Vladimir Putin, now you see it them, now you don’t – Part 2

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Vladimir Putin

Dear Sir:

The whole world is under threat from Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, Americas president Donald Trump thinks otherwise he doesn’t see the true dangers of Putin. He believes that Putin tells him the truth and likes him. I can assure president Trump that Putin hates and despises him. I begin to wonder if the appropriate US agencies have not presented Trump with the correct information. Or don’t they know themselves even, are they unaware of the actual danger.

In the first part of this series, I mentioned the US$200 billion, which I can say was somewhat exposed by the Panama Papers. But that is a problem for Russia or is it; perhaps it will turn out to be a problem for the world.

With that kind of money, you can buy anything, but the real problem is you can also buy anyone and even everyone. The following facts are not what I planned to write about in this the second part of this Putin exposé. But they need to be told again as they were told before by others.

Let’s start when Putin first came to power and used what the Russian people viewed as a crisis with Chechnya and its people. It has been said, that the Moscow and other bombings blamed on Chechen rebels were, in fact, part of a conspiracy of false blame for political gain emanating from Putin. There was a need at the time to bring political sympathy to the Putin camp. Several journalists have been assassinated for investigating Chechnya, murdered simply for making reports and writing the truth. Many people have been imprisoned, some for criticizing Putin, even kids singing songs about him. Some so as the state and Putin installed oligarchs could steal their assets.

2003, the assassination of Sergei Yushenkov a former Russian army colonel. Sergei Yushenkov had just registered his Liberal Russia movement as a political party when he was gunned down outside his home in Moscow. Yushenkov was gathering the evidence he believed proved that the Putin government was behind one of the apartment bombings blamed on Chechens in 1999. He claimed his evidence proved the bombing was not by Chechens but by Putin thugs.

In 2003, the assassination of Yuri Shchekochikhin, He was a journalist and author who wrote about crime and corruption in the former Soviet Union when it was still very difficult to do so. He was investigating the 1999 supposedly Chechen bombing of an apartment for newspaper Novaya Gazeta when he contracted a mysterious illness in July 2003. Believed poisoned, he died suddenly, a few days before he was supposed to depart for the United States. His medical documents were sealed and deemed classified by Russian authorities. Medical reports and coroners’ reports were made a secret of the State.

In 2003, false arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He opposed Putin and was financing an opposition party. Khodorkovsky was one of the original Russian “oligarchs” – the tycoons who took advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to make their fortunes, before using their clout to effectively rule Russia during the weak presidency of illness-plagued Boris Yeltsin.

In 2003 Khodorkovsky was arrested on charges of fraud. He was jailed for nine years and his oil company Yukos broken up by the state. He and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, were put on trial again in 2010, this time for embezzlement, and were jailed for another four years. Khodorkovsky was suddenly released in December 2013.

Both trials were a signal from Putin to the rich and powerful to think twice before supporting opposition parties.

In 2006, October 7, the assassination of Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, she was killed in the elevator of her block of flats, an assassination that attracted international attention. In June 2014, five men were sentenced to prison for the murder, but it is still unclear who ordered or paid for the contract killing. But the person who benefitted most from her death was Putin, and the common denominator as with most of the Putin associated deaths was Chechnya.

Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was one of Russia’s most esteemed journalists. It was her reporting from Chechnya that made Politkovskaya’s national and international reputation. For seven years she refused to give up reporting on the war despite numerous acts of intimidation and violence.

Politkovskaya was arrested by Russian military forces in Chechnya and subjected to a mock execution. She was poisoned while flying from Moscow via Rostov-on-Don to help resolve the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis, and had to turn back, requiring careful medical treatment in Moscow to restore her health. Poisoning has since become one of the regimes favored methods of killing opponents, at home and internationally from radioactive poison to nerve agents and even barrel bombing with chemicals.

In 2004, Politkovskaya published ‘Putin’s Russia,’ a personal account of Russia for a Western readership.

