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From Starovoitova to Joyal: The Putin Legacy in Review

Filed under: Eastern Europe

It's now been exactly ten years since Vladimir Putin, proud KGB spy, was plucked from obscurity in the local government organs of St. Petersburg and fast-tracked to the presidency. Examining the basic chronological facts in the Putin's career in national politics, and comparing them with the chronology of arrests and murders against the Kremlin's adversaries which began in earnest as soon as he took power, yields terrifying implications about the fate of democracy in Russia. We offer a brief history of Putin's time in Russia over the past decade.

A Brief History of Putintime

March 1997

45-year-old former KGB agent Vladimir Putin (pictured, left) is plucked from obscurity out of the St. Petersburg local government apparatus by President Boris Yeltsin and named Deputy Chief of Staff. In June, he defends his PhD dissertation in "strategic planning" at St. Petersburg's Mining Institute. Later, this document proves to have been plagiarized from a KGB translation of work by U.S. professors published many years earlier (as if nobody would notice, and in fact for quite a while nobody did).

July 1998

In a second inexplicable move, Yeltsin names Putin head of the KGB (now called the FSB).
November 1998

Less than four months after Putin takes over at the KGB, opposition Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova (pictured, right), the most prominent pro-democracy Kremlin critic in the nation, is murdered at her apartment building in St. Petersburg. Four months after that, Putin will play a key role in silencing the Russian Attorney General, Yury Skuratov, who was investigating high-level corruption in the Kremlin, by airing an illicit sex video involving Skuratov on national TV. Four months after the dust settles in the Skuratov affair, Putin will be named Prime Minister.

August 1999

Completing a hat trick of bizarre spontaneous promotions, proud KGB spy Putin is named by Yeltsin Prime Minister of Russia. Almost immediately, Putin orders a massive bombing campaign against the tiny, defenseless breakaway republic of Chechnya, apparently seeing the reassertion of Russian power there as key to overall resurgence of Russia's military and state security apparatus, his primary political objective. On August 26th, he's forced to acknowledge the horrific consequences of the bombing. Hundreds of civilians are killed and tens of thousands are left homeless as civilian targets are attacked. World opinion begins to turn starkly against Russia, especially in Europe, very similarly to the manner in which it has polarized against U.S. President George Bush over Iraq. Putin's poll numbers in Russia begin to slide.

September 1999

An apartment building in the Pechatniki neighborhood of Moscow is blown up by a bomb. 94 are killed. Less than a week later a second bomb destroys a building in Moscow's Kashirskoye neighborhood, killing 118. Days after that, a massive contingent of Russian soldiers is surrounding Chechnya as public opposition to the war evaporates. On October 1st, Putin declares Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov and his parliament illegitimate. Russian forces invade.

New Year's Eve, 1999

Boris Yeltsin resigns the presidency of Russia, handing the office to Putin in order to allow him to run as an incumbent three months later. Given the pattern of bizarre promotions Putin has previously received, the move is hardly even surprising. So-called "experts" on Russia scoff at the possibility that Putin could be elected, proclaiming that, having tasted freedom, Russia can "never go back" to the dark days of the USSR.

March 2000

Despite being the nominee of a man, Yeltsin, who enjoyed single-digit public approval ratings in polls, Vladimir Putin is elected "president" of Russia in a massive landslide (he wins nearly twice as many votes as his nearest competitor). Shortly thereafter, all hell breaks loose in Chechnya. Russia will ultimately be convicted of human rights violations before the European Court for Human Rights and condemned for its abuses of the civilian population by every human rights organization under the sun.

[Between April 2000 and March 2002, Russia plunges into a nightmarish conflict in Chechnya eerily similar to what America now faces in Iraq. Opposition journalists, especially those who dare to report on what it going on in Chechnya, suddenly start dying. In 2000 alone, reporters Igor Domnikov, Sergey Novikov, Iskandar Khatloni, Sergey Ivanov and Adam Tepsurgayev are murdered -- not by hostile fire in Chechnya but in blatant assassinations at home in Russia. On June 16, 2001, at a press conference in Brdo Pri Kranju, Slovenia, President Bush is asked about Putin: "Is this a man that Americans can trust?" Bush replies: "I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue."]

April 2003

Sergei Yushenkov, co-chairman of the Liberal Russia political party (pictured, left), is gunned down at the entrance of his Moscow apartment block. Yushenkov had been serving as the vice chair of the group known as the "Kovalev Commission" which was formed to informally investigate charges that Putin's KGB had planted the Pechatniki and Kashirskoye apartment bombs to whip up support for the Putin's war in Chechnya after the formal legislative investigation turned out to be impossible. Another member of the Commission, Yuri Shchekochikhin (see below) will perish of poisoning, a third will be severely beaten by thugs, and two other members will lose their seats in the Duma. The Commission's lawyer, Mikhail Trepashkin (see below) will be jailed after a secret trial on espionage charges. Today, virtually none of the members of the Commission are left whole and it is silent.

May 2003

Putin's popularity in opinion polls slips below 50% after sliding precipitously while the conflict in Chechnya became increasingly bloody. Suddenly, he begins to appear vulnerable, and oil billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky begins to be discussed as one who could unseat him. All hell breaks loose in Russian politics.

