Putin tells this story about when he was a kid, chasing rats with a stick at the entrance to his family’s apartment. Once he cornered a rat. It turned around and jumped at him, but he was faster than the rat, and slammed the apartment door, crushing its head.

There is a growing fear among the liberal Russian intelligentsia that Putin may one day become a dictator, curtailing the hard-won political liberties of the past few years. Putin doesn’t hesitate to take ruthless decisions, as he has done with the war in Chechnya. He pays lip service to press freedom, but his treatment of Andrei Babitsky, the radio journalist abused by Russian secret services for his reports from Chechnya, sends a chilling signal to the working press.


Babitsky was branded a traitor for calling Chechen fighters ‘heroes’.

        //what Babitsky had done was more dangerous than firing a machine gun//

Do you know the movie Tombstone? Kurt Russell plays Wyatt Earp, and he asks Val Kilmer who plays Doc Holliday why Johnny Ringo is so fucked up. “Why does a man do what he does? Kill, rob, steal? What makes a man like that, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?” Doc says, “A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.” Earp asks: “What does he need?” “Revenge.” “For what?” And then Doc says: “Bein’ born.”

Imagine stalin running around to get revenge for being born. All those maniacs out there: Hitler, Pinochet, Milosevic, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-Il, Idi Amin, Bin Laden… Why are these guys so bad? Maybe they’re trying to take revenge, because they feel that they didn’t want to be here in the first place.

Extract from Black Passport.