She described an army in which conscripts are tortured and hired out as slaves. She described judges who are removed from their positions or brutally assaulted on the street for not following instructions “from above” to let criminals go. She describes particular areas in Russia dominated and operating under insensitive companies or cold oligarchs that resemble brutal mafia bosses, with ex-military and special services personnel to aid them. She condemns routine kidnappings, murders, rape, and torture of people in Chechnya by the Russian military, exemplified by Yuri Budanov.

She mentions the decayed state and minimally financed conditions of the Russian Pacific Fleet and nuclear arsenal in Vladivostok. She describes the persistence of the infamous Moscow Serbsky Institute of psychiatry and Dr. Tamara Pechernikova, who was notorious for torturing Soviet dissidents in “Psikhushkas” of the 1960s and 1970s, often using drugs such as haloperidol. She tells the story of Pavel Fedulev, a petty criminal who became “the leading industrialist and deputy of the legislature,” as a prototype “New Russian.”

Politkovskaya accuses Vladimir Putin and FSB of stifling all civil liberties and promoting corruption to further the establishment of an authoritarian regime but tells that “it is we who are responsible for Putin’s policies” in conclusion: Her actions sealed her fate.

In 2009, The assassination of Boris Berezovsky, a self-styled tycoon who became a fixture in Yeltsin’s inner circle in the late 1990s, Berezovsky is believed to have been instrumental in Putin’s rise to power (including a media campaign that smeared Nemtsov). But Berezovsky was unable to exert the influence under the new president he had hoped. His falling out with Putin led to his self-exile in the United Kingdom, where he vowed to bring down the president. He also accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, a former intelligence officer, and whistleblower poisoned to death in 2009.

Berezovsky was found dead inside a locked bathroom at his home in the United Kingdom, a noose around his neck, in what was at first deemed a suicide. However, the coroner’s office could not determine the cause of death, but it was not by hanging or asphyxiation.

In 2009, the assassination of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova. Markelov was a human rights lawyer known for representing Chechen civilians in human rights cases again the Russian military. He also represented journalists who found themselves in legal trouble after writing articles critical of Putin, including Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was slain in 2006. Markelov was shot by a masked gunman near the Kremlin. Baburova, also a journalist from Novaya Gazeta, was fatally shot as she tried to help him. Russian authorities said a neo-Nazi group was behind the killings, and two members were convicted of the deaths.

In 2009, the assassination of Sergei Magnitsky, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in police custody in November 2009 after allegedly being brutally beaten, then denied medical care. He had been working for British-American businessman William Browder to investigate a massive tax fraud case. Magnitsky was allegedly arrested after uncovering evidence suggesting that police officials were behind the fraud. In 2012, Magnitsky was posthumously convicted of tax evasion, and Browder lobbied the US government to impose sanctions on those linked to his death. The sanctions bill bears his name and has since been applied to rights abusers in other cases.

The Magnitsky trial is one of the most unusual criminal trials in the history of law worldwide. What made it unusual is that the defendant, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, died years before his own trial had even started.

Magnitsky was instructed by American businessman William Browder to investigate a multi-million tax fraud against the Russian state which Browder’s businesses had become unwittingly involved in.

But when Magnitsky discovered and revealed that police officials were involved in the fraud, he was arrested and charged with having carried it out himself. He died in custody in 2009 after allegedly being denied medical treatment after being brutally beaten. In July 2012 he was convicted – three years after his death – of tax evasion.

Browder said: “Today’s verdict will go down in history as one of the most shameful moments for Russia since the days of Joseph Stalin.”

Browder successfully campaigned for the United States to implement sanctions against Russian individuals linked to the case.

In 2009, the assassination of Natalia Estemirova. Estemirova was a journalist who investigated abductions and murders that had become commonplace in Chechnya. There, pro-Russian security forces waged a brutal crackdown to weed out Islamic militants responsible for some of the country’s worst terrorist attacks. Like fellow journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Estemirova reported on civilians who often got caught between these two violent forces. Estemirova was kidnapped outside her home, shot several times — including a point-blank shot in the head — and dumped in the nearby woods. Nobody has been convicted of her murder.