July 2003

Yuri Shchekochikhin (pictured, right), a vocal opposition journalist and member of the Russian Duma and the Kovalev Commission, suddenly contracts a mysterious illness. Witnesses reported: "He complained about fatigue, and red blotches began to appear on his skin. His internal organs began collapsing one by one. Then he lost almost all his hair." One of Shchekochikhin's last newspaper articles before his death was entitled "Are we Russia or KGB of Soviet Union?" In it, he described such issues as the refusal of the FSB to explain to the Russian Parliament what poison gas was applied during the Moscow theater hostage crisis, and work of secret services from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan, which operated with impunity in Moscow against Russian citizens of Turkoman origin. According to Wikipedia: "He also tried to investigate the Three Whales Corruption Scandal and criminal activities of FSB officers related to money laundering through the Bank of New York and illegal actions of Yevgeny Adamov, a former Russian Minister of Nuclear Energy. This case was under the personal control of Putin. In June of 2003, Shchekochikhin contacted the FBI and got an American visa to discuss the case with US authorities. However, he never made it to the USA because of his sudden death on July 3rd. The Russian authorities refused to allow an autopsy, but according to Wikipedia his relatives "managed to send a specimen of his skin to London, where a tentative diagnosis was made of poisoning with thallium" (a poison commonly used by the KGB, at first suspected in the Litvinenko killing).

October 2003

Assaults on the enemies of the Kremlin reach fever pitch as the election cycle begins. Within one week at the end of the month, two major opposition figures are in prison.

October 22, 2003

Mikhail Trepashkin (pictured, right), a former KGB spy and the attorney for the Kovalev Commission, is arrested for illegal possession of a firearm (which he claims was planted in his vehicle). Also retained to represent some of the victims of the apartment bombings themselves, Trepashkin
allegedly uncovered a trail of a mysterious suspect whose description had disappeared from the files and learned that the man was one of his former FSB colleagues. He also found a witness who testified that evidence was doctored to lead the investigation away from incriminating the FSB. The weapons charge against Trepashkin mysteriously morphs into a spying charge handled by a closed military proceeding that is condemned by the U.S. government as being a blatant sham, and Trepashkin is sent to prison for four years. Publius Pundit reported on Trepashkin's plight back in early December of last year.

October 25, 2003

Just as the presidential election cycle is beginning, Khodorkovsky (pictured, left) is arrested at the airport in Novosibirsk. He will be tried and convicted for tax fraud and sent to Siberia, just like in the bad old days of the USSR, in a show trial all international observers condemn as rigged (his lawyer has documented the legal violations in a 75-page treatise). He is there today, now facing a second prosecution for the same offense. His company, YUKOS, is being slowly gobbled up by the Kremlin.

March 2004

With Khodorkovsky conveniently in prison and the Kovalev Commission conveniently muzzled, Vladimir Putin is re-elected "president" of Russia, again in a landslide despite his poll numbers. He faces no serious competition from any opposition candidate. He does not participate in any debates. He wins a ghastly, Soviet-like 70% of the vote. Immediately, talk begins of a neo-Soviet state, with Putin assuming the powers of a dictator. The most public and powerful enemies of the regime start dropping like flies.

June 2004

Nikolai Girenko (pictured, left), a prominent human rights defender, Professor of Ethnology and expert on racism and discrimination in the Russian Federation is shot dead in his home in St Petersburg. Girenko's work has been crucial in ensuring that racially motivated assaults are classified as hate crimes, rather than mere hooliganism, and therefore warrant harsher sentences -- as well as appearing as black marks on Russia's public record.

July 2004

Paul Klebnikov (pictured, right), editor of the Russian edition Forbes magazine, is shot and killed in Moscow. Forbes has reported that at the time of his death, Paul was believed to have been investigating a complex web of money laundering involving a Chechen reconstruction fund, reaching into the centers of power in the Kremlin and involving elements of organized crime and the FSB (the former KGB).

September 2004

Viktor Yushchenko, anti-Russian candidate for the presidency of the Ukraine, is poisoned by Dioxin (pictured, left, before and after the poisoning). Yushchenko's chief of staff Oleg Ribachuk suggests that the poison used was a mycotoxin called T-2, also known as "Yellow Rain," a Soviet-era substance which was reputedly used in Afghanistan as a chemical weapon. Miraculously, he survives the attack.

[Throughout the next year, a full frontal assault on the media is launched by the Kremlin. Reporters Without Borders states: "Working conditions for journalists continued to worsen alarmingly in 2005, with violence the most serious threat to press freedom. The independent press is shrinking because of crippling fines and politically-inspired distribution of government advertising. The authorities' refusal to accredit foreign journalists showed the government's intent to gain total control of news, especially about the war in Chechnya."]

September 2006

Andrei Kozlov (pictured, left), First Deputy Chairman of Russia's Central Bank, who strove to stamp out money laundering (basically acting on analyses like that of reporter Klebnikov), the highest-ranking reformer in Russia, is shot and killed in Moscow. Many media reports classify Kozlov's killing as "an impudent challenge to all Russian authorities" and warn that "failure to apprehend the killers would send a signal to others that intimidation of government officials is once again an option." Less considered is the possibility that Kozlov, like Klebnikov, was on the trail of corruption that would have led into the Kremlin itself, which then lashed out at him preemptively assuming he could not be bought.

October 2006

Anna Politkovskaya (pictured, right), author of countless books and articles exposing Russian human rights violations in Chechnya and attacking Vladimir Putin as a dictator, is shot and killed at her home in Moscow. In her book Putin's Russia, Politkovskaya had written: "I have wondered a great deal why I have so got it in for Putin. What is it that makes me dislike him so much as to feel moved to write a book about him? I am not one of his political opponents or rivals, just a woman living in Russia. Quite simply, I am a 45-year-old Muscovite who observed the Soviet Union at its most disgraceful in the 1970s and '80s. I really don't want to find myself back there again." Analysts begin to talk openly of Kremlin complicity in the ongoing string of attacks. Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes: "Local businessmen had no motivation to kill her -- but officials of the army, the police and even the Kremlin did. Whereas local thieves might have tried to cover their tracks, Politkovskaya's assassin, like so many Russian assassins, did not seem to fear the law. There are jitters already: A few hours after news of Politkovskaya's death became public, a worried friend sent me a link to an eerie Russian Web site that displays photographs of 'enemies of the people' -- all Russian journalists and human rights activists, some quite well known. Above the pictures is each person's birth date and a blank space where, it is implied, the dates of their deaths will soon be marked. That sort of thing will make many, and probably most, Russians think twice before criticizing the Kremlin about anything."

