The typical reactions have started to roll in from the international community in response to Natalia Estemirova’s murder, and it’s hard not to sense the thick surreality of these calls for justice, investigations, and expectations that the authorities will take any real law-and-order steps toward holding someone accountable for the slaying. Apparently, the news of the murder didn’t even make the front page of Russia’s four largest newspapers, yet we are stubbornly unwilling to recognize how the system claimed another life.
Such calls might have made sense way back when Paul Klebnikov and Anna Politkovskaya first fell victim, but they seem just short of delusional given the legal drift in recent years. The second show trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is fully underway, Klebnikov’s family had to pressure the state to resume the five-year-old investigation, while Anna’s trial is kicked back and forth over the wrong defendants. We’re talking about a bald-faced mockery of justice and a completely non-functioning court system for real cases, yet Russia’s neighbors all want to pretend as though Estemirova’s murder will be treated with regularity.
I understand that there’s not much else they can say given their position, but these pleadings for justice now ring hollow with disbelief.