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Processed Cheese
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, 14 2006
On radio station ‘Echo of Moscow’

www.shender.ruHello! Thisis the program ‘Processed Cheese’ and Iam Viktor Shenderovich. AsYegor Lyets puts it: “the worst situation with the truth is when everything might be true.” Last week’s main issue was: who killed Anna Politkovskaya? There is no answer, and it is unclear if there will ever be an answer, but here is an answer the question: who could have killed her? Nowyou can begin to cross your fingers.
Even long ago, the echelons of the Russian government managed to get along fine without any Mahatma Gandhi, especially during the last five years when there has been a buildup of professionals from a certain secret corporation, one in which murder is not considered murder, and there is no need to even mention Kadyrov! Outwardly, the difference between these individuals is quite large, but as a matter of fact their differences are insignificant: Kadyrov must constantly keep his temper in check in order to stop committing murders, while our professionals over at “the sword and the shield” (FSB insignia ed) resort to “wet work” dispassionately, simply out of purely practical considerations.

So, if we call things by their official names, today we are guessing which federal employees hired Anna Politkovskaya’s murderer. Werethey cops, who were sent to jail because of her articles? Wasit the Chechen Prime Minister, who is not in jail, but should have been sent there long ago for many good reasons? Or, conversely, was it someone from the “power block” (the security services and armed forces ed) who wanted to frame Kadyrov for squeezing them out of all that the oil and power down there (in Chechnya)? Doesthe customer dwell somewhere in Moscow’s Old Square (where presidential and other executive branch are located ed)? Didhe have it in mind to send two bits of news at the same time? Onefor us, so that we would know who was the real boss and shut up about it already, and another for their good friend Putin on his birthday to remind him that they put him on the throne and will tell him when he can leave, but for now just sit there and do not fiddle around so much. Onecan never depart the Kremlin for the quiet, private life. Without power you are kaput, your head is covered and you have blood on your sleeve, a stranger’s blood. Politkovskaya, by the way, wrote Putin many times on this very subject, in ‘Novaya Gazeta’ following ‘Nord-Ost’ and Beslan, but now no one writes to the colonel.

Attending Anna’s funeral was a western diplomat who had recently arrived in Russia. Whenshe got to the cemetery she looked around for Fradkov, since in route her car passed the premier’s escort along Kutuzov Avenue. Thediplomat was sure that Fradkov was coming to bid the journalist farewell. Butyou see, Fradkov was in a big hurry, and had no time to make a turn off the Rublyovka. Thediplomat was full of wonder at the premier’s absence, but obviously she had arrived in Russia only a short time ago.

There was simply no semaphore flag on top of the Kremlin, signaling permission to bid Politkovskaya adieu! Itwould be a different story if there had been then everyone would have crowded into the Troyekurovskoye cemetery. Theywould have to drag people from her grave, and speeches would flow until the loquacious ran out of saliva. There would be an additional signal, and specially trained people would have wrung out their lachrymal glands in lament. Right up until Tuesday, however, our president was as quiet as a fish, and, of course, no one from the summit of the bureaucratic class stuck his nose into the cemetery. Andthank God: it gave people a chance to say goodbye to Anna in the presence of other people. Onlyjournalists asked why the president was silent, and so by Tuesday evening our silent guarantor finally spoke.

Putin: “This murder in itself causes Russia, and the current government in Russia and in Chechnya, much more damage than what she did in recent years. Itcauses much more harm and damage to the current government than did her articles.”

You should not be so honest, Vladimir Vladimirovich! Youare still the president of a large country, and so you should have toned it down a bit, otherwise people might actually hear it. Freud is not asleep, and even for a spy the subconscious shows through, so, by golly, it really is better to chew than to speak! Aword is not a sparrow, but still the court news agency ‘Novosti’ quietly edits the presidential quotation, removing from it any wording about the harm Politkovskaya’s articles caused to Russia, leaving only her harm to “the current government.” Someone felt it might be awkward for his favorite president. Iunderstand, but what can you do? Adirty shame that is what it is. Dearcolleague, do not hide from the public their choice! Thisunknown witty fellow over at ‘Novosti’, unlike the president, quickly realizes that “Russia” and “the current government” are, putting it mildly, not synonymous. Thecircle of interests and practices of “the current government” can be summed up with the words “Chechnya” and “Baikal Finance Group.” Russia only gets the blood out of these turnips. Overand over again the oil flows to “the current government” and so it is in Russia’s interest that we, as quickly and as painlessly as possible, yank these sweaty, playful hands from the levers of government. Thiswas the opinion of Anna Politkovskaya. “The current government” thought otherwise. Theymurdered the journalist, and the president’s harsh statement, alas, has much too clearly identified the motive for the crime. Somuch so that Mr. Putin seems to have started trying to erase his tracks, since it did not hurt as he would have liked.

Putin: “The journalists should know this, but in any case experts are well aware that the extent of her influence on political life in the country, in Russia, was extremely insignificant. Shewas only known in journalistic circles, and in human rights circles, in the West. Irepeat: her impact on political life in this country was minimal.”

As far as Politkovskaya’s influence on political life being minimal: this is true. Thiswas what Putin himself was striving for: to minimize her influence as much as he could, to the extent that he had her poisoned during the days of Beslan, and why Politkovskaya could not get into the Ostankino (news offices) even if she had been shot from a cannon. Only‘Novaya Gazeta’ would hire her, but ‘Novaya Gazeta’ is no ‘Komsomolskaya Pravda’, either: no “boobs of the month” or special “butt edition” and no appeal to the masses whatsoever. Whowants to read about torture and mayhem, anyway? Hereyou have the true reason for this presidential irritation: not the death of a journalist (as others have noted, an empty heart beats calmly), but because of all the bother!