November 2006

Alexander Litvinenko (pictured, left), KGB defector and author of the book Blowing up Russia which accuses the Kremlin of masterminding the Pechatniki and Kashirskoye bombings in order to blame Chechen terrorists and whip up support for an invasion of Chechnya (which shortly followed), is fatally poisoned by radioactive Polonium obtained from Russian sources. Litivinenko had given sensational testimony to the Kovalev Commission and warned Sergei Yushenkov that was a KGB target). In his last days Litvinenko himself, as well as other KGB defectors, including Oleg Kalugin, Yuri Shvets and Mikhail Trepashkin (who allegedly actually warned Litvinenko that he had been targeted before the hit took place) directly blamed the Kremlin for ordering the poisoning. Recent press reports indicate that British investigators have come to the same conclusion. With Litvinenko out of the picture, the only member of the Kovalev Commission left unscathed is its 77-year-old namesake chairman, dissident Sergei Kovalev -- who has grown notably silent.

March 2007

On Sunday February 25th, the American TV news magazine Dateline NBC aired a report on the killing of Litvinenko. MSNBC also carried a report. The reports confirmed that British authorities believe Litvinenko perished in a "state-sponsored" assassination. In the opening of the broadcast, Dateline highlighted the analysis of a senior British reporter and a senior American expert on Russia who knew Litvinenko well. Here's an excerpt from the MSNBC report:

Daniel McGrory, a senior correspondent for The Times of London, has reported many of the developments in the Litvinenko investigation. He said the police were stuck between a rock and a hard place. "While they claim, and the prime minister, Tony Blair, has claimed nothing will be allowed to get in the way of the police investigation, the reality is the police are perfectly aware of the diplomatic fallout of this story," McGrory said. "Let's be frank about this: The United States needs a good relationship with Russia, and so does Europe," said Paul M. Joyal, a friend of Litvinenko's with deep ties as a consultant in Russia and the former Soviet states. Noting that Russia controls a significant segment of the world gas market, Joyal said: "This is a very important country. But how can you have an important relationship with a country that could be involved in activities such as this? It's a great dilemma."
Five days before the broadcast aired, shortly after he was interviewed for it, McGrory was dead. His obituary reads "found dead at his home on February 20, 2007, aged 54." Five days after the broadcast aired, Joyal (pictured, right) was lying in a hospital bed after having been shot for no apparent reason, ostensibly the victim of a crazed random street crime.

CONCLUSION: Did the Kremlin have anything to do with either of Joyal's or McGrory's fate, or is it just coincidence that both were struck down within days of giving statements directly blaming the Kremlin for Litvinenko's killing to the American press? Would the Kremlin really be so brazen as to attack an American for speaking in America? Whether it did or not is almost beside the point: the thing you can't see is always scarier than the thing you can. The Kremlin is now positioned to turn random accidents into weapons. Appelbaum sums it up: "As Russian (and Eastern European) history well demonstrates, it isn't always necessary to kill millions of people to frighten all the others: A few choice assassinations, in the right time and place, usually suffice. Since the arrest of oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003, no other Russian oligarchs have attempted even to sound politically independent. After the assassination of Politkovskaya on Saturday, it's hard to imagine many Russian journalists following in her footsteps to Grozny either."

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RTLM says:

Smacks of Stalin

Interesting that we've not heard an ill word about Putin out of Mahmoud.

James Burke says:

In addition to being a gangster and hitman boss Putin is an Arabist.

Exporter of advanced weapons to Syria

Refuses to support anctions against Iran

Exporter of secutrity sensors to Hezbolla

Never confronted the Saudies for their support of the Breslan massacre or at least ask them why these islamists had their flag hung in the school before they murdered children.

WHERE IS THE MSM - in bed with Islam - not on top of course

Kirill says:

Putin - killer, his disease is "dementia praecox"

Igor says:

Stupid article. The author counts that stupid ignorant people will believe in all this bulls**t. Do not know if the author is stupid too. He might be just using dirty tricks. Why would Putin kill Daniel McGrory or Joyal? Too many people say bad about Ptin, he will never be able to silence all those "Moskas" (little dogs) barking from behind the fence. There is no harm from their barking. So why should he care and spend energy and resourses to kill numerous "joyals"?

P.S. Litvinenko, Paul Khlebnikov, Andrei Kozlov, McGrory, Joyal and more and more...
How about John Lennon and John and Robert Kennedys? That was him! Putin!!!

La Russophobe says:


Your crude, thug-like language (we redacted your vulgar profanity) and personal abuse betray you as the one who lacks intelligence -- to say nothing of your total failure to point to any factual defect in the text and your failure to read it. The text clearly states that Putin may have had NOTHING to do with the Joyal and McGrory cases, and may simply now be able to take advantage of accidents because of what has come before. Frankly, you sound like a brigadnik -- in other words, you sound exactly like what you condemn.

