Who Is Mister Putin? Anastasia Kirilenko in Washington, DC

May 06 2016

On April 27, 2016, Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative hosted U.S. screening and the English-language premiere of the film “Who Is Mr. Putin?”

Based on investigations by independent journalists Anastasia Kirilenko and Vladimir Ivanidze, the film documents the origins of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s private wealth and subsequent rise to power. The screening was followed by a short panel discussion, moderated by Hudson Senior Fellow David Satter, featuring Anastasia Kirilenko, Karen Dawisha, and Ilya Zaslavskiy.

In December 2015, the film, chronicling Putin’s ascent from the St. Petersburg mayor’s office to the presidency, was placed on Radio Liberty’s site without English subtitles and has already gained over 2 million views on the Radio’s YouTube account.

The film has been lauded by Russian and Western experts for demonstrating how Putin’s ascension to the Russian presidency is explained by an alliance built in the early 1990s between himself, close friends from Leningrad’s KGB, and organized crime groups.

The movie Who is Mr. Putin? attracted the interest of a whole spectrum policy makers and experts and got positive reviews in Washington’s press immediately after the event at Hudson Institute. The screening itself was attended by a various audience and the direct question what the authors expect from Americans to help to combat Russian corruption, was asked. “True change should come from Russia,” said Kirilenko, stressing that it was a 100% Russian production (by Russians residing abroad) and that 2015 was the year of investigations in Russia. She also pointed out that this trend continues and the comprehension of the reality depicted in the film, also confirmed recently in Panama Papers, starts to gradually progress in Russia, especially among intellectuals.

At the panel, Zaslavskiy pointed out this film and investigation behind it show that Putin likes the scheme that Russian organized crime calls – “krugovaya poruka” – that is collective (mutual) gang responsibility. By implicating many people in particular chains of criminal activity, such as his boss mayor Anatoliy Sobchak, Putin made people dependent on himself. He also observed that Putin has employed some of the criminal encroachments on the free market in the energy sector of St. Petersburg, schemes that were later used as a template all around Russia and beyond it.

Karen Dawisha, author of Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? which was a ground-breaking book in western academic world exposing criminal elements inside Russia’s political system, made remarks about current activities of some of the people mentioned in the film and their associates that demonstrate that they are well-connected with the current regime and even exert their influence in high-level international organizations.

Karen Dawisha mentioned among others one character in the movie, a close Putin’s friend Vladimir Smirnov, which links to criminal gang Tambovskaya was subjected to journalistic and Prosecutor’s investigations, especially in Germany. He’s also responsible for the export of Russian nuclear contracts. “And this man is responsible for signing intergovernmental nuclear treaties with the US,” she said.

David Satter, the author of Darkness Before Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State and other renowned books, made remarks about continuous criminal features of the Putin’s regime that have been evident from early 1990’s to nowadays, including the mid-2000s that he researched through a series of investigations and films.

13077016_1706043676301295_7789722572273982549_n

Apart from these events organized by Kleptocracy Initiative, Anastasia Kirilenko, leading journalist behind film’s investigation, and Ilya Zaslavskiy, expert of Free Russia Foundation who specializes in Russia’s export of corrosive practices to the West, saw many representatives of DC’s policy-making community. All these meetings have been organized by Free Russia Foundation and aimed to communicate nature of Putin’s regime to experts in the national capital.

During these visits of to several think-tanks, pro-democracy organizations and places relevant subjects were raised and discussed, from very general to very specific ones. For example, the current Russian civil society’s situation, how Americans can help active Russians to educate themselves or to undertake their democratic projects despite repressive environment which saw American foundations expelled en masse from Russia and denigrated by propaganda. Kirilenko and Zaslavskiy stressed that many activists have already left Russia after protest rallies in 2012 were crushed and especially after the annexation of Crimea, when some activists were forced to leave due to fabricated criminal proceedings against them. Kirilenko and Zaslavskiy suggested that the criteria for eligibility for educational or other grants might be changed and that Russian activists living abroad should be more engaged with western counterparts.

