According to the Spanish EFE News Agency, Moscow has been swept by "a wave of pride and patriotism." The reason the agency gave for this happiness, in truth, is a little strange: two Russians were recently sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of former Chechen separatist leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev in Qatar.
It is indisputable that the death of Mr. Yandarbiev, who was not only a mastermind but also a major financier of many acts of terrorism in Russia, could have made many Russians very happy. However, it will not occur to any Russians to go into patriotic ecstasy over the groundless conviction of two Russian citizens, who will spend the rest of their lives in a prison in Qatar. The agency also claims that the Russians are overwhelmed with a feeling of patriotism because their country has finally begun to act like Israel and is selectively murdering its enemies.
This is doubtful, however. At least, because the long trial process in Qatar has failed (because of the specific features of Qatar legal system) to answer any of the questions raised in the case, including the very involvement of the Russians in this murder. So, even Russian advocates of the Israeli model have few reasons to be happy.
The predetermination and stressed neglect of modern rules of international jurisdiction make the Qatar trial unique. Indeed, the court did not deem it necessary to inquire why the bodies of the accused were covered with injuries from dog bites. The judge did not inquire why and who had tortured them. No attempt was made to learn why the defendants had been denied a meeting with the Russian consul for such a long time. Qatar Themis was not offended by the fact that the suspects had been arrested in defiance of international law in a location protected by diplomatic immunity. The prosecution did not wonder why the Russian secret services, when looking for the performers of such a delicate mission, opted for people officially accredited in the embassy, one of who has red hair and therefore stands out in the sea of Arabs like a searchlight at night. Do you think that the Russian secret services could not select a single dark-skinned and dark-haired officer among themselves?
That the two convicts were members of the secret services was well known prior to the trial because of a Russian Foreign Ministry statement. That they had had Mr. Yandarbiev's photographs in their possession only proves that they could have been assigned to follow the former Chechen leader in Qatar. These two Russians are not to blame for Mr. Yandarbiev, an inspiration to terrorists, becoming a guest of honor in Qatar. Neither the photographs nor the fact that the Russians' car was parked close to the scene of accident prove their complicity in the murder - on the contrary, any sound analyst interprets these facts as circumstantial evidence of the Russians' having been victims of someone's provocation. But, the Qatar authorities ignored this version as well.
What remains clear is that the Russian convicts have to be rescued and the Russian government is doing everything it can. Only when this goal is accomplished will the country have a reason for pride - we will not be proud that our compatriots killed someone but rather that Russia never leaves citizens in trouble.
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