Igor says:

La Russophobe
Is this the "La Russophobe" site? I thought it was "Publius Pundit". Well, real russophobes would never get embarrased reading or hearind the S-word. Because they use this word and the substance itself a lot to smear Russian people. So, I do not understand why you had redacted my text. You better do it to your "intelligentnye" russophobic correspondents. My comment was not detailed, yes. It was just expression of my emotions. We all appreciate our time to go with broad analysis for each stupid article. Are the other comments on this page more analitic than my one? No! Why me? You still want me to be more convincing? My pleasure:

You say: The text clearly states that Putin may have had NOTHING to do with the Joyal and McGrory cases. Come on! May does not mean "clearly nothing". Everybody can understand it like "may or may not". And the latter is what the author wants and expects. The title: "From Starovoitova to Joyal: The Putin Legacy in Review"- is clear indeed. Read the title, read a few words in each paragraph,(the article is too long to read it all) look at the faces of the "martyrs", and there you go! That was Putin who killed all these poor folks.
If you like facts so much, why not to mention that actually neither Putin, nor FSB had anything against Galina Starovoytova, and this lady were activly involved in business affairs in the time when a lot of businespeople were shot by other businesspeople in the fight for better business opportunities. How about the fact that some people were arrested for that killing and there was a trial? Why Yushchenko? Thanks God Yushchenko is alive? he is protected by his state and he can say for himself who poisoned him. Did he say anything about Putin or Russian spesial services? Or he is so scared to speak out?He does not look like that! Moreover, the Ukraine has its own investigators and special services. Are they scared too? Why the author mentioned Yushchenko whatsoever? Isn't it a BS? And what Kozlov's death has to do with Putin or Russian Special Services? Would not it be appropriate, if you like facts, to mention that there is a guy, a suspect, another banker, arrested for supposed ordering this killing?
Or:...Less considered is the possibility that Kozlov, like Klebnikov, was on the trail of corruption that would have led into the Kremlin itself... Do you really have the facts or this is just your speculations? Well, there is the possibility to certain degree that "La Russophobe"'s agents killed the poor Khlebnikov. Why not?
So, the facts do not support the author's point and author "stretches his story" over the facts. This is what I called a "dirty trick".
PS. Brigadnik? You believe in this BS, "brigadniks"? OK. I am the one.

La Russophobe says:


Not that you are likely to heed rational advice, but it really would be a good idea if you were to read this blog before commenting on it. If you look in the middle column under "contributors" you will see that Kim Zigfeld, publisher of La Russophobe, is one of them.

Your text has been redacted to remove your profanity. Profanity is not published on this blog. If you would like to publish profanity, find another blog to comment on.

If you are suggesting that you are in a position to know that the Kremlin had absolutely nothing to do with the Joyal or McGrory incidents, I call you a bald liar. If you admit it's possible that the Kremlin was involved then it is reasonable to speculate about the possibility. My post clearly states that both incidents could have been pure accidents, and your gross mischaracterization of my text precludes me from taking your remarks seriously. You are doing exactly what you complain about, and as such are a hypocrite.

Igor says:

Yes, I believe the Kremlin has nothing to do with the Joyal or McGrory incidents. Why do I believe that? Because Kremlin is in charge for Russian policies domestic and foreign, and FSB (Federal Security Service) is in charge for Russian state security. Neither (you quoted): "While they claim, and the prime minister, Tony Blair, has claimed nothing will be allowed to get in the way of the police investigation, the reality is the police are perfectly aware of the diplomatic fallout of this story," (McGrory) nor(another quotation): "Let's be frank about this: The United States needs a good relationship with Russia, and so does Europe," (Paul M. Joyal) carry any threat for Russian Federation policy or security. To assasinate a foreign journalist for such words? Do you think Russian politicians and officials are crazy? It is just laughable! There have been no single case (even in the worst times of the Cold War) when Russian services attacked foreign journalists for what they said there in the West.
What friendship you are writing about between Joyal and Litvinenko? Paul M. Joyal may have some interest in Litvinenko to get something sensational from that unclean and crazy fictionist. So what? Where is the threat?

OK, as I understand it, you are the author of this article. You have really reached me calling me "a liar", "a hypocrit" and so on. You do not like I called your article "stupid"? OK, I can correct myself. In your articles the true facts are that all those people are dead. All the rest is a bunch of ridiculous speculations. I have impressions that you drafted your article not in an office or a den, but in the kitchen, on the back side of your cooking recipe book while "talking politics" with your lady-friends from your church. Such a level. Very incompetent and amateurish writing. You are not "#1 Russophobe" for sure. If so, than "the russophobe-s" are unsofisticated people. You made me read your article carefully. Now I feel I can leave no "a stone on a stone" in it. So I am going in the three following postings to do so and to show you that "the liar", "the falsifer, "the hypocrit" here are you. Or you can choose from "a cheater", "incompetent in what you are writing about"

Igor says:

The author writes:
Less than four months after Putin takes over at the KGB, opposition Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova (pictured, right), the most prominent pro-democracy Kremlin critic in the nation, is murdered at her apartment....
The fact is that Galina Starovoytova was not "the most prominent critic of the Kremlin". As I alredy wrote neither Kremlin nor FSB had anything against that lady. She was quite in the mainstream of Russian political life, and certainly were not a fighter against the Kremlin. Here is the quote from her last intervew to Mattew Evangelista which was given on November 3, 1998, seventeen days before she was murdered:

Mattew Evangelista: But what about the use of military forces in general, even in Chechnya again, or in Dagestan. Do you think there would be a real effort
to stop that, to prevent doing that?

Galina Starovoytova: ....
.... I don’t approve of this government.
I didn’t vote for Mr. Primakov, even despite the fact that he’s a moderate communist.
But I can say we have very reasonable, moderate, and clever, well-educated ministers within this cabinet who are responsible for the power structures, even the KGB. The chief of the FSB, Mr. Putin, is a pretty reasonable guy. I know him. He was, you know, a spy in Germany.
He failed, and [she laughs] but it was a special division within the KGB of
people who were responsible for counter-intelligence abroad. They have
wide views; they know foreign languages; they lived in [Western] industrial
societies; they adopted the ways of the society, and they are civilized
persons. They were not those who were pursuing our dissidents
. That’s
another breed of human being. This is the first time I’m satisfied with the
nomination of the FSB chief.
And Sergeyev is good. Shoygu is good. And
Stepashin is more or less good. He was involved in the Chechen war. He
is not a man of strong will, but he himself is a moderate person."