The importance of the project of the Kleptocracy archive (Hudson Institute) and its part dedicated to Russian corrupt officials, was also underlined in the context of the importance of investigations when the press in Russia is not free. Kleptocracy can hardly be uncovered by Russian journalists themselves and last courageous media outlets and journalists personally experience great troubles and threats.

At the end of their round of meeting in Washington, Kirilenko and Zaslavskiy were recorded in two interviews, one in English at Voice of America, and one in Russian on Current Time TV program.

 

Based on investigations by independent journalists Anastasia Kirilenko and Vladimir Ivanidze, the film documents the origins of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s private wealth and subsequent rise to power. The screening was followed by a short panel discussion, moderated by Hudson Senior Fellow David Satter, featuring Anastasia Kirilenko, Karen Dawisha, and Ilya Zaslavskiy.

In December 2015, the film, chronicling Putin’s ascent from the St. Petersburg mayor’s office to the presidency, was placed on Radio Liberty’s site without English subtitles and has already gained over 2 million views on the Radio’s YouTube account.

The film has been lauded by Russian and Western experts for demonstrating how Putin’s ascension to the Russian presidency is explained by an alliance built in the early 1990s between himself, close friends from Leningrad’s KGB, and organized crime groups.

The movie Who is Mr. Putin? attracted the interest of a whole spectrum policy makers and experts and got positive reviews in Washington’s press immediately after the event at Hudson Institute. The screening itself was attended by a various audience and the direct question what the authors expect from Americans to help to combat Russian corruption, was asked. “True change should come from Russia,” said Kirilenko, stressing that it was a 100% Russian production (by Russians residing abroad) and that 2015 was the year of investigations in Russia. She also pointed out that this trend continues and the comprehension of the reality depicted in the film, also confirmed recently in Panama Papers, starts to gradually progress in Russia, especially among intellectuals.

At the panel, Zaslavskiy pointed out this film and investigation behind it show that Putin likes the scheme that Russian organized crime calls – “krugovaya poruka” – that is collective (mutual) gang responsibility. By implicating many people in particular chains of criminal activity, such as his boss mayor Anatoliy Sobchak, Putin made people dependent on himself. He also observed that Putin has employed some of the criminal encroachments on the free market in the energy sector of St. Petersburg, schemes that were later used as a template all around Russia and beyond it.

Karen Dawisha, author of Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? which was a ground-breaking book in western academic world exposing criminal elements inside Russia’s political system, made remarks about current activities of some of the people mentioned in the film and their associates that demonstrate that they are well-connected with the current regime and even exert their influence in high-level international organizations.

Karen Dawisha mentioned among others one character in the movie, a close Putin’s friend Vladimir Smirnov, which links to criminal gang Tambovskaya was subjected to journalistic and Prosecutor’s investigations, especially in Germany. He’s also responsible for the export of Russian nuclear contracts. “And this man is responsible for signing intergovernmental nuclear treaties with the US,” she said.

David Satter, the author of Darkness Before Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State and other renowned books, made remarks about continuous criminal features of the Putin’s regime that have been evident from early 1990’s to nowadays, including the mid-2000s that he researched through a series of investigations and films.

13077016_1706043676301295_7789722572273982549_n

Apart from these events organized by Kleptocracy Initiative, Anastasia Kirilenko, leading journalist behind film’s investigation, and Ilya Zaslavskiy, expert of Free Russia Foundation who specializes in Russia’s export of corrosive practices to the West, saw many representatives of DC’s policy-making community. All these meetings have been organized by Free Russia Foundation and aimed to communicate nature of Putin’s regime to experts in the national capital.

During these visits of to several think-tanks, pro-democracy organizations and places relevant subjects were raised and discussed, from very general to very specific ones. For example, the current Russian civil society’s situation, how Americans can help active Russians to educate themselves or to undertake their democratic projects despite repressive environment which saw American foundations expelled en masse from Russia and denigrated by propaganda. Kirilenko and Zaslavskiy stressed that many activists have already left Russia after protest rallies in 2012 were crushed and especially after the annexation of Crimea, when some activists were forced to leave due to fabricated criminal proceedings against them. Kirilenko and Zaslavskiy suggested that the criteria for eligibility for educational or other grants might be changed and that Russian activists living abroad should be more engaged with western counterparts.

The importance of the project of the Kleptocracy archive (Hudson Institute) and its part dedicated to Russian corrupt officials, was also underlined in the context of the importance of investigations when the press in Russia is not free. Kleptocracy can hardly be uncovered by Russian journalists themselves and last courageous media outlets and journalists personally experience great troubles and threats.

At the end of their round of meeting in Washington, Kirilenko and Zaslavskiy were recorded in two interviews, one in English at Voice of America, and one in Russian on Current Time TV program.

 

Free Russia Foundation’s Press Release on Submission of Article 15 Communication to the International Criminal Court

Oct 06 2020

On 21 September 2020, the Free Russia Foundation submitted a Communication to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office (in The Hague, Netherlands) seeking accountability for Crimean and Russian authorities concerning international crimes perpetrated during Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. The Communication was prepared in cooperation with Global Rights Compliance and Center for Civil Liberties and is based on a focused inquiry conducted over the past year. In our inquiry, we documented crimes as part of a systematic, planned attack by the Russian state against civilians and groups in Crimea in order to discourage them from opposing the illegal occupation of Crimea and to force their departure from the peninsula. Crimes against civilians included unlawful arrests, beatings, torture, enforced disappearances, and other inhumane acts causing severe mental and/or physical pain. In particular, the crimes targeted the Crimean Tatars, a native ethnic group who had only recently returned to their homeland, having previously been forcefully and brutally displaced by the Soviet Union in 1944.

One of the principal coercive acts was the illegal detention and concomitant violence before, during, and after the imprisonment of political prisoners. Most of those detained were arrested by Russian and Crimean authorities on terrorism charges, but it was their legal, pro-Ukrainian advocacy that led to their imprisonment. In addition, trials of those arbitrarily detained were conducted in wholesale disregard of their fair trial rights. For example, some of those illegally imprisoned were denied a speedy trial, access to independent lawyers, and the opportunity to defend themselves against their arrest in a courtroom.

In order to force those illegally detained to confess to crimes they did not commit, Russian and Crimean authorities also perpetrated acts of torture and cruel or degrading treatment, the levying of additional charges against them, even more inhumane prison conditions, denial of communications with their families and threats made against them, enforced disappearances, and even, in at least one case, a mock execution.

Other inhumane acts include “punitive psychiatry” and the denial of adequate prison conditions, including the following: (i) feeding people inedible food or, at times, no food at all; (ii) facing severe overcrowding in prisons; (iii) denial of regular water supply; (iv) threats of assault against them by prison cellmates; and (v) adding pork to food – prohibited for observant Muslims. Further, medical attention was systematically inadequate or denied for many individuals.

Concerning acts of torture, it was perpetrated by different Russian authorities, including the FSB. Allegations include the use of electric shocks in an effort to get an accused to confess. One was beaten in the head, kidneys, arms and legs with an iron pipe. With another, fingers were broken. Still another endured spinal bruises and having a plastic bag placed over his head to the point of unconsciousness. Further, threats of sexual violence against a detained man were made. Murder as well. Hands were broken, teeth were knocked out in still another.

Trials were largely held behind closed doors for illegitimate reasons, and many of the witnesses were secret not only to the public but also to the Accused. Further, credible allegations exist that, at times, there were FSB or other agents in the room, silently instructing witnesses what to say and how the judges should rule. This adds credence to words, according to the Kyiv Post, heard by Arsen Dzhepparov from a senior FSB lieutenant who stated “I will prove by all possible – and impossible – means that [an Accused is] guilty – even if he isn’t guilty”.

