Shantrapa: An Insight into Putin’s Russia

(2) putin on horsePaul Krugman in the NY Times wrote about Putin’s bubble bursting. It got me thinking of an article that I had read about the Ukrainian “shantrapa” that was written about four years ago. Putin’s in trouble now because his cronies have stolen all Russia’s wealth and invested it abroad in their own names. That was not unique to Russia, it would appear that Ukraine would quickly try to emulate it.

Here is the article that’s dated but very much relevant to present day Russia but it also gives an insight into the desperation that brought the Ukrainian people onto the streets of Maidan as the cold winter was descending on that country last year which resulted in the overthrow of their President Victor Yanukovich.

The article written on February 11, 2011, tells about the “shantrapa”.  That word “shantrapa” “broadly used in Soviet slang to define petty thugs or, as a dictionary more politely suggests, “worthless persons.” The word had arguably come from the French ne chantera pas, meaning will not sing. It referred to actors who lacked a singing voice and were used in operas as mere figureheads – just to give the appearance of a huge chorus on the stage. In actuality, one dictionary claims, the word originated from the Czech šantrok, šаntrосh (“liar”) and old German santrocke (“fraud”).”

I suppose the better definition of it would be a loyal thug. The shantrapa take advantage of any situation where law and order has no meaning and those with the most brazen and cruel attitudes survive as long as they adhere to the party-in-power line.

The author of the article Mykola Riabchuk was writing about what was happening in Ukraine after Victor Yanukovych of the Party of the Regions (Regions) became president of Ukraine. Yanukovych was a former thug himself having been convicted and imprisoned for robbery and assaults.

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In Retrospect Whitey Had No Motive to Murder the Women:

DSC_0005Here’s Whitey Bulger’s problem – he doesn’t want to be known as an informant nor does he want to be known as a person who murders women. Beyond that he’s quite proud of being known as a guy who went around killing some people, extorting others, strong arming some, and running gambling, loan sharking and drug dealing operations.

To believe Whitey murdered women depends on the evidence from two guys, Steve Flemmi and Kevin Weeks, who have as much regard for the truth as for the lives of those they murdered. Both told the tale that the prosecutor wanted to hear to get great deals for themselves. You know the old story, “you want to help yourself you got to give us someone bigger than yourself and it better be good.”  What better way to do that than to put another person in your shoes when you committed a murder.

Each man said Whitey murdered Deborah Hussey. They stood and watched. They don’t give us any reason why he’d want to do this..

Deborah was Flemmi’s step-daughter who he sexually molested shortly after she entered her teens. Women subject to that type of betrayal by the person in a close relationship, she called Flemmi dad, usually will have a troubled life. His repeated raping of her had to have totally destroyed all her feelings of self-esteem. My skin crawls just thinking of the vileness of that man who abused this woman, then murdered her, and then is coddled by the U.S. prosecutors who by the way may be trying to spring him from prison.

Not unexpectedly, Deborah would get heavily involved in drugs and prostitution. She became an embarrassment to Flemmi. Every time he saw her fallen state he had to have felt the sting of her reproach. No longer able to stand it, he admits luring her to the scene of her murder.

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Hoisted on His Own Petard: Whitey’s Dilemma

DSC_0005Here’s Whitey Bulger’s problem – he doesn’t want to be called an informant nor does he want to be known as a person who murders women. Say anything else about him and he’ll let it pass. I’ll write about his relationship with women in another post. Now I want to write about him being an informant.

Whitey says he was never an informant. He admits he had a relationship with FBI agent John Connolly. Through his lawyer told a jury that the relationship they had consisted of him paying Connolly hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for protection or information that would enable him to protect himself.

I never believed for one second Whitey paid that type of money to Connolly. I did many wiretaps of bookies who I’d later learn were paying tribute to Whitey in exchange for protection. I’d indict a batch of them at a time and since they were caught red-handed the cases involved plea bargaining. One thing I noticed was the last thing these guys would want was to be fined. Probation, suspended sentence, and even a small bit in jail was fine but they squawked the loudest at any suggestion of a fine. It seemed they didn’t want a fine because the persons who had to pay them were those giving the protection, Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi, and they hated to part with their money.

That went along with what Frankie Salemme, a close friend of Flemmi, said of Whitey and Flemmi. He said they loved women and money. He added not necessarily in that order. We heard how Flemmi murdered Debbie Davis because she was going to leave him; you can imagine from that how much these gangsters hated to part with money. So the idea of paying hundreds of thousands for protection is pure rubbish.

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Michelle Kosilek May Have Better Luck In Massachusetts

(1) Lady JustinceOver two years ago Judge Mark Wolf came down with the holding in the case involving Robert Kosilek who was convicted in 1990 of murdering his wife. He changed her name in 1993 to Michelle Kosilek. Wolf ruled that she was entitled to a sex change operation also known as a sex-reassignment surgery that had to be paid for by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He based his ruling on the 8th Amendment suggesting it was cruel and unusual punishment for her to be denied that procedure.

I wrote at the time that his order will probably not stand up. I noted how Judge Wolf was the one who held the hearings where Steve Flemmi outed himself as an FBI informant. Flemmi said he could not be charged with the criminal acts because FBI agent Connolly had given him immunity to do them. Judge Wolf bought the argument. He planned to have further hearings to decide if not only Flemmi but also all his criminal friends like John Martorano and Frank Salemme were also entitled to walk free.

The prosecutors appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals (Appeals Court). In their argument they suggested Flemmi was a liar and not entitled to be believed. Later, they would use him as their own witness in two cases.

The Appeals Court caught Judge Wolf up short by telling him he was wrong in his findings and rulings. It said an FBI agent had no power to grant immunity to anyone. The court said only a U.S. attorney or an assistant could do that.

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Patriot’s Aaron Hernandez’s Best Catch Ever:

justice weepsThe one catch Aaron Hernandez will always remember is when the Massachusetts Superior Court bosses tossed him Judge Garsh to sit on his case.

Here’s why Aaron Hernandez will forever be delighted Judge Garsh is in charge of his trial. She and the prosecutor McCauley trying the case have had a history of bitterness between them. Now the judge might be the fairest person in the world, as we all think of ourselves to be, but having been attacked in public by the prosecutor who questioned her competence she’d have to be super human not to have some bias against him. Think of yourself, how would you feel about someone who went to a newspaper reporter, said you weren’t up to doing your job, and you read about it in the morning paper. I don’t suppose you’d be inviting him over to your next Super Bowl party.

Here’s what the prosecutor McCauley said to the New Bedford Standard-Times about Judge Garsh which was reported in the newspaper. He said she “issued unfair rulings on evidence.” McCauley had just finished a three week trial in front of her which had 80 witnesses. He said the evidence he offered “was repeatedly limited or excluded by . . . [Judge Garsh] who exhibited antagonism to the commonwealth’s case throughout the course of the trial.” By the way this wasn’t the statement of a sore loser since he won the case.

McCauley went on saying according to the paper that she appeared to have had no background in a murder trial like the one he was trying. He said the prosecutors expected “more from the witnesses and judges who hear these more serious cases.”

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Fall River Votes Today: Yes, It Is In Massachusetts:

Massasoit Chief  - Rare Indian Cigar LabelDid you ever see that map drawn up by some New Yorker that was on the front page of the New Yorker Magazine that shows the United States from a New York City resident’s viewpoint?  Most of the map is dominated by New York City and beyond the Hudson the rest of the country seems to hardly exist other than we see that far off to the west there is some body of water a little larger than the Hudson River called the Pacific Ocean. I think of that when I read the Boston media where everything outside of the immediate metropolitan area seems like areas still occupied by members of King Phillip’s Wampanoag Indian tribe .

Did you ever think that Martha Coakley lost her race for governor because many Massachusetts residents doubted her citizenship after they heard she was born west of the Connecticut River? How many from this area have been to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art or know it exists and where it is?  I once had a case as a young attorney in superior court out in Berkshire County, or was it Franklin County, and some of the lawyers waiting for their cases to be called ribbed me about being a big city lawyer coming out to the country.

It may surprise many of you but beyond our narrow confines there is a thriving Commonwealth full of other cities and towns. One such place is Fall River. Now this time of year is a busy season where we go send out our cards and got out to stores to buy gifts for others. But in Fall River today its citizens are going out to vote. Yes, within 10 days of Christmas they are having an election.

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A Confederacy of Dunces: Part 7 of 7

ConfederacyBoeri popped in to say had Whitey testified he would have been convicted of all 19 murders rather than the 11. He also reminded Carney that he said Whitey would testify. I’m not sure why that’s important. Boeri should know Carney like to say things but the decision on testifying would come from Whitey.

Bob Bloom said the trial was a political trial since the issue of guilt or innocence wasn’t in play. Carney had admitted up front his client was guilty of much of the stuff. It was far from a political trial. There were lots of bodies, guns and gangsters.

Kelly said Whitey was afraid to be cross-examined because he was a control freak. Carney explained he had gone through cross-examination with four skilled lawyers and was very good at it. He said Jim called the government’s bluff and when the judge said he could not testify about his immunity agreement he rightly called the trial a sham.