The whole text of the intervew is here:

La Russophobe says:


As you understand it? My name is signed at the bottom of the article and I am identified in the contributors list. There is no mystery except in your own confused mind.

I dare you to name a person who was a more prominent critic of the Kremlin when Starovoitova was murdered than she was. Your comments have the silly flavor of the brigadniki and are exactly the sort of thing that brought a benighted USSR to it knees. Wake up! You're not fooling anybody!

What you "believe" is irrelevant to the question of your comments about what others are allowed to believe. Unless you know for a fact that it is impossible for the Kremlin to have been involved in Joyal/McGrory then your "belief" is no more valid than anyone else's and you have no right to high-and-mighty attitudes, which can only seem simply silly. You are simply relying on your own brand of "logic" and have no inside information about the Kremlin (though you seem to imagine otherwise). If you know who killed Starovoitova, tell us so we can put them in prison. Otherwise, your belief that your speculation is so much better than others' that you may condmen them is ridiculous.

Igor says:

You may read my e-mail address and found "Pronin" as a last name in it. You are the person claiming to have some knowledge about Russia. You may know than that Pronin (in anecdotes) was a Soviet counterpart of James Bond. And I am going to tell you what you do not know: Intellegence and security services of any state, and Russia is not an exception, are not a gang of street hooligans picking on passers by and beating everybody who does not look nice for them. They are reasonable, pragmatic guys. The allowed to kill people, but they kill if there is a real threat to their state security, as the last measure, when the other means exausted. Politicians, even in "rouge states" are not suicidal. They make decisions but first weigh the possible consequences. This is a natural law in politics.
So when you make up your next fantasy dance from it.

Igor says:

So, it has been proven, Starovoytova was not a good case for you to start with. The lady was not the most prominent opponent of the Kremlin. From her own words you can see that she was happy with Putin as the FSB Chief and called him a good man. Why you lied than? Or you are not quite competent? Why you write than? You ask me to name a person who was a more prominent critic of the Kremlin when Starovoitova was murdered. Well, you write articles, you must know. If you don't... That was 1998, Yeltsyn presidency time. The most furious and dangerouse for Yeltsyn opposition was from the left wing(communists). G. Zuganov (still alive) was running for presidency in 1996 against Yeltsyn. Naturally he was a strong critic of the Kremlin. Victor Ampilov, general Makashov (both alive) were cursing Yeltsyn and his cabinet for all the disasters that happened in Russia. The Duma majority was in opposition to Yeltsyn. If you want some more attractive for you opponent of the Kremlin, than Valeriya Novodvorskay , the lider of the "Demokraticheskiy Soyuz" party (still alive) must satisfy you. She was and is a lifetime opponent of any government in Russia. And she is vocal. Unlike your Paul M. Joyal she is well known in Russia as a public figure. She is a good writer, very smart and wit. She often appears on the Russian TV, regularly speaks on "Echo Moskvy" and "Radio Liberty", and you can read her very sarcastic, chile-pepper antiPutin, antiRussian, even "russophobic" publications on the "" web site. Check it out. It will be very educational for you. You will learn a lot about how to compose smart russophobic articles.

As about the ones who killed poor Galina
you say:...tell us (who killed) so we can put them in prison. You are late. Some of them already had teir trial and have been sentenced. The killer Vitaliy Akishin got 23 years in prison and the group leader Yuriy Kolchin got 20 years sentence.
But there are a few more men(Sergey Musin, Oleg Fedosov, Yevgeniy Bogdanov) wanted for this murder. You can try.

La Russophobe says:


The only thing that has been proven is that you are a psychopath. Calling Gennady Zyuganov, a Communist apparachik, an agent of progressive democratic change that could threaten the Kremlin is the statement of a madman. Claiming that Novodvorskaya was more well-known and powerful than Starovoitova is another bald, crazed lie, and admitting that people are "wanted" for killing Starovoitova is the same as saying nobody knows who killed her or why.

Again, your failure to fairly read the article you are commenting on is both offensive and ridiculous. There is no attempt in this article to blame the Kremlin for any specific killing mentioned; the point is to show the horrifying litany of killings which have occurred during the Putin regime and to ask the obvious questions that result from observing it. We are not the only ones to make this observation. Scholars and journalists all around the world are making it. For instance, see here:

In short, your remarks epitomize the failings you purport to criticize in others. Your words in effect seek to rationalize the killings and divert attention from the consolidation of neo-Soviet power in Russia. As such, you are more dangerous to Russia's survival than any foreign enemy.

From your words, I gather you feel nobody can question whether the Kremlin is killing those who support democracy until every single such person has been killed. That's exactly the logic that Stalin used. You are one scary fellow.

Igor says:

Well, I would not play "Black Jack" with you.
You are the one who, if gets a "poor card", may remove it stealthly and replace with the better one out of the sleeve. In Russian we call such persons "a shooler"(cheater). Where in my postings above you found that I called Gennady Zyuganov "an agent of progressive democratic change"? I just called him "a strong critic of the Kremlin". And where did I call V. Novodvorskaya more powerfull or better known than Starovoytova? I only pointed that that "she was and is the strongest critic of the Kremlin ever". Actually the both are well known, but Starovoytova for the Kremlin and Putin was like a nice, white, furry kitty compared to Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya (who is still alive, let the God give her long life). So, comes out you are playing foul. You attribute you own made up words to me and after that call them bald, crazed lie and call myself a psychopath...a madman. Is this all the russophobs' style when they run out of arguments?

