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Grigory Pasko: You Shouldn’t Look for Logic Where There Isn’t Any

You Shouldn’t Look for Logic Where There Isn’t Any By Grigory Pasko, journalist Journalists and analysts of various stripes in Russia and abroad write that the resurrection of the “Khodorkovsky problem” is not to Putin’s advantage under any possible scenario. If he leaves and installs a stand-in, then why would he want to conduct “Operation Successor” against the background of a loud international scandal like the one the Chita trial is already becoming? A scandal that will irretrievably undermine Russia’s reputation. Before this, these same journalists couldn’t understand why Putin would want to kill Politkovskaya and Litvinenko? After all, this wasn’t to his advantage either. We could come up with another dozen more such “whys”: it’s not advantageous to lose friendship with the post-Soviet countries, openly befriend the pariahs of international politics, amateurishly speculate in the hydrocarbons business, lock up innocent people who then inundate the Strasbourg court with applications, and so on. It seems to me that it is senseless and useless to try and find the logic in all these and other similar cases – it’s just not there. Not logic in the sense that you and I understand the word. Because they – the men from the KGB – have a logic all their own (Maybe you can’t even really call it “logic”, but then what else are you going to call their mental processes?). We see what the KGB comrades are building here – they’re reproducing the Soviet way of life. If they remember that the USSR had crashed with a thud, then why are they reproducing it, knowing that the same destiny awaits what they reproduce? Logic – if they had any – would have whispered in their ear that it’s a stupid thing to do. And yet they’re doing it! Philosophers through the ages have asserted that war is irrational by its nature. So what? People still fight wars. Many people, in many places. The brains of the KGB comrades are built in such a way that they think in categories of war, that is in categories of irrationalism. By putting Khodorkovsky on trial a second time, they are destroying the entire legal system in the country (well, actually, just what little of it is still left). When they destroyed YUKOS, they were destroying the economy of the country. Now we think this is illogical. But we don’t know how their logic works, do we? Maybe their logic just happens to be all about destroying – both rule of law and the economy. When the Dzerzhinsky monument was being removed from Moscow’s Lubyanka Square in 1991, hundreds of armed chekists were sitting in the KGB headquarters building that overlooked the square. Not a single one of them was outside protecting their god in the floor-length greatcoat. An entire empire – the Soviet Union – fell apart before the eyes of the KGB comrades. They did nothing that could have slowed its fall. So why, after this, are we hoping that they’re capable of stopping the destruction of rule of law and the economy? Public orators have known for a long time that the worst defensive tactic in a dispute is to say “Oh yeah? You’re the idiot” to your opponent. And yet, for a long time already, for several years now, we’re seeing that Putin invariably reduces his speeches before a Western audience down to a single thought: You’re not so perfect yourselves, so don’t go around teaching us how we should act. This worthless tactic was demonstrated by the Russian president particularly vividly at the recent conference on international security in Munich. Putin seems to have taken a swipe at everybody: the USA, the OSCE, NATO, Europe as a whole, and even NGOs working, according to the Putin of the KGB, to the detriment of Russia… It was all everybody’s fault, everybody’s except the Russian leadership’s. The author of the clearly confrontational speech attempted to look all squeaky clean himself. No such luck. Because the listeners weren’t tame and docile Russian journalists, but experienced politicians. It wasn’t by chance that many of them called Putin’s speech “disappointing and of little help”. While Senator Lindsey Graham noted, not without irony, that Putin had done “more in a single speech to unite Europe and America than anything we could have done in a decade”. Nevertheless, it seemed to me that Putin felt himself the victor (although during his actual speech, there was only one person in the audience nodding his head in approval – Russian defense minister Ivanov). After the speech, he floated off into diffuse and speculative reasoning as he tried to answer all the audience’s questions at once. He seemed to be revelling in his logic, a logic that oftentimes made sense only to him. (Well, okay, maybe to minister Ivanov, too). How sad it is that all of Russia is forced for now to live in the prison of their distorted views and notions about the world, in the prison of their logic.