The buzz among the Russophile propagandists is that Vladimir Putin wouldn’t order hits on Gaidar or Litvinenko because he has too little to gain and too much to lose. By that logic, George Bush didn’t invade Iraq or misrepresent the presence of WMD. This neo-Soviet canard falls utterly flat and not only, or even mostly, because it’s what the KGB itself is saying (although for that reason alone it should be instantly rejected). What did Putin have to gain, compared to what he had to lose, when he sent hundreds of thousands of assault rifles to Venezuela’s dictator and nuclear technology (plus missiles to defend it) to Iran over U.S. and European embargos? What did he have to gain when he attacked Chechnya? What does he have to gain by obliterating the election of local officials, the independence of television news and opposition political parties? For that matter, what did the Russian people possibly have to gain by electing a proud KGB spy in the first place? Yet, all these things were done, no matter now “irrational” they might seem. Given the Soviet legacy, it’s more than clear that all these actions are highly detrimental to the country and fatal to its image and respect in the West. And is it really to be expected that the West would rise up and sanction Putin, assuming he was proved to have given the order to kill these Russian patriot? After all, given the craven behavior of the West so far in dealing with the neo-Soviet state, what specific reason could Putin possibly have for thinking that any tangible actions would be taken even if he were caught red handed?
In fact, of course, Putin is a weak autocrat in an impoverished country. Just like OBL, Putin needs to base his power on terror, and he needs to silence credible opposition. He achieves both these goals by killing Litvinenko and Gaidar (and Politkovskaya). Russia has been taking self-destructive actions in furtherance of its crazed autocracy for time out of mind. And don’t underestimate the power of Putin’s KGB spymaster desire for revenge. It motivated his attack on Chechnya, and it explains his hatred of Litvenenko (KGB traitor) and Gaidar (destroyer of the Soviet Union) as well.
That’s to say nothing of how bizarre it is that these Russophile wackos think they have a deep insight into what goes on behind closed doors in the Kremlin, that they know Putin’s calculus of self-interest. As if. These crazies attack “russophobes” for “paranoia” in blaming the Kremlin, but they themselves have no problem in seeing massive conspiracies led by exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
And, in fact, perhaps it’s more comforting to think that Putin ordered these killings than that he didn’t. At least if he did, that means somebody is in charge and we know who that somebody is. If people in Russia can get hold of radioactive weapons and use them without Putin’s direct authority, then Putin is nothing but camouflage for the real evil power that dwells within the Kremlin, one we have yet to even see.
There’s a sublime irony here: Putin said that there WERE no “rogue elements” in the KGB when the Moscow apartment buildings exploded. Now he’s hoist with his own petard and, if he was right then, must take full responsibility for these killings.
Meanwhile, reader Jeremy Putley points to an story in yesterday’s Guardian that reports on a “secret hit squad” that began targeting Litvinenko and Berezovsky as early as 2002:
Detectives are investigating letters smuggled out of Russia purporting to show the existence of a secret squad set up to target poisoned spy Alexander Litvinenko and others. Scotland Yard has been passed copies of two letters apparently penned in jail by former Russian intelligence officer Mikhail Trepashkin, in one of which Mr Litvinenko is warned that both he and his family are at risk. Mr Litvinenko’s London friend Alex Goldfarb said scans of the letters came into his possession on Thursday and he passed them to Scotland Yard. Mr Trepashkin, who worked for the KGB’s successor the FSB until 1997, was tried in 2004, accused of being a British spy and passing secret information to Mr Litvinenko and his close friend the tycoon Boris Berezovsky, both exiled in London. Mr Litvinenko, who died a week ago from radiation poisoning, believed he had been murdered for criticising Russian president Vladimir Putin. A special post-mortem examination is taking place on his body at the Royal London Hospital. Traces of the radioactive substance polonium 210, which was found in a sample of Mr Litvinenko’s urine, have since been detected at 12 sites, including British Airways planes. The letters include one to Mr Litvinenko which he never received, as well as one to his friend Mr Goldfarb. In the message to Mr Litvinenko on November 20, Mr Trepashkin recalls a conversation in August 2002 in which he warned Mr Litvinenko – already living in London – that he and his family were at risk from the FSB. Mr Trepashkin tells his friend that he had met an FSB contact near a railway station in Russia who told him that a “very serious group” had been set up, which “will knock out all those associated with Berezovsky and Litvinenko”. The letter says that Mr Trepashkin was urged to co-operate with the group and provide information on Mr Litvinenko and members of his family. Mr Goldfarb said the other letter, addressed to him and written on November 25, detailed an offer to be a witness in the British investigation. Mr Goldfarb, who says that he can attest to the authenticity of the handwriting, said he had immediately passed the letters to police. Scotland Yard said that it could not confirm specific details on the investigation.“This continues to be an extremely complex investigation and detectives are pursuing many lines of inquiries,” a spokesman said, adding: “I think it is significant because it shows that there was an FSB group set up back in 2002 that targeted Litvinenko and Berezovsky.”
In another development, many sources including ABC News Online are reporting that Litvinenko’s companion Mario Scaramella, an Italian who met the Russian at a London sushi restaurant on November 1, the day he fell ill, has also been contaminated with radioactive poisoning. ABC reports as well that “Britain has also faced a major challenge to reassure the public after traces of radiation were found at 12 sites and aboard planes, which have carried more than 33,000 passengers in the past month, many flying between London and Moscow.”
And the AP is reporting that a London hotel had to be evacuated as police continue to find traces of radiactivity as the try to follow its trail to the killers. Here we see the neo-Soviet disregard for the value of human life displayed in all its horror. Why do they feel they can act with impunity? Have we given them reason to think differently?