Politkovskaya’s influence on the country’s glamour was indeed small, but then suddenly something started happening! Thegovernment TV channels showed up at the funeral in large numbers, and they were forced to utter decent words about the deceased to the entire country during primetime. Putin, meanwhile, found himself in foreign lands, plagued by Anna’s name, and fingers were all but pointed at him with a wink and a nudge concerning the date of her death, sort of like: was it a good birthday present for you? Sohe justifies himself, but not to us, mind you, but to Merkel. Hedoes not promise us that he will catch the killers, but Bush. Hedoes not honor us with a memorial speech: what, talk to the peasants? TheWest, however, is another matter: over there are his partners and bank accounts, and if things go on, there could start to be problems with these accounts. Ah, how reluctant he was to do an about face, so we can sympathize with Mr. Putin, and understand his true gnashing of the teeth: apparently not only did he not give the signal for anyone to attend the funeral, he never semaphored permission for her murder, either. Why, it simply came about because of current federal policies.

Continuing the topic is my friend, poet Sergei Plotov:

What ever you do, they piss
The atmosphere is grim.
In the outhouses it is not so good,
But it is better in the stairwells*.
And the tongue stumbles,
And goose bumps creep up to your collar
The atmosphere is such that
Once again silence is golden.
Do not talk about scary things!
Talk about the glamorous.
All soldiers are made of paper.
And all orchestras are loud and cheerful.
Every hour is curfew
The atmosphere thickens.
Lubyanka commanders
Bid Doña Anna farewell.
Climb into a well-pressed suit.
All will pass, and all will be forgotten
It was just the atmosphere, fellow citizens!
You cannot put the atmosphere on trial.

(* Reference to Putin’s infamous line “piss on them in the outhouses,” criminal jargon for “kill them everywhere.”)

Well, the atmosphere may be the atmosphere, but no one has fired any uniforms or taken away any stars of rank or honor. Wedo not know where the killers of Politkovskaya live, but we know where we can find those who are supposed to catch them and secure the rule of law: Attorney General Chaika lives on Grand Dmitrovka, while Justice Minister Ustinov lives on Zhitnaya Street. Until recently, these gentlemen lived at the same addresses, but crisscross: Ustinov was at the Prosecutor General’s Office, and Chaika was at the Ministry of Justice. Twoyears ago, when Politkovskaya was poisoned on a plane bound for Beslan, these two, by nature of their service to the sovereign, thoroughly wiped clean all trace of the poisoning, even though catching criminals on that airplane would have been easier than missing them. Nowthe law enforcement officer who used to sit at Grand Dmitrovka sits at Zhitnaya, while the one who shined a chair with his pants bottom at Zhitnaya does so at Grand Dmitrovka. Thisentertaining geography allows us to understand in advance the efficiency of their impending law enforcement labors to apprehend the killers. Butwhy should they even catch the real killers? Whata naive way to formulate a question! Arenot the interests of the State what are most important? And, thank God, we do not have to wonder just what those are: our Justice is of course blind, but she is not deaf!

The Russian president while speaking last Tuesday at the Petersburg Dialogue forum, had this to say: “We have information, and it is sufficiently reliable, that many people who are hiding from the Russian justice system have long had an idea to make a victim out of someone in order to start a wave of anti-Russian sentiment in the world.” End quote. Putin stressed that the criminals who killed Anna Politkovskaya would be found, exposed, and punished.

Well, thank God! NowUstinov, Imean now his name is Chaika, while Chaika is Ustinov Oh, never mind, in short, now our collective justice system will know where to look for whoever it was that ordered this murder. Therefore, “people who are hiding from the Russian justice system” liquidated this journalist in order “to start a wave of anti-Russian sentiment in the world,” and the information is “sufficiently reliable.” Here the prosecutor’s office could, of course, summon Putin for questioning, since he cannot subpoena himself, as stipulated by law. Subpoena and question him under oath: do you have any information about who ordered the murder? Great! Share it with the investigation. Whodid you have in mind? Itwould not be B.A.Berezovsky, by any chance, would it? Itwas? Wonderful! Specify your source for this information, and by the way, Vladimir Vladimirovich, sign up here in this corner, where it warns of criminal liabilities for perjury. Something tells me, however, that Putin will not be threatened with questioning. Ournew Prosecutor General, if he cannot take a clear hint, will end up with something ripped from him: at a minimum his rank epaulets. Sostart looking for Politkovskaya’s killers in England (where Putin critic Boris Berezovsky is in hiding), time is being wasted!

Now just a couple of words about where this investigation, in all likelihood, will NOT search for the organizers of Politkovskaya’s murder. Itwill not look for them either on Old Square or in Kadyrov’s native village of Tsentoraya, if the Kremlin does not give the signal, nor will it look among the readership of the activist newspaper ‘Zavtra’, which expressed regret that Politkovskaya died “too easily.” Nor will it look at right-wing radical organizations, which for many years have been publishing lists of “traitors to the motherland” that need to be shot. Norwill it look among the anonymous, but no less real, Internet users who recently displayed two dozen of our portraits with the explanatory text: “the order is not important, what is important is that they are destroyed” (end quote). After her death, they joyously put a slash across Politkovskaya’s portrait, as if to say: “a good start.” How many of us must die, Mr. Attorney General, before you start getting interested in this type of journalism? This, however, is but a leisurely question. Wedo not wish to distract people from their work, a work that is so very special and amazing!

In Helsinki a rally in memory of Anna Politkovskaya was held near the Russian Embassy, and three thousand people gathered. Forthe same reason, in front of Anna’s house on Lesnaya Street in Moscow, a few hundred showed up. Ido not know how to explain this phenomenon. Perhaps there are more people living in Helsinki? Whatdo you think?

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