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« Distracted from Distraction by Distraction: President Obama Meets Human Rights Activists in St. Petersburg | Main | Why Many in the West are Happy to See Putin Prevail in the Islamic World »

September 13, 2013

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Stefano Serafini

I read the English version on the Kremiln site yesterday. And it reported the Boston lines. Please, check: http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/5974

liberti

A friendly comment: If you're going to criticize words, omissions and commissions, please make sure your own text is correct. Spellcheck doesn't check meanings of the words used or correct grammar.
Example: Of course, the very active question remains as to why Putin's secret police didn't tell us more about these two brothers, and about specifically the fact that Tamerlan was in touch with jihadists WHO (whom) were assassinated by Russian special FORCES (forms) in the summer he hung around in Makhachkala.

Rex

During the 1990s, it was common knowledge in the European media (including in England's media broadcasts) that there were extremist Salafist military leaders from both the Arab Middle East and South Asia (the Taliban of Afghanistan), who were aiding and training the Chechens in Chechnya. By comparison to the EU, and especially compared to the BBC of England, the U.S. media censored much of what was occurring in Chechnya. For example, in January of 1999, seven to eight European businessmen (including at least one British man) were beheaded by the Chechen militants. This particular macabre event was never reported in the U.S. The only info reported in the U.S. in regards to Chechnya was the U.S. government's criticism of Russia and Russia's leadership. Americans had no idea of how brutal these militants were until the infamous Beslan school crisis (Beslan, North Ossetia-Alania, Russia) in early September of 2004, which lasted 3 days and involved the hostage taking of over 1,100 people, 777 of them children by a group of armed Islamist militants, mostly Ingush and Chechen, but also Salafist militants from the Arab Middle East and the Taliban of Afghanistan. 334 people died, 318 of them hostages, including 186 children. The so-called "bandits" to whom Mr. Putin refers are people like the American-born-turned-Islamist "jihad fighter," Mr. Aukai Collins, who wrote his memoirs, "My Jihad," published in 2002 by Lyons Press in Guilford, Connecticut. Mr. Collins converted to Islam at the age of eighteen years old before he traveled to fight jihad in several countries across the globe, including Croatia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Kosova, Kashmir, and Liberia. As for one's country's exceptionalism, hubris is considered a visceral character flaw. What's that saying about self praise? If one is concerned about Russia's motivating forces, one should likewise be concerned about one's own country's motivating forces.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Stefano, it doesn't matter that yes, the Kremlin published on their English-language site the line about the Boston massacre. *The New York Times version did not* and that is significant, go and look at the link. That was done deliberately, and for a far, far larger audience

liberti, you aren't making a friendly comment, you're being nasty. This is just a blog that I do in my free time for free, not the New York Times. Sure, mistakes are made, but I don't even put texts through a Word document spell check (there isn't a spell check on Typepad) because it's just too time-consuming. I'm here to think and debate, not win the spelling bee. And you're absolutely wrong that if my spelling has mistakes here, that somehow undermines my point that something odd happened here with a likely political intent -- you don't have to be a perfect speller to call out a text removed from a president's op-ed piece.

Rex, you spew a lot of Kremlin propaganda here which is absolutely fake. It's absolutely not true that the media "censored" what happened in Chechnya. I worked on the issues related to massive violations of human rights during the two wars and there were numerous and vivid and detailed accounts in the US and European press. It's not true that the beheading was "not covered" -- it was covered everywhere. It was an appalling act of terrorism, yet no one could be sure which Chechens had committed this act, and as with the Fred Cuny murder, whether Russian intelligence had a hand in it to discourage foreigners from coming to the region -- period.

It's not true that there were only "Salafists" or "Taliban" in Chechnya. Most of the fighters were homegrown before Putin, although of course there were opportunistic jihadists among them. But you're simply mischaracterizing these wars, that have ample coverage from Western correspondents who have written quite a few books about the wars easily available, like Thomas de Waal, Carlotta Galli, Emma Gilligan, Thomas Goltz and many more. It's just inaccurate to characterize the Chechen situation as merely some instrument of Saudi Arabia and Salafists, it's an utter charicature. One can condemn Chechen terrorism without misrepresenting the nature of these wars. It's completely false to say that the only information published was the USG's criticism when in fact, the USG was quite cautious in its criticism and seldom really spoke out in those years. It's not true that Americans "had no idea" of how brutal the incidents could be, because they remember the hospital hostage-taking situation and the Red Cross nurses killed in their beds not to mention kidnapped and killed journalists.

Beslan was made far worse by the actions Putin took to storm the building and not take advantage of offers of negotiations from the former president of Ingushetia, for example. It's really a mischaracterization of amply documented horror of Beslan to claim that there were Arabs and Taliban.

The "bandits" Putin references aren't Americans or Arabs but his own fellow Russians of the Chechen nationality, that's the problem, he vowed to wipe them out in their outhouses and essentially that's what he did. I notice you have nothing to say about the numerous people jailed, tortured and disappeared not only during the two wars but under Kadyrov today.

