of her bag. On this basis, the girl was put under arrest and criminal proceedings were instituted against her under Article 222 (storage and transportation of explosives). But no fingerprints were taken from the briquette and the explosives were destroyed during an ˜investigatory experiment".

When the room where the three young women had lived was searched, nothing was found except some photographs made by Murtazaliyeva and her girlfriends. Some of them were intended by the young women to show funny scenes on an escalator in the shopping mall "Okhotny Ryad". These photos were used as "evidence" that they had planned to bomb the underground shopping mall.

On 25 October 2004, the mother of Anna Kulikova, V.M. Kulikova, addressed human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina and told her about the pressure exerted on her daughter by the investigators. When Kulikova and Voronova were summoned for interrogation, the investigators exerted strong pressure on the two women to testify that Murtazaliyeva had recruited them, involved them in terrorist activities and prepared for a terrorist act. They were warned that if they did not give the necessary testimonies they would be regarded as collaborators, although the information recorded on the cassettes contained only general discussions among the girls about Chechnya, war and Islam.

On 22 December 2004, the hearings started. The case was considered by Judge M.A.Komarova. At the first court session, Kulikova and Voronova retracted the testimonies against Murtazaliyeva given during the pretrial investigation.

Independent court monitors and journalists who attended the trial observed that Judge Komarova was biased against the girl from the beginning and was not interested in supporting the impartiality of the proceedings. She prohibited Murtazaliyeva`s defense lawyers to conduct an audio recording of the trial, thus depriving them of the possibility to make remarks to the contents of the protocols, for example on some missing or incorrectly recorded words or facts. This was done in violation of the criminal procedural code, which states that the agreement of the judge is not required for audio recordings. In addition, the judge denied all petitions of the defense to call additional witnesses to the trial, including Said Akhmaev, officer of the Moscow Directorate for Combating Organized Crime who had offered the free hostel to the three young women.

A Fabricated Case?

The text of the verdict read by Jdge Komarova is in fact a slightly modified indictment, thus entirely based on the prosecutor's version. At all times, Murtazaliyeva maintained her innocence. At the trial she said, "My only fault is that I have been born in this country-- that I have been born Chechen."

Initially, Murtazaliyeva was additionally charged with receiving training as a suicide bomber in a terrorist camp near Baku. However, after the Azerbaijan Embassy sent a protest against such statements to the Russian Foreign Ministry, this charge was dismissed. Another charge - that the then 11-year-old Zara Murtazaliyeva took part in the 1994-1996 war, was also dropped.

After the guilty verdict Murtazaliyeva`s lawyer launched an appeal of the decision by the first instance court within the regulatory 10 days, asking the Supreme Court to cancel the sentence and to send the case to be reviewed. On 10 March 2005 the appeal court (the second chamber) will examine the case in a hearing.


The IHF is concerned about all elements showing to the fact justice was not rendered in this case, and that the conviction to a 9-year prison term of a young Chechen woman is apparently based entirely on fabricated charges. We appeal to you to ensure that Murtazaliyeva receives a fair trial in the appeal proceedings.


Dr. Aaron Rhodes (Executive Director)

Cc Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Alvaro Gil-Robles
Via facsimile +33-3-90 21 50 53

Joachim Frank, Project Coordinator
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Wickenburggasse 14/7
A-1080 Vienna
Tel. +43-1-408 88 22 ext. 22
Fax: +43-1-408 88 22 ext. 50


Let Putin apologize for Hitler-Stalin Pact, writes a Lithuanian historian.

tr. jjk 24-02-2005, last update 24-02-2005 20:53

Commentary by Alvydas Nikzentaitis, Director of the Institute of Lithuanian History, after Wednesday’s statement by the president of Russia that the USSR was forced to sign the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact by the earlier betrayal of the West at Munich.

Alvydas Nikzentaitis*

[passage omitted]

In speaking of World War II and condemning its perpetrator, Germany, the role of the USSR should not be forgotten. The USSR was the state which in a very decisive manner entered the war not on the side of the anti-Hitlerite coalition, but actually on the side of Germany. I have in mind not only the occupation of the Baltic countries, but first and foremost the annexation of the eastern part of Poland. In taking this step, the USSR simply helped Germany to finish off Poland as a state.

Any attempts to compare the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact with the Munich Agreement are almost a crime. In evaluating those two historic agreements, it is necessary to speak not only of their consequences, but also of the goals that guided them. If the Munich Agreement made maximum concessions to Germany, it was because it was assumed that this would prevent the aggressor from starting a world war. But the Soviet-German pact openly spoke of aggression against third countries and the partitioning of Central-Eastern Europe.

What advice could be given to President Putin? First and foremost, to take an example from Germany. And perhaps even from Lithuania? Germany clearly and explicitly apologized for the World War II - specially to Poland. There is also the good example of the former president Algirdas Brazauskas, who apologized in the Knesset for participation of Lithuanians in the Holocaust. Both steps were praiseworthy, well-considered, and very important. If Russia would act as the German chancellor and the president of our country acted sometime ago, I believe that no one would now be giving any thought to the question of whether to go to Moscow for the May 9 celebrations or not.

A sober look at Stalinist crimes, at the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, is needed not so much for ourselves as for Russian society, in which there are still positive opinions about Stalin. A society that is unable to defeat the past always remains on the flank of history. One might wish that President Putin would take this decisive step, thus defeating the Stalinist past.

*The author is a director of the Institute of Lithuanian History. This text is published today, Friday in the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos zinios.

(via Marius - translated from Polish)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Putin's Shame - V

As George Bush meets the Russian president in Bratislava today, it might be useful for him to remember the cast of mind and interpretation of history he is about to encounter, face to face:

February 22, 2005
Putin interviewed ahead of Bratislava
BBC Monitoring

In an interview with Slovak journalists ahead of his summit meeting with George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin said relations with the USA were at an all-time high. He also rebuffed foreign criticism of the development of democracy in Russia, and compared the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact to the Munich Agreement between Hitler and Chamberlain. The following is text of the interview as carried by
Russia TV as part of its "Vesti" news bulletin: subheadings have been inserted editorially.

[Presenter of Russia TV's "Vesti" bulletin] Prior to his visit to Slovakia, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin gave an extensive interview to that country's journalists. One key issue on the agenda is the Russian president's meeting with George Bush. The very first question was about Russian-American relations.

