Streetwise Professor

February 27, 2015

Putin Reenacts the Kirov Assassination

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 6:15 pm

Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov has been gunned down literally in the dark shadows of the Kremlin’s spires.

Just when you thought that Russia could not become more twisted and disturbing, something like this happens.

With a chutzpah that puts  OJ Simpson’s pledge to track down the real killers to shame, Putin announced that he is putting his Chekist skilz to work and taking personal charge of the investigation. This is to ensure that no mistakes are made that could result in the identification of the real executioners. There are frames to be fitted.

Through his creature Peskov, Putin denounced the crime as a “provocation,” fulfilling a prediction I had made on Twitter only moments before that he would use this killing to eliminate many enemies, not just one. This assassination will not be a two-fer. It will be an N-fer. Nemtsov will not be the only enemy eliminated: his death will be the pretext for eliminating many more, on the model of “for my friends, everything: for my enemies, the law!”

The narrative will be that this was part of a plot to blacken Putin’s name, and every-and I mean every-perceived enemy foreign and domestic will be implicated. Numerous, mutually contradictory conspiracy theories will be advanced and pursued simultaneously. These will permit the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of myriad Putin enemies, and the intimidation of many more.

In other words, we are going to see a reprise of the Kirov murder, which Stalin exploited to justify the purges that began soon thereafter. Note the similarity:

“Comrade Stalin personally directed the investigation of Kirov’s assassination. He questioned Nikolayev at length. The leaders of the Opposition placed the gun in Nikolayev’s hand!” (Barmine, Alexander, One Who Survived, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1945.)

Why Nemtsov? He had long been a thorn in Putin’s side, authoring (along with Vladimir Milov) several white papers accusing Putin of gargantuan corruption. Recently, he had been an outspoken opponent of the war in Ukraine. He was organizing a peace rally to take place Sunday, and was allegedly on the verge of releasing another white paper documenting Russian participation in the Ukraine war.

Perhaps the anti-war activities and revelations about Putin’s lies about Ukraine were the proximate cause of Nemtsov’s killing. But I think that the murder serves a far larger purpose for Putin. It eliminates a gadfly, yes, but Nemtsov was hardly a threat. But a la Stalin and Kirov, the murder gives Putin a pretext to unleash a full-scale repression.

Will Obama, Merkel, and the other assorted cringers finally be forced to face up to the reality of what they are dealing with in the Kremlin? Call me a cynic, but I seriously doubt it.

Do not underestimate how bad things can get in Russia. And consider this happy thought. Stalin wasn’t embroiled in an international confrontation, and didn’t have nukes, when Kirov was killed (likely on his orders). Putin is, and does.

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  1. Agreed. The parallel immediately occured to me. Russia is sick and the contagion is spreading.

    Comment by lippynelson — February 28, 2015 @ 7:16 am

  2. Thorn in Putin’s side? Please. The only places Nemtsov’s shtik resonated is The Economist and the Washington Post editorial page. Russians certainly paid no attention, being pretty good at sussing out those with no discernable interest in their well-being.

    Comment by wander3762 — February 28, 2015 @ 9:31 am

  3. SWP, I don’t even know what to say. I’m still stunned. I’m not a Kasyanov fan, but his statement that Russia is rolling into the abyss is close enough to describe it. Nemstov was a wrecker and an enemy of the people. Expect more to come.

    Comment by Howard Roark — February 28, 2015 @ 10:24 am

  4. Wander3762,he was able to get tens of thousands out on the street a couple of years ago to protest against the reelection of Putin.

    Comment by Andrew — February 28, 2015 @ 12:47 pm

  5. SWP:

    It will be interesting to see what transpires tomorrow. What kind of protests. How large? What kind of reaction the state answers with. Will the state reply w/ derision or just ignore them? Or will they ruthlessly beat & imprison them?

    VP VVP

    Comment by Vlad — February 28, 2015 @ 3:41 pm

  6. @Vlad. Yes, it will be. Very hard to predict. This killing was so outside the bounds of what has transpired before it is very difficult to gauge how people will react. I think most are still reeling or in disbelief. And they are also even more afraid than they were before. They realize it means Putin is capable of anything.

    If there is a sizable protest, I cannot see the state standing by. Putin figures he made that mistake in 2011. Never again. He will say that demonstrations are proof that the murder was a provocation intended to spark a revolt and he will suppress them.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 28, 2015 @ 4:33 pm

  7. […] I had a chance to post this, Streetwise Professor had noted the obvious […]

    Pingback by On the killing of Boris Nemtsov | White Sun of the Desert — March 1, 2015 @ 4:46 am

  8. Bloodimir Vlad Dracul Putler is a sovok thug.

    Sovoks used perpetual victimhood to try to clothe their system with some type of legitimacy.

    If you read Prof Tim Snyder’s book, Bloodlands, you find that stalin used the victimhood ploy. In fact, during the Artificial Famine in 1932-22, which stalin imposed on Ukraine, dying of hunger was taken as a sign of “counter-revolutionary” activity. How dare one die of hunger when the sovok union was such a paradise?

    This also extended to perpetual victimhood due to “aggression” by “foreign enemies.”

    I make a distinction between Kremlinoids and Russians. And Kremlinoids have always been best at killing Russians. There are far more Russians that have died at the hands of Kremlinoids than from “foreign enemies.”

    Putler and his little circle of thugs are simply trying to protect their thug system of wealth and power.

    One can hardly call it government.

    In the Rasha, one is either a victim or an accomplice.

    I saw many of Nemtsov’s appearances on TV – he also appeared in Ukraine.

    He was a real man, unlike Ratface Putler Khuylo.

    Putler has made a big deal out of taking over the investigation “personally.” That way, Putler can be sure to reach the “right” result.

    Comment by elmer — March 1, 2015 @ 7:55 am

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