Anyone who has been reading the news for the past couple weeks is aware of the poisoning and death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB/FSB agent. As the moment the prime suspect in Litvinenko's death seems to be the Russian government.
The Russian government is also the prime suspect in the death of Anna Politkovskaya and the poisoning of Ukrainian President (then candidate) Viktor Yushchenko. If all of these turn out to be true, what does this say about Russia? Is Putin (an ex-KGB/FSB man himself) attempting a return to the more controlling Russia of old?
I realize I may be overstating things a bit but I am interested in your thoughts on the matter.
Russia has been a land governed by absolute monarchs and dictatorships since at least the 14th century. Why people believed Jeffersonian Democracy would suddenly spring forth after 1990 in Russia has always been puzzling, as even the slightest signs of representative government were quickly destroyed in 1905 and 1917. Yeltsin was a drunk, so he was a comedic figure, but he was still a by-product of the Soviet system. Putin is former KGB and can be ruthless on the enemies he can get his hands on, something he learned in the Soviet system. Is this an ideal situation? No. But, better dealing with someone who would have been described in Africa or Latin America as a Strongman 20-30 years ago (or in the U.S. would have been called President Andrew Jackson) than having anarchy in a country with several thousand nuclear warheads aimed at us.
Why this would surprise anyone is beyond me. As redsox said, they have no history of democracy as before they became a nation they were underlings of the Tatars. Given time, they may evelve politically but that will depend upon the lower classes being imporved economically. Also remember the last bit under Yeltsin was a chaotic mess and many view Putin's iron hand as better.
PARIS Whoever poisoned Alexander Litvinenko had two goals: a long and lingering death for the KGB defector and pointing a finger of accusation for his killing right in the face of Vladimir Putin.
Which leads me to believe Putin had nothing to do with it.
In an assassination, one must ask: Cui bono? To whose benefit? Who would gain from the poisoning of Litvinenko?
Certainly not Putin. Litvinenko's death puts him, the Kremlin and the KGB, now the FSB, under suspicion of having reverted to the terror tactics of Stalin, who commissioned killers to liquidate enemies like Leon Trotsky, murdered in Mexico in 1940.
What benefit could Putin conceivably realize from the London killing of an enemy of his regime, who had just become a British citizen?
Why would the Russian president, at the peak of his popularity, with his regime awash in oil revenue and himself playing a strong hand in world politics, risk a breach with every Western nation by ordering the public murder of a man who was more of a nuisance than a threat to his regime?
Litvinenko, after all, made his sensational charges against the Kremlin that the KGB, not Chechen terrorists, blew up the Moscow apartment buildings as a casus belli for a war on Chechnya and that he had refused a KGB order to assassinate oligarch Boris Berezovsky in the late 1990s.
Of late, Litvinenko has been regarded as a less and less credible figure, with his charges of KGB involvement in 9-11 and complicity in the Danish cartoons mocking Muhammad that ignited the Muslim firestorm.
Yet, listening to some Western pundits on the BBC and Fox News, one would think Putin himself poisoned Litvinenko. Who else, they ask, could have acquired polonium 210, the rare radioactive substance used to kill Litvinenko? Who else had the motive to eliminate the ex-agent who had dedicated his life to exposing the crimes of the Kremlin?
Indeed, no sooner had Litvinenko expired than his collaborator in anti-Putin politics, Alex Goldfarb, was in front of the television cameras reading Litvinenko's deathbed statement charging Putin with murder:
"You may succeed in silencing one man, but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. ... You may succeed in silencing me, but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed."
Litvinenko's statement is awfully coherent and eloquent for a man writhing in a death agony. But if he did not write it, who did? All of which leads me to conclude Putin is being set up, framed for a crime he did not commit. But then, if Putin did not order the killing, who did?
Who else could have acquired the polonium 210? Who else would kill Litvinenko to make Putin a pariah? These are the questions Scotland Yard, which also seems skeptical that Putin had a hand in this bizarre business, has begun to ask.
As the predictable effect of Litvinenko's death has been to put a cloud of suspicion over Putin and a chill over Russian relations with the West, one must ask: To whose benefit is the discrediting of Putin? Who would seek a renewal of the Cold War?
Certainly, the oligarchs and robber barons like Berezovsky many of them now dispossessed of the wealth they amassed in a collapsing Soviet Union, and all of whom have been run out of the country or imprisoned have the most powerful of motives. They hate Putin and seek to bring him down. And Goldfarb and Litvinenko both enjoyed the patronage of the billionaire Berezovsky.
Surely, rogue or retired KGB agents, passed over by Putin and bitter at Litvinenko, would have a motive: to send a message, written in polonium 210, that this is what happens to those who betray us and Mother Russia.
Scotland Yard has yet to declare this a murder case and is looking into the possibility of a "martyrdom operation" suicide dressed up like murder in which Litvinenko may have colluded. The Putin-dominated Russian press is pushing this line, as well as the idea of an oligarchs' plot to discredit Putin and destroy Russia's relations with the West.
Yet Litvinenko was still in his early 40s, with a wife and two children. While his agonizing public death would make him a celebrity even more famous than Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian anti-communist murdered in London in 1979 with a poison-tipped umbrella, Litvinenko would not be around to enjoy his fame.
America has a vital interest in this Scotland Yard investigation. What it discovers may tell us more about the character of the man into whose eyes George Bush claimed to have stared, and seen his soul, or it may tell us who the real enemies of this country are, who are out to restart the Cold War, and perhaps another hot one.
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Demonstrations are a drag. Besides, we're much too high
Unfort, any or all of that could be true. It is near impossible to sift thru the new Russian leadership and power bases.
As of 2/28/05: 101 pounds since December 7, 2004 OFFICIAL THREE-MONTH COUNT: 112 pounds on March 9, 2005 OFFICIAL SIX-MONTH COUNT: 142 pounds on June 8, 2005 OFFICIAL ONE YEAR COUNT: 187 pounds on December 7, 2005 As of 2/27/06: 202 pounds "I've lost a heavyweight" As of 7/31/06: 224 pounds
Good debate tonight. I caught most of it, and it seemed like Paul Martin was back on his heels the whole time. He seemed very uncomposed and stammered at a lot of junctures. Meanwhile, Jack Leyton (probably knowing he has nothing to lose)