Russia: Reflections on Recent Murders in Moscow

Global Voices Online
Sunday, February 8, 2009

According to this roundup that appeared on Robert Amsterdam's blog on Feb. 6, the past week hasn't been too peaceful in Moscow and Moscow region:

[...] A former deputy mayor of Grozny was gunned down early yesterday morning in western Moscow in what authorities said appeared to be a contract murder. Yuri Grachev, the 72-year-old editor-in-chief of a [Solnechnogorsk] newspaper critical of the authorities, suffered concussion after being beaten near his house. The editor in chief of the independent Ekho Moskvy radio, Aleksei Venediktov, says he found a chunk of timber with an ax embedded in it outside his apartment door in Moscow yesterday. [...]

In another post on Robert Amsterdam's blog, James wrote this about the official response to the situation:

[...] But the state doesn't seem too happy to have Moscow pitch itself into a downward spiral toward 1990s-style gangland shooting gallery.
Today President Dmitry Medvedev made it clear to the country's security organs that their focus must be on "extremism," as "this type of legal violation inflicts colossal damage and is a systemic threat to national security."

But more than an effort to protect his own citizens, these comments appeared to include permission for a crackdown on any unrest related to the economic crisis:
"We are falling under the influence of the global crisis -- a worsening problem of unemployment and other social issues. At such a time one encounters those who wish to speculate -- to use the situation. So one can't allow an already complicated situation to deteriorate."

LJ user kozenko (Andrey Kozenko, journalist for the Russian daily Kommersant) posted this morbid mock letter to "out-of-town relatives" (RUS) on his blog, in which he described the situation in the Russian capital:


All is well here in Moscow. Only three high-profile murders in the past day - former vice mayor of Grozny, a businessman [Kakha Kalandarishvili] and an institute's director [Leonid Baron]. And only two of them can be considered contract killings. And this time no one was killed in the middle of the day. In general, everything is as usual and it's not even interesting to talk about it.

Remember how completely different it was in the wild 90s. Say, two killers would enter an office of "Thunder" company, [boom] - and there are 13 corpses. Gravestones made of black granite, and on them, along with the portraits of the guys, there are [VAZ-21099] cars, which they rode. Though, considering the [lavish spirit] of those times, the guys could be buried right in these ["nine-nine" cars]. But they were probably too shy.

Well, in our remote lands, my dear, it was scary in those 90s - something happens and then it takes a month for the whole city to recover its senses. And here it all happens every day, so it's not scary. Recently, everyone was discussing a girl who wrote on her blog: "My classmate was killed today. Ah, but I bought myself..." Can't remember now what it was that she bought. Nail polish or something... They were right to criticize her. But if you think hard, it's totally possible to understand her, too.

So this is the way we live now. Lots and lots of work. But these aren't the times to complain about it. People are more likely to brag about it now. So I'll finish working around 9 PM, as usual, and will go home. I'd like to watch some kind and good movie tonight, to get myself distracted. I'm trying to decide between [The Omen] and [Hostel]. I guess I'll go for The Omen. We've got enough of blood here already, but there's a lack of the devilish stuff. Nothing but a gray routine.

Kisses to you, take care and don't worry. A.

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