A smart person won’t climb the mountain… By Grigory Pasko, journalist The complete text of the ancient Russian saying cited in the title of this essay reads thus: A smart person won’t climb the mountain; a smart person will go around the mountain. I really don’t enjoy writing about fools and roads in Russia all the time. But unfortunately, life keeps throwing such stories my way that I simply can’t not respond to them. Here’s a recent, and in my opinion demonstrative, story. Literally a few days ago, the head of the administration for the struggle with organized crime (UBOP) of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria in the Caucasus, police colonel Anatoly Kyarov, was mortally wounded as the result of his official vehicle being gunned down by unknown assailants. Also killed on the spot in the ambush was a plenipotentiary of a special designation [spetsnaz] detachment of the UBOP. The driver of the car – an UBOP employee – found in the interior of the car with them received a perforating gunshot wound in the area of the ribcage. What is noteworthy here is that the director of the Federal Security Service, Nikolai Patrushev, was found in Kabardino-Balkaria at this very time. Nikolai Patrushev, Hero of Russia. The heading reads “The FSB is changing its image”
What was the director of the FSB doing there? I’ll get to that in a moment. First I want to talk about the policemen. I had a conversation once with a spetsnaz policeman who had been in just about every hotspot of the collapsed Soviet Union – Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, Chechnya… He told me, in part, about how weapons in the hands of policemen are a factor of danger for simple peaceful citizens, because these weapons are, essentially, in the hands of idiots, who not only can’t save themselves, but are also a threat to others – not for gangsters.Once, in Vladivostok, five policemen were apprehending an armed gangster. They had Kalashnikov machine guns. Multiply five machine guns by 30 rounds in each, and we get 150 potential shots – that’s the simple arithmetic. And now here’s the real arithmetic: The gangster had a TT pistol of Soviet manufacture. The pistol’s magazine holds – 8 bullets.As a result of the shootout between the policemen and the gangster, four out of five of the guardians of public order were wounded. The policemen spent ALL of their bullets and didn’t hit their target EVEN ONCE….If gangsters in Russia effortlessly kill UBOPpers – and these are supposed to be professionals of the highest caliber – then something is definitely wrong with this picture. Either they’re no professionals, or we’ve got some very good gangsters. More professional than those who are fighting them.And now a few words about those who are fighting with the gangsters. In particular, about the FSB and the director of this agency, Mr. Patrushev.He was in Kabardino-Balkaria, as it turned out, among other reasons, not only in order to check up on the professionalism of his subordinates and that of agencies closely related to the FSB, such as the UBOP. He, as the information agencies wrote, “was overseeing the tactical-flight exercises of the aviation of the FSB of Russia and the disembarkation of employees of the Center of Special Designation [Spetsnaz] on Elbrus.” [the tallest mountain in the Caucasus range—Trans.] According to the intention of the exercises, airplanes and helicopters of the aviation of FSB carrying groups of special subdivisions took off from various aerodromes of Russia at an appointed time and arrived at stipulated places of the North Cauacus at an appointed time. The operation was conducted clandestinely, in conditions approximating wartime ones. FSB director Nikolai Patrushev himself disembarked on the summit of Mount Elbrus.Why did Patrushev climb the mountain? There is no rational explanation for this fact. There is the unintelligible explanation of the chekists themselves, who say that actions of the aviation of the FSB were being worked out “during the solution of anti-terrorist tasks in winter in high-mountain conditions”. At the same time, it was declared that “there have not been analogues of such an operation in the world”.To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever swallowed a hedgehog whole either. Or has dived down to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean naked.In the meantime, it is known that in the year 2007, Mr. Patrushev had visited the South Pole.In the series of these phenomena, it is natural to recall as well the amusements of president Putin: first he went cruising on a submarine, then there he was flying in an aeroplane, then we saw him scooting down a hill on skis… It all makes sense – these people hadn’t gotten enough of playing soldier and other games in their childhood, and now, when they’re all grown up, they’re amusing themselves at the expense of the state and the taxpayers. At the same time, they’re presenting their amusements as the solution of state tasks, not as a way of resolving old psychological complexes. It’s no accident, after all, that information about the disembarkation of the anti-terrorist forces on Mount Elbrus (and this, no matter how you slice it, is secret information about the methods of conducting operative tasks) was specially “leaked” to the press….Recalling the cops who were unable to hit their target once in 150 shots, and the cops who regularly die in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria, and then imagining Patrushev clambering up a mountaintop, I’m thinking about how the security of my country is in very precarious hands indeed.