Concerning the crime of persecution, nearly all of these deprivations of fundamental rights were carried out with discriminatory intent. Specifically, these groups were targeted due to their political view – namely, by peacefully opposing the illegal occupation of their country. Some were targeted on ethnic grounds or religious grounds on the basis of their Crimean Tatar background.

War crimes, another group of crimes punished at the ICC, were also perpetrated in addition to or in the alternative to the crimes against humanity. This includes the crime of torture, outrages against personal dignity, unlawful confinement, wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of a fair and regular trial, and the transfer of the occupying power of parts of its population into the territory it occupies or the deportation of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.

All these crimes had the ultimate objective of the criminal enterprise – the removal of pro-Ukrainian elements out of Crimea and the annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation without opposition, including the installation of pro-Russian elements, which include the emigration of more than 70,000 Russians, the illegal imposition of Russian law in the occupied territory, forcing Russian nationality on many Crimeans, and the appropriation of public property.

Ultimately, we hope that all the information gathered by the ICC in the context of its preliminary investigation will lead the ICC to investigate mid- to high-level Russian and Crimean officials on this basis. The international community expects responsible global leadership that follows the rule of law and expects it – no matter the situation – to be respected, especially from a state that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. When this fails to happen, the international community must demand accountability. We hope that an investigation can be opened and responsible officials of the Russian Federation will be investigated. After an investigation that conforms to international best practices, responsible persons should be charged with the systematic perpetration of international crimes.

Novichok Use Implicates Putin’s Government in Navalny’s Poisoning

Sep 02 2020

Today, the German government has announced that Russian pro-democracy leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned by Novichok. Novichok is a deadly nerve agent developed by the Soviet government chemical weapons program and used on several occasions by the Russian government to kill its critics in the recent years.

To restate the obvious, Novichok is a poison that can only be accessed with the authority of the Kremlin. Therefore, today’s announcement by German officials  directly implicates the Kremlin and Putin in the high-profile assassination attempt on Navalny.

The choice of Novichok was not just a means  to silence Mr. Navalny, but a loud, brazen and menacing message sent by Putin to the world: dare to criticize me, and you may lose your life.

The announcement by the German government of its intent to formally notify the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (‘OPCW’) of the use of Novichok against Navalny is a meek bureaucratic half-measure that fails to acknowledge the extraordinary threat to human life posed by Putin’s regime everywhere. Taken together with Angela Merkel’s promise earlier this week to help Putin finish his Nord Stream 2 pipeline despite an international outcry amounts to condoning the poisoning and normalizing it into a new modus operandi where Putin’s murders go unpunished. Free Russia Foundation urges the leaders of the EU, its Member States and the U.S. Government to take an urgent and drastic action to punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime not only to serve justice, but to establish a powerful deterrent against new attacks by Putin’s regime globally.

Free Russia Foundation Statement on Kremlin’s Interference in Elections in Georgia

Aug 26 2020

We are deeply concerned with information recently distributed by the well-respected authoritative source Center “Dossier.” According to “Dossier,” the Kremlin is using Russian political expert Sergey Mikheev and consulting company “Politsecrets” to manipulate Georgian society, distribute disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, undermine Georgia’s Western aspirations, and interfere in free and fair elections in Georgia scheduled for October 2020.

More

Free Russia Foundation Calls for Investigation into Alexey Navalny’s Poisoning

Aug 20 2020

Free Russia Foundation is gravely concerned about the life and safety of Alexey Navalny. More

Civic Solidarity Platform Appeal with Regard to the Recent Events in Belarus

Aug 12 2020

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD REACT IMMEDIATELY AND STRONGLY TO RIGGED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND MASSIVE VIOLENCE OF SECURITY FORCES AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTESTORS IN BELARUS More