Streetwise Professor

July 27, 2013

Memo to Holder: As If Russia Gives a Damn About Torture

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 11:30 am

In a somewhat totally pathetic attempt to get Russia to relent on returning Edward Snowden to the US, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to the Russian government expressing assurances that Snowden would not be subject to the death penalty or torture.  As if Russia really gives a damn about torture.  As this piece from NPR shows, Russia is more than willing to cooperate with the thuggish governments of the ‘Stans to apprehend by force those who have fled to Russia, and to return them to face brutal treatment:

But while the United States and Russia don’t see eye to eye over extradition issues (the two countries don’t have an extradition treaty), Moscow often cooperates with requests from governments in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

The human rights group Amnesty International says Russian authorities have unlawfully returned and sometimes forcibly abducted asylum seekers, sending them back to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, countries accused of widespread human rights abuses.

Many of the suspects are wanted on charges of belonging to banned Islamist groups or sharing extremist literature, claims that human rights groups say are often based on shoddy evidence.

. . . .

Amnesty reports that Tajikistan sought the extradition of 27-year-old Savriddin Dzhurayev on charges that included organizing a criminal conspiracy in 1992.

Russian authorities approved the request, though Dzhurayev was only 7 years old at the time of one of the alleged crimes. After appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, Dzhurayev was released from detention in Russia and granted temporary asylum there — the status Snowden is now seeking.

But Dzhurayev, who denies the charges against him, told his lawyers he was abducted by a group of men in plainclothes while walking in Moscow in 2011.

They forced him into a van, he says, beat him and put him on a plane back to Tajikistan, even though he didn’t have a valid passport. Russian authorities denied playing a role in Dzhurayev’s return. He is now serving a 26-year prison sentence after what Amnesty says was an unfair trial.

Vitaly Ponomarev, director of the Central Asia program at Memorial, a Russian human rights organization, says evidence for charges of illegal religious activity is often obtained using torture.

To avoid ill-treatment, an individual being questioned in Uzbekistan may offer information about someone who no longer lives in the country, thinking this puts the person beyond the authorities’ reach.

“There’s not a citizen of Uzbekistan in Russia who can guarantee he won’t be named by one of his old acquaintances during questioning and wind up on a list of extremists,” Ponomarev said.

Russian authorities cooperate on removals in these cases, he said, because they view the religious element of the accusations with suspicion.

“They consider the presence of such individuals in Russia to be unwanted,” Ponomarev said. “There’s some fear in relationship to Islam.”

Hmm.  Sounds kinda like a War on Islam thing going on there.  What does Glenn Greenwald have to say about that?  Laura Poitras?  After all, the alleged War on Muslims is one of their major obsessions.  I guess it’s OK when Russians wage it.

Carrying out a principled discussion with Russia about Snowden’s return is beyond pointless.  The bleatings of some Russian legislators about torture are just to gull the international left-the Germans especially, most likely-into continuing their focus on the US, and to let Russia pose as some defender of human rights.  Note how this stand complements quite exactly Snowden’s praise for Russia as a defender of human rights.  It’s almost like they could have been written by the same hand or something.

The only thing that matters to the Russians is state interest, and most notably the interests of the security forces.  Holder and Obama could write a letter promising Snowden would get a ticker tape parade down Broadway and a guaranteed win in the Publishers’ Clearinghouse Sweepstakes and it wouldn’t budge Putin in the slightest.  As their cooperation with the ‘Stans not to mention their own use of torture (cf. Magnitsky) demonstrates,  the claims of concern about Snowden being tortured on return to the US only adds hypocritical insult to injury.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Craig,

    I tried to count the number of your stories about Snowden but lost count at about 12 (twelve). Most of them tell some warped fantasies, founded purely on malicious demagoguery, about Snowden, Assange and Appelbaum being part of a worldwide Russian anti-American spy conspiracy aimed at defending the privacy rights and freedoms of the Americans. What is it about Snowden, Assange and Appelbaum that made you lose your sleep and mental health? And why do you consider Appelbaum an enemy of average Americans, a man who hates his fellow Americans? Just because a man is a human rights activist, it doesn’t make him an enemy of the American people, just as human rights activists in Russia are not enemies of average Russians. Don’t “villainize” people just because they don’t share your totalitarian views.

    Comment by Vlad — July 28, 2013 @ 12:28 am

  2. The Central Bank of Russia was optimistically predicting that capital flight would slow this year to a total of $10bn, but over the first half of this year $38bn has already left and shows no sign of slowing down. The final bill for the Kremlin at the end of the year will probably amount to at least $60bn this year.

    Capital flight will slow down as the Kremlin manipulates the court system and destroys any vestiges of rule of law.


    Comment by lulz — July 28, 2013 @ 2:51 am

  3. @lulz

    Yes, but it’s not $60bn out of Putin’s own pockets. I can’t imagine what kind of a calamity will make average Russian citizens disillusioned with the Putin regime. Next world-wide depression? Oil price collapse?

    And even then, i am afraid the Russians will opt for an even worse totalitarian.

    Comment by Vlad — July 28, 2013 @ 11:41 pm

  4. I don’t see any “warped fantasies” in what the SWP writes about Snowden et al. Snowden thinks of himself as a “whistle blower” while I think of him as a spy, but that’s his privilege. Now he has put himself into some of the most unsavoury hands on the face of the Earth, claiming that they are “protecting” him and somehow defending human rights, when their real motives are obvious to anyone who isn’t suffering from a bad case of self-inflicted naivete.

    There is a very simple question that apologists for the Putin regime should ask themselves. Would they have defended the Putin regime with the energy they are *before* Snowden went to Moscow?

    I think it is far more likely that six months ago, if asked about Putin, the same people defending him today would have discovered a deep spring of self-righteousness in denouncing Putin and all he stands for.

    All the is going on here is that Putin is being awarded a tin halo, in the hope that some of the glow will reflect on Snowden.

    Comment by jon livesey — July 30, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

  5. @livesey

    I don’t care about Putin in the Snowden story. As a libertarian, I see Snowden as a whistle-blower, and so do more than 50% of other Americans.

    I seen no personal benefit that Snowden derived out of his revelations. He did it out of idealism. And given that, it would be better for him to live in a place like Moscow than to rot in jail. Putin’s policy of persecuting his own whistle-blowers is irrelevant to the fate of Snowden.

    Comment by Vlad — August 1, 2013 @ 1:30 am

  6. @ Vlad, I’d be interested to see the numbers, all but one US citizen I know hates the guy.

    If he was really doing it out of idealism, he would not have followed the China-Russia axis….

    Comment by Andrew — August 2, 2013 @ 2:44 am


    Snowden Is A Whistle-Blower, Americans Say In Poll

    More than half of American voters in a new Quinnipiac University national poll say that Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, not a traitor. In the poll conducted from June 28 to July 8, interviewers called 2,014 registered voters on their landlines and cellphones. They were asked, “Do you regard Edward Snowden, the national security consultant who released information to the media about the phone scanning program, as more of a traitor, or more of a whistle-blower?”

    In their responses, 55 percent called Snowden a whistle-blower, with 34 percent saying he is a traitor. “Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor,” the Polling Institute said in a release accompanying the data. “The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.

    Comment by Vlad — August 3, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

  8. > he would not have followed the China-Russia axis….

    What evidence do you have that Russian had anything to do with Snowden releasing his information about the NSA spying on Americans? You are confusing Russia with the US Libertarian Party and ACLU.

    I know that Street Professor here has expressed this idea that Snowden was a Russian spy (or was it Chinese spy? German spy?), but he has no evidence to back it up, just as Dr. Goebbels has no evidence that all Jews are “Bolshevik bankers”, and the Soviet propaganda had no evidence that Andrey Sakharov was a “CIA spy”.

    Comment by Vlad — August 3, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress