1

July 19, 2004 by AK

Reviewing the world press on Russia, Peter Lavelle reminds us that the NYT’s reaction to Paul Klebnikov’s assassination was Journalists’ Deaths Make It Harder to Excuse Putin’s Excesses by Serge Schmemann, and the WaPo’s, Same Old Ruthless Russia by Michael R. Caputo.

Both opinion pieces are ludicrously wrong-headed and off the mark. Schmemann’s reaction was probably informed by grief and rage rather than reason, and since he is an experienced journalist and Pulitzer winner, a son of the venerable Father Alexander Schmemann and a grandson of White emigrees, I hope his judgment got disoriented by anguish and not by a desire to denigrate his ancestors’ home land.

Caputo distorts things so badly that some of the paragraphs in his piece consist exclusively of false charges. (If my readers think they are worth commenting on, I’ll go ahead.) It’s as if Michael Moore turned to print journalism and teamed up with Ann Coulter. Caputo, we are told by the DT, is “a Miami-based writer, was an election adviser to Boris Yeltsin’s administration and lived in Russia from 1994 to 1999.” Music to my ears. So the whole thing is just a loser’s attempt at settling scores. Never mind that mafia violence has been receding in Russia since the late 1990s, which made Klebnikov’s murder totally unexpected and shocking; and mob shootouts were never as spectacular as in Yeltsin’s golden years. Why wasn’t Caputo yelling murder then?

Oh, bye the bye, to hear a Miamian scream, “mafia! shootouts!

corruption! everywhere! you! uncivilized! devoid! of! morals! corrupted! by! communism!”–what a show, and yes, it’s free.


1 comment »

  1. Alexei:

    This is Michael Caputo. I’m a bit confused by your review of my article in the Washington Post. I’ve as much right to opine on the murder of Paul Klebnikov as anyone. You may not like my opinion, but you know what they say — opinions are like … And judging from your vitriol, you have at least one.

    You are right: things are different than they were under Yeltsin. I’ve had high hopes for the Putin Administration since he came to power. I have many old friends working in the Kremlin to make a difference, too. However, his administration’s handle on organized crime has far to go — this is an open secret, and I’m sure you know it. Unfortunately, Paul became proof positive.

    The President must stand up as the guarantor of press freedom. Yeltsin didn’t, nor did any previous leader in the region. I think Putin may do just that, in fact. It would be bold, historic masterstroke with nothing but upside.

    Since my article was published, I have also become hopeful about the investigation. Alot has happened behind the scenes — much more than most most folks expected, especially myself. Paul’s family is staying in touch with investigators. At some point, the US will get involved, but probably just to facilitate Russian police inquiries. But this might just work, because the likely perpetrator has a familiar old stench and he is no friend of today’s Kremlin. Suffice it to say the family and Paul’s colleagues are cautiously optimistic.

    And Alexei, you misjudge my opinion of Russia, where I spent my life’s most memorable days. My young daughter will always keep me coming back to Russia. She is a first generation Russian-American and I want her to continually visit and be proud of her homeland. But more importantly, I want her to see it change far more for the better.

    Finally, I agree with your assessment of Miami — it really is a crime spree around here. But I’ve found a very peaceful place to live, work and raise my daughter tucked away from that world. And I don’t worry too much when she visits her babushka in Russia. She’s probably alot safer there, in general — unless she becomes a journalist.

Leave a Reply

Archives

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: