Rush to Judgment

The moment Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down last Friday, Western media rushed to judgment. Heck, even friends who should know better rushed to judgment.

One friend sent me the New York Times article After Boris Nemtsov’s Assassination, ‘There Are No Longer Any Limits’ along with this comment:

The world cannot stand by and let the formula of repression and stealth special forces intervention and sowing contrived disruption succeed, as next there will be little green men in the Baltic states sowing dissention — we are not going to go through a rinse, repeat and shampoo cycle again in those countries.

I replied…

The headline is ridiculous because

  1. No one knows who did it.
  2. It’s none of our business anyway
  3. If we have any moral responsibility it should not be to corrupt puppet governments, but rather the people of Ukraine
  4. The people of Ukraine do not need 4 more years of war nor a mass US invasion
  5. The people of the US do not need and cannot afford a war with Russia

To which I heard “Of course you think the US did it. That was predictable. One does not need to think too hard to figure out what happened here. There is a clear pattern. Europe and the liberal world order are too precious. This has to stop now.

If that’s not rush to judgment, what is?

Numerous Possibilities

It would not surprise me in the least to find out the US or Ukraine had some involvement in this. Given disastrous US foreign policy everywhere, including involvement in the Ukraine Maidan uprising, how anyone can be sure of anything is beyond me.

I am not saying “Putin did not do it.” Rather I am saying “I don’t know”.

I do know that Nemtsov could be considered washed out. Russians dropped him and his party in droves when he supported Kiev in the Ukrainian civil war. I also know his mistress was Ukrainian and Nemtsov flew her to Switzerland to have an abortion. 

There are any number of possibilities here, including the strong possibility that making Nemtsov a martyr made him worth more alive than dead to Putin, and more dead than alive to the anti-Putin movement.

Could Nemtsov have been setup by his mistress? The only “no” answer I can come up with is along the lines of “dead women tell no tales”. Why would someone leave her as a witness except by accident?

Extremely Inaccurate Reporting

With rush to judgment out of the way, let’s turn our focus on some extremely inaccurate headlines.

For example, Yahoo!Finance reported on February 28, Nemtsov Admitted Fears for Life Weeks Before Murder.

The headline, the body of the article, and the actual interview do not match.

From Yahoo!Finance

Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, gunned down on Friday in a contract-style killing, gave an interview this month admitting he had feared for his life over his opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

In an interview with weekly Sobesednik, Nemtsov was asked: “Have you started worrying that Putin could personally kill you in the near future or do it through middle men?”

He replied: “You know… yes. A little.

“But all the same I’m not that scared of him. If I was that afraid, I would hardly have headed an opposition party and would hardly be doing what I’m doing now,” he said in the interview published in early February.

In a light-hearted exchange, the Sobesdenik journalist told Nemtsov: “I hope that common sense will prevail after all and Putin won’t kill you.”

“God willing. I hope so too,” Nemtsov replied.

Actual Interview

The actual interview went nothing like the above.

Nemtsov never admitted fear of being killed. Rather he commented his mother (not he) feared for his life.

That link is to the full interview in Russian. Run it through any translator you want. What follows is my edited Yandex translation.

Nemtsov: When I called her regularly, she says, “Son, when will you stop criticizing Putin? He’ll kill you” (Nemtsov laughs).

Reporter: Finally, I will ask you, are you afraid of Putin? More cautious?

Nemtsov: Slightly afraid. [See my note below for a more accurate translation]

Reporter: But a little fear, yes?

Nemtsov: “Well listen, I’m kidding. If I was afraid, I would hardly have headed an opposition party and would hardly be doing what I’m doing now.”

Not Really Afraid

Note: Reader Jacob Dreizin informs me, that “slightly afraid” better translates as “not really”. The context and the reporter’s followup question both indicate “not really” is a better translation.

Nowhere was a question asked “Have you started worrying that Putin could personally kill you in the near future or do it through middle men?

Reader Andrei Chimes In

I also pinged this post off reader Andrei who speaks Russian and graciously offered help with Russian translations. He confirms what Jacob had to say.

Reader Andrei went on …

Nemtsov says he is “afraid a little bit” or “not really afraid”. In Russian both are quite close to each other. But then he follows up with “if I was afraid I would not be leading the opposition” etc.

The actual question from interviewer should have been translated as “And the last question I want to ask you – are you afraid of Putin? Or are you going to be more careful now?” To which Nemtsov replies that if he was afraid he would not be doing what he does.

Nowhere in interview there is a line from the reporter about “let’s hope Putin won’t kill you” neither Boris reply about god willing. The whole interview is about his relationship with his mom with some small bits about how she does not like Putin.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need any further elaboration.

Cheers, Andrei

The critical question was made up by someone. So was the answer. So was the exchange about “God willing”. Or, if you prefer, the posted interview is a lie.

Which is it?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock