Is there a more ridiculous publication on the face of the earth than the Russian “newspaper” Pravda? You be the judge.
There is an old Soviet joke. “Pravda” is the Russian word for “truth” and there is was also a newspaper in Soviet times called Izvestiya which is the Russian word for “information.” The joke was: “There is no truth in Izvestiya and there is no information in Pravda.” These publications were instruments of the Soviet state, reporting lies and propaganda to the people of the country so they could be better controlled and managed, like sheep.
On March 20, 2013, the Pravda.ru website published an op-ed piece from Oleg Artyukov. No information of any kind is supplied by Pravda about Mr. Artryukov’s background or qualifications.
In the article, Artyukov stated: “Noteworthy [sic], there was not too much controversy about Brewington in U.S. media not to mention the fact that he was not represented as a victim of political persecution.”
This was an out-and-out lie.
Dan Brewington was arrested in Indiana in March 2011 for threatening on his blog to light a judge on fire, specifically the judge who was presiding over Brewington’s divorce trial and who had found Brewington unfit to have custody of his children. Brewington was tried and sentenced to five years in prison for violating the State of Indiana’s law against doing such things. (One can’t help but observe that, indeed, a man who publicly threatens to light a judge on fire may well not be an ideal parent.)
The judge felt so threatened that he took precautions, including removing a gun that had long been in storage and and taking a training course to use it. He also installed a home-security system and received law-enforcement escorts to and from work. Artyukov didn’t report any of these facts.
Not too much controversy?!? Exactly the opposite is true.
Easily discovered national press reports show that a vast and powerful coalition of journalists and legal scholars has rallied to the defense of Brewington and is seeking to argue his case before the Indiana Supreme Court. The coalition is led by Eugene Volkh who blogs at the Volkh Conspiracy. Volkh was born, ironically, in Ukraine and is a world-famous constitutional scholar and a former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The coalition argues that the Indiana law on which Brewington’s conviction is based is invalid because it violates the U.S. Constitution.
Artyukov is, quite simply, a shameless neo-Soviet liar. He’s misreporting on Brewington for a simple reason, too: He wants to justify the harsh neo-Soviet crackdown now underway in Russia at the orders of proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin.
Artyukov also fails to mention the fact that the law involved in Brewington’s case is the law of just one of the fifty American states. Unlike Russia, the USA operates under a system of federalism which allows individual states enormous power. In Russia, Putin’s crackdown is based on national legislation from which local governments, over which Putin exercises total control anyway, can’t depart.
Artyukov lies about what Brewington said to the judge, characterizing his remarks as mere “harsh words” and “expressing his attitude.”
Artyukov dishonestly compares Brewington to Savva Terentyev. Terentyev didn’t write blog post like Brewington. He wrote a comment on the blog of someone else. Terentyev did not threaten any individual person, he said he hated the police generally and that “bad cops” should get capital punishment. And Terentyev was responding to a whole litany of instances of brutally abusive, murderous behavior by Russian law enforcement figures, which culminated in the arrest, torture and murder of attorney Sergei Magnitsky.
Then Artyukov dishonestly compares Brewington’s judge to Olga Borovkova, the magistrate who repeatedly handed out tough jail sentences to leaders of the opposition movement on purely political grounds. Artyukov claims it is the same as threatening to light her on fire that opposition activists “plastered photos of the judge near her house and her work place.” No threats of violence were ever made against Borovkova, there have been no reports that she fears for her life, and nobody suggests that Brewington’s judge in any way ever involved himself in the political process.
Artyukov concludes: “So, in the United States, a person can be sentenced to a real prison term for threatening or insulting the authorities on the Internet. In Russia, both criminal and administrative liability is provided for similar offense. However, the trials that have taken place on this issue in the country ended up with conditional sentences. ”
In making this statement, Artyukov totally perverts and lies about what Brewington did. He did not “insult” an “authority” he threatened to light a specific judge on fire. He claims Russia doesn’t punish offenders too seriously, but he can’t mention a single example of any American blogger being arrested at all, much less punished, for generalized political speech of any kind. Nor does he mention the litany of murders of reporters and activists like Galina Starovoitova, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova, Stanislav Markelov and Sergei Magnitsky that have occurred in Russia year after year.
Artyukov’s column is exactly the type you would have expected in Soviet times, and it reminds you to ask: How is it possible that people in Russia in 2013 still pay attention to a paper bearing a Soviet name and written in a Soviet style? Imagine such a thing happening in Germany in regard to a former Nazi institution! There is only one possible answer: Russians are far more supportive of the Soviet system than many ever dreamed possible.