In 2009, the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko. “Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB agent who died three weeks after drinking a cup of tea” laced with deadly polonium-210 at a London hotel, as Business Insider wrote a year ago. “A British inquiry found that Litvinenko was poisoned by Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, who were acting on orders that had ‘probably been approved'” by Putin. Russia refused to extradite them, and in 2015 the Russian president granted Lugovoi a medal for “services to the motherland.”

After leaving the Russian Federal Security Service, Litvinenko became a vocal critic of the agency, which was run by Putin, and later blamed the security service for orchestrating a series of apartment bombings [attributed at the time to Chechen rebels] in Russia in 1999 that left hundreds dead.

Russia’s invasion of Chechnya followed later that year — and with it, the rise to power of Putin. Berezovsky was suspected to be complicit in at least part of the plot to bring Putin to the Kremlin, but he later sought to implicate Putin for Litvinenko’s killing. Litvinenko also accused Putin ordering the murder of Politkovskaya. January 27, 2016 · A British court has concluded, using civil standards of proof, that Vladimir Putin approved the murder of a Russian whistleblower, Alexander Litvinenko, in London.

In September 2011, two Chechens accused of involvement in the January suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, which left 37 people dead, had just left an Istanbul mosque after Friday prayers when, along with a companion, they were shot dead.  According to an indictment cited in a major Turkish newspaper, prosecutors had identified two of the hitmen as Russian nationals working for the Kremlin’s Federal Security Service (FSB) [Putins agency], which, prosecutors said, was fighting Chechen groups in Turkey, including those linked to Chechnya’s insurgency against Moscow.

In 2012, imprisonment of Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the left front political grouping, the 37-year-old has described himself as a “Soviet patriot.” He and his wife Anastasia have been nicknamed “Russia’s Revolutionary Couple.”

After playing a prominent role in anti-Putin protests, Udaltsov was charged over a demonstration held the day before Putin’s inauguration for his third term as president in May 2012.  He was jailed for four and a half years for organizing the protest.

In 2012 the imprisonment of Leonid Razvozzhaev a ‘Left Front’ political colleague of Sergei Udaltsov, he faced the same charges but fled Russia and tried to seek political asylum in neighboring Ukraine.

He claimed that while his application was being considered, he was kidnapped by Putins FSB, taken back to Russia, tortured and forced to sign confessions which he subsequently disowned.  Russian authorities insisted that he had given himself up voluntarily. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.

In 2012, Mikhail Kosenko the political activist was convicted of using violence against police officers during the same Bolotnaya Square protests that Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhaev were jailed for organizing demonstrations against Putin.

Despite testimony that he was a peaceful demonstrator, Kosenko was sentenced to indefinite psychiatric detention. He was released on July 2014.

Amnesty International said: “Kosenko’s only ‘crime’ was publicly expressing his beliefs. This is reminiscent of the Soviet-era tactics when the authorities used psychiatric treatment to silence dissenting voices.”

In 2012, Pussy Riot, The Russian all-female punk group, little more than children, were jailed for two years for hooliganism for performing an anti-Putin song in Moscow’s main cathedral in March 2012.

Putin was desperate to bury and hide this matter before the Olympics, so they were freed in an amnesty initiated by Putin in December 2013 shortly before the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.

Greenpeace protesters, in September 2013. Thirty Greenpeace activists, including six Britons, were arrested for taking part in a protest at an Arctic oil installation.

They were initially charged with piracy, which could have carried a prison term of up to 15 years. The charge was downgraded to hooliganism, which still could have carried a seven-year term, but they were released after two months in detention.

At the time Putin said their treatment should serve as a lesson to others and suggested unnamed Russian foreign rivals could have been behind their actions.

In 2014, false arrest and prosecution of Alexei Navalny. A Show trial of Anti-corruption took place against blogger Alexei Navalny. Nalvaney, a 38-year-old lawyer and activist, rose to prominence by exposing political corruption in his blog before becoming a prominent speaker at anti-Putin rallies. He coined the phrase “party of crooks and thieves” to describe United Russia, Putin’s political party.

