One of the best Russian journalists, Arkady Babchenko, has been murdered in Kiev today. He was shot three times in the back.
Babchenko was only 41, and for the last 18 of those years he wrote brilliant, witty articles about the fascist junta ruling Russia.
Before then he had served in the army, fighting in two Chechen wars. Babchenko’s war dispatches earned him wide renown not only in Russia, but also abroad.
He was one of the most brilliant critics of Putin among journalists, but not the only victim. Until today, 43 Russian journalists had been murdered on Putin’s watch. Now there are 44, and counting.
At first they tried to get him not with a bullet but with an equally lethal court verdict. But Babchenko found out that a ‘legal’ case was being prepared against him and fled Russia in 2017 – especially since the ‘legal’ proceedings were accompanied by a torrent of death threats.
He and his family were penniless for a while, and his articles always ended with pleas for help accompanied by his account number. I curse myself for not having offered any, not out of stinginess, but out of laziness and hatred for any financial transactions involving bank transfers. A lame excuse, I know.
Eventually Babchenko settled in Kiev, where he got a fair amount of remunerative work in television and print. When he died, he was no longer destitute.
The Ukrainian police are looking for the murderer, but he was only the finger on the trigger. Whoever he is, and the police have several clues, the real murderer sits in the Kremlin.
The actual hitman is only his accomplice, one of many. For Russia is ruled by a gang of criminals, and you can find an accessory to this murder by picking at random any member of the ruling elite.
And not only them. The hands of every supporter of Putin’s kleptofascist regime are dripping Babchenko’s blood on the floor. It’s their faces that are reflected in the surface of the congealing red puddle.
Many of those faces belong to British and other Western ‘useful idiots’ to Putin. What are they feeling now? Pride in their ‘strong leader’? Joy that yet another enemy of their beloved monster has been eliminated? I know it isn’t shame; ideological fanatics are incapable of feeling that emotion.
I could name some of them, but won’t: I’ve done so often enough. Anyway, they know who they are. And I know what they are: evil. For supporters of an evil, murderous regime are themselves evil and murderous – just as everyone involved in a crime, however tangentially, is a criminal treated as such in the courts.
In the good tradition of British civility, one is supposed to eschew strong words and give even such scum the benefit of the doubt. They aren’t evil, but misguided. They aren’t scum, but ignoramuses. They aren’t accomplices to multiple crimes, but idealists.
Well, the time for civility has passed. It has been ticking away with each subsequent crime and now it has run out. They no longer deserve to be called even useful idiots. No one is so idiotic as to be so useful to fascists for so long.
Thus let’s call them what they really are: evil, murderous scum. And let’s not look for mitigating circumstances, claiming they are good family men, Christians, honest and intelligent in every other respect, nice dinner companions or whatever.
Someone involved in murders, directly or indirectly, is himself a murderer. All else is but background noise. It may sometimes be quite interesting, but it’s always completely irrelevant.
Just think: any evil dictator is balanced on the very tip of a pyramidal structure. Immediately below him are members of his regime; below them are their moneybags and other active supporters.
As we go down the pyramid, each lower tier gets wider until we reach the lowest and the widest one: the body of advocates, admirers and fans. Remove this tier, and the whole structure collapses.
They live among us, we chat with them, run into them at parties – we shake their hands. Having done so, let’s scrub and scour our own hands clean, hoping to get all the blood off. Now including Arkady Babchenko’s blood.
RIP. Or, as the Russians say, may earth be his down.