Alexander Podrabinek: Murder in Tyumen

“Russian counter-terrorism police say they prevented an imminent Islamic State attack in the Siberian city of Tyumen, as two armed terror suspects were eliminated in an intense raid with heavy gunfire and explosions. The militants, who were holed up in a private home, refused to lay down their arms and opened fire at the law enforcement on Friday. ‘They were neutralized during a gunfight,’ the National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) said. There were no casualties among civilians and security personnel as a result of the exchange of fire. The terrorists were planning an attack in [a] public place in the city and the decision to launch an operation was made swiftly, the NAC said. Numerous unconfirmed videos on social media appeared to show the nighttime operation in full swing, with heavy gunfire, a building on fire, and a score of police cars and military vehicles amassed in the streets.” Published on April 12, 2019, by user AS2017

Murder in Tyumen
Alexander Podrabinek
Grani.ru
April 14, 2019

The killing of two suspected terrorists in Tyumen has been spun as a showcase counter-terrorist operation. It went off without a hitch, that is, you do not count the spontaneous undertaking by curious locals who attempted to livestream it on the internet. On the other hand, Tyumen Regional Governor Alexander Moor had lots of nasty things to say about local video bloggers, commentators, and social media users.

On Friday, security forces cordoned off the area around Amur Street in Tyumen. They claimed two Islamic State terrorists had holed themselves up in a private house in the street. The cordoned-off area was declared a counter-terrorist operation zone, and approximately one hundred local residents were forcibly evacuated from the area. I think it superfluous to ask whether the suspected terrorists noticed the evacuation or not. If the terrorists had been real terrorists and the operation itself risky, not a staged textbook operation, the security forces would have tried to use the element of surprise. But no, all possible eyewitnesses were first removed from nearby houses, and only then did the security force go after the “terrorists.”

tyumen“Counter-terrorism operation” in Tyumen. Photo by Maxim Slutsky. Courtesy of TASS

The two people who had been designated terrorists were killed, of course. Half of their one-storey wooden house was burnt to the ground. This makes sense: the fire destroyed inconvenient evidence. The Russian Investigative Committee reported that two machine guns, two explosive devices, and religious pamphlets were found in the house, along with twenty-first-century weaponry in the shape of electronic devices. In short, they predictably found the usual kit of the modern “terrorist.”

Surprisingly, the fire did not damage the damning evidence. The explosive devices did not explode, the religious pamphlets were not reduced to ashes, the smartphones did not melt. If we recall that in many other cases the Russian security forces planted weapons and narcotics on “suspects,” nothing surprising happened. The “clues” the investigators need will be entered into physical evidence, while the stuff it does not need will not be registered anywhere.

We might learn the identities of the dead men in the coming days. Someone must have known them, and someone will tell us about them. The security forces identify them as “terrorists,” but the charges filed are not for terrorism, but conspiracy to murder and attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. This is odd, as is the fact that the FSB carried out the counter-terrorist operation, while the Investigative Committee has headed the investigation.

The Investigative Committee and FSB claim the “terrorists” were Islamic State members who were planning massacres in public places. They have not made any details of the case public, much less the overall circumstances. We are asked to take their word on it, although after the “bags of sugar” in Ryazan, Alexander Litvinenko’s murder, the attempted assassination of the Skripals, and many other exploits, the security forces cannot imagine the public will trust them.

The Tyumen “terrorists” have been accused of conspiracy to commit a crime (Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 30), but they were unable to commit any crimes because their lives were taken. Along with their lives, they were deprived of the chance to defend themselves and attempt to prove their innocence in court.

Is it possible they were real terrorists and eliminating them was necessary to ensure the safety of others? Of course, it is possible. On the other hand, are we not aware of numerous instances when the security forces provoked crimes only to kill the “suspects” while covering their tracks—their own tracks more than the tracks of the “criminals”? I have in mind not only the crimes of the NKVD but also the events of the past two decades, especially in Dagestan and the rest of the North Caucasus?

One of the most telling examples of this kind was the so-called Nord-Ost hostage crisis at the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow in 2002. While freeing the hostages, the security forces killed all thirty-six terrorists. Most of them were killed by being shot in the back of the head while lying unconscious, knocked out by the poisonous gas the special forces released in the theater’s auditorium. They thus got rid of the defendants and the need for a trial, a trial during which parts of the story that shed an unflattering light on the regime could have come out.

Heir of the old Soviet ways, the current regime has aspired to conduct all cases and campaigns against people who have opposed it under arms and people who have fought it with words and people who have been the accidental victims of deliberate provocations by the security services in secret. Reporters are not allowed into counter-terrorist operation zones, inconvenient eyewitnesses are rubbed out, defense attorneys are made to sign nondisclosure agreements, and court trials are held in closed chambers.

Consequently, we have no reliable means of judging whether a particular individual has committed a crime or not. We are well aware, however, that despotism and lawlessness are fond of silence but no friends of publicity. We have been through this before. So, every time a clandestine operation is carried out, every time “criminals” and witnesses are eliminated, and every time a trial is heard in closed chambers, we have every reason to suspect the security forces of provocation, dishonesty, and fraud.

Thanks to Nastia Nek for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

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Russian Farmers Have No Friends

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Welcome to Krasnodar Territory!

In Moscow, Farmers Talk about Latest Arrests, Beatings
Anna Bessarabova
Novaya Gazeta
September 14, 2016

Nina Karpenko, a farmer from Krasnodar Territory’s Kanevskaya District, told our correspondent that late last week, during the maize harvest, seven men attacked her workers and the assistants of a court-appointed manager. A combine driver, who had earlier spent three days in jail for involvement in the thwarted tractor convoy to Moscow, has now been hospitalized. One of the men attempted to record the attack on a video camera, but he was thrown to the ground, his equipment was broken, and the recording was erased, said Karpenko.

On September 13, Kuban law enforcement officers blocked the car of Alexei Volchenko, leader of the farmers’ protest movement, as he drove to Ryazan to take part in the All-Russian Congress of Farmers and Cargo Haulers.

“They said they wouldn’t let him leave the region, held him up for a while, but then stopped pestering him. But Lyubov Nikishova, head of a farm in the Novokubansk District, has been put under house arrest. She has been charged under Article 119 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code (threat of murder),” explains another outraged farmer, Nikolai Maslov. “You saw her during the tractor convoy: she’s small and thin. She told the deputy presidential envoy in the Southern Federal District about the machinations of Rosreestr (Russian Federal Registration Service) and the attack on her farm. This summer, two palookas entered her house and beat her up, but when she grabbed an ax to defend herself, they photographed it and went to the police. No, she didn’t hurt anyone. It was a set-up.”

Nikiskova herself claims that immediately after the incident she filed a complaint with the Territorial Directorate of the Interior Ministry.

“It was sixteen pages long, and the medical examiner’s report was appended (there were visible traces of the assault on my body), as well as documents about the seizure of land shares and illegal fiddling with the land. 172 pages in all. It is still lying around somewhere. Unlike those marauders, they will put me away, despite the fact I am taking care of my sick mother. She has cancer, but that doesn’t bother anyone. As a criminal, they won’t let me out of the house. They’re afraid I won’t settle down and will go higher up the chain of command.”

According to Elena Dryukova, a farmer from the Kavkazsky District, Krasnodar Territory Governor Veniamin Kondratiev said recently that Kuban’s peasants had no problems, and that the tractor convoy, an attempt by the farmers to make themselves heard to the President of Russia, was an election campaign show.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Comrade Anatrra for the heads-up. Image courtesy of newsru.com