It’s Open Season on Journalists Near Moscow
By CLIFFORD J. LEVY
Published: May 17, 2010
KHIMKI, Russia — Mikhail Beketov had been warned, but would not stop writing. About dubious land deals. Crooked loans. Under-the-table hush money. All evidence, he argued in his newspaper, of rampant corruption in this Moscow suburb.
“Last spring, I called for the resignation of the city’s leadership,” Mr. Beketov said in one of his final editorials. “A few days later, my automobile was blown up. What is next for me?”
Not long after, he was savagely beaten outside his home and left to bleed in the snow. His fingers were bashed, and three later had to be amputated, as if his assailants had sought to make sure that he would never write another word. He lost a leg. Now 52, he is in a wheelchair, his brain so damaged that he cannot utter a simple sentence.
But — the blatant impunity, the sheer shamelessness:
Governor Gromov and Mayor Strelchenko declined to be interviewed for this article. After the attack, Mr. Strelchenko said he had played no role in it, but also complained that it was getting too much attention.
“I don’t want to say that it was good what happened to Mikhail,” he said. “But I want you to separate truth from untruth.”
You know, after the first two decades, life passes pretty quickly and the opportunities to rectify the consequences of one’s honest mistakes, certifiable cluelessness and self-indulgence dwindle dramatically. To live paying no heed to your legacy (there is no privacy after death, yo) must take either truly monumental stupidity or supernatural bravado. Like, are you happy being a weed, brother?