The audience asked questions. In response to one Bob Bloom said regulations were not followed and that Whitey’s TEI file did not look like other TEI files. I had my doubts he had seen many TEI files so I don’t know how he concluded this.

Boeri answered one saying the story was the extensive government corruption which shows all involved, the prosecutor, defense lawyer and media want to close their eyes to the TEI program and pretend this is a local Boston issue.

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Patriot’s Aaron Hernandez Case: Massachusetts Justice

justice weepsI suggest the best way to understand what is going on in the Aaron Hernandez case is to tell a story of another homicide. This presents the situation of the Hernandez case in stark terms shorn of all unnecessary facts.

On Tuesday night about 12:30 am Boston police officers are sent to an upscale condo owned by Lotte Lenya in downtown Boston. They had just been notified by Jenny Diver an occupant of the next door condo that she heard loud nerve-wracking desperate screaming for help coming from there.

Jenny’s roommate Sookey Taudry meets them outside. She tells them they heard the screaming and saw a man running out of the front door just before they called. She said he left so fast that the door to the condo was still open. She went in there and saw that Lotte’s friend Lucy Brown was lying on the plush white rug with a circle of crimson forming under her body.

The police officers rushed up to Lotte’s apartment. They saw Lucy Brown lying in a pool of her own blood. They knew they couldn’t help her.

Homicide investor Bradley was called in. He took over the case. An autopsy would later show she had been stabbed multiple times.

Bradley first tracked down Lotte. He found she was at a convention in Chicago. Lotte told him that Lucy lived in New York City but was originally from Boston and would stay with her when she came back there. If Lotte was out-of-town Lucy would notify her if she was going to stay there.

Bradley figured out the homicide occurred about 12:25. He knew if he could find out who Lucy was with that night in the condo he’d have a good idea who did the murder. He asked Lotte when she last heard from Lucy. Lotte said Lucy sent her a text message that night telling her she was going to use the place.

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Waiting for Mayor Walsh’s Apology: The Plight of the Homeless

IRISH 1Northeastern University professor James Alan Fox, president of the Union Park Neighborhood Associationsaid he was “relieved that they’re not going to put 450 homeless people in our neighborhood.” His group is located in the South End. They don’t want to be reminded of these folks by their presence. The same goes for Liz Cahill, co-executive of the Old Dover Neighborhood Association in the South End.

How come people are suddenly and desperately yelling not in my back yard (NIMBY) to the homeless. You see it happened this way. Many of Boston’s homeless were kept out of sight on an island in Boston harbor called Long Island. It could be reached by a 3,450 foot long bridge that went from Squantum in North Quincy. Heading from Boston to that location one would drive by the condo that Whitey Bulger used to own.

Early in October of this year Boston’s Mayor Walsh decided the bridge was unsafe. He shut the homeless facility without any plan as to what to do with the residents. They are now scattered about Boston like sheep on the cliffs of Donegal. Kevin Cullen of the Globe gives an insight into the effects of the abrupt decision.

Mayor Walsh said he closed the bridge for safety reasons. Some suggest other motives.  It really doesn’t matter right now. The almost 500 people who lived there have been just about tossed out onto the street. It’s hard to believe such a decision was made on the eve of  winter without having an alternative plan in place for their housing.

Would it have been so difficult to keep the facility open with a ferry service while figuring out what to do with the displaced persons? The callous way in which this has happened reflects poorly on the mayor. Is this one of those temporary/permanent moves that’ll change Long Island into some type of playground for the rich?

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A Confederacy of Dunces: Part 6 of 7

ConfederacyBoeri to prove Whitey was an informant said the information that Tommy King left Boston after Buddy Leonard was murdered could only have come from Whitey. The background of this is that King and Leonard were members of the Mullins gang that posed a threat to Whitey. He killed King and then Leonard but put Leonard in the trunk of King’s car where it was found. He buried King at Tenean Beach. To throw the suspicion off himself he suggested to Connolly that King killed Leonard and has fled from the city.

That brings me to another discussion that I will not get into at this time. What is the definition of an informant? Is it as Kelly suggests giving information to an FBI agent? Is one an informant if he is providing false information? Or does it involve more, that the person have to give information that will lead to evidence against others.

Bob Bloom jumped in and said it really didn’t matter if Whitey was an informant. He was a great manipulator and business man. He ran organized crime in Boston for 25 years and corrupted the FBI here. Again we find the exaggeration of Whitey’s scope and dealings and there is no mention that the TEI program is behind all that occurred.

Berlinger said the issue didn’t matter to him but Whitey should have explained what he was doing. Kelly said it didn’t matter to guilt or innocence; he said also whether the information is good or bad does not alter the person’s status as being an informant.

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