Another Russian is dead: Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader and harsh critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is murdered in Moscow on Friday, February 27, 2015, one day before he is to lead a protest against the policies of Putin. "Life has no meaning in Russia," said Natasha Fissiak, director of a new film Pussy Riot - The Movement, screened in New York City and in Houston, Texas, one day before Nemtsov is killed.
Was she prescient? No more than Pussy Riot who profanely and presciently warned the world about Putin. Nor Masha Gessen, a renowned Russian journalist who fled Russia and who said in the documentary, "Putin is not just a crook and a thief. Putin is a murderer and dictator."
Putin has appointed an investigative team to look into Nemtsov's murder and will oversee its work. Are we to believe him about anything? Putin is a certifiable liar. Pussy Riot - The Movement documents it. At a European economic conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke up about Pussy Riot's imprisonment. She asked why the women, who sang a punk rock song in Moscow's main cathedral and calling on Mother Mary to take Putin away, received a harsh two-year sentence.
Putin responded, "Does the chancellor know the women hanged a Jew in effigy? We can't have people with anti-Semitic views in our society." The facts were contrary. A Jewish activist mock-hanged himself to protest the discrimination against all minorities in Russia, including Jews. In front of the world, in front of television cameras in a bold-faced lie to the leader of the German government, Putin did what he does. He lied.
President Barack Obama considers sending military equipment support to the Ukraine government. Europe repeatedly tries to negotiate a peace agreement. Putin sits in the Kremlin and lies through the whole process. Russia is not supplying armaments, he says, when credible oversight agencies and the Ukraine government say separatists are using Russia heavy artillery and equipment. Prisoners captured by Ukrainian forces are in Russian military uniforms. Is the Ukrainian government lying? Do they have a history of lying or does Putin?
Here is a leader of the largest country in the world, Russia, stretching over nine time zones, grabbing more territory while his own citizens are neglected, abused and killed.
As shown in the trailer below and in the documentary Pussy Riot - The Movement, Russia is not a rich country for most of its people. While the cities have grown rich from oil, until recently, and from corruption by government oligarchs controlled by Putin, the far reaches of the country often have no electricity or gas.
Where is the leader of this great land while most of his people live in misery? He is spewing hatred propaganda against the rest of the world. With government control of all three free television stations in Russia, he taps into the historical paranoia of his citizens who have been invaded by armies from Napoleon to the Kaiser and Hitler. Putin builds a wall of isolationist hysteria and nationalistic fervor among his people against the West to deflect the crash of oil prices, the devaluation of the ruble and to advance support for his aggression in Ukraine.
The killing of Nemtsov successfully eliminates the most worrisome gnats buzzing Putin in recent years. First, Mikhail Khorodorvksy, the billionaire who funded the opposition and became a popular and possible political threat to Putin is silenced. He was convicted of theft and spent 10 years in prison. As Marat Guelman, a gallery owner in Moscow said in Pussy Riot - The Movement, "Khorodorvsky has little chance to be president because he's a Jew, rich and people don't like rich, too clever, but small chance he has. But if he's in prison, he has no chance. And that is what they decided to do."
The second most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, a lawyer and blogger against Putin's government, filed to run for mayor of Moscow in 2013 and made a strong showing. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested for embezzlement. Theft and embezzlement are the two most popular charges of the Russian government to eliminate enemies. Navalny was convicted and thus no longer can run for political office. His sentence was suspended. However, the government sent his brother to prison for two years, a tactic used by former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who killed 20 million of his own people.
Nemtsov's life had been in jeopardy for years. He once was seen as a successor to President Boris Yeltsin, and in 2012, he traveled to the U.S to support passage by Congress of the Magnitsky Act. Magnitsky was a lawyer who uncovered a $230 million theft of tax money by Russian government officials. Instead of arresting the bureaucrats who stole the money, the government arrested Magnitsky and sent him to prison. He died there from beatings and the refusal of prison officials to provide medical treatment. The Magnitsky Act placed sanctions on the 16 people responsible for his arrest, conviction and death. They no longer can obtain U.S. visas or utilize the U.S. banking system. Putin retaliated by halting all adoptions of Russian children by Americans.
Will anyone notice if a few more Russians die? Not in Russia, statistics show. Since Putin came to power in 2000, more than 198 journalists have been killed in Russia, many more than in countries where wars are being waged and even where the Islamic State beheads journalists. As Gessen said in the documentary, Pussy Riot - The Movement, "You can kill journalists [in Russia]. It's open season."
When the report from Putin's investigative committee on the Nemtsov murder is released, if he "finds" the perpetrators, should we believe the report? Need we even ask?
Carole Keeney Harrington is the writer and producer of Pussy Riot - The Movement. For more information on the documentary, go here: https://www.tugg.com/events/13698