More on Bakhmina

If any of the wrongs that Russia’s government has recently committed merits international interference or protests, it has to be the conviction of Svetlana Bakhmina, a former corporate lawyer with YUKOS, for “embezzlement” and “tax evasion.” The convicted mother of two, who has been in detention since 2005, is not only legally innocent — her standing within YUKOS clearly prevented her from playing a significant part in any corporate wrongdoing — but innocent in the sense that victims of hurricanes and terrorist attacks are. She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and so got railroaded. Back in the 1930s, one would get shot as a “trotskyite,” “bukharinite,” or “leftist-rightist” for having (or having had) the wrong acquiantances. Is this a replay?

Khodorkovsky and Lebedev once chose to take the enormous risk rather than back down before Putin. They are victims of both the Putin regime and their own device. Bakhmina, a hard-working professional mother and wife, is nothing but a victim of the evil system Putin has partly set up, partly revived, partly inherited. We are witnessing brute force crudely masquerading as justice. This is also a vicious attack on Russia’s emerging middle class — not the best but the most Westernized, the most liberal-democratic, the most dynamic, and in many ways the brightest segment of this society.

Putin and his vampires must go.


  1. Don’t you find it rather disturbing that everything you are saying about Putin’s Russia today could have been (and was) said about Stalin’s Russia 75 years ago?

    Indeed, how is Russia today any different even than Tsarist Russia, despite so many decades of communism? Elite princes still glide through the streets in golden carriages (now called Mercedez and BMW and even Lamborghini) while the vast underclass languishes in poverty.

    And isn’t the most disturbing thing of all that the Russian people choose to sit idly by and watch it happen, even as they sat by and watched Lenin and Yeltsin take power, all the while Russia sinks deeper and deeper into the muck?

    Russians said they hated Yeltsin, then like lemmings they voted for Putin because Yeltsin told them too.

    Can there be any hope?

  2. As with any other country, hope is with a small minority capable of leading the nation by example. As for the difference with Tsarist Russia, it is enormous: back in 1913, Russia was a steadily developing country with a growing population and enormous natural resources. Its social problems were typical for a country in transition from a patriarchal rural economy to urbanistic capitalism. Its prospects seemed bright as China’s seem these days. Today, the trend is in the other direction: the once-complex (though inefficient) economy is getting simple as an earthworm (though an enormous one), and the native population is shrinking. Not to mention that old Russia had a much less corrupt bureaucracy, a much more efficient army and a reasonably good legal system.

    This is not to say that most Russians are dysfunctional idiots — in private life, most are probably less dysfunctional that most Americans but as members of a larger entity than their immediate community, they seem idiots in the original Greek sense. But Russians are fast learners — they just need the right teachers.

  3. I could not disagree more.

    Russia has existed four times longer than America but has far made MUCH less progress. That is not fast learning it is slow learning. America’s original leaders OWNED SLAVES. But Americans found ways to overcome their poor leaders and, above all, understood the importance of the rule of law. The rule of law has never existed for one single day in all of Russia’s history despite its many forms of government.

    Russians have been blaming their problems on leadership far too long. Peter wasn’t good enough. Lenin wasn’t good enough. Yeltsin wasn’t good enough. Russians’ problem is a fumandental inability to accept responsibility, reform and grow.

    The Russian army efficient in 1913? You must be daft! I guess you didn’t hear what happened to them at the hands of the Germans and the Japanese and the Turks. It’s because they were SO inefficient that Lenin was able to take power.

    Russian people have stood to fight foreign enemies many times, usually losing but always fighting bravely. But they have never stood one single time to fight for freedom and the right to make their own decisions, because they don’t want that responsibility.

    And the disappearance of Russia’s population is the consequence.

  4. “America’s original leaders OWNED SLAVES. But Americans found ways to overcome their poor leaders and, above all, understood the importance of the rule of law.”

    150 years ago, some Russians still WERE slaves. Serfs, anyway. Bought and sold, or at least inherited (I’m sure Alexei can correct me if I’m getting the history wrong). And I believe Russia emancipated the serfs before Lincoln “emancipated” the African-Americans (freed them to enjoy another century of second-class citizenship). I am definitely proud to be an American, but I don’t think you can whitewash the nasty portions of US history in order to make Russia look worse.

    Anyway, considering the basically feudal society that was prevalent until the middle of the 19th century, I think Russia as a whole has made some progress (though, to be sure, many rural citizens still live in squalid, peasant-like conditions) just in terms of literacy, if you want to take the most basic example. Sadly, it is true that the education system is crumbling along with lots of other social institutions. But I’m not sure this is because the Russian people are “irresponsible” in not rising up and demanding a better government. Hate the government if you must, but why bad-mouth the entire narod?

    And as for the “rule of law” in the US as far as the legacy of slavery goes, talk to the innocent people on death row because of the color of their skin. Obviously the rule of law reigns supreme for the most part in the US, and you’ll never catch Bush’s aides plotting ways for him to stick around for a third term, but the current president demonstrates that the US continues to struggle to “overcome [its] poor leaders.”

    I promised myself I wouldn’t respond to the insanity/inanity of the ‘phobe anymore, but this ridiculous “analysis” cannot stand.

    By the way, there’s a website set up to support Bakhmina, though it doesn’t look like it’s been updated much in the past few months.

  5. I went to Russia once and they treated me and every other foreigner there like shit. When they weren’t robbing and beating us they were trying to rip us off and the cops are worse than the criminals.

    The only way to survive there was to blend in and speak the language.

    Ignorant Russian bastards. I hope they sink into their own self-made pit of misery.

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