Medvedev’s Change of Heart

(A note:  sorry for the relatively quiet day – a hectic travel schedule and technological problems have interrupted our regularly scheduled programming … We appreciate your patience. – James)

Some rather significant breaking news today, as it appears that President Dmitry Medvedev has broken his silence (deplorable silence, in the opinion of some) over the murder of Stanislav Markelov.  Nine days after he was murdered in the street.  Better late the never?  A message, albeit delayed, that the siloviki and military shouldn’t, you know, just go around shooting human rights people in the middle of the city during daylight?  Or was it just some meaningless, after-the-fact pandering?  Medvedev’s explanation about why he hasn’t made any statements about the murders says quite a lot about legal nihilism.  Let’s keep our eyes on this one.

From RFE/RL’s interview with Dmitry Muratov of Novaya Gazeta, who was invited to the Kremlin today by Medvedev for a little heart to heart chat:

RFE/RL: And what did Medvedev tell you?

Muratov: Mr. Medvedev said he absolutely did not want to make any statements [on the killing of Markelov and Baburova] because he knew very well how things work in the administration — he worked as chief of the presidential administration for many years. And he said he understood perfectly well that investigators could interpret the words of the head of state as a directive to pursue a certain line of investigation. As a lawyer he felt strongly against that as a matter or principle.

Afterallowing some time for investigators to work efficiently andindependently, while understanding that what had happened was atragedy, he decided to invite a shareholder of the newspaper, MikhailGorbachev, and the editor in chief to express his condolences, but alsoto get our perspective as people who don’t represent the official or,generally speaking, television’s point of view.

RFE/RL: How did he react to your words? What did you speak to him about?

Muratov: Ispoke about fascists sensing a certain public mood now, sensing apublic demand. I said democratic institutions are stifled and that isprobably the reason why fascism has raised its head. There is only onealternative to fascism and that is democracy.

As far as Iunderstood, Dmitry Medvedev is following the situation closely andknows well about fascist, Nazi groups, which kill people constantly, ineffect emerging from the underground. I handed our newspaper reports tohim, essentially with a calendar of killings. He said it was one of themost dangerous phenomena today and he would pay attention to thismatter. He said the cumulative effect of such fascist attacks is incomplete contradiction with the path our country should follow.