Another Russian Opposition Leader Murdered

As I expressed earlier today in a comment in The Moscow Times, it is curious how those who run afoul of the Moscow Kremlin seem to have the nasty habit of stumbling into the path of stray bullets. I was echoing the sentiments of journalist Mike Novak who more aptly remarked on Twitter that, “He tripped and fell into the bullet. Nothing to see here, move along now.”

Denis Voronenko Kyiv a

Of course the murder could be related to something different than the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, but some assumptions fit far too easily based on experience. The investigation into this morning’s street shooting of former Russian parliament deputy Denis Voronenkov (Денис Вороненков) is still in process. One of the two shooters was wounded by Voronenkov’s bodyguard and taken to a local hospital.

Voronenkov was killed at 11:25 in the morning as he exited the Premier Palace Hotel in Kyiv (Kiev) on his way to meet with another former Russian minister of parliament, Ilya Ponomaryov. Both men have been outspoken critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Both fled Russia for reasons of safety, and Voronenkov and his wife had been granted Ukrainian citizenship.

Denis Voronenko Kyiv b

Voronenkov had recently been testifying in Ukrainian parliament hearings against former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Only hours after the murder both the Ukrainian Security Services and president Petro Poroshenko publicly pointed fingers in Moscow’s direction.

Whether it be Paul Klebnikov, Sergei Yushenkov, Anna Politkovskaya, Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, Natalia Estemirova, Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Lesin, Denis Voronenkov, Pavel Sheremet or Boris Nemtsov, it might easily appear to many observers as if the (contract) hits just keep on coming.


The Lost German Girl

War is its own special kind of hell. This is the story of the “Lost German Girl” parts of which were later incorporated in a Steven Spielberg film. While the Spielberg movie was historical fiction, there is naked reality here as filmed by US Army Air Force cameraman Oren Haglund in 1945, just one day after the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allies.

At 3:23 in the video, the girl appears. Later she would be identified as Lore Bauer, a young German girl who had been assigned to operate anti-aircraft guns as Germany was experiencing massive losses of male soldiers. Stationed in Czechoslovakia when the war ended, she and her other female companions were brutally beaten and raped by angry Czechs who had suffered at the hands of the SS.

When she ran into an American unit on the road, you can see her bury her face into a small notebook. It turns out that she had hidden about 100 Czech crowns (currency) which she did not realize was worthless at the end of the conflict. She flashed the currency to bribe the soldiers into allowing her to pass.

To let her know that the unit was American, cameraman Haglund handed her a US penny. Over time she made her way back to Germany and eventually married after the war. She gave birth to two daughters, and it was a granddaughter, Emi, who would eventually visit Haglund’s grave in San Bernardino, California and leave a penny–the very same penny given to her grandmother in 1945–on his headstone.

In that time of war, was she guilty? How far and how deep is God’s forgiveness? Far be it for me to judge her, but I cling to the line of the poem spoken in the background by the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva that imparts this immortal promise, “my unavoidable faults and trespasses will be forgiven me.”