[Putin] We are working at meetings and we write to each other various letters and documents. We regularly talk on the telephone. We are in continuous contact, including personal contact and contacts at the level of heads of the main ministries and departments, at the level of heads of the security councils. We and the United States share a large joint workload in the sphere of the economy and in the area of international security, the struggle against terrorism. I think that we will perhaps speak about all these problems again, go back to them. In any case, there are many areas of mutual interest.

Meetings of this kind are always important, not just because they provide an opportunity to take stock of joint work over the previous period but also because they allow us to plan steps for the near future. It is true that the president of the United States has more than once called me a friend of his and I also consider him to be my friend. But we meet [George Bush] to get some work done, all the same. As for the fundamental relationship between Russia and the USA, I agree with the assessment of my American colleagues: it has never been as strong as it is now. The level of trust is very high, as is the level of cooperation on key issues of the modern world.

Foreign democracies not perfect

[Presenter] Recently certain Western politicians have raised the issue of the development of democracy in Russia. This was mentioned during the interview.

[Putin] Fourteen years ago Russia made her choice for democracy. This was not in order to pander to anybody else, but for herself, for our own country and our own citizens. Naturally, the fundamental principle of democracy and the institutions of democracy have to be adapted to the realities of modern Russian life, and to our traditions and history. And we will do this ourselves. In this respect we proceed on the basis that a well-meaning view from outside, even if it is a critical view, will not hinder us but can only help. I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that even in the countries with so-called well-developed democracies, there are still plenty of issues and problems. Life goes on, and changes, and permanently presents us with new demands of the present day.

When in friendly conversation we point to certain problems like this in Western countries, as a whole, even obvious things, criticism of an obvious nature, obvious criticism, our partners answer that, well, we understand there is a problem there, but it just worked out that way and we all got used to it, and it would be better not to change anything. You know, there was a politician in Africa, President Bokassa, who was in a habit of eating his political opponents. Well, we are not saying, you know, this is the way it worked and let's not change anything. These are weak arguments. It should always be a bilateral dialogue of people concerned, a dialogue of friends. And we are ready for such a dialogue. But we are against using these problems as an instrument for achieving someone's foreign policy ambitions. Or, for making Russia into something amorphous in political terms in order to manipulate such a large and integral entity in international relations as our country.

Molotov-Ribbentrop pact a response to Munich

[Presenter] In connection with the forthcoming victory anniversary, foreign journalists were interested in Putin's views on attempts to re-write certain pages of the history of the Second World War

[Putin] As far as those who are trying, or would like to rewrite history and reduce the importance of this event, are concerned, to diminish the part played by the Soviet Union and the Soviet Red Army in the victory over Nazism, we understand what events these attempts are related to. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is often being mentioned. At which, it is said, an agreement was reached between the Soviet Union and Hitlerite Germany, with subsequent annexation of the Baltic territories. What can one say to this? Everything has to be considered in the context of historical events. I would like then to ask you to return to the events of September 1938, when the well-known agreements between Nazi Germany and West European countries were signed in Munich - which later on were referred to as the "Munich pact".

I should also like to remind you that on the part of the Western allies, it was signed by Daladier of France and British Prime Minister Chamberlain. And on the other side, it was signed by Mussolini and personally by Hitler. The Russo-, or Soviet-German document was signed at a much lower level - at the level of foreign ministers - and a year later, in response to the signing by the Western countries of the agreement which today is called the Munich pact. I would also recall, and this would probably have a particular significance for you as Slovaks, that subsequently as a result of the Munich pact, Czechoslovakia was given to Nazi Germany to be ripped to pieces. And the Western partners in a way indicated to Hitler where he should go to satisfy his growing ambitions - to the east. In order to ensure its interests and its security on its western borders, the Soviet Union chose to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact with Germany.

If we look at the problem that is bubbling up today in this context, it looks entirely different. I would advise the new-found historians, or more precisely, those who want to rewrite history, that before rewriting it and before writing books, they should learn to read them.

(via Marius)

Dragons and Democracy - IV

This is the fourth in a series of posts on Robert Conquest's book The Dragons of Expectation.

In the essay “Slouching towards Byzantium”, Conquest takes a look at the present day in the context of the past. Assuming that the enemies of the Western political order have, for the moment, been defeated, or at least contained, he asks, are there any other dangers that augur the possibility of a negative future? His answer is “unfortunately, yes.”

In Europe, far more than in America, the civic order is now under threat from centralizing trends which have their origin in post-Rousseau social and political thought and its implementation in political practice, which while it “liberated” the individual from communal ties, at the same time increased the dependence of individuals on the state. He quotes the conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet (1913-1996), who, echoing Tocqueville, pointed to the error involved in this type of thinking: “Centrality of sovereignty does not lead logically to the centralization of administration in public affairs… Decentralization of administration is not merely feasible technically; it is a prime necessity of free culture.”

Unfortunately, Conquest continues, a convergence of interests between managerialist, technocratic conservatives and socialists theoretically committed to the state-centred model of government has led to the emergence of a body such as the European Union, which encourages the growth of “an ever more rigid bureaucracy and an ever more constricted mentality”:
One thinks of the classical world’s decline into Byzantium – and, for example, the closing of the Academy in Athens in 529 A.D. and the earlier abolition of the Olympic Games. It is doubtless unfair to take this well-known instance. And Byzantium was better than most polities of its time. But the mind, outside internecine theology, had by earlier standards fallen low, become desiccated. Instead of Aristotle, for example, we find synodic records described by Edward Gibbon as a mass of “nonsense and falsehood”. Nor was this mental decline offset by the exemplary codification of the law that accompanied it.

Conquest sees the long-term prospect offered by such intrusive and stultifying corporatism as “pink Fascism”:
There is no need of a monolithic party if the effective apparat is in general agreement, and makes the same assumptions. The totalitarian attempt to control all aspects of life was untenable in the long run. A far greater leeway on small matters, even disagreement on tactics, is much more viable.
Indeed, the Byzantium analogy, the essay suggests, may actually be inadequate and possibly even misleading: for “Brussels is not Byzantium”: the EU does not appear to be viable in the longer run. Its basis is the following:
1) It is an attempt, by a stratum that needs, and no longer has, a justificatory “Idea” like “Socialism”, to synthesize one.
2) It is an attempt to build a state from populations that have none of the qualifications for nationhood, neither historical nor ethnic.
3) It is an extravagantly expensive bureaucratic nightmare. In pursuit of a supposed high and even transcendent aim, it pursues a vast over-regulation of human life.
4) It is a project imposed from above, and maintained by misrepresentation.
5) It is divisive of the European culture, omitting the Europes overseas.

