To continue with our literary allusion:
Please recall from yesterday’s post that our fair-haired hero Alexei Navalny has launched a media attack against a federal official of the Russian Federation, namely Chief Prosecutor Yury Chaika.
Navalny and his American-financed NGO, the “Anti-Corruption Foundation” (Фонд борьбы с коррупцией) routinely monitor Kremlin officials, their wives and their grown children, hoping to catch them in nefarious financial and criminal connections. Navalny himself is no stranger to the steaming-underbelly world of Russian tycoons, offshore bank accounts, and shady real-estate deals. Knowing this milieu like the back of his hand, and having several criminal convictions himself, Navalny is uniquely placed to catch others doing as he has done. His latest target being the family and connections of Chief Prosecutor Yury Chaika, aka “The Seagull”.
Let me stipulate that I personally do not accept a defense strategy of “shooting the messenger”. Also known as the “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern” Defense Gambit.
In other words, yes, everybody knows that Navalny is a Western agent, sworn to bring down the Putin “regime”, by hook or by crook. So that his paymasters in America and Europe can put a more compliant boss in the Kremlin, all the better to possess Russian oil fields and other mineral resources. Duh! But pointing out that Navalny’s hatchet-job is bought and paid for by the likes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Bill Browder, is not a complete defense against the actual allegations. At most, this is a component of the larger defense. It’s okay to discredit your accusers by pointing out exactly who and what they are, especially if they are lying, and to explain why and for whom they lie. But that’s not enough. What if they are not lying? What if one’s enemies have actually scored a home-run? Then what?
Director’s Notes, Or “Where The Heck Are Those Dueling Sabres?”
Recall that in my version of this play, I have chosen to combine Chekhov with Shakespeare. If Navalny is both Konstantin Treplev AND Hamlet at the same time, then who is Yury Chaika? Hm… Well, he is obviously the eponymous Seagull into whose skull Konstantin puts a cap; and also doubling as Polonius, ’cause, see, Polonius was the father of a hot-headed son (=Laertes), whereas Chaika is the father of a hot-headed son named Artem, whom Navalny has accused of being basically a mobster:
[Navalny’s] fund’s investigation said that Artyom Chaika co-owns a hotel in Greece that opened in 2013 with a lavish gala inauguration attended by Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky. The Pomegranate Spa hotel’s other co-owner is Olga Lopatina, former wife of Deputy Prosecutor General Gennady Lopatin, the fund said, citing Greek company documents it posted online. The hotel’s public relations manager, George Doucas, said by email that Artyom Chaika is one of the owners though he couldn’t assist in communicating with him because “we don’t come into direct contact with our shareholders as they are not involved in day-to-day operations.”
Besides Artem Chaika, Navalny is also going after two other people connected with Yury Chaika, namely:
- Chaika’s other son, Igor; and
- Olga Lopatina, ex-wife of Yury Chaika’s Deputy Prosecutor, Gennady Lopatin
Slinging mud at these three individuals connected with Chaika (his two sons and his deputy’s ex-wife), Navalny hopes to paint a picture of a corruption-laden and nepotistic Prosecutor’s office, which turns a blind eyes to the crimes committed by “its’s own kind”.
What About Igor?
This is what Navalny alleges about Igor Chaika:
According to Navalny’s investigation, Igor, owner of several Russian businesses, was illegally awarded state tenders for construction and development projects.
Igor, who is only 27 years old, is accused by Navalny of being a billionaire who earned his money the easy way – by being awarded state contracts, especially in the railroad business, via the influence of his father.
What About Olga?
In addition to co-owning (along with Artem Chaika) the Greek 5-star hotel, Lopatin’s ex-wife Olga is accused of forming a “criminal gang”, along with several other Desperado Housewives. This is what the Russian newspaper Vedomosti has to say about the activities of these ladies:
Olga Lopatina is the co-owner of the Limited Liability Company (LLC) “Kuban Sugar”, along with the wives of two bandits from [the town of] Kushchevka, [these bandits being] Sergei Tsapok and Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz. Still another [female] owner of this company is Nadezhda Staroverova, wife of Alexei Staroverov, who used to work in the General Prosecutor’s office. He was temporarily relieved of his duties in November [of 2014], after [police] discovered in his Moscow home members of the “GTA Gang”, who were committing murders on Moscow highways. (….)
[Navalny’s Fund] considers Olga’s 2011 divorce with Gennady to be fictitious (…), just a means for Lopatin not to have to disclose his property in Greece.
Act II: Look, Ma, I Snagged Me a Seagull!
As mentioned above, Yury Chaika joins our cast in the role of The Seagull, also doubling as Polonius. We simply stipulate his various monologues, in which he gives excellent advice to his hot-headed son. And then gets stabbed to death by Hamlet, while hiding behind a curtain.
So, in the actual Chekhov play:
Act II is notable for some animal cruelty. Not unlike Wagner’s Parsifal (who gets his archery practice in by zinging a sacred swan just swimming about and minding its own business in the pond of Grail Castle), Konstantin Treplev attempts to impress the lovely Nina by bringing her a dead seagull. Which he shot with his hunting rifle. But instead of admiring Konstantin’s sharpshooting talent, Nina is horrified at his callousness.
Remember that this is Chekhov. And remember the old Chekhov adage known to all playwrights: “If you show a gun in Act II, then somebody has to commit suicide in Act IV.” Just sayin’.
[to be continued]