As about Starovoytova murder, nobody, even her "Demokraticheskaya Rossiya" Party leaders linked her murder to the Kremlin or Putin. That was on much, much lower level. On my opinion it was kind of hate crime. On political grounds. Somebody did not like her public activities, what she said. Not because she was, like you say, the most prominent critic of the Kremlin (which is not true itself). When Martin Luter King was assasinated did you blame the White House or the President (Lindon B. Johnson) for that? You could skip Starovoytova case off you list for sure. The murder is solved almost fully. The man who shot her was tried and got 23 years in prison. The organizer, of the murder (the group leader) got 20 years. Three more men involved are wanted, but any sound person would find your statement "admitting that people are "wanted" for killing Starovoitova is the same as saying nobody knows who killed her or why not true.

Igor says:

The author of the article says:Viktor Yushchenko, anti-Russian candidate for the presidency of the Ukraine, is poisoned by Dioxin (pictured, left, before and after the poisoning). ... Oleg Ribachuk suggests that the poison used was a mycotoxin called T-2, also known as "Yellow Rain," a Soviet-era substance which was reputedly used in Afghanistan as a chemical weapon.

The author here is tricking again. The anti-Russian candidate was poisoned with dioxin. It is a well established fact, confirmed by the independent experts and the doctors from Austria and Great Britain who treated him for that poisoning. They found that the large dose of dioxin was taken with food within 3 to 14 days before the symptoms manifestation. So why the author speculates about “mycotoxin T-2” quoting some "Rybachuk", and pulling up to the case the unproven use of chemical weapon in the Soviet era war? Why she is trying to make the clear water turbid? Because, like Russians say, “it is easier to catch fish in turbid water”. Or for the author to catch the readers in her net of falsifications and disinformation. Dioxin is poisonous but is not lethal. It is a herbicide, byproduct in chemical industry. It was used by the USA in Vietnam War as a component of the “Orange Agent” for jungle defoliating. What a fact! Had I have the author’s perverted imagination I would immediately linked this poisoning to the USA and CIA -but I do not have one.
Yushchenko case, indeed, is a mysterious. The guy was poisoned with a dose lethal to a horse and survived. He was a handsome, movie star looking man before the poisoning, and now he looks like he is a leper. All the Ukraine was sympathizing him when it happened, and he was elected the President. He is a pro-Western, pro-American, (married to a former US State Department employee). He is strongly anti-Russian, and he wants the Ukraine in the NATO, though it is not a popular idea in the Ukraine yet. This is why he uses every difficulty in the Russia-Ukraine relations as his chance to sell his idea by stressing how important is for the Ukraine to stay as distant from Russia as possible and to enter the NATO. When he become the President he promised investigation of his poisoning. He has a powerful state apparatus: secret services, all kind of experts and professionals to do the job. Of course he got the USA support and the USA would not deny any assistance if he asked for it. Thus he does not seem to be afraid of Russia and Putin. He hates Putin. Why I say all this? Because had there be any Russian trace in his poisoning, not just Kim Zigfeld, but the whole Western world would be screaming about how bad "Putin's regime" is. And Yushchenko’s dream about the Ukraine in NATO would come true. But the investigation has been hidden from the public. It looks like it is stopped. No results are reported. The investigators and Yushchenko himself when asked, unwillingly say something like “we know who”. And this is all the public allowed to know.
Why so? I think there is something private in this case. And Yushchenko wants to keep it private.
What can it be?
As they say in France ” Cherchez la femme”! which stands for “Look for a woman”.
He was a really very handsome guy. He could have love affairs on a side. He just had to have. In his situation (rich, powerful, handsome)it was almost unavoidable. I am a pretty handsome man too, and I know about things like that. You just can not deny women in their approach if it happens. So, he could have long time relations with some lady, and then decided to stop them because he wanted career as a president, or he did not want his wife to know, or his wife had known and talked to him in harsh words, threatening to ruin his career, using her American ties. Or other things of that kind. The lover-lady become upset and mad at him and during the farewell dinner at her home fed him with a bowl of Ukrainian borshch to which she added a table spoon of dioxin instead of regular salt. Dioxin, unlike polonium -210, is available from any chemical dumping place or farming supply store. She could pour it in a glass of “gorilka”(Ukrainian vodka) too. She certainly did not know about the right dosing, and that dioxin was not an effective poison. But what came out of that is even more pleasing for a vindictive woman. The guy is alive but looks really ugly, and his career with women seems to be over. Of course Yushchenko knows “who”. He certainly knows with whom he ate before got poisoned. He successfully used his poisoning for PR in his election campaign. That was not bad to get some good use out from the accident. But the Ukraine unlike the USA is not ready to handle "Clinton-Levinsky" style scandals. Democrathy has not went that far there yet. It is not something that Yushchenko wants. He wants the public to forget about it. And he is the only person in charge to close the investigation. Of course all the above are just my speculations. But when we have such a mystery, to speculate is the only thing left. And my version is quite plausible. Who may say "No"?

Konyok says:

Thanks for the interesting summary. It can be difficult to keep the sheer number of such "coincidences" in one's memory.
Even more interesting is the dialogue with Igor.
Russia is a basketcase and the mentality represented by Igor is reason #1.

Igor says:

To Konyok-gorbunok

You should be more appreciative, partner.
If there is something interesting in the dialog on this page-that is due to my humble contribution. With Kim Zigfeld alone, you would chew again the same already chewed one hundred times before by every "russophobe" "cud" about how mean is Putin, and that he is a former KGB spy, and he is rolling back from democracy, and that Russia is using her energy resourses to blackmail the Europe, and so on, and alike. What is you problem, to speak about my mentality in such a rude way? You do not agree with something I said? Can you prove I was wrong?
My mentality is to reject all kind of lies.