With the help of journalist, author and National Review editor David Pryce-Jones, Conquest describes the political and mental stultification induced by the bewildering structure of the EU, “in which there is no link between its institutions and the freedom they are supposed to ensure”:
At the apex are a president and twenty commissioners, appointed to office by national governments in a process invisible to the public. Not elected, they cannot be dismissed. The commission, and its subordinate councils of ministers drawn from national countries, have executive and legislative powers, and some judicial ones as well. These politicians are accountable to nobody but themselves. Here is the only legislative body in the democratic world that meets in secret.

With its “nearly thirty-thousand civil servants, spread over two hundred buildings, with about seven hundred standing committees” the Leviathan that is the EU claims the authority to regulate the lives of its victims, but is unable to regulate itself – the whole organization is riddled with corruption: several billion dollars of official funds go missing every year. The EU also represents connivance between bureaucracy and what Conquest calls “ochlocracy”, or mob rule – its tolerance for mass disruption and street violence is notorious. Examples range from protests on issues such as free railway passes to the large-scale anti-capitalist demonstrations of recent years. In relation to the latter, Conquest draws a parallel here with the National Socialists and Communists of the 1920s and 30s – in 1933 the Communist street fighters mostly went over to the Nazis, “doubtless partly by habit.”

Conquest sees the future of Europe as a bleak one. Above all, it is “the downgrading of the mind, the advance of political stultification” that is the real and enduring trouble – the EU is only a part of the problem, for the same trends can be observed on a global scale. Europe is, however, now the most vulnerable part of the developed world from this point of view. As an example of how countries can be ruined by their rulers, the author points to Argentina, where disaster was triggered by “rulers who became or remained popular by giving their subjects more than the country could afford.” He sees a similar scenario in present-day Germany.

The essay concludes on a warning note: as the section of society that is dependent on the state grows larger and larger, it becomes difficult for elected governments to maintain economic, and even social security:
The downward slope, unless interrupted, can scarcely lead to anything but corporatism. The only probable interruption would be due to the buildup of resentment against the system. That is to say, this etatism may itself produce the catastrophe from which it purports to save us. Let us hope we survive.

See also: Dragons and Democracy
Dragons and Democracy - II
Dragons and Democracy - III

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Remembering the Chechen Deportation

From The Chechen Times - February 23, 2005

Today marks the 61st anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of the Chechen nation to Central Asia. This deportation fueled the Chechens’ collective sense of historical grievance, and is an important but often forgotten factor behind the ten year standoff between Moscow and the legitimate Chechen leadership. The Chechens have a 300 year history of sporadic resistance against first Tsarist, then Soviet, and now Russian power.

In 1942-43 the German army briefly occupied the north Caucasus, and the collaboration of a small number of Caucasians resulted in the Soviet government’s denunciation of entire nations as traitors and «tools of the Nazi invaders." On 23 February, 1944, the entire Chechen and Ingush population of the region — an estimated 425,000 people — was loaded up in train cars bound for Central Asia. Each family member was permitted to carry 20 kilos of baggage, leaving the rest of their possessions and all of their property behind.

During the journey itself, perhaps half (some estimates are even higher) died, primarily of exposure. The period of exile is considered by Chechens to be an attempt by the Soviet government to wipe out the identity of an entire people. Their property was turned over to Russian «settlers»; buildings and historic sites were destroyed. Chechen gravestones were reportedly used to pave the streets of Grozny.

It was not until Khrushchev’s 1956 de-Stalinization campaign that the Chechens were permitted to return to their homeland. The estimate number of people deported was between 1.4 and 1.7 million.

Such treatment helps to explain Chechens’ embitterment. In a 1991 interview with Radio Liberty, the Chechen emigre political scientist Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov noted that the Chechen push for independence from Russia was simply a «revolt of the children in revenge for the deaths of their fathers and mothers during deportation and exile, [and] a protest of the whole people against the continuing domination of the old structures…." At the same time, Avtorkhanov called upon both sides to prevent the conflict from spiraling into another «Caucasian War."

Four years later, it is obvious that such pleas have fallen on deaf ears. After 250,000 civilian casualties, cities and villages destroyed, people are not surprisingly less than sympathetic to the Chechens on this somber anniversary.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Latvia and Russia

The text of the Latvian government's proposed political declaration has now been published in English on the Latvian Foreign Ministry's website:

Unofficial translation, Latvian draft


1. The Parties express their readiness to promote wide-ranging co-operation and dialogue targeted at strengthening of mutual trust and understanding between both countries.

2. The Parties stress that the relations between both countries are based on such values as respect for the other Party's state sovereignty, observation of good neighbourly policies and practices, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and individual freedoms.

3. The Parties confirm the importance of the Peace Treaty of August 11, 1920 signed between Latvia and Russia as a legally binding document, which not only defined the basic principles of relations between both countries, but also facilitated the strengthening of statehoods and international recognition of Latvia and the new Russia. The Parties believe that, regardless of the substantial changes that have taken place in international political realities and the international law after signing this document, the Treaty and the level of understanding as regards reciprocity, mutual respect and justice depicted in it has not lost its validity also today.

4. The Parties condemn the Non–Aggression Agreement signed between the USSR and Germany on August 23, 1939 and its Secret Protocols as part of those processes that led to the beginning of the Second World War, to subjugation of a large part of European nations and to a forceful transformation of the European political map. In this context the Parties take note of the December 24, 1989 decision, taken by the People’s Deputy Congress of the USSR in this regard. The Parties admit that that the signing of such territorially aggressive and illegal treaties represents a categorically condemnable practice, which has no place in the contemporary international relations. The Parties stress that for Latvia, the direct consequences of this Agreement were subsequent occupations by mutually hostile powers and a de facto loss of its statehood, as well as they stress that this tragic situation was further reinforced at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences.

5. It is with deep regret that the Parties commemorate the First and the Second World Wars, the Russian Civil war, nazi crimes and the Holocaust, crimes of international terrorism, as well as Stalinist repressions in Latvia and Russia – the events that have taken millions of lives and are to be evaluated as tragic pages in the history of all the mankind.

