Who-could-have-guessed? Dep’t: Bundy’s racism, Putin’s torture

The Guardian reports on torture in Ukraine… the part of it ruled by Col. Putin’s proxies, of course.

The body of a second person found tortured near Slavyansk was identified on Friday as Yuriy Popravko, a 19-year-old Kiev student and Maidan activist. He was found dumped next to Vladimir Rybak, a city councillor from the town of Horlivka, and a prominent opponent of separatism. Rybak was abducted shortly after trying to push his way into Horlivka city hall and remove the “Donetsk People’s Republic” flag. Kiev says it has intercepts showing that Slavyansk’s self-appointed mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev was involved in Rybak’s murder.

Popravko disappeared on 16 April, after apparently travelling to Kharkiv in the east of Ukraine to see his girlfriend. According to Vesti newspaper, his relatives are trying to retrieve his body from Slavyansk’s pro-Russian militia, so far without success. Gruesome photos circulating on the internet show that Rybak and Popravko were tortured then drowned.

The same bunch of thugs seem to have seized observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Remember, this is just days after the Russians signed a deal calling for the Russian proxies in East Ukraine to stand down and for OSCE monitors to be sent it. Since then, the Kremlin hasn’t said a word to encourage its allies to comply. So can we hear some more from The Nation about how “diplomacy” – which in Nation-ese means “doing what the Russians want”  – is the key to a peaceful solution?

The right-wing nuts who supported Cliven Bundy and the left-wing loons who support Russian policy in Ukraine have some things in common, including a willingness to blame everything in the universe on the U.S. government. But there is a difference.

When it turned out that Bundy was a flaming racist, most of his prominent supporters had the decency to back away from him.  Not that they have any excuse; it shouldn’t have been a surprise that someone who calls in an armed mob to resist a court order might turn out to be a bad person in other ways. But at least they did back off.

The Putin backers aren’t like that. When it turns out that the side they’ve been on is using torture, their silence is pretty damned deafening. Of course they should have known that a regime run by a career secret policeman has no compunction about using torture, just as Bundy’s fans should have known. But it would be nice if just one of them had the decent hypocrisy to express disapproval.

If they get around to it, no doubt they can explain to us why it’s the fault of the IMF and Right Sector, and of course of John Kerry for hurting the Kremlin’s feelings.


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Who-could-have-guessed? Dep’t: Bundy’s racism, Putin’s torture”

  1. I'm curious. Who are the left-wing loons who support Russian policy in Ukraine? Maybe I just haven't traveled in the right circles to see it, but about all the left-wing places on the Interwebs that I've visited (which admittedly are more center-left than far left), Putin's been pretty well recognized as authoritarian and corrupt.

    1. As Mark mentioned The Nation is firmly pro-Putin, likely because the spouse of the publisher is on the payroll of the Russian government.

  2. I don't think it's really fair to tar "the left" writ large with support for Putin's Russia, just because for many years the current publisher of The Nation and her professor-of-Russian-studies husband have been co-authoring blitheringly blinkered Op-Eds defending the Russian regime of the day against all criticism. It is a strange and possibly disqualifying practice of Ms. van den Heuvel and Dr. Cohen, but if anyone else of significance "on the left" has echoed their stance, I haven't seen it. And their soapbox is The Nation, which hardly has strong ties to any important elected officials of "the left".

    Meanwhile, until his utterly unsurprising racism was exposed Cliven Bundy was the darling of practically the whole Establishment of the Right, most obviously Sean Hannity. I think it's unquestionable that Sean Hannity is a more important and more established voice on the Right than van den Heuvel is on the Left.

  3. Here's a recent article I found in The Nation:

    " Indeed, there are hawks on both sides who could foil diplomacy, but so far the Obama administration seems committed to a diplomatic solution. Still, responding to violence over the weekend in eastern Ukraine, where a Russian covert operation is underway to rile up pro-Russian elements there in defiance of the fledgling regime in Kiev, Lavrov noted that the violence—which, it appears, Russian agents have deliberately courted—could be a pretext for wider Russian military action."

    That doesn't sound like whitewashing to me.

    Maybe Mark has better examples. I should say I don't normally read The Nation.

  4. Just to complicate things, there are of course still admirers of Putin’s manliness on the right.

    Most of the doctrinaire-left blathering I’ve seen has been about how the current new regime (and former protestors) in Ukraine are antisemitic nationalist tools of EU expansionism — which might be considered “objectively pro-Putin” but seems to me more like “a pox on both their houses” or “What did you expect when you stopped paying the protection money?”

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