If you like youself with spagetty on you ears which Kim Zigfeld is hanging on them- this is your sacred right garanteed by "The Bill of Rights"

Igor says:

Wow! What I have missed and noticed just now! The article was written on April 1, 2007. So the artocle was a joke! To fool us! Hah-hah-hah! -:)-:)-:).
Bravo, Kim. It was a good one.

La Russophobe says:


You are a mental case. By your "logic" no newspaper can publish on April 1. Do you also believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus?

The fact that you find all these people losing their lives to be a matter for joking indicates you are a true sociopath. Whenever anyone wonders why the USSR disappeared, from now on we can just refer to your remarks.

Igor says:

My present to Kim Zigfeld.
I know, she gonna love this stuff. Kim, you can use it for the next article about Putin.

For those who can not read in Russian, I explain: The link is to the article posted on Chechen jihadists' web-site "Kavkaz-Center"(they love Kim's site "La Russophobe" and use a lot of Kim's stuff in their publications). Anyway, the article title is: "Putin has connection to the Virginia University Massacre". In the article they say that the killer Cho Seung-Hui met Putin before. O, this Putin!

La Russophobe says:


I have never once cited to Kavkaz Center as authority for anything, nor have I ever once written anything approving of them. You have been utterly defeated on the substance of this post, so naturally, like the brigadniki you are, you try to change the subject to something that has absolutely nothing to do with it. It's this kind of "thinking" that brought the USSR to its knees. And you're starting it all over again because once wasn't enough for you. That's just sad.

Igor says:

What kind of problem do you have with understanding texts you read?
I did not blame you for citing “Kavkaz Center“ “as authority for anything, you have ever once written “. I blamed Kavkaz-Center for citing “La Russophobe”.
My posting is not an attempt to change the subject. It is strongly relevant to the subject. It could help you to enrich your article with a new “hot” material.
Just look at this: From Starovoitova to to the Virginia University Massacre: The Putin Legacy in Review.
Isn’t it strong? Isn’t it the logic continuation of the row you have built, the “litany” you are writing about?
And we already got a new development. Boris Yeltsyn is dead. Do you think his death was from a natural cause? Of course, that was FSB's and Putin’s dirty job! I know, you know. The guy is just pretending he is sad. Crocodile tears.
Well, it is too much of the material now. What if you split the material in 2 parts: “Putin against democracy in Russia” and “Putin against the Free World.” ? Of course, it is just my friendly suggestion and I am not in charge to teach you how to make Russophobic articles. You know better. By the way, why have not you mentioned Litvinenko’s accusations of Putin and Russian secret services in blowing up the trains in London and Madrid and links to the 9/11 attacks on USA? You article would only win in its convincing power.

OK. No more kidding. Let us be serious and do the summary:
In your article you failed to make your point. Yes, it may look convincing for occasional readers who know nothing about Russia, but not for those interested in politics.
Below [in the brackets], I give you the examples of what kind of misleading and tricking you use with some my comments on them:
1. bias, complete absence of objectivity: […Putin is named … Prime Minister of Russia. Almost immediately, Putin orders a massive bombing campaign against the tiny, defenseless breakaway republic of Chechnya…-you are not saying a word about Chechen’s incursions from that “defenseless republic” into Russian territory Dagestan before the bombing campaign (see )],
2. made up facts: [like thallium is a poison commonly used by the KGB,],
3. intentionally distorted facts [Galina Starovoitova was the most prominent pro-democracy Kremlin critic in the nation],
4. ridiculous statements: [“Vladimir Putin is re-elected (2004) "president" of Russia, again in a landslide despite his poll numbers...-(look what Wickipedia says on it: According to the ad hoc Committee by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, "the elections were generally well administrated and reflected the consistently high public approval rating of the incumbent president … )],
5. wild speculations: [ Galina Starovoitova, Nikolai Girenko, Paul Klebnikov, Viktor Yushchenko, Andrei Kozlov cases.]
6. sick fantasies: [ McGrory, Paul M. Joyal]

Thus, your article has everything what is prohibited for good journalism.
It is a little prematurely for you to present youself as someone smarter than "professional experts" on Russia. You are just "wannabe expert" youself.

See my comments on your "Back in the USSR" article.

La Russophobe says:


Wow, your comment is so convincing! I've decided to give up my criticism of Vladimir Putin and start praising him as the wonderful leader he is! It's really a crime that you aren't published on a blog, and are reduced to scribbling crazed little notes on the posts of those who are. The world is so unjust!

OK, enough joking, you ridiculously inconsequential little microbe. You're obviously too idiotic to realize it, but your comments actually make it far more likely I'll criticize Russia in the future, not less. That's always the way with self-destructive Russians.

If you search Google for thallium and KGB, you get nearly 25,000 hits, including this:

The fact that Chechnya had launched terror attacks on occupying Russian soliders does not mean it could defend itself from air bombardment, you moronic simpleton.

You have yet to name any dissident more prominent than Starovoitova at the time of her killing.

The low poll data for Putin is linked to in this post. Please read the article before you comment. If you won't, your comments won't be published in the future.

Many other writes have linked these killings to the Kremlin. If you think we are all full of "sick fantasies" you are a classic Soviet man and Russia's true enemy. You destroyed Russia once, now you want to try again.

Am I biased against maniacal dictators like Vladimir Putin? You're damn right I am! And proud of it! Thanks for the compliment! In fact, this whole blog is biased for democracy, the point of it is to advocate for democracy and attack democracy's foes. If you want unbiased "news" reporting, go elsewhere. That's not what blogs are for, you cretin.