6. The Parties believe that negative events in history must not serve as a burden for developing contemporary relations between countries. Experts and representatives of public at large of Latvia and Russia should not cease their efforts in evaluating - objectively and on the basis of true facts – the events of the 20th century, and by doing this – promoting further understanding between both countries. Simultaneously, the Parties are in agreement about the necessity to provide a political and internationally legal assessment of those regimes and ideologies that have been responsible for crimes against humanity – Fascism, National Socialism and Bolshevism, including the Stalinist crimes.

7. The Parties confirm their positions regarding the necessity of strengthening the role of the United Nations Organisation in the international events. The Parties stress the importance of strengthening international co-operation within the framework of the United Nations and its Security Council, particularly in fighting terrorism and in crisis management, and will continue to work closely together within the relevant UN structures un specialised institutions. The Parties share the opinion that the authority of the UNO and its Security Council should be based on their capability to increase their effectiveness in tackling the new challenges of the 21st century. The Parties admit that international action against terrorism should be based on unambiguous norms of the international law, as well as universal and regional agreements.

8. The Parties evaluate positively the changes that have taken place in Europe after the "Cold War". In particular, the Parties value the degree of commitment and solidarity that has, already since the middle of 1980s, united millions of people across Europe – their commitment to defending their ideals of individual freedom and justice and their commitment to implementing the forms of state governance corresponding to those ideals. The dynamic events that have taken place in Eastern Europe over the past fifteen years stand as a vivid testimony to the positive role these ideals have played for Europe as a whole.

9. The Parties confirm the historic role that the enlargements of the European Union and NATO have played in increasing the overall stability in Europe, as well as express their readiness to promote the development of partnership and deepening of co-operation between the European Union and Russia, as well as co-operation within the framework of the NATO–Russia Council. The Parties particularly stress the importance of broadening the political dialogue, strengthening the common fight against international terrorism, non-proliferation activities, peacekeeping and crisis management, arms control and confidence building measures, and commit themselves to advancing theses objectives, including within the frameworks of their institutional membership.

10. The Parties confirm their interest in strengthening bilateral relations and in developing bilateral legally binding basis that should increase co-operation between the countries. To this end, the Parties stress the necessity to sign and ratify those agreements that have already been technically prepared between the two countries.

11. Signing of the Agreement on the State Border between Latvia and Russia was an event of a true European significance and it is bound to become an important investment in the overall European co-operation process, particularly bearing in mind the EU–Russia co-operation in the field of justice and home affairs.

12. The Parties confirm their readiness to seek solutions to the unresolved social and economical issues that have occurred to the residents of both countries after May 4, 1990.

13. The Parties stress the importance of intensifying bilateral practical co-operation, especially in the areas of trade, science and technology, energy and transport, and will pay particular importance to the possibilities for implementing this goal provided by the Latvian–Russian Intergovernmental Commission.

14. The Parties will encourage implementation of joint initiatives in the Baltic Sea area and stress their readiness to develop further sub-regional and cross border co-operation projects.

15. The Parties commit themselves to creating favourable climate for the development of bilateral trade, increase of mutual investments and to the defence of entrepreneurship and private property. Membership of Russia in the World Trade Organisation would be highly beneficial towards reaching these goals.

16. The Parties will pay particular attention to the issues of co-operation in the areas of transit and energy and express their mutual readiness in working together on the Baltic Sea transport and energy infrastructure projects. The Parties stress that joint initiatives in this area should be based on the principles of mutual benefit and free and fair trade practices.

17. The Parties will encourage co-operation on environmental issues, including a long-term monitoring of the sea. Latvia and Russia commit themselves to participation in environmental projects and prevention of ecological crises.

18. The Parties express their interest in strengthening bilateral efforts in the area of home and justice affairs. Such activities should include developing infrastructure of border crossing points, raising the quality of co-operation between border guards, customs services and other relevant structures, including fighting crime and smuggling on the border as well as illegal immigration. The Parties agree that the signing of a bilateral Readmission Treaty would strongly contribute to reaching these goals.

19. The Parties stress the importance of cultural co-operation and express their readiness to facilitate the return to either the Republic of Latvia or the Russian Federation of those cultural values and archive documents that, as a result of historical developments, were relocated and are currently found on the other Party’s territory.

20. The Parties reiterate the role of the international law and international organisations in ensuring and defending the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. The Parties agree to pay particular attention to the preservation and development of the uniqueness and heritage to people belonging to national minorities in both Latvia and Russia.

21. The Parties confirm their legal and moral obligations in fighting all forms of racism, Anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

22. The Parties confirm their commitment to advancing the role of the OSCE in the international and European politics through focusing in particular on solving "frozen conflicts", ensuring free and fair elections and protecting human rights.

23. The Parties stress the role of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) and importance of fulfilling all obligations under the Treaty. The Parties commend all those countries, not yet parties to the Treaty, who have expressed readiness to join it after the adapted Treaty enters into force.

24. The Parties agree to expand co-operation within the framework of the Council of Europe on the basis of the commitments each of the Parties took upon themselves when joining this organisation.

25. The Parties will broaden the practice of consultations on topical international political issues and will continue to co-operate in all international bodies on issues of mutual interest.

Holding a firm belief that the achievement of the goals declared above will facilitate the relations between both countries in the interests of both peoples and in accordance with the new international political realities and will promote the observance of the international law and development of universal and regional agreements,

For the Republic of Latvia

For the Russian Federation

(via scb)

Dragons and Democracy - III

(Continuing an overview of some of the points raised in the essays of Robert Conquest's newly published book The Dragons of Expectation...)

Following his earlier examination of the attitudes of English and European Utopians, Conquest now turns his attention to the aftermath of Utopianism: the “anti-Western, anticapitalist, antipluralist assault took on a new sharpness,” he writes, “recalling the nihilism of the most violent section of the Russian intelligentsia a century and a half ago.” This is the subject of Chapter V – “After Utopia”.

The new Utopianism, if such it can be called, consists mainly of a rejection of reason: while the socialists at least had arguments and a program, the new anticapitalists “seem to have sunk to a lower mental level.” There are roots and precedents and roots for this malaise. Conquest points to the emotionalism of postwar French intellectual life, when “much of the emotional drive had not come so much from a devotion to the proclaimed social transformation as from a hatred for the actual.” It was Camus who pointed out that French intellectuals did not so much adore Stalinism as they “heartily detest part of the French”.

