Not Saussure

April 13, 2007

Encouragment of terrorism?

Filed under: nemesis, Russia/USSR, UK, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 8:08 pm

Boris Berezovsky and his big mouth. To my mind, he’s certainly presented HMG with a bit of a problem in the form of his interview with The Guardian:

“We need to use force to change this regime,” he said. “It isn’t possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force, pressure.” Asked if he was effectively fomenting a revolution, he said: “You are absolutely correct.”

The Guardian have the whole 42 minute interview here,to which I haven’t listened, and a couple of brief clips where he discusses using force to get rid of President Putin here and here. He also told the Guardian,

“There is no chance of regime change through democratic elections,” he says. “If one part of the political elite disagrees with another part of the political elite – that is the only way in Russia to change the regime. I try to move that.”While declining to describe these contacts – and alleging that they would be murdered if they were identified – he maintained that he was offering his “experience and ideology” to members of the country’s political elite, as well as “my understanding of how it could be done”. He added: “There are also practical steps which I am doing now, and mostly it is financial.”

As The Guardian report, the police are now investigating his remarks, including

`I am calling for revolution and revolution is always violent,”

as he apparently told Bloomberg, and

“Putin has created an authoritarian regime against the Russian constitution,” Berezovsky told The Associated Press by telephone in Britain, echoing earlier comments to the Guardian. He added, “I don’t know how it will happen, but authoritarian regimes only collapse by force.”

He’s now backtracking, rather, with a statement including the clarification,

“Under those circumstances, elections are not a viable means of ensuring democratic change in Russia. Therefore I do support using other methods to push for a change back towards democracy.”However, I wish to make very clear that all of these methods would be bloodless, with perhaps Georgia and Ukraine’s recent popular demonstrations and action being good examples.

“I do support direct action. I do not advocate or support violence.”

However, it seems to me that he’s left himself pretty much open to the suspicion that, when he published or caused to be published his initial statements, he gave the impression he

(i) intends members of the public to be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism or Convention offences; or (ii) is reckless as to whether members of the public will be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate such acts or offences.

.According to the Terrorism Act 2006, ‘the public’ means

the public of any part of the United Kingdom or of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, or any section of the public

and terrorism, as defined in The Terrorism Act 2000, includes circumstances where

the use or threat [of an action] is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause

and that action

(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system

(that’s any of the above rather than all the above, of course). To my mind, his clarification doesn’t really help him here, since the prosecution would — at least I would — argue that even if we take the charitable view that he genuinely had in mind something like the Ukraine’s ‘Orange Revolution’, one could reasonably take the view he was reckless as to how his statement might be taken by members of the public back in Russia. All this is quite apart from what any investigation of his financial assistance to groups opposed to the present regime in Russia might bring to light.

Seems to me that, quite apart from the Kremlin being justifiably somewhat irate about Mr Berezovsky’s remarks, we’ve got the problem that militant Islamists will doubtless be watching this test of the 2006 Act’s provisions about ‘indirect incitement’ to terrorism very closely. If Mr Berezovsky can get away with saying he wants a revolution in Russia and — unfortunate though this is — such a revolution can only be effected by force, then why, one might wonder, can’t someone get away with saying he wants much the same thing in Pakistan or elsewhere?

People warned at the time this was going to happen with such widely-drawn proposals, but I bet the government didn’t anticipate they might find themselves forced to test the law not against some Islamist loon with no visible means of support but against a highly successful operator who’s got several billion pounds behind him. And, of course, whatever decision they take about prosecuting or not prosecuting, people are going to remember, possibly unfairly, both the ‘national interest’ skulduggery over the decision to discontinue the BAE investigation and, should the decision be to leave Mr Berezovsky alone, the somewhat dubious dealings with wealthy men this government has had in the past (giving them peerages, for example).

This certainly promises to be interesting.

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1 Comment »

  1. Blimey – a self-created Goldstein.

    Comment by alabastercodify — April 13, 2007 @ 10:42 pm


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