The Anna Politkovskaya Diaries
Were we seeing a crisis of Russian parliamentary democracy in the Putin era? No, we were witnessing its death. In the first place, the legislative and executive branches of government had merged and this had meant the rebirth of the Soviet system. The Duma was purely decorative, a forum for rubber-stamping Putin's decisions.
In the second place the Russian people gave its consent. There were no demonstrations. The electorate agreed to be treated like an idiot. The electorate said let's go back to the USSR - slightly retouched and slicked up, modernised, but the good old Soviet Union, now with bureaucratic capitalism where the state official is the main oligarch, vastly richer than any capitalist. The corollary was that, if we were going back to the USSR, Putin was going to win in March 2004. It was a foregone conclusion.December 23
Ritual murders are taking place in Moscow. A second severed head has been found in the past 24 hours, this time in the eastern district of Golianovo. It was in a rubbish container. Yesterday evening, a head in a plastic bag was found on a table in the courtyard on Krasnoyarskaya Street.
Both men had been dead for 24 hours. The circumstances are almost identical: the victims are from the Caucasus, aged 30-40 and have dark hair. Their identities are unknown. Such are the results of racist propaganda in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. Our people are very susceptible and react promptly.
Putin does not simply lack competitors. The whole background is an intellectual desert. The affair has no logic, no reason, no sparkle of genuine, serious thinking. Candidate No 1 knows best and requires no advice. There is nobody to moderate his arrogance. Russia has been humiliated.
January 6 2004
Those at the top and bottom of our society might as well be living on different planets. I set off to see the most underprivileged of all: Psycho-Neurological Orphanage No. 25 on the outskirts of Moscow. The surroundings here are warm and clean. The patient carers are kind, very tired, overworked women. Everything here is good, except that the children don't cry. They are silent or they howl. There is no laughter.................Meanwhile, our nouveau riche are skiing this Christmas in Courchevel. More than 2,000 Russians, each earning over half a million roubles [£10,000] a month, congregate for the "Saison russe". The menu offers eight kinds of oysters, the wine list includes bottles at £1,500, and in the retinue of every nouveau riche you can be sure of finding the government officials, our true oligarchs, who deliver these vast incomes to the favoured 2,000.
The body of Aslam Davletukaev, abducted from his home on January 10, has been found showing signs of torture. He has been shot in the back of the head. Aslan was a well-known Chechen human rights campaigner. Our democracy continues its decline. Nothing in Russia depends on the people; Putin is resuscitating our stereotype: "Let us wait until our feudal lord comes back. He will tell us how everything should be." It has to be admitted that this is how the Russian people likes it, which means that soon Putin will throw away the mask of a defender of human rights. He won't need it anymore.February 10
...today, 20,000 St Petersburg youths belong to unofficial fascist or racist organisations. The St Petersburg skinheads are among the most active in the country and are constantly attacking Azerbaijanis, Chinese and Africans. Nobody is ever punished, because the law-enforcement agencies are themselves infected with racism. You have only to switch off your audio recorder for the militia to start telling you they understand the skinheads, and as for those blacks ... etc, etc. Fascism is in fashion.
Ivan Rybkin has announced that he will not be returning from London. A defecting presidential candidate is a first in our history. Nobody now has any doubt that the regime drugged him.
The Sultanovs, the family of the little girl Khursheda who was murdered by skinheads in St Petersburg, have abandoned Russia and gone to live in Tajikistan. They took a small coffin containing the child's remains.