If there’s one constant in the world, it’s that militaristic strongmen love crappy action movies. So it is that Steven Seagal is good buddies with both Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman ruler of the Chechen province charged with putting down the strong Islamic and separatist insurgency there. A delegation of US congressmen recently visited the region to see if they could learn anything about the radical Islamism that may have helped spawn the Boston Marathon bombings. Amazingly, when they got there, they had some of their meetings with the Russian security apparatus set up by Steven Seagal, the old poonani lover himself. As it turns out, the leaders accused of human rights abuses are actually totally righteous dudes, according to some congressmen who spent a few days partying with them and Steven Seagal.
The congressman (Dana Rohrbacher, a California Republican, pictured) repeatedly thanked Seagal, who took credit for arranging the congressmen’s meeting at the FSB, and said it helped avoid the experience of past foreign trips when all of the meetings had been arranged by the U.S. Embassy.
“You know what we got? We got the State Department controlling all the information that we heard,” Rohrabacher said. “You think that’s good for democracy? No way!”
“We don’t need the State Department controlling the information we see, that’s bad for democracy! We need the information controlled by the counter-intelligence wing of the repressive Russian government!”
The action movie star escorted the congressmen on a trip Saturday to the site of a terrorist attack in the Caucasus town of Beslan, where militants seized a school in 2004 and took more than 1,000 people hostage, most of them children. More than 330 hostages died, most of them when federal troops stormed the school.
Seagal had invited the delegation to visit Chechnya, but the trip was called off in part because U.S. House rules would have prevented the congressmen from flying on his private plane, Rohrabacher said.
The Kremlin has given Kadyrov lavish funding and political carte blanche to fight terrorism since he came to power in 2005. Activists accuse him and his feared security forces of staggering abuses, including torture, kidnappings and murder.
“All these accusations are thrown around,” said Seagal, who was given a lavish welcome in Kadyrov’s palace. “Is there any evidence? Has he been indicted?”
“Seriously, I’m genuinely curious. I don’t even know where I am right now, or when.”
Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat said he had refused to go to Chechnya for these reasons. But Rohrabacher, who chairs the U.S. Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, said the United States should be more understanding of the threats facing Kadyrov and Putin.
“If you are in the middle of an insurrection with Chechnya, and hundreds of people are being killed and there are terrorist actions taking place and kids are being blown up in schools, yeah, guess what, there are people who overstep the bounds of legality,” he said.
While the rule of law is important, Rohrabacher added, “We shouldn’t be describing people who are under this type of threat, we shouldn’t be describing them as if they are Adolf Hitler or they’re back to the old Communism days.”
Rohrabacher and Rep. Steve King were full of praise for Russian Orthodox Christian traditions after attending a service at Moscow’s main cathedral on Sunday morning. The cathedral became a rallying point for Putin supporters and the opposition alike last year when punk group Pussy Riot staged an impromptu protest against Putin’s merging of church and state, earning them worldwide notoriety and a two-year prison sentence for “hooliganism.”
“It’s hard to find sympathy for people who would do that to people’s faith,” King said.
So, freedom of speech = bad, Russian government repression = justified. Weren’t these the same guys who had a big boner for Red Dawn not so long ago? The amazing thing is that when the congressmen were talking, you could barely see Putin’s lips move, or his hand up their asses. Anyhoo, what else did you guys find out about the radicalism of the Boston bombers, since that was the point of your big trip…
The head of a U.S. congressional delegation [Rohrbacher] said Sunday that its meetings in Russia showed there was “nothing specific” that could have helped prevent the Boston Marathon bombings.
Rep. Steve King said Russian security officials told the delegation they believed that Tsarnaev and his mother had been radicalized before moving to the United States in 2003. “I suspect he was raised to do what he did,” said King, a Republican from Iowa.
His account of the meeting at the FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, was disputed by Rep. Steven Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, who said he understood that the radicalization took place much later, when the family was living in Boston. [AP]
So, “nothing specific” and two guys who disagree on the facts of the case. Neat. It’s pretty bad when I get handed a story about Steven Seagal in Russia, and the congressmen say such dumb things that I don’t even have time to make fun of Steven Seagal and his ridiculous facial hair. At this point, I really do think we’d be better off replacing congress with golden retrievers.
In conclusion, here’s Steven Seagal doing a traditional Chechen dance.
Ahhh, I needed that.