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February 15, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)

Konstantin Cheremnykh

LEAP-YEARS REQUIRE SACRIFICE

The demise of Patarkatsishvili: a Surrey corpse on the background of Virginian sunset

THE FEATHERS OF THE FLED SPARROW

The British Council that unleashed an international scandal over Moscow's intention to close its offices in Russia, has got an egg on its face since the strange death of Georgian-Russian oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, ensuing on February 12 at his own villa in Surrey, Great Britain. The ostracism of the super-NGO in Russia had been broadly interpreted as a revenge of Russian special services for the British Council's backing of Russian liberal dissidents, their list including – despite the KGB background of his own Ц "martyr" Alexander Litvinenko who perished from radioactive intoxication in London in autumn 2006.

Moreover, the deceased Patarkatsishvili, former close business partner of fugitive businessman and politician Boris Berezovsky who used to patronize the Russian liberal dissident community, appeared to have accepted bodyguard service from Andrey Lugovoi, the very person who is today officially accused by the London Court of assassinating the mischievous Litvinenko.

Anglo-American media reacted to police reports about a new Russia-related death in Britain with amazed neutrality. The conspirological fantasies of traditionally inventive observers are restricted to the version that Berezovsky's crony was assassinated by those very warlords that had decapitated four British engineers in Chechnya. That sounds unpromising for one more fugitive and Berezovsky's protege Akhmed Zakayev, a deputy prime minister of the secessionist Chechen government at the time of the referred decapitation. In any case, the effort of associating the butchers to Kremlin is a mission impossible.

The link between the mortification of Mr. Litvinenko and the earlier death of human (mostly Chechen) rights advocate Anna Politkovsksya at least sounded plausible for the audience, and was massively propagandized by the patrons of the Russian liberal dissidents on both the Thames and the Potomac. However, the sudden death of Mr. Patarkatsishvili too obviously fails to fit into a "KGB murder" pattern. The Georgian oligarch had repeatedly reported about the prepared assault on his life in the context of the presidential campaign in Georgia, where he dared to challenge incumbent resident Mikhail Saakashvili, the most devoted of the White House's satellites in the whole ex-USSR, the once central figure of the excessively hyped "revolution of roses" that was included by George W. Bush in the top list of US foreign policy achievements. According to a Russian proverb, a word is not a sparrow: once flown out, it can't be caught.

Professed analysts, traditionally ascribing vicious imperial intentions to Putin's Russia, used to emphasize that Moscow is the most interested side in the political disorder in Georgia.

Meanwhile, this disorder started with Patarkatsishvili's open challenge to Saakashvili in spring 2007. Oppositionist parties, financed by Patarkatsishvili, were repeatedly warned by top State Dept officials that their attempts to select a better President are untimely. The massive anti-Presidential public rallies happened to coincide in November 2007 with the anniversary of the glorified "revolution of roses". They were obviously considered as untimely also due to the coincidence with the decisive phase of the US Presidential race. Right on its background, the self-discredit of the White House's buddy in Georgia boomeranged to the very place where the novel strategy of production and export of so-called color revolution was synthesized from pieces of Ghandism, Trotskyism, the American dream and drug transit interests.

Patarkatsishvili's death could not be ascribed to Moscow for reasons of Russian domestic policy as well. Yuly Dubov, ex-CEO of Logovaz company involving both Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili, had already coined a too convincing image of romantic swindlers, challenging the Russian power, in his book The Big Slum and its screen version, The Oligarch, has become a too traditional requisite of the "gentleman's kit" of a Russia-hater to make it possible to rewrite the whole narration from the beginning. Now, even a most biased "Cold War knight" cannot get rid of an untimely and unpleasant hypothesis that the traces of the strange death actually lead not to Moscow but either to Tbilisi or to Washington itself.

 

A VERY SPECIAL OFFER

Zaza Gachicheladze, editor-in-chief of Georgian Messenger, the major Georgia emigrants' newspaper in London, is desperately trying to convince the British reading audience that the Georgian leadership does not possess sufficient possibilities for launching special operations in Western Europe. The audience giggles: the manners of Georgian "thieves-in-Code" and their henchmen are familiar not only to policemen.

A London philistine has got used to the fact that some dubious guests from Russia, predominantly of Georgian and Chechen origin, enjoy friendly embrace in the capital of the UK. It is equally known that these guys team up into rivaling gangs. In particular, Berezovsky is a bosom friend of Akhmed Zakayev, while Patarkatsishvili had undergone phone threats Ц according to his own testimony to The Sunday Times in last December Ц from another Chechen "fighter for freedom" named Uvais Akhmadov.

Quite naturally, the very first person who commented Patarkatsishvili's death on The Sunday Times' forum, inquired why on earth does the official London open doors to most "crooked" Russian businessmen, refusing to extradite them to Moscow on official request of the Russian Prosecution.

The top fugitives from Russia had been developing vehement and costly efforts to position themselves as anything but Russian. For instance, Patarkatsishvili complained to the Hague that Saakashvili's police officers intentionally used obscene words like "f__k you Jewish mother" at the November rally in Tbilisi, thus assaulting his, Patarkatsishvili's, Jewish dignity. Nevertheless, he is perceived by the British audience as one of many "crooked Russians".

It is true that British authorities, contrary to ordinary Londoners, had not only opened doors to suspicious émigrés but also teamed up with them in dubious undertakings. In 2001, an adventurous investment project under the logo of The Caucasus Common Market, involved Berezovsky, Maskhadov, a relative of then Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze, and aged Lord Alistair McAlpine. Last year, Patrakatsishvili managed to hire ex-General Attorney Lord Goldsmith as his personal lawyer, while Baron Bell, former top political consultant of Lady Margaret Thatcher, agreed for a job of the oligarch's spokesman.

Are those most respectable Londoners overwhelmed with the spirit of boyish adventurism, or accepting an offer of such a scale that is not supposed to be rejected, of a degree that justifies the damage of reputation deserved by decades of career?

Assuming that the traditions of London are somewhat different from those of Kiev or Kishinev, a realistic observer has to admit that such kind of "compromise with dignity" can be substantiated only with some special mission, approved on the highest power levels.

When special missions are approved on top political levels, not only respectable individuals but respectable services behave in an odd way. In 2002, a whole brigade of Scotland Yard was dispatched to New York in order to arrest a certain Georgy Stoyanov, once a modest currency speculator from Odessa. In Ukrainian media, he was described as a rival of a powerful international weapon- and diamond-trading community, involving a British lord and two former convicts, in the brawl for the port of Odessa. With similar carelessness, the extensive apparatus of the glorious CIA once nearly overlooked the invitation of a top shadowy dealer from Latvia to the presidential lunch in Washington. Years later, the same wheeler-dealer named Harry Loutchansky was reported to be involved in a commercial deal in Georgia with close relatives of Hillary Clinton.

Top influential shadowy tycoons, protected by the international law enforcement establishment (with no exception for Interpol) with impressing zeal, have got something in common in the geography of their business. For some reason, it extends from Hong Kong and Laos in the Far East to the Caribbean in the Western hemisphere, with obligatory involvement also in the Caucasus and former Yugoslavia. One more common feature is the timing of their rise to the surface that regularly coincides with the Presidential campaign in the United States. In particular, Mr. Loutchansky was about to materialize in Washington in the midst of Bill Clinton's second campaign; one more subject of international interest and excessive protection, a certain Semyon Mogilevich, was exposed of laundering money through Bank of New York by Republican Party-related authors in 1999, but the real hunt after him started on the eve of the present elections.

Leap years require sacrifice. Strikingly inaccessible for James Bonds, the high and mighties of this world fall victims to housekeepers, waiters and servants. Top New York Banker Edmon Safra, suspected in Brazil of drug trafficking, was choked in 2000 in his own bath in Monte Carlo. Eight years later, Bardi Patarkatsishvili similarly perishes beyond a squad of 120 trained bodyguards in a perfectly protected estate of Leatherhead Ц with no lord, baron, or The Sunday Times' interviewer to rescue. "If I were there, he would be alive", laments Andrey Lugovoi, a suspect in Britain and a federal legislator in Russia.

 

WHEN HOPE TURNS ITS BACK

Despite greatest respect to the gifted forecasters of an instantaneous crash of the global financial system, I can't help admitting that their calculations involve a customary error. In case the system, personified for decades by Allan Greenspan, was based only in the superior part of the globalization's iceberg, the whole thing would have sunk in the fashion of Titanic a decade ago. However, the iceberg also has a larger hidden part, keeping the leaking financial bubble afloat until today.

The names of top investors in the unofficial American economy surface not on any day of the election leap-year but at the moment when top managing functions Ц also in the shadowy world as such Ц appear to be at stake. In particular, this happens in case when the stakes rise to heavenly heights, most lucrative vacancies being already distributed, and bingo, something does not work. For instance, Richard Holbrooke, ex-deputy Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, as much involved in the Balkans as the abovementioned Odessa trader, was quite sure of receiving a new job in Hillary Clinton's office. However, her lucky star appeared to be on the wane.

When a bold black-skinned dancer, born in Kenya, brought up in Indonesia and educated in the Hawaii, unexpectedly gains advantage over the ex-first lady, something odd takes place. The lucky rival, preaching hope and mocking the old establishment, enthusiastically reveals his amount of expenses for the campaign. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton's team responds with dead silence, and fires a top manager without explanation. Eventually, the Kenyan dancer happily wins in the very state where the Bank of New York's exposers are headquartered, while the major Wall Street-backed Republican candidate overcomes a farmer from the mainland with a thin margin.

Could Badri Patarkatsishvili be the last financial hope of Hillary Clinton? Not a fantastic story. In case the hero of The Oligarch movie was quite useless for the US Democratic campaign, Hillary's husband would hardly descend to such hearty congratulations on the occasion of the wedding of the Georgian businessman's daughter: after all, her groom was not a Rothschild heir but a certain Boris Gunyak. In case the NATO equipment, sold at the Tbilisi "common market", did not feed the US Republican campaign, the fame of the model "colored revolution" would be hardly besmeared in last November.

In case Scotland Yard was really committed to solve the case of Badri Patarkatsishvili’s death, this highly respected office would invite colleagues from the United States, Italy, Israel, and certainly Russia to a joint investigative team that would start its work with inquiring a testimony from drug trader Platon Mamardashvili, the person who delivered the first live threat to the oligarch in spring 2007. However, a fair investigation could reveal a lot of untimely details of the history of the last two decades, including the business background of the first Chechen war and the shooting in the parliament of Armenia.

Still, even without those details that may surface in this year under some other occasion, it is most obvious that Patarkatsishvili's death is an action of a cornered community of the global shadow, Ц a move of despair, sacrificing the reputation of lords, respected offices, Georgian politicians, and definitely, the good-for-nothing Russian liberal dissidents. Having ascended very high from this written-off community, Berezovsky's crony relied upon the top Anglo-American political class but it would not come to the rescue at the fatal moment.

The illusions of Logovaz's shareholders were as bright as short-sighted. Their massive tombs will be bypassed by common Georgians and Englishmen, fearing of radiation, to be eventually quietly demolished in a couple of decades. The global time is shrinking, shadows are thrashing about in the daylight, and the "big slum" turns a tiny pill, stirred in a glass of water.


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