It might be of interest here to look in a little more detail at what Camus said in the interview Conquest refers to – it’s the “Socialism of the Gallows” interview that was published in the French journal Demain in February 1957, after the Soviet invasion of Hungary the previous year. Speaking of the attitude of the French Communist Party, and its newspaper L’Humanité, Camus remarked:
"Expediency for a Communist newspaper perhaps amounts to saying that the whole population of Hungary is fascist except Kadar [the Hungarian Communist leader], his policeman, and his executioners. But the factual truth is that we have seen a revolt of workers, intellectuals, and peasants who wanted national independence and personal freedom. The real fascism, to speak clearly, is the fascism of Kadar and Khrushchev, who methodically crushed a popular revolt, and of the Russian government, which permitted it.

"I confess," Camus went on, "that I don’t understand either the sense of expediency that urged some of our militant progressives, after they had denounced the Soviet intervention in Hungary, to recommend in their congress a unified action with the French Communists, who continually insult the insurgents. Their recommendation came at a time when Hungarians were still being hanged (just yesterday a girl of twenty) and at the very moment when a representative of the French Communist Party declared that, under the same circumstances, he would be willing for the USSR to inflict on France the same treatment it is giving Hungary. Such obsequiousness eventually becomes overwhelming. Can it be that the Communists and progressive militants feel such love for the Russians they have never seen? No, but they feel such a loathing for a part of the French, the part that loathed them enough to be willing to serve the cause of Hitler. If France is to disappear, rest assured that she will die poisoned by these two hatreds."

Conquest develops Camus’s argument in the context of 2004: now, since the fall of Communism, the collapse of alternatives to a pluralist order is generally accepted, but “detestation of it persists – as does (often enough) the lack of, indeed rejection of, any serious attempt to examine the probable defects any feasible alternative might, or would, produce.” Conquest characterizes this new “Western anti-Western mindset” as “negative Utopianism”. Its argument is a primitive one: “’capitalism’, ‘globalism’ – bad.” But, he asks – what is a good nonutopia?

The essay goes on to consider how this destructive mindset, with its concomitant mental distortions and alienation from reality, could have arisen. In essence, Conquest argues, it proceeds from a phenomenon that is not new at all, and has been a characteristic of every literate society from as far back as can be recalled. He invokes the memory of “the scribes who worked on the Book of the Dead (the collection of writings that were placed in tombs as a means of guiding the ancient Egyptian soul on its journey to the afterlife DM), the documentation of the Byzantine synods, the volumes of pretentious drivel that so aroused Erasmus,” and the sub-Marxism of our own time. In his autobiographical memoir Native Realm , the Polish writer who perhaps more than any other resembles Camus, notes how in post-war Warsaw “even more or less disillusioned intellectuals felt at home in the left-wing cafés and never thought to consort with the reactionary peasants and colonels or their representatives.” The same divide, Conquest asserts, can be found elsewhere: less in Britain, but more in America – and most in France.
George Orwell says that the man in the street is at once too sane and too stupid to fall for the fads of the intelligentsia. We might note that the opposite of sane and stupid is insane and intelligent. But insanity itself is a denial of intelligence.

The problem, the essay suggests, is that the educated class which now prevails in Western society has misunderstood and misevaluated history in a way that is in itself historical. Even though, for example, Marxism has been discredited as a method of scientific prediction, in Western intellectual circles there survives a widespread belief that Marxism somehow "for the first time opened up various historical perspectives - or some such rather vaguer pretension." Those who hold such a belief tend to be impervious to both arguments and facts. Conquest likens them to their grandparents, whose beliefs about the USSR led them to accept and support a huge tissue of lies and falsehoods propagated by the Soviet "information agencies". For many of those people the Soviet Union, despite its horrors, remained acceptable or even praiseworthy - at least until 1956, and even beyond. Where more recent developments are concerned, the sub-Marxism now current in academic circles, Conquest argues, has contributed to maintaining this low level of political understanding:
Not only does Marxism, or at any rate a sort of sub-Marxism, still put out shoots in academic spheres that have been inadequately unweeded, but even non-utopian theorizing, attempts to inject rigor into the political systems-analysis, rational choice theory, path dependence - all tend to remove realities from academic work... If a political theory is taken as thoroughly correct, it follows first that your critics are "wrong". (This is a recipe for taking over university departments.)
In the end it may be wondered if argument is possible at all in such a climate of unreality, mental blocking, and denial. In addition to the problems of war and terrorism, Conquest warns: "There is a mind-set to unscramble."

