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Small caveat first:
I will be honest here, I am extremely uncomfortable with this topic and I greatly hesitated before addressing it here. As I have said it many many times before, there is a US-manipulated crowd of what I call “hurray patriots” which will use anything and everything to blame it all on Putin (just like their US controllers do, of course). So when Putin (or Russia) does something wrong or inept, there is a great real of risk of “adding water to their mill”. However, there is another trap I also refuse to fall into: to look away or not ask the tough questions, even about Putin, just because the Putin-bashers will inevitably use it or indulge in an infantile kind of “we told you so long ago” glee. The truth is we, the real patriots and friends of Russia, cannot let the Putin-bashers completely own the discussion. In fact, I think that the best thing we can do is simply ignore them, just pretend like they are not here, even while we remain acutely aware that an entire segment of the so-called ‘patriotic’ or ‘pro-Russia’ blogosphere is, in reality, used by the enemies of Russia.
Having said that, let’s now turn to
The murder of Motorola:
Motorola was killed yesterday, so the investigation is only beginning, but we already know that he was killed by a remotely controlled bomb place in the elevator shaft of his house. DNR officials have immediately blamed the murder on a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance unit. The Ukies, of course, were more than happy to confirm and take credit for this.
And this is were problems begin.
For one thing, Motorola is only the latest in a now obscenely long list of top Novorussian leaders (Pavel Dremov, Alexei Mozgovoi, Evgeny Ishchenko, etc.) who were murdered in very strange circumstances.
Second, the Ukie security services are, to put it very mildly, not exactly known for their amazing capabilities. In the Ukraine they are more known for their corruption, the way the viciously torture their prisoners and for snatching off the street clueless bystanders only to present them as, what else, secret FSB agents. Frankly, I find the notion that the Ukies kill all these top Novorussian leaders absolutely ridiculous.
Third, you tell me: how do you enter a heavily protected building, get into the elevator shaft, then leave, then monitor the arrival of Motorola before setting off a bomb and then get away? This very much reminds me of the murder by the Israelis of Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in Damascus by an Israeli bomb place in the headrest of his car: how did the Israelis get access to his car (in a very heavily protected government area of Damascus) without the numerous Syrian security services noticing? Impossible, of course. But only the widow of Mughniyeh, now living in Iran, had the courage to state the obvious: the Israelis had top level accomplices in Syrian security services.
Means, motive and opportunity
Let’s use “means, motive and opportunity” format and ask – who had the means.
The Ukies: Forgive me, but I don’t believe that the Ukronazis had the means.
The Russikies: Forgive me again, but I find it undeniable that the Kremlin did have the means
The CIA-SAD/SOCOM/USAISA/MI6/SAS/SBS/Mossad/IDF/etc.etc.etc.: doubt it very much. They would need to have not only a specially trained commando team, which they all have, but one which would be inconspicuous in the DNR, and that I find very very hard to believe.
Private contractors: maybe. I could see some agency or country sub-contracting the murder of a Novorussian leader to some private mercenary outfit as the latter would have native Russians speakers with the correct skillset.
However, I submit that this is the wrong way to looking at this issue. The real question is not who had the means to execute such an operation, but why would anybody at all have had the opportunity to do so?!
It does not require to be a genius figure out that Motorola was a prime target. And yet, neither the Novorussians not the Russians could protect him?! This is prima facie ridiculous. Okay, maybe the Novorussians security services are a mess (judging by the number of Novorussian leaders kill, I get the feeling that this are!), but what about the Russians?! They could organized an immense Olympic event in the face of a direct and overt Saudi treat to have it marred by terrorist attacks and not have a single incident, even minor, happen, but they cannot protect the top 10-20 Novorussian leaders?!
As far as I know, not a single Novorussian security service leader was fired or demoted following all the murders of the Novorussians leaders. Why not?
This is how I see it: either the Russians let the Novorussians protect themselves and that was a huge mistake on the part of the Russians, or the Russians are in charge and they are themselves either incompetent (or worse).
Here we have to at least look at
The “Putin did it” theory
Yes, he sure had the means. And opportunity. The Russians are covertly running Novorussia and whatever manner they see fit, and if they wanted to they could kill anybody there. But motive?!?!?!
Motorola was not at all the bone-headed stubborn pain the the butt that other Novorussians leaders have been. I would even say that he, along with “Givi”, were just about the most willing to work with Russia. We also know from the example of Strelkov that the Russians can, if they want, remove anybody they get frustrated with. Why murder Motorola? This makes no sense.
The problem with the “Putin did it” theory is that it is based on a circular argument which goes like this: “since Putin wants to sell-out Novorussia, he murders Novorussian patriots, and he murders Novorussian patriots because he wants to sell-out Novorussia”. What that argument misses is that Putin could have sold out all of Novorussia, including all the Novorussian patriots, years ago just by a short move of his pen. But to the great dismay of the Putin-hating hurray-patriots, Putin remained steadfast in his support for Novorussia (without Russian support, Novorussia would fold in a week or so). Ditto for Syria which the very same Putin-hating hurray-patriots accuse Putin of “selling out” for many years already, even when the Russians single handedly protect Syria like they are doing today.
