Nothing beats the principle of collective guilt.
Russian president Vladimir Putin says so, and – as a former high-ranking KGB officer – he should know whereof he speaketh, right?
Putin signed into law a bill that stipulates that whatever harm a terrorist causes, her or his family will have to pay for the damages.
Now, this is not a new legal principle, really, and many a regime uses it even today. Come to think of it, whenever an Israel-based Palestinian terrorist blows her- or himself up causing grief to others, this terrorist’s family loses their home. Of course, if they blow themselves up somewhere with no innocent victims or other people’s property around, just for the sheer fun of it, it’s their issue altogether. So long as someone cleans up the mess after them. And, of course, if the terrorist happens to have come from a territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, her or his family receives a reward (while the terrorist enjoys the company of virgins in heaven). The reward, usually money, comes more often than not from funds provided by the European Union, but that’s another issue altogether.
In modern history, two regimes stand out as regular users of this kind of principle: communist and nazi rules thrived upon it.
Which doesn’t mean that today’s legal systems don’t use it, either. All kinds of laws all over the world punish criminals’ relations, from the closest to the extended, for the perpetrators’ deeds. The only difference between the communist and nazi principle and today’s use is simple. Then, relatives paid even if those considered guilty were still alive. Today, relatives only pay when the perpetrators have either extinguished themselves from the genetic pool of humanity, or somebody has done it for them. Simply put: when they are dead.
So, what’s so special about the new Russian law?
Mother Russia has been fighting insurgents in the Northern Caucasus mountains for quite some time. All told, it’s been going on for centuries. The insurgents are mostly of Islamic persuasion, and they have had the gall to strike even within Russia proper from time to time. Several years ago, we witnessed a suicide attack at the Domodedovo airport near Moscow. A few weeks ago, a suicide attack in a bus in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad, originally Tsaritsyn) killed at least seven innocent passengers who had nothing to do with the terrorists’ claims that the Crimea had belonged to them first and the Russians forced them out.
There’s something to think about. History books tell us the battles for the area around Sochi have been the neuralgic point in the wars between Russia and the insurgents in Northern Caucasus at least since the 19th century. At least eight million original (Muslim) inhabitants of the region died during those wars, along with several hundred thousands of Tsarist Russia’s soldiers.
One name should have attracted your attention: Sochi. Yes, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The area that leaders of the insurgents have announced in advance they planned to turn into living hell for everybody who dares be there during those couple of weeks this forthcoming February.
According to sources in Russia (and elsewhere), Putin’s government is sending crack units of the so-called Spetznaz forces into the region. These Russian army’s units seem to resemble American Navy Seals and Green Berets, the British SAS, and many other such outstanding groups, with one minor difference of major proportions. The Russians are much more ruthless than any of their counterparts. Their ruthlessness begins where the others’ ruthlessness culminated and stepped back in horror.
That would promise an all-out war. There goes the so-called Olympic Peace, so promoted by all kinds of Olympians.
The new law seems to have come to accompany the Spetznaz’s brute (and brutal) force.
The psychology is simple: most of the fighters have got used to the idea they might end up dying sooner rather than later. The suicide bombers’ psychology is based on this realization, after all.
But it’s the threat of the attack on terrorists’ relations that, Russian lawmakers seem to hope, will give the perpetrators serious pause.
Whether it will is another question.
Of course, the Russians (Soviets, at the time) know what they are doing.
Years ago, one of the then-warring militias in Lebanon abducted a Soviet engineer. Whether the guy was a real engineer or somebody else, under cover, doesn’t matter. The militia guys took him hostage.
At about that same time, a well-meaning, but otherwise perfectly stupid British priest, Jimmy Waite, came to Lebanon. He would bring peace to the war-torn country, he said. He was kidnapped shortly upon his arrival. The British tried to negotiate his release, having first to find out whom to talk to. The whole affair took years to get settled.
Not so in the case of the Soviet engineer. Within hours of his abduction, several heavily armed gentlemen called on the leader of the group that abducted the Soviet guy. Without preliminaries, they went to business: you shall release our guy within minutes, unharmed and clean. In return, we shall not destroy your family. To prove we mean business, here’s your mother’s ear. Whereupon they presented the militia leader with his mother’s ear, carefully cut off and wrapped in gift paper.
They took their engineer to safety with them right away.
There’s no reason to think the Russians have changed their ways.
The new law, as published on www.newsru.com, goes straight to the point: if authorities can’t lay their hands on the perpetrator, the family will pay. Besides, if the families aren’t able to prove (beyond any doubt, and who cares about reasonableness) that whatever they own comes from legitimate sources, it’s going to be confiscated forthwith, lock, stock, and barrel.
Whoever gets involved in any shape or form in terrorist training or helping terrorist groups or, Heavens forbid, being their member, will suffer, too. Whoever calls for extremist actions or joins armed groups, and that includes anywhere in the world, so long as Russia feels her interests are threatened, will face the wrath of the country’s new law.
Why that last threat? Russian secret services have admitted quite openly that there are about 300 to 400 Russian citizens actively involved in the civil war in Syria. Perfectly trained, they would pose a serious danger if they came back to Russia in time to show what they learned during the Olympics in Sochi.
Years ago, when Western governments recoiled in horror over atrocities committed by the Russians in Chechnya, Putin himself told them two things: first, the other side does exactly the same things. And secondly, and more importantly, we’re defending everybody, including you, from the “green-coloured danger of Islam.”
What do you think his excuse will be now?