See also: Dragons and Democracy
Dragons and Democracy - II

Ippolit's Dream

"As if on purpose, just before his arrival I had a pretty dream (as a matter fact, of a kind I now have hundreds of). I fell asleep -- I think, an hour before his arrival -- and dreamt I was in a room (but not my own). A room larger and higher-ceilinged than my own, better furnished, light; a cupboard, a chest of drawers, a sofa and my bed, large and wide and covered with a green silk quilt. But in this room I observed a horrible creature, some kind of monster. It was like a scorpion, but not a scorpion, more loathsome and far more horrible, precisely because there are no such creatures in nature, and because it had appeared in my room on purpose, and in this there was some kind of secret. I studied it very closely: it was brown and covered with a shell-like skin, a reptile, some four vershoks* long, two fingers thick around the head, tapering off towards the tail, so that the very tip of the tail was no more than a tenth of a vershok thick. At one vershok from the head there stuck out from its body, at an angle of forty-five degrees, two legs, one on each side, each two vershoks in length, so that the whole creature, if looked on from above, presented the aspect of a trident. The head I could not make out, but I saw two feelers, not long, like two strong needles, also brown. There were two similar feelers at the tip of the tail and on the end of each leg, thus eight feelers in all. The creature was running round the room very quickly, supporting itself with its legs and tail, and as it ran both its body and its legs wriggled like little serpents, with extraordinary speed, in spite of the shell, and this was very loathsome to watch. I was dreadfully afraid that it would sting me; they had told me it was poisonous, but what tormented me most was, who had sent it into my room, what did they want to do to me and what was the secret? The creature hid under the chest of drawers or the cupboard, crept away into the corners. I squatted up on a chair and squeezed my legs underneath me. It quickly ran obliquely right across the room and vanished somewhere near my chair. I looked around me in terror, but as I was sitting with my legs tucked underneath me, I hoped it would not climb up onto the chair. Suddenly I heard from behind me, almost next to my head, a kind of crackling rustle; I turned round and saw that the reptile was climbing up the wall and was almost level with my head, even touching my hair with its tail, which was twirling and wriggling with extreme speed. I leapt up, and the creature vanished. I was afraid to lie down on the bed in case it had crawled under the pillow. Into the room came my mother and some friend of hers. They began to try to catch the loathsome thing, but were calmer than I, and not even afraid. But they knew nothing. Suddenly the reptile crawled out again; this time it crawled very quietly and as if with some special intention, wriggling slowly, which was even more repulsive, obliquely across the room again, towards the door. At this point my mother opened the door and called Norma, our dog --an enormous Newfoundland, black and shaggy; she died five years ago. She rushed into the room and stood over the loathsome thing as if rooted to the spot. The reptile stopped too, but still wriggling and clacking the ends of its legs and tail against the floor. Animals are not capable of feeling mystical terror, if I am not mistaken; but at that moment it seemed to me that in Norma's terror there was something apparently very unusual, as if also almost mystical, and that therefore she also had a foreboding, as I did, that there was something very fateful about the beast and that it contained some secret. She slowly backed away from the reptile, which was crawling quietly and cautiously towards her; it apparently intended to rush at her suddenly and sting her. But, in spite of all her terror, Norma looked dreadfully fierce, though she was trembling in every limb. Suddenly she slowly bared her terrible teeth, opened her enormous red mouth, adapted herself, found the right position, plucked up her courage and suddenly grabbed the reptile in her teeth. The reptile must have have jerked violently, trying to slip away, for Norma caught it again, in flight this time, and twice took it right into her jaws, still in flight, as though swallowing it. The sheel crackled in her teeth; the creature's tail and legs, sticking out of her jaws, moved with horrible rapidity. Suddenly Norma gave a plaintive yelp: the loathsome thing had managed to sting her tongue. With a yelp and a howl she opened her mouth in pain, and I saw that the chewed-up reptile was still moving across it, emitting from its half-crushed body a large quantity of white fluid, similar to the fluid of a crushed cockroach... At that point I woke up, and the prince came in."

-Ippolit, in Dostoyevsky's The Idiot (my tr.)

Music Hurts

A recent article in the LA Times (subscribers only), headed "Halt, Or I'll Play Vivaldi", suggests that classical music may be effective in combating crime:

According to most reports, it works. Figures from the British capital released in January showed robberies in the subway down by 33%, assaults on staff by 25% and vandalism of trains and stations by 37%. Sources in other locales have reported fewer muggings and drug deals. London authorities now plan to expand the playing of Mozart, Vivaldi, Handel and opera (sung by Pavarotti) from three tube stations to an additional 35.

"Music soothes the savage beast," a Boston variety store owner told the Globe after light classical selections were used to squelch teen loitering near the Forest Hills subway stop. "They're leaving, and I ain't seen no fights." The pops-style music, said one of the teens, "makes you want to go to sleep."

Similarly, Police Det. Dena Kimberlin in West Palm Beach, Fla., recalls that after police there closed a bar in an area infested with drug dealers and began blasting classical music from the roof, "the officers were amazed when at 10 o'clock at night there was not a soul on the corner. We talked to people on the street, and they said, 'We don't like that kind of music.' " Subsequently, she says, her department received requests from other police officials to explain exactly what steps it had taken. Its musical selections were mostly Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

What does it mean that classical music is being used this way? After all, it's more than just a strange, deeply literal updating of the Victorian moralist Matthew Arnold, who saw culture -- "the best which has been thought and said" -- as an inoculation against the "anarchy" of runaway individualism and democracy.

The melodious tube stop also represents a bizarre irony. After decades of the classical music establishment's fighting to attract crowds -- especially young people and what it calls "nontraditional audiences" -- city councils and government ministers are taking exactly the opposite approach: using high culture as a kind of disinfectant.

(via SL)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dragons and Democracy - II

Continuing a series of posts on Robert Conquest's The Dragons of Expectation...

In a chapter headed “Harpooning some Word-Whales”, Conquest takes a long look at some of the “biggest” words in human activity. These include the reassuring “democracy”, “liberty” and “progress” – to which, Conquest suggests, we are in a sense addicted: the addiction to general words and concepts “tends to produce mind-blockers or reality distorters.” As a reality distorter, the word “democracy” figures high on the list. Conquest calls it “a huge rampaging Kodiak bear of a word”. Tracing the origins of the word back to ancient Greece, he shows how its defects are almost as obvious as its virtues: examples of the former include the sentencing of Socrates; the Athenian assembly voting for the death of all the adult males and the enslavement of all the women and children of Mytilene, then changing its mind and intervening to counterman the order only at the last moment; and the ruin of Athens, which was the result of a vote to send an expedition to Syracuse against sensible advice.

When the concept of democracy was revived in Europe in the eighteenth century, the record was not much better: revolutionary regimes claiming to represent the demos, or people, were really much more concerned with repressing the enemies of the people – while the people themselves were usually conscripted into vast armies which were used to defeat more conventional military forces. Thus “democracy” spread, obtaining its support from a huge peasant base which in the 19th century actually supported such imperial figures as Napoleon III. “Democracy” was also the rationale of the large city mobs which engineered the riots in London during the late eighteenth century, and the Paris coup organized by Napoleon in 1799.

Turning his attention to more recent history, Conquest reflects on the obvious fact that democracy is not the sole or inevitable criterion of social progress. Hitler came to power in 1933 by election, with accompanying mass and militant support. In Eastern Europe after the Second World War, the “revolutions” organized by the Communist Party were effected by means of constitutional intrigues backed by “mass demonstrations” which were really just mobilizations of mass force. Nazis and Fascists liked to describe the political structures they created as “organized, centralized state democracy” (Mussolini): “In Germany there is true democracy, in which the whole nation can freely express its will” (Goebbels). In 1940, Hitler was comparing “German democracy” to the British version. Conquest reflects that in retrospect it is clear that if in 1933 a military coup had prevented Hitler’s election as Chancellor, “the German people, and all other peoples, would have benefited.”

