A British inquiry into the murder of ex-KGB man Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed on British soil after he betrayed Putin and fled Russia, has raised questions about whether Britain can continue diplomatic relations with Russia in their current form.
“It was clear to us from the start that the murder was likely to have been ordered by President Putin.”
A critical piece in the Guardian argues that Putin’s iron-fisted rule and command-and-control style of leadership will ultimately work against him and his country.
A report into the murder of the London-based Russian was released on Thursday, and debate is already raging in Britain due to the explosive finding — it appears Putin did indeed order the murder of the man in London.
British legal analysts have judged that Litvinenko was murdered in London by the Russian government because he had become a vocal opponent of Putin’s corrupt government and state security structure. The ex-KGB agent, who was later a member of Putin’s personal security arm, moved to Britain with insider information about Russian corruption that he was willing to leak.
Indeed, after he fled Russia in 2000, Litvinenko went on to help both Britain’s MI6, and Spanish and Italian security services in exposing Russian involvement in criminal activity, according to The Telegraph.
The now-deceased Litvinenko was also responsible for publishing a now-infamous image of Putin kissing a young boy on the stomach. The ex-KGB man stated before his death that he believed Putin is a pedophile.
British legal experts who carried out the investigation took pains to demonstrate that the killing had to have been ordered by Putin himself, not one of his henchmen. It is that believed the polonium used to kill Litvinenko had to have come from a state-controlled nuclear reactor, and could only have been accessed with Putin’s approval.
“The polonium-210 that poisoned Litvinenko could only come from a state nuclear reactor and could only be given to the FSB [Putin’s security] with the go-ahead of Putin or his circle.”
Russian intelligence officers were expelled from London in the aftermath of the poisoning, and Britain cut off almost all contact with Russian security agency FSB.
Especially alarming to many was the thought that any Londoner could have been harmed by Putin’s action. Also worrying was the idea that Putin believes he is entitled to carry out killings on overseas soil — in 2006 Russia passed the so-called “Extremism Law,” justifying killings of Russians on foreign soil, in the event that those Russians are thought to be making libellous statements about the government.
The “Extremism Law” made it legal for Putin to hit back at Litvinenko, at least in the eyes of his own legal apparatus. Vladimir Putