Streetwise Professor

April 8, 2012

The Tarantula Makes a Funny

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 3:30 pm

Sergei Lavrov says many risible things, even for a diplomat, but he has topped himself in the Bout matter:

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will bring up the Viktor Bout case with counterpart Hillary Clinton during his visit to Washington, which starts Wednesday.

“For sure, Bout is a topic that is regularly addressed in our contacts with the Americans,” Lavrov said Friday while answering reporters’ questions.

“Bout was presented to the judge and jury like a person who was already a criminal,” Lavrov said. “It was described in a way that made it seem like a done deal, and that, of course, influenced the trial.”

Uhm, that’s kinda the way it works, Sergei.  The prosecution makes an allegation that the accused is a criminal.  They make that presentation to the judge and jury.  They typically do so in forceful, often lurid, terms. They would like to make it seem like a done deal, but here in the US, the burden is on the prosecutor to make that allegation stick.  The defense has every opportunity to show that the prosecution has not met its burden.

I wonder what the alternative is in Sergei’s alternative universe? Is it something like: the “prosecutor” says: “We’re really sorry to have to do this to such a nice guy, but . . . ”

I am not a big Hillary fan, but she is the one half-way sensible person in this administration.  I sincerely hope she doesn’t let diplomatic niceties stand in the way of responding to Lavrov’s raising the issue with a good horse laugh, followed by a belittling lecture (from a Yale Law School grad) on the way that criminal justice works.

But Lavrov was not alone in his inanities:

The case of Bout creates a negative background for the Russian-American relationship, said Alexei Pushkov, head of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee.

“The relationship-improvement ball is in the United States’ court,” Pushkov said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Unfortunately, many in the administration probably take that view, and are looking to salvage something from the reset.  But Bout is a bridge too far, and certainly the Russians know this.

Which raises the question (which has come up in the comments): why are the Russians so bent on moving heaven and earth to get Bout out of American clutches?

The Occam’s Razor answer is clear: Bout is a Russian intelligence operative, or was, and knows a great deal that Putin and the FSB and the siloviki generally would prefer to remain secret.

A word to the wise.  Anyone involved in a business even remotely associated with the US military or intelligence should be quite careful when traveling to Russia, and might want to reconsider his or her trip.  It is pretty clear that Russia will be willing to do some extraordinary things to secure Bout’s release. Lavrov’s appeal will go nowhere, and plan B a la Russe is a trade: being a bargaining chip is a bitch, so beware.

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  1. Bout is a Russian intelligence operative, or was, and knows a great deal that Putin and the FSB and the siloviki generally would prefer to remain secret.

    Or is it so hard to imagine that Russia is a self-respecting country that looks out for its citizens?

    Granted it’s not like “respectable” countries like the UK, which bends over backwards to appease inane American IP laws, to the extent of extraditing a student whose actions aren’t even a crime in the UK itself.

    Comment by Da Russophile — April 8, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

  2. Yes, Russia does look out for its citizens. If you are an arm dealing murderer bragging about how the weapons you sell will kill
    Americans, they are particularly solicitous. If you are a citizen who has some money and influence, the leadership will make sure you are lovingly toeing the line. If you are a democratic opponent, you will also get attention, though of a slightly different kind.

    Comment by sotos — April 8, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  3. @DR-US IP laws are complex, and often make little sense, but this reflects the fundamental complexity of the problem (as I’ve written before). I sense you are in the camp that IP in general is inane, which is definitely not the case.

    WRT to the O’Dwyer case, absolutely this is an example of law enforcement going after the easy target rather than the important one. Too often LE is like the big cat going after the weakest in the herd.

    And this relates to Bout just how, exactly? Indeed, the comparison is absurd, given Bout’s record, which spans decades and straddles the globe. By going after Bout, the USG was targeting a big fish, who thought he was operating under the krysha of the Russian government. Going after a notorious and daunting target like Bout is quite different than going after an idiotic kid.

    And “Russia is a self-respecting country that looks out for its citizens”? Are you effing kidding me? Yeah. Russia, the country with a court system that routinely tramples on its citizens? The country that leads the world in cases brought before, and judgments lost before, the European Court of Human Rights?

    You are self-satirizing when you spout nonsense like that. Russia has never-ever-in its entire history going back to Rus “looked out for its citizens.” Indeed, even the concept of citizenship is pretty much alien to Russian political and social thought and practice.

    No, Russia looks out for certain “citizens”-notably those connected with the security services.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 8, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  4. I am wondering if Bout, having now been convicted and sentenced, should begin to worry for his life. You know, some crazy con in genpop with a shank… it happens, right?

    Comment by LL — April 8, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  5. For my good friend Andrew:

    Comment by Da Russophile — April 8, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

  6. > Or is it so hard to imagine that Russia is a self-respecting country that looks out for its citizens?

    S.O., that is not hard to imagine, only impossible to believe, except when you still believe in Ded Moroz.

    Comment by Ivan — April 9, 2012 @ 1:08 am

  7. You would benefit from reading the article above too, Ivan. As I recall, you are a big fan of Saakashvili.

    Comment by Da Russophile — April 9, 2012 @ 1:37 am

  8. DR-and this post and subsequent comments have what to do with Saakashvili, exactly? Or is this just another opportunity to exercise your obsessions?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 9, 2012 @ 6:38 am

  9. SWP, may I suggest that there is also a money aspect to this?

    That is, Bout sells weapons for money – lots of it. The weapons he sells are not exactly obtainable at the corner grocery or hardware or department store.

    Putler likes money – lots of it.

    The siloviki like money – lots of it. After all, what was the saying at Gazprom, for example – Gazprom takes care of its own?

    Seems to me that Putler and his buddies just lost a source of a lot of money.

    Comment by elmer — April 9, 2012 @ 7:52 am

  10. Lol-Lol -takes care of its own?

    The Putin-mafia is a self-respecting morons that looks out for its own clan members ?

    the schizoid personality disorder involve Putlers agents on Berkley ?

    Incidents involving Russian and foreign journalists

    The late Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who had negotiated during the 2002 Moscow siege, was twice prevented by the authorities from boarding a flight. When she eventually succeeded, she fell into a coma after being poisoned aboard an airplane bound to Rostov-on-Don.[107][228] American journalist Larisa Alexandrovna of The Raw Story has suggested that Politkovskaya might have been later murdered in Moscow because she had discovered evidence of the Russian government’s complicity in Beslan .

    Comment by Anders — April 9, 2012 @ 8:44 am

  11. It’s related because you all worship Saakashvili.

    Comment by Da Russophile — April 9, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  12. @DR. Worship? Hardly. Evidence? With respect to me specifically (for I would be included in “all”). I presume your definition of “worship” wrt Saakashvili=”does not hate with the same burning passion as Putin and his pilot fish DR.”

    Insofar as worship is concerned, we have voluminous evidence of your worship of Putin. To the point where it is get-a-room-you’re-embarrassing-yourself worship.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 9, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  13. Lol-lol – My be Berkley need a worship room for Putlers agents .

    Putlers KGB‎ Patriarch Kirill miracle of God rule is over . Interesting job for you Antony ?

    Comment by Anders — April 9, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

  14. ANTONY DA SUBLIME RUSSOFOUL do you know where Moron X alias Mr X is to night ? -I miss him . The true American patriot making order out of chaos and clocking me and giving me reprimands for posting to late at night .

    The war drums are thundering, and the “imperialist aggressor” is called to account. But we cannot take it seriously. For something else has appeared on the horizon, which Putin says was inspired by the CIA: a popular opposition movement against his KGB regime.

    Exemplifying this opposition we find Danila Galperovich’s interview with Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, translated for by Yelena Glazova. Here we find a frank discussion of Moscow’s police state methods. Here we learn that the KGB has “lost much of their qualitative acumen and sharpness in the last twenty years.” And why wouldn’t they? According to KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, the post-Soviet regime of pretended democracy was not supposed to last twenty years. It was designed to overpower the West in ten years. So the plan didn’t work. So Russia’s hidden totalitarian structures have begun to decay. They have remained under fake bourgeois auspices too long; and besides, there is no Stalin to lead them. In this matter we should remember what Stalin said to his henchmen during his last days: “You are like blind kittens; what will happen without me? The country will perish because you do not know how to recognize enemies.”

    What Bukovsky goes on to describe is the fate of these blind kittens, caught up in the crisis of Russia’s false democracy. One might say it is the crisis of a deception gone too long, carried too far by structures that can no longer bear the load. A world war might have once saved the current Russian regime, granting it renewed legitimacy in the midst of crisis. But now it is too late. According to Bukovsky, the incompetence of the regime is such that if Stalin were alive today he would have them all shot. “They cannot even blow up the buildings in their capital city without exposing themselves and leaving traces,” Bukovsky added, referring to the 1999 apartment bombings that were used to justify the KGB’s return to power. “Nothing [in the KGB/FSB] works as it should,” says Bukovsky.

    So how will this Kremlin, with its third generation blind kittens, survive the growing groundswell of popular opposition? Bukovsky says that the KGB understands how to manipulate mass movements with its network of double agents. But in the end, this method will not work. “The social atmosphere in due course becomes ever more politicized, radicalized,” Bukovsky explained. In the end, the KGB cannot join the protests against itself without damaging its own position. And so, Russia faces a serious political crisis in March or April. This crisis will likely grow, and spiral out of control.

    Such is the hopeful, optimistic language of Putin’s opposition – represented by Vladimir Bukovsky. It does not entail fear-mongering or anti-Western propaganda. It simply describes a regime that has lost touch with its people. Such a regime may accuse the United States of fostering a revolution in Russia, or threatening the whole world with nuclear destruction; but the game of deflecting criticism in the wake of fraudulent elections does not appear to be working.

    The year 2012 should prove decisive for Russia. Will the anti-Americanism take Russia by the throat? Or will the KGB regime lose its grip? One year from today we should know the answer.

    Comment by Anders — April 9, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  15. If you miss X, what would you want to do for a new hobby – catch the plague?

    Comment by sotos — April 9, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  16. DR is Ostap Bender/Mr X methinks.

    A moron incapable of honesty, or humanity.

    Comment by Andrew — April 9, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

  17. Mr. X was apparently banned by SWP.

    Sterling example of Western respect for free speech, I guess.

    I for one never banned anyone from commenting at my blog.

    Comment by Da Russophile — April 10, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  18. Sotos – I miss ANTONY DA SUBLIME RUSSOFAULs playfull paranoid assistant Mr X –

    He is so clever spanking me when i write bad English .

    My be i suffer from masochistic personality disorder .

    Comment by Anders — April 10, 2012 @ 4:47 am

  19. I put up with Mr. X’s rants, off topic rambling, paranoid delusions, and accusations for a considerable period of time. He was writing more on my blog than I was. He was a distraction, and an annoyance, and the subject of numerous OL complaints from serious readers.

    I put up with his repetitive ranting for long enough. If you need a Mr. X fix, his comments are still posted. They are all variations on the same theme, so it’s the same experience as you would get if he were still commenting.

    I also do not exaggerate when I say that a fair reading of his comments reveals a very disturbed person who needs help.

    Finally, you reveal-again-your Sublime Idiocy in your invocation of “free speech.” That refers to restraint on expression by the government. This is a purely private and voluntary endeavor, it is my property, and quite frankly I can do whatever the hell I want with it. I let things go pretty much where they will in the comments, but there are limits. If you don’t like them, that’s tough. I’m all broken up about it.

    Not really.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 10, 2012 @ 9:36 am

  20. Sterling example of Western respect for free speech, I guess.

    Another one who thinks free speech consists of one being obliged to provide a platform for another’s views. The left have never quite grasped the concept, have they?

    Comment by Tim Newman — April 10, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  21. He was a distraction, and an annoyance, and the subject of numerous OL complaints from serious readers.

    I never complained, but yes, he was. Your comments threads are better off without him.

    Comment by Tim Newman — April 10, 2012 @ 11:12 am

  22. Sublim moron are apparently not banned by SWP.

    Sterling example of Western respect for free speech, I guess

    Yes – Today the paranoid conspiracy morons like Mr X can post comments on Pravda and Russia Today – The Putler mafia -Siloviki private lunatic asylum . The anonymous Cyber Universe paradise .

    Hope Pravda and Russia Today Will focus KGB’s editorial line and the closing pages of comments from other than loyal agents Putler .

    Comment by Anders — April 10, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

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