Conquest perceives a double standard at work in definitions of democracy: in the West, the word is used as “the essential definition of Western political culture”, while at the same time it is applied to the rest of the world “in a formal and misleading way”. We are led to support the legitimacy of any regime which has won an electoral victory. But
“democracy” did not develop or become viable in the West until quite a time after a law-and-liberty polity had emerged. Habeas corpus, the jury system, the rule of law were not the products of “democracy” but of a long effort, from medieval times, to curb the power of the English executive. And democracy can only be seen in any positive or laudable sense if it emerges from and is an aspect of the law-and-liberty tradition.
As Conquest points out, “the problem with ‘democratic socialism’ was always that if the country remained democratic its electorate might reject or dilute or hamstring socialism – and what then?”

He continues by posing three essential characteristics of a country commonly called “democratic”:
1)The state is able to operate
2)The plural views in the polity are represented and allowed expression
3)All opinion within the polity accepts the mechanisms, the public rules, over at least a period.
In addition, he suggests, “it seems that the main thing… is not so much the institutions as the habits of mind, which are far more crucial, and above all the acceptance of the traditional rules of the political game.”

Democracy in the Western sense cannot be easily imposed or artificially constructed. What can be worked for, in Conquest’s view, is
the emergence, in former rogue or ideomaniac states, of a beginning, a minimum. The new orders must be nonmilitant, nonexpansionist, nonfanatical. And that goes with, or tends to go with, some level of internal tolerance, of a plural order, with some real prospect of settling into habit or tradition.
And, as an example of how attempts to impose democracy can go disastrously wrong, Conquest gives the instance of the 1917 “February Revolution”, when a liberal, bourgeois government took over from the Tsarist regime:
When the Provisional Government took over in Russia in March 1917, the country had been run by a fairly efficient political and administrative machinery, and the discipline in the army was satisfactory. (It is a myth that “war weariness” was among the major causes of the February Revolution: it was, on the contrary, carried out with the idea that the tsar and his milieu were insufficiently committed to the fight against Germany, and the program of the new government, at first enthusiastically accepted by the soldiery, was designed to make the war a more national one.) But the “liberals” who now took over in the capital and the localities changed all this. In the name of “freedom”, they destroyed the local administrative machinery and replaced it with amateurs; they destroyed the police force and replaced it with nothing; and in the army they permitted “democratic rights” incompatible with discipline.
In short, Conquest concludes, for the establishment of democracy “an effectual state power” is essential.

See also: Dragons and Democracy

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Beslan 5 months on

An interview with Aleksandr Torshin, head of the Beslan Commission, whose work has now dragged on for five months and still shows no sign of yielding definitive results, throws up some details and speculations, though Torshin's words need to be filtered through the official murk that surrounds them - and they may, in fact, have the purpose of intensifying the murk still further :
Now, who provoked the storming of the school building? The fact is that the storming operation was launched after two explosions were heard there. What were those explosions? Who set them off?

I am becoming more and more certain that they were triggered because the negotiating process had begun. A few days ago, we questioned Aslakhanov (an aide to the RF president. - Ed.), who had been flying to Beslan for direct negotiations with the terrorists. The explosions came the moment his plane landed. I suppose that neither the bandits nor the FSB benefited from the explosions in any way. But someone was interested in them - there is no question about that. We believe that these were certain individuals who were closely watching the course of the Beslan events and did everything to thwart the negotiations. They wanted bloodshed.

What other questions have yet to be answered?

These are questions that hostage victims are putting to us. We look for answers and often find them. These answers, however, are not of much importance for the commission's findings. For instance, people of Beslan insist: The weapons had been brought to the school before the attack, while the commission is hiding the fact. We are hiding nothing! We simply have no evidence to go on. Consider that there were more than 1,200 hostages at the school, and only one 11-year old boy purportedly saw weapons being pulled from under the debris of a smashed wall. What about the others? Give us adults who will say: Yes, we saw it. Give us evidence, give us proof.

What about the reports that Shmel rocket flame-throwers were used in the storming operation - do you have any evidence of this now? The citizens of Beslan are convinced that Spetsnaz officers fired flame-throwers at the school building, starting a fire, thus causing a burning roof to collapse on the hostages.

This is a very difficult question. Yes, on the third day of our work in Beslan, a commission member climbed the roof of a building abutting the school and found several Shmel tubes. Officials from the military prosecutor's office were called in to the scene. A report was filed. The Shmel serial numbers were recorded. This is now a subject of a separate investigation. The problem, however, is that the procedure for inventorying and storaging these weapons is extremely lax so they may never be traced. We are currently searching military depots for any missing Shmels, but so far there have been no results.

What other things have yet to be cleared up?

We would like to know who ordered and masterminded the Beslan attack. Although there were no organizers or masterminds among them, the executants are known; at least 10 gunmen were top-notch professionals. After all, we have never sustained such heavy losses before: 10 Spetsnaz and two Emergency Situations Ministry (MChS) officers were killed. It is more or less clear who the organizers were, but we have no clue about the masterminds themselves.

Do you have a theory?

We have no theory. But here is what I think. Imagine that Dzasokhov (president of North Ossetia. - Ed.), Zyazikov (president of Ingushetia. - Ed.), Aslakhanov, and Dr. Roshal arrive at the school, as the terrorists demand, and all four are killed. What would have happened next? Early elections would have been called in North Ossetia and Ingushetia. Who would have won those elections? I don't know the names, but these would have been hard-line nationalists, at least in North Ossetia. They would have been obsessed with taking revenge on their neighbors. We would have been thrown back to the 1992 situation. Had the Ossetian-Ingush conflict resumed, Chechens would take the Ingush side. I am being urged to disclose the gunmen's ethnicity. This I won't do because I understand that some people would like to finger an enemy and provoke an interethnic conflict.

Examining the Archives - II

Marius has commented on my earlier post Examining the Archives, in which I linked to Anne Applebaum's recent Washington Post article about the so-called "lustration" debate currently underway in Poland. He maintains that the matter is not as simple or straightforward as Applebaum - wittingly or unwittingly - suggests.
With regard to your blog post "Examining the Archives" let me add my five cents to it. This list - so called Wildstein List (Bronislaw Wildstein - the journalist of Rzeczpospolita, who allegedly electronically copied this list from the IPN's computer in Warsaw's main office) is creating a lot of havoc.

