Conde Nast owns Vanity Fair and GQ as well as other publications, including Russian versions of GQ, Glamour, Tatler and Vogue. On July 23, Jerry S. Birenz, one of the company’s top lawyers, sent an e-mail memo to more than a dozen corporate executives and GQ editors.
“Conde Nast management has decided that the September issue of U.S. GQ magazine containing Scott Anderson’s article ‘Vladimir Putin’s Dark Rise to Power’ should not be distributed in Russia,” Birenz wrote.
Conde Nast has some explaining to do.
The magazine apparently buried Scott Anderson’s expose about the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia that led, directly according to some and indirectly according to others, to the ascension of Vladimir Putin to power. The bombings were officially blamed on Chechen terrorists but over the years lots of evidence has surfaced pointing to some involvement by the Russian security agencies. A number of people who investigated those bombings, including journalist/deputy Yuri Schekochikhin and his journalist colleague Anna Politkovskaya, have since been murdered, although no direct connection has ever been drawn between the two.
The evidence pointing to FSB involvement in those bombings was always intriguing. The most compelling revolved around a bomb found in the basement of a building in Ryazan that was found to have been placed there by the FSB, which later dismissed the incident as a “training exercise.” Anderson’s story pushes this theory forward with an interview of former KGB agent Mikhail Trepashkin, who investigated the case and claimed to have evidence of FSB involvement. However Trepashkin was arrested just days before he was scheduled to give evidence in a trial related to the bombings. He ended up being convicted of disclosing state secrets.
Trepashkin has ties to gazillionaire mob creature Boris Berezovsky, however, and generally speaking it is impossible to know the truth really about anything with these Russian political shenanigans. But it is certainly notable that there has been an extraordinary effort to shut down those investigating the bombings. Which is understandable, when you’re talking about a thug like Vladimir Putin; that’s what these guys do, after all.
But Conde Nast? For a Western company like this to shelf Anderson’s story in Russia – and bury it, apparently, in the domestic GQ – is totally unacceptable, no matter what one thinks about the issue. What exactly is the thinking here – are they worried about losing the revenue from Russian GQ? They could probably make back what that publication makes in a year with a couple of spreads in Vogue. This is totally shameless behavior.
p.s. note to Truthers: please, no more 40,000-word letters making comparisons between 9/11 and the 1999 apartment bombings, okay? Especially since I only just finished spraying this site with Truther-off. Have a heart!