So you cannot be taken seriously.

Stefano Serafini

So are you arguing that the NYT is an instrument of the Kremlin? I don't get the point about the missing Boston lines in the English version, if - as it is, and you apparently didn't realize before writing your post - the very Kremlin has put them online on its official website, and spread it through press releases and Twitter (that is how I came to read it in Europe).

On the other side, you are saying another reader of your blog that Chechen reality has been covered by Western media, because a bunch of Authors wrote books on the subject. I'm not American, but I can confirm that none of the travelling middle-class Americans I met in September 2001 even know that Osama Binladen was the terrorist nr. 1 for Russians since several years before the twin towers attack. Likewise, very few, well-read American and European friends of mine knew anything about the Chechen issue for Russia, as for many others. I was aware of the coming South-Ossetian crisis long before it exploded, because I watched to Russian media - wilsth nothing showed up on European media before Tzhkinvali has been bombed. And you should be aware of the mass of lies spread by CNN about that conflict.

Futhermore FSB passed information about the alleged Boston bombing brothers to the FBI several times. Russian media has several time expressed the suspect that US zero reaction is a clue of the possibility they were covered agents. Anyway, the Boston Globe reports the news: http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/04/23/russia-contacted-fbi-multiple-times-concerns-about-alleged-boston-marathon-bomber/ND0bhUdq1Tp1mRuC8xlb8N/story.html?s_campaign=sm_tw

Finally, I really disagree with blaming Putin for the Beslan massacre. This looks like a biased interpretation of the tragedy (I won't use, as you did, the word propaganda - as long as one can know, everybody here, including me and you could be Psyop agents, but I consider such an hypothesis at least unpolite and a bit paranoid). Terrorists' requests were obviously inadmissible, as obviously that doped people were voted to death. We know so few about the real mechanism at work in Beslan, as we know so few about the whole society of spectacle we live in - but an ancient latin motto helps to analyze and interpret the elements: CUI PRODEST?

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Yes, the NYT is doing the Kremlin's work here. It is indeed despicable and not journalism.

Um, of course I realized it before my post because I *linked to the site in my post* derp. Honestly, I don't get your idiocy and provocations here (unless they're from the usual place).

Obviously, if the Russian which I linked to has it on the official kremlin.ru page has it, the official English on kremlin.ru has it -- there's a button to click ENGLISH and I clicked it and saw it.

BUT THAT'S NOT THE SAME THING AS HAVING IT IN THE NEW YORK TIMES. Obviously most Americans don't look at Kremlin.ru. Even viewer are going to go and compare the two versions.

The audience was already reached FIRST, when it went in the NYT FIRST, and already the line was left out deliberately. And that's significant. It's likely because either the Russians or the NYT realized that there were too many questions raised about seeming to link the Boston bombing to Al Qaeda in that paragraph, when the "narrative" of the liberal media has been that they are home-grown jihadists. The Russian narrative is that we should cooperate more with them in sharing intelligence -- or else. We will get tragedies like this. They are crude thuggish blackmailers. But the FBI and Obama are pretending that this is all cordial and gentlemanly and that we will work more closely and gosh, avoid these things in the future. We are not confronting them publicly as to why they didn't tell us what they knew.

It's not true that Obama was "terrorist no. 1 for Russians". I lived in Russia and worked on these issues for years. What the Russians said during the two Chechen wars was that there were "Wahabbists". There was one particular fellow Qatab whom they would always show, I believe he was a Jordanian. They mentioned bin ladn AFTER the fact much more prominently than they EVER did before. I know because I avidly covered the Russian press then. Indeed, I pointedly asked in September 2001, as I am asking now about Boston, why, if the Russians tracked Bin Ladn so thoroughly, and had been watching him for so long, and gosh, even found him in Chechnya, *why they didn't stop 9/11*. Why they didn't see the trouble coming the instant Masoud was assassinated. Hello. And yet...they didn't. So either it's fake, or they let nature take its course, you decide.

It's not true that well-read Americans "didn't know anything about the Chechen issue". It was very well covered in the NYT, Washington post, and regular wire stories.

CNN did not spread lies, nor did Fox; if anything, there was the infamous Russian hoax which mis-translated the Fox news program that in fact was perfectly normal. The Chechen wars were better known than the South Ossetian crisis, but it was indeed covered.

Again, the fact that Russia "passed information several" times is well know, was already covered, and isn't the point. Because they did that BEFORE Tamerlan went to Dagestan in the summer of 2012. The FBI indeed interrogated him and his relatives and looked at his jihad Youtube pages, although some things were put on there later. This has all been reported. THAT IS NOT THE POINT.

The point is that Russia DID NOT TELL THE FBI ABOUT TAMERLAN'S TIME IN DAGESTAN WHEN THEY ASSASSINATED THE PEOPLE HE MET WITH.

Note again that the article in the Boston Globe describes *interviews in 2011 after the Russians contacted them*. 2011! That's not 2012! I recall at one point that there was speculation that the second interview was in 2012 AFTER Tamerlan returned home from Dagestan. But then that was not substantiated by either police or FBI. That would not be something they could cover up.

This story, like so many stories on major crimes in the news (Swartz, Snowden, etc.) is based on a congressional briefing and what congress people recall coming out of it with no documents given or in hand. So I'd like to see the question asked directly to the FBI, and surely it will come out during Dzhokhar's trial.

But so far, I see no evidence whatsoever that the Russians gave any information AFTER Tamerland came to Dagestan. In fact, I caught a slip made in the very-staged interrogation of caught CIA spy Fogle where they talked about "cases they were working on" which prompted me to ask WHICH.

Putin indeed has to be blamed for his poor handling of these terrorist attacks. In each case, he makes the decision to sacrifice civilians and shoot terrorists at any cost. We actually know a lot about Beslan from several journalists who have done exhaustive reports and films and stories on them.

I don't consider it at all impolite to consider someone a useful idiot or an asset of some kind for the Kremlin. Our world abounds with them now, sadly. Your persistence in pushing the Moscow line is odd. I appreciate that you're trying to tell me you come by this belief sincerely, but people can sincerely believe in the Moscow line as they peddle it as an asset or "agent of influence". That's the sad thing.

Stefano Serafini

Well, I covered the Russian, European, and US media during the South Ossetian crisis (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2008/sc9417.doc.htm) - and unfortunately you are not saying the truth. I remember what I've seen and heard. For example I remember the CNN reproducing the same Russian footage from Tzhkinvali that I had seen hours before on Russian TV, changing headlines and widening the screen to avoid the NTV logo, and saying that it was a bombing scene from Tbilisi (!). As world knew later, Tbilis has never been bombed.

See what Dana Rohrabacher (Dana Rohrabacher the hawk, not a member of KGB) said at the US Congress, blaming the Secretary of State for LYING openly about that crisis, and buying Saakhasvili's propaganda (e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/2827424/Rebel-Republican-congressman-Dana-Rohrabacher-backs-Russia-over-Georgia.html).

About Bin Laden, I remember he showing up so much before 2009 in Russian pop journals as Evil nr. 1, when I was just a begginer in reading Russian - Argumenty i Fakty, Komsomolskaja Pravda. It's not a secret Osama was working for the US at that time, and his biz ties with the Bush family are very well known.

2011 is BEFORE 2012, not after. In Italy we say this is "climbing on mirrors". Also, I'm wondering what do you know about what FSB DON'T SAY to CIA or FBI, or vice versa. All we can access is public info, and according to that, the relationship between the two friends/foe services are pretty tied. Of course they are. What about Beslan schools telephone calls from/to London, and mr Zakhayev? MI5 let the tragedy happens?

Finally, if NYT is playing Kremlin's game ("useful idiots", like me, I guess) BECAUSE they omitted the Boston blast lines, WHY the very Kremlin put these line online? And why mr. Putin wrote them at all? This is pretty odd.

Of course if you think that everything happening is due to the Bad Russians - from Beslan to Boston blasts, and to the NYT making you upset - whatever one can say is unuseful. But this shows your bias to be a bit too much harsh. That's, more than sad, boring.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

I covered it too, not on the spot, but I watched it carefully via the UN in fact.

The first thing to understand about this war is that Russia was very provocative and obstructive for YEARS in advance. It got rid of observers. It claimed to run peace-keepers but did provocative actions contradictory to what the OSCE and UN ruled in handing out passports to refugees and displaced and indeed to anyone to disrupt Georgia's territory.

In the weeks running up to the war, Georgia repeatedly came to the UNSC urging action, and some smaller countries repeatedly came to their defense and urged action and tried to get Russia to *stop provoking* by buzzing the territories in their airplanes and creating incidents.

THAT is the setting for this war.

It doesn't matter if this much tinier country is provocative when faced with this setting of much longer and greater provocations for years from this much larger country. Russia is to blame for not behaving as a mature state and member of the P5 responsible for maintaining the world's peace and security.

Osama bin Ladn never, ever worked for the US. This is one of those canards of the conspiracy theorists. Even Wikipedia will explain that to you, go read it. Russians invoked Bin Ladn as wandering around Chechnya, this was overstated to be sure. No one has reliably ever placed him there.

Once again, the Russians did not tell us everything they knew about the Tsarnaevs, and you can see this in the articles right on this blog, i.e. the translation from Novaya Gazeta interviewing Dagestani officials, go read it.

If any calls were made to try to end the crisis in Beslan and they thought they could help, this could only be a good thing. But Putin was never operating in good faith here and that engendered more of the same back.

The line about Boston obviously had to go in *as written* in *the president's official document* -- duh! But the audience for the NYT got a different version and that was deliberate and we don't know why or by hwom.

I call out bad things as I see them, I don't need to have a bias or see Russia's hand behind every world event. Russia has to play catch-up like other big countries.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Michele Berdy has an excellent parsing of the difference between the original and the translation so now I don't have to do the work!

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/how-putins-op-ed-got-watered-down/486345.html

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