If you think your comments on this post are an example of "real" journalism that is different from what you criticize, you're a true mental case. I pity you, as such.

Nothing is Free says:

The problem with the zealot is that they invariable sabotage their cause. Case in point, this very article. If you don't belive me, have I got a 11/9 conspiracy theory for you!

La Russophobe says:

The problem with the non-zealot is that they inevitably do nothing about anything and are the root cause of all evil in the world, just as Martin Luther King suggested.

Nothing is Free says:

One of the signs you are a zealot is that you don't know what it means to be a zealot.

La Russophobe says:

One of the signs you are a moron and a coward is that you don't know that people who are, like you, are better off keeping their idiotic "thoughts" to themselves.

Igor says:

I protest the site not publishig my two comments on the article. The comments did not contain any profanities or blasphemy or any other kind of bad language- only disagreement with the methods of the author of the article (Kim Zigfeld) and questioning her claim to be knowlegeble about Russian political life.
The forum is the place that opened itself to the public. So, discrimination on the base of political vews is illegal.
This could be a good site. Educational. I learned a lot about Cuba and Zimbabwe from it. But the East European Department (sub-editor Kim Zigfeld) is spoiling the whole good picture.
Ms. Zigfeld seized the absolute power over the publications about Russia on this site, and does not allow the readers to express their opinions if they are not the ones she likes. She discards the comments in which the readers put a part of their hearts and minds, just because she is such a coward and is afraid of looking defeated. She has no respect to the First Ammendment and throws valuable and original thoughts of the readers in the "Recycling Bin", replacing them with her own comments filled with calling names and insults.
I think, Kim Zigfeld must not be allowed to select for publishing or edit the comments on her articles because of the conflict of interests.
If one more of my comments is not posted for no good reason I am going to boycot this site, and I will tell on the other forums and sites where "La Russophobe" and "Publius Pundit" are involved or disussed the whole truth about the urespectfull attitude of the site towards its readers.

For now I just limit my outrage to the following short epigram:

Comments are pleasing-they are put in,
Comments not liked-the chance is slim.
And when somebody says: "Heil Putin!"
The answer goes: "Sieg FeldKim!"

La Russophobe says:


Listen you ridiculous little wackjob, all comments we receive are published as long as they are not SPAM and the commenter has not been banned. If one of your comments got lost in the system and didn't reach us or got accidentally deleted, that's a pity, but take your offensive paranoia elsewhere. Technical issues happen all the time. This blog is FULL of comments criticizing us, the idea that we are censoring you is just plain silly.

What's more, if I recall correctly, you said you were done commenting here because we were not worth commenting on. What gives? Change your mind wacko?

Frankly, with your rude and disrespectful manner, I am amazed that you would dare to complain about anything. In fact, it's quite bizarre that you would waste so much time commenting on this blog. You're a guest and a visitor at this blog, but you behave as if you own it. We are free to publish or not publish any comments as our editorial discretion advises, and your "protests" are stupid. If you want to write whatever you want, create your own blog. If you want to write on this one, watch your step and your big fat mouth.

Meanwhile, just to spite you, from now on I'm going to edit any comment you make and publish only those I think are worthwhile, just as every other editor of every other publication always does. How do you like that, screwball?

Igor says:

To: La Russophobe
Re: ....from now on I'm going to edit any comment you make and publish only those I think are worthwhile....

This is something a man with dignity can not agree upon.

The following is my last message:

Igor Pronin, the I-net forums fighter from Seattle was here.

PS. Thank you for your time and the conversation I had.
You gonna miss me

La Russophobe says:

Nobody asked you to agree to anything you dimwit egomaniac, I simply informed you. BTW, I published that one just so everybody can see what I mean when I don't publish the next one that's an empty puff of carcinogenic smoke.

Terabanitoss says:

You are The Best!!!

Thanatos says:

How many of you credulous people thought that the hardliners would quietly fade away. Putin is KGB and the state increasingly resembles the old USSR. Time for the US to take off the rose-tinted glasses.

Karl says:

Many state that Galina Starovoitova's murder was in no way connected with the Putin regime, yet her last investigation before her death was intimately connected with him

The deputat was looking into a blackmail scheme by former 'Piter' Mayor Sobchak's aid (ie: VV Putin), wherein relatives of people buried at the St Petersburg municiple cemetary had to pay huge maintenance fees or face having their relations disinterred.

First reports of Starovoitova's murder included the statement that a pistol recovered at the scene was one used only by US secret services (and who would have access to one of these, but a former kehgehbun?).

Starovoitova's murder kept the lid on a scandal that could have prevented Vladimir Vladimirovich's ascent.

Thanatos says:

I don't know what you bloggers expect from an ex-KGB officer. Steeped in Marxism-Leninism, he is prime example of the bright young men of the FCD. Russia is effectively run by his old cronies and the RSB/SVR & the GRU are spying at Cold War levels.

All Yeltsin managed was declaring the CPSU illegal and later dissolve the USSR, an act that rankles with Putin. Russia has no history of democracy only rule by Tsars or autarchs. Best thing is to get used to the idea. Rule by decree and murder to order, nicht war?

allan says:

La Russophobe, a heavily censored neocon website run by an idiot, as you can no doubt tell. He's not even Russian but is american.
Check out his favorite neocon website, another heavily censored site called, there you will find LR posing under another pseudonym.

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I don't know what you bloggers expect from an ex-KGB officer. Steeped in Marxism-Leninism, he is prime example of the bright young men of the FCD. Russia is effectively run by his old cronies and the RSB/SVR & the GRU are spying at Cold War levels.

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