The accusations about Putin have particular resonance in Russia because of the politically-motivated trials carried out over decades by other Soviet leaders, which saw millions of politicians and ordinary people executed or sent to prison camps or psychiatric wards on trumped-up charges.

It would appear that Putin is following an age-long Russian tradition of prosecuting his enemies on false charges then locking them up for as long as he is in power. Better still until they die of natural causes or by an attack by another prisoner.

Alexei and his brother Oleg were charged with defrauding several companies, including the Russian subsidiary of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. They both pleaded not guilty and have remained before and ever since incarceration claiming their innocence.

Alexei Navalny was previously given a five-year suspended sentence in another embezzlement case, which his supporters also say was politically motivated.

In 2014, Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

In 2015, the possible assassination of Mikhail Lesin a Russian in a Washington USA hotel.  A report by the FBI, released by the US law enforcement agency on January 26, includes heavily redacted copies of the medical and toxicology exam of Lesin’s body, as well as the investigation by forensic experts Lesin’s death was due to blunt force injuries to the neck, torso, and lower upper extremities. Lesin had worked for Putin and had for some time been at odds with him before and since moving to the US.

Rather strangely Lesin’s death was later declared accidental by US authorities. According to the final report released in October 2016 by the US attorney’s office for Washington and city police. Which described it as accidental death due to blunt force injuries to the neck, torso, and lower upper extremities,

In 2016, the assassination of Denis Voronenkov. Most critics Putin’s policies have been murdered that Thursday’s daylight shooting of a Russian who sought asylum in Ukraine has led to speculation of Kremlin involvement.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called the shooting in Kyiv of Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian Communist Party member who began sharply criticizing Putin after fleeing Russia in 2016, an “act of state terrorism by Russia.”

That comment drew a sharp rebuke from Putin’s spokesman, who called the accusation “absurd.” Throughout the years, the Kremlin has always dismissed the notion of political killings with scorn, but still, they happen regularly.

In 2017, the assassination of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic, which became the main news story in Russia. They had been investigating Putin’s links to Russian controlled companies and mercenaries in CAR.

I n2018, September 5, Salisbury, England: The attempted assassination by nerve agent poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal in Britain. British authorities positively identified two Russian nationals, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as perpetrators of the Skripals’ poisoning, and identified them as active officers in Russian military intelligence. On 26 September 2018, investigative website Bellingcat published a statement that it had positively identified the man known as Ruslan Boshirov as the highly decorated GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.

On October 8, 2018, Bellingcat revealed the real identity of the suspect named by police as Alexander Petrov to be Dr Alexander Mishkin, also of the GRU. A third GRU officer present in the UK during the time Sergey and Yulia Skripal fell into a coma has been identified as Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeyev, a graduate of Russia’s Military Diplomatic Academy. Denis Sergeyev holds the rank of major general in the GRU. The pattern of his communications while in the UK indicates that Maj Gen Sergeyev liaised with superior officers in Moscow.

Due to the superb video evidence gathered by the UK authorities both the EU and the US have applied sanctions on Russian GRU leaders and officers. One thing you can be sure of this attempted assassination could not take place without the direct knowledge and/or approval of Putin. The GRU was established by Joseph Stalin′s order of 16 February 1942. From April 1943, the GRU handled human intelligence exclusively outside the USSR.

There are more deaths I can write about, but not enough room. With so many unsolved murders the relevant question is not if any one person died at the hands of the Kremlin but given that they were all critics of Putin and a large number of deaths and exotic methods, what are the odds that it is not the Kremlin on behalf of Putin? Remember the Kremlin or the Russian agencies would not dare move a little finger without direct instructions or approval from Putin.

Watch for the next edition, there is so much to write about, I am not yet sure which of the intriguing Putin subjects I shall next write about.

Every case mentioned above is linked to Putin by overall leadership, association, accusation, and allegation.

Related: Vladimir Putin: Now you see it, now you don’t

To be continued in part 3 [of 5, maybe 6 or even 7]     

Jolly Green

 

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