Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 14

The Washington Post on April 1 ran an op-ed piece by Anna Politkovskaya, entitled “Stalinism Forever.” The Novaya gazeta correspondent said that hundreds of cases involving alleged Islamic terrorism are going through Russia’s courts, and that most of them “have been fabricated by the government so that the special services can demonstrate how ‘effective’ Russia is in fighting terrorism and so that President Vladimir Putin has something with which to impress the West.” Politkovskaya cited the case of two Grozny college students, Musa Lomayev and Mikhail Vladovskikh, who were accused by the police and the prosecutor’s office of “all small, previously unsolved acts of terrorism” that had occurred about six months before in a district of Grozny.

“As a result, Vladovskikh is now severely disabled: Both his legs were broken under torture; his kneecaps were shattered; his kidneys badly damaged by beating; his genitalia mutilated; his eyesight lost; his eardrums torn; and all of his front teeth sawed off,” Politkovskaya wrote. “That is how he appeared before the court. To get Lomayev to sign – and he did sign confessions for five acts of terrorism—they inserted electrical wires in his anus and applied current. He would lose consciousness, and they would pour water on him, show him the wires again, turn him around backward—and he would sign confessions that he belonged to a gang with Vladovskikh. This despite the fact that the two defendants were first introduced to one another by their prison torturers.”

According to Politkovskaya, a former neighbor of the Vladovskikh family, Muslim Chudalov, was also implicated in the alleged terrorism. “Within 48 hours of being jailed, he produced confessions to 15 crimes, after which the torturers dragged him as a witness to testify at the Lomayev-Vladovskikh trial. The left side of his face was burned, his arms and legs were swollen, and he had bruises and bloodstains all over his body. He could neither walk nor stand—security personnel had to carry him in. Responding to the prosecutor’s demand, his tongue faltering, Chudalov confirmed all of his testimony against Lomayev and Vladovskikh. And certainly against himself.”

Politkovskaya’s op-ed concluded that “Russia continues to be infected by Stalinism. But it seems to me that the rest of the world has been infected along with it, a world shrunken and frightened before the threat of terrorism. I recall the words of one torture victim at his trial: ‘What will become of me? How will I be able to live in this country if you sentence me to such a long prison term for a crime that I did not commit, and without any proof of my guilt?’ He never received an answer to his question. Indeed, what will become of all the rest of us, who tolerate this? What has become of us already?”