Our Putin Problem (Not for the Faint of Heart)


Pink Flamingo friend and confident Sally Vee emailed the URL of a GQ article she read the other day.  It was something that fell completely under the radar.  The story of why the story was down-played is just as terrifying as Scott Anderson’s investigative journalism.

If you want to know what “real” journalism is like, and that “real” journalism is alive and well, read his piece, and shudder.

“…Lieutenant Colonel Litvinenko’s fall from grace had been swift. After his 1998 press conference alleging the URPO assassination plots, he’d spent nine months in prison on an “abuse of authority” charge and had then fled Russia as prosecutors prepared to move against him again. With the help of the now exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky, Litvinenko and his family settled in England, where he joined forces with Berezovsky to expose to the world what they claimed were the crimes of the Putin regime. A primary focus of that campaign was getting to the truth of the apartment-building bombings….Instead, Trepashkin gave a quick laugh, his face creasing into his trademark grin.

Yes, he said, I would have done things very differently. I see now that one of my flaws is that I am too trusting. I always thought the problems were with just a few bad people, not with the system itself. Even when I was in prison, I never believed that Putin could actually be behind it. I always believed that once he knew, I would be released immediately. Trepashkin’s grin eased away; he gave a slow shrug of his powerful shoulders. So a certain naïveté, I guess, that led to mistakes.

I wasn’t wholly convinced of this. More than naïveté, I suspected his “flaw” was actually rooted in a kind of old-fashioned — if not downright medieval — sense of loyalty. At our first meeting, Trepashkin had given me a copy of his official résumé, a document that ran to sixteen pages, and the first thing that struck me was the prominence he’d given to the many awards and commendations he had received over his lifetime of service to the state: as a navy specialist, as a KGB officer, as an FSB investigator. As bizarre or as quaint as it might seem, he was still a true believer. How else to explain the years he had spent being the dutiful investigator, meticulously building cases against organized-crime syndicates or corrupt government officials, while stubbornly refusing to accept that, in the new Russia, it was the thieves themselves who ran the show?”…”

We live in a very terrifying world.

“…Journalists in Russia do fear retribution. Ognianova will be in Moscow on Sept. 15 to release a CPJ report about 17 journalists who have been killed since 2000. There have been convictions in only one case. One of the most prominent killings involved an American citizen of Russian descent who was editor of Forbes’ Russian-language magazine. And other critics have been silenced as well — most notably Alexander Litvinenko, another former KGB agent who claimed the Russian security services were tied to the terror attacks of 1999. Litvinenko died in England after being poisoned with radioactive polonium….”