It’s not just who killed Nemtsov, which, as we all know, has to be Putin, but nobody can prove it.
1. Where or where was the chief suspect? Was he recuperating from the common cold? Or bonding with his newborn son? Such a sentimental sovereign…
Both death and palace coup scenarios were thrown around. I heard some Ukrainian nationalists were already having second thoughts about wishing death of their nemesis — because who’s going to come in his place?
Another possibility is that the strongman wanted the world to note his absence:
He might be not quite Ivan the Terrible, but he is a master manipulator. My guess is that he wanted the world to pay attention to the saber-rattling which he put on upon his reemergence.
2. Putin is believed to be annihilating his critics at the rate of about one man a year. A reptilian in charge of a country with major baggage, Vlad knows he’s being watched; plus he doesn’t quite have the will to go full-on gullag. Even before Stalin assumed the duties of General Secretary in 1922, he already had a great many massacres under his belt. Putin has now been in charge for a full 15 years, and while he successfully thwarted whatever moves towards democracy Russia had made in previous decade, his reign pales in comparison to that of his Bolshevik predecessor’s.
But what about Ukraine? Their SBU (Slavic acronym for Служба безопастноти Украины) is former KGB, and their oligarchs perfected the art of the hostile takeover. In the last month and a half a suicide epidemic swept the former Party of Regions functionaries. Three days ago BBC reported:
Oleksandr Peklushenko, former head of Zaporizhzhya, suffered a gunshot wound to the neck and authorities said initial inquiries pointed to suicide.
A member of Ukraine’s Party of the Regions, he was being investigated over the dispersal of protesters last year.
Five other officials also died in mysterious circumstances this year.
All of them supposedly took their own lives in the past six weeks
- Stanislav Melnyk, 53, an ex-MP was found shot dead in his bathroom on 9 March
- Mykhaylo Chechetov, former party deputy chairman, died after apparently jumping from a window in his 17th-floor flat on 28 February; he had been accused of abuse of office and fraud
- Serhiy Valter, a mayor in the south-eastern city of Melitopol, was found hanged on 25 February; he too had been accused of abuse of office
- Oleksandr Bordyuh, a former police deputy chief in Melitopol linked to Mr Valter, was found dead at his home on 26 February
- Oleksiy Kolesnyk, ex-head of Kharkiv’s regional government was found hanged on 29 January
An interior ministry source told Interfax Ukraine news agency Mr Peklushenko, 60, had committed suicide in the village of Sonyachne, near Zaporizhzhya city.
However officials said other theories were being investigated including murder.
Since then an opposition party prosecutor in the Southern port city of Odessa jumped out of the window. I suppose at some point the panic will set in and a great exodus of PoR officials to Russian Federation will commence.
Although this wave of suicides is a new phenomenon, in March last year, Sashko Bily, aka Alexander Muzychko, an Ukrainian militant with a Neo-Nazi background and experience fighting for Chechnya against Russia in the 1990’s, died under mysterious circumstances in the Western Ukrainian city of Rivne. Bily was an ardent Maidan activist who generated a great deal of unwanted attention immediately after his comrades’ victory in Kiev when videos of him threatening local Rivne officials were posted on youtube. According to the official version, this veteran Ukrainian fighter shot himself. Two or three times. Ukrainian interior ministry closed the case, but Pravy Sektor demanded further investigation.
Then there is the case of Kharkov mayor Gennady Kernes who survived assassination attempt in May 2014. Although, like much of the rest of Ukrainian political elite, Kernes shifted his loyalties multiple times throughout his carrier, he was a lifelong member of Yanukovish’s Party of Regions. During the winter riots of 2013-2014 he is widely believed to had organized anti-Maidan activities and anti-Maidan street thugs. After the overthrow he appeared to be sincerely outraged and believed that Russia will take eastern Ukraine under its wing. After the assassination attempt he started signing a different tune.
I’m sure Ukrainian investigators have their hands full even without this suicide epidemic. My parents recently wanted to send some money to friends in Kharkov, which seemed like a good deal with hryvnya, the Ukrainian currency going through the floor. Turns out, this is not an easy task because money wired to Ukraine is known to not reach its destination.
3. Crimea referendum. Putin recently admitted that the decision to annex Crimea was made in the Kremlin, not on the streets of Yalta or Simpheropol. If the poll was conducted in a totally bogus manner, the results probably reflect the genuine sentiment of Crimeans. A Gallup survey of Ukrainians conducted in April last year showed the population of the peninsula looking forward to being Russian. British journalist Shaun Walker recently visited the region. He reports:
[A]ll memory of the region’s Ukrainian past is being erased, and a harsh crackdown on voices of dissent is under way.
But at the same time, Russia’s police, judicial and civil servant corpus on the peninsula is almost entirely made up of those who used to serve Ukraine.
“Perhaps a few dozen top leaders have come in, but everywhere else, the structures which were Ukrainian before simply became Russian,” said Ilmi Umerov, who was the head of Bakhchisarai region before resigning in September because he did not want to work with the Russian authorities.
“In my region about 80% of the Ukrainian soldiers joined the Russian army, about 90% of the prosecutors’ office have gone over, and 100% of the SBU [security services] and police. I don’t know a single case of anyone from the SBU not going over to the FSB.”
Walker concludes that the ease with which Russia assumed control of the peninsula points to a lack of resistance and is perhaps indicative of loyalties of the Crimean population.
Crackdown on dissent in Ukraine is not going so smoothly. Looks like the revolutionaries will have to break some eggs.