While Russian President Dmitri Medvedev expressed indignation about the murder of Natalya Estemirova, his outrage has a hollow ring. Actually, I would like to think that he is a decent man, but he does not really control the government. The reins of power - to the extent that they function - are still in the hands of Vladmir Putin.
If there was any doubt about this, the scene yesterday in Grozny should have been sufficient evidence about the real dynamics of the situation. Police broke up the funeral procession for Estemirova - because the mourners did not have a permit! The police, I'm sure, were just following orders from their superiors in the government. It is not in the interest of the thugs running Chechnya to grant a respectful burial ceremony for the murdered human rights activist. After all, while Chechen President Ramzan A. Kadyrov may not have ordered the killing, it certainly could not happen unless the killers knew that they would be shielded by him. And Kadyrov cannot hold his position without the support of Putin.
As the old Russian proverb states: A fish rots from the head. And Putin is still the head of the Russian government, no matter the results of last year's sham election.
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