Yes, the Russians had the means and opportunity to murder Mozgovoi and the others, just as the Russians did have the means to shoot down MH-17, and just as the Russians do have the means today to bomb Syrian hospitals. So what? The Russians also have the means to send special forces to attack any orphanage on the planet and they can nuke Machu Picchu, but that hardly means that they would have any motive to do so? What we need to ask is
Whatever happened to cui bono?
Cui bono indeed. Unless somebody presents me a fact-based argument, I submit that Putin had no reasons at all the kill anybody in Novorussia so he is off my list of suspects.
Kiev. Meh… Yeah, I guess, they kinda had a motive. If they are dumb enough to send (a rather poorly trained) unit to blow up bombs in Crimea, they are probably dumb enough to try to kill somebody in Donesk. Except for I don’t believe that they had the means or opportunity to do it. So Kiev is also off my list of suspects.
CIA-SAD/SOCOM/USAISA/MI6/SAS/SBS/Mossad/IDF/etc.etc.etc? Means? I doubt it. Opportunity? I doubt it again. Motive? Not really. Folks in the West are smart enough to realize that by killing Novorussian leaders they really achieve very little. Even if ALL the current Novorussian leaders are killed, the people of Novorussia will never accept any Ukronazi rule over them, as for the military defense plans, they are made in Moscow anyway. Killing Novorussian leaders just is a lot of effort for not much to gain.
Which, unless I missed something leaves one theory:
Novorussian infighting aka “they did it themselves”
Usually, when somebody in the LNR is murdered, Plotnitsky is suspected. Not only is he an extremely unsympathetic personality, he has that “look” of being a ruthless thug. Then there is the fact that several of the murdered leaders were openly highly critical of him. Problem: Motorola was in the DNR, not the LNR and the LNR bad boys had no reason to risk messing with their (much more powerful) DNR leaders. As for the leader of the DNR, Zakharchenko, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he had any problems with Motorola.
How about the Novorussian mobsters (and their colleagues from Russia)?
Well, maybe. By definition maybe. But that does not explain how they got past the security and into the elevator shaft of a highly protected building.
To be honest, I ain’t got anything remotely resembling a real conclusion. All I have is a sense of frustration and one Ukrainian slogan like a mantra in my mind. So let’s begin with my frustration.
I am mad at the Russian security services.
Sorry, but for all the talk about the sovereign Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Novorusssia is in inside the Russian security services area of responsibility. At the very least, the Russian security services have done a terrible job setting down the law, their law, in Novorussia. This is a case of professional incompetence, I am sorry to say. Putin ought to ask the heads of his security services whether they can maintain law and order in Novorussia or not and immediately fire anybody who would reply in the negative. He should then appoint one person in charge of Novorussian security and subordinate the FSB/SVR/GRU assets in Novorussia to that person. Finally, the Kremlin out to explain the the local security services that they either step aside and shut up or be removed, physically if needed.
I don’t think so. The Russians own Novorussia and they have to fix it now. The people involved (as actors or accomplices) to these murders ought to be found and shot. Yes, *shot*. By a military tribunal and under the laws of a time of war. And while the local elites might be outraged by such a Russian move, the local people will only be grateful
Путін прийде порядок наведе!
The above slogan says (in Ukrainian) “Putin will come and restore order”. This is the (highly illegal!) motto of those in the Ukraine who still hope that the Russians will come and restore order. As I wrote many times, the Russians ain’t coming and the Ukrainians need to restore order themselves. But for Novorussia, I see no other solution.
There are no 10’000 ways of putting it: Novorussia is a friggin mess. Not only are top leaders murdered, but all the others are constantly appointed, then removed like some kind of crazy merry go around. Zakharchenko in the DNR has done a much better job than the folks in the LNR, but that latest murder of Motorola is showing that instead of the LNR becoming more like the DNR, it is the DNR which is becoming more like the LNR.
Ideally, the Russians should send some smart and ruthless patriot, like General Shamanov, to go to Lugansk and Donesk and read the locals the riot act (Russians generals are very good at that kind of stuff) and if they offer any resistance, just toss them out of their office (Russian generals are also good at that kind of stuff).
Okay – now the real conclusion
We are about to enter fantastically dangerous times. The Kremlin simply cannot afford the kind of bullshit (forgive my French!) that has been taking place in Novorussia. Enough is enough. If the locals cannot get the job done, they the locals need to step aside. There is an absolutely real risk of Hillary and her Neocons finally taking full power in the White House, Russia and the USA might have a shooting war over Syria, the Ukronazis might attack the Donbass any day now, the Russian 5th column is as powerful as ever in the Russian government, and Russia needs to prepare for a possible WWIII. Russia simply does not have the luxury of putting up with a chaotic and lawless Novorussia run by either traitors or incompetent people. A major crackdown on the Novorussia elites is much overdue. Come on, Putin – do it! And find the bastards who murdered Motorola.