Wildstein's List, although is incomplete, is widely assumed to be an index of names of Poles who spied for the hated Communist authorities prior to the democratic changes of 1989. The Poles dread seeing their name on the list, as they fear they will be associated with this ugly deal of informing on their friends and relatives during those days.

Every day in the Polish media there's talk about this list, the lustration process, and people who are on this are being interviewed. Btw Lithuania has similar problem, someone posts on the web a list of Lithuanians who work in the government and used be KGB officers in reserve. Foreign Minister Valionis already admitted that he used to be a KGB officer in reserve.

However, the list is in fact an index of spies and their victims, often the very same democratic activists who helped bring down the Communist regime.

The confusion between victims and perpetrators that the list creates has caused personal anguish as well as a means by which former and present intelligence officers can conceal their true identity.

It came to the IPN's director havning to apologize for this in the Polish parliament:

Kieres apologizes for the list

Wojciech Czuchnowski 19-02-2005, last update 18-02-2005 21:13

I stand before of you with feeling of guilt - was saying yesterday in the Parliament (Sejm) the chief of IPN, professor Leon Kieres, apologizing to all of those who have problems, because their names have got on this list which was taken from the Institute.

[passage omitted]

Almost all of the political parties (in the Parliament) have been in the agreement that the Institute's error was to mix on the list the names of full time employees secret informants, candidates on agents and persons who were victims of the secret services.


There's even a rumor going on, that the leaking of these files has been arranged by the conservative right opposition, who is expected to win a landslide victory in elections this year.

Below is an excerpt from interview with Tadeusz Mazowiecki , the first non-communist premier in the Polish government,34591,2560810.html

Revolution won't solve anything

Conversed Jarosław Kurski 18-02-2005, last updated 18-02-2005 19:17

Q: How do you view this act of Bronislaw Wildstein?

- I don't want to evaluate his motives, because I can't assume right away that he was guided by bad motives, but when I listen to his comments, I don't find in them a bit of of awareness, that in this, what has happened, there's also human injustice, and that it is important. When on all questions regarding this, there's an answer
that our lustration has to be painful for all of us, this is not acceptable for me.

Q: Your critics think that the lustration was needed to be done on the wave of revolution of 1989. And you, as the first non-communist premier had missed this rchance, and therefore we've got this now, what we have now.

Till the end of 1990, during my government's tenure, this word "lustration" hadn't been heard in the public. Nobody remembers this now at all. We've got an ahistorical thinking. Let me recall what we were doing then: putting our hyperinflation down, conversion of our currency (zloty), reform of Balcerowicz, confirmation of recognition by Germany of our Western border, getting out the Soviet troops from Poland. Also, we had the first free municipal-administration and presidential elections. There was no talk about lustration then. Now, after 15 years, a tool of political revolution it's being made from this.

Q: What do you mean?

It's that this lustration, propelled as peoples' revolution, is a way to negate the achievements of the last 15 years. Lustration as a moral guillotine of the III Republic of Poland. It's a waste of everything that we - Polish society - during the last 15 years, have done and what we have achieved.

It appears that Ms Applebaum is little misinformed on the issue of lustration (her own words: soon after the fall of communism, the ex-dissidents who took control of the Polish government decreed that they would not conduct any form of "lustration," or political vetting, of anybody who came into the new government. Unlike the West Germans, who gave East Germans access to their police files, the new Polish leadership kept the files locked up. Partly they feared the social consequences, partly they wanted to protect their friends, and partly that was the deal they made with the outgoing communists. When some accused them of hiding the truth, they called their opponents "witch-hunters." After a few rounds of name-calling, the argument petered out.)

On the 3rd of June 1992 - speaker of the Polish Parliament Wiesław Chrzanowski signed the lustration bill.

This bill says that all candidates for a post in the government must be "lustrated". That means: they must submit a written statement stating whether they were consciously unofficial employees or officers of the Secret Service between 1945 and 1989. If documents and/or witnesses testify to the fact that the person under investigation lied in his statement, he can no longer run for office for 10 years. They can appeal this decision to the Lustration Court to prove, for example, that their file was fabricated. This bill also provides that any person who was a victim of the communist system (persecuted, put in jail, etc.) may see his or her personal file collated by the secret services.

Ms Applebaum is right that - the specter of the "files" kept haunting Polish politics in last 15 years. There was even a proposal from serious opposition figure already long time ago not open those files or simply to destroy them. They had a valid point, any in Poland can recall that even Walesa was accused to be a "lustration liar" and a former secret service [ SB] agent, code name "Bolek. It was revealed that the the SB had created false documents for years, including
fictitious anonymous information, allegedly authored by Walesa under the code name "Bolek," and payment receipts for his services.

It was shown that these materials were created by a special group in the one of the SB departments with a lot help of Eligiusz Naszkowski - who was the SB agent and in the same time Solidarity leader in the city of Pila. It was he who also wire-tapped the last meeting of Solidarity leaders in the city of Radom, a week before the introduction of martial law on Dec. the 13th of 1981. These fabricated documents were used within Poland and abroad, and were even sent to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in 1982 in an attempt to compromise Walesa's candidacy. They must have had some effect since his candidacy was put off for a year, and the Prize was awarded to Alva Myrdal and Alfonso Garcia Robles, Walesa got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.

Please read this article:

Struggling with the Past. Poland's controversial lustration trials

To finish this, even I'm confused and don't want to make any judgment about this list. There's name of well-known figure in Poland on it, as secret service informer, code name "Zapalniczka". He's name is Zdzislaw Najder, a dissident, director of the Polish section of the RFE in 1982-1987 - sentenced to death in absentia by the Polish military court, later politician and advisor to the government officials in the Solidarity government. He admitted that in the late '50s he signed a paper to be an informer of secret services for money, allegedly to find out what the service think and know, thinking that he would outsmart them.

The words below are those of former Defence Minister Jan Parys from 1992

Q: What about Zdzislaw Najder? He was accused of being an agent using the secret name of "Zapalniczka" - [Cigarette Lighter].

Jan Parys: Mr. Najder is my political friend. He is a politician and former director of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe. He was adviser to Prime Minister Olszewski. It is true that he was investigated a number of times during the past twenty-five years by the police, and had to meet with them, but nothing serious has been found about him in the secret police files. It is not true that he was an agent. A lot of people from the Polish opposition had problems with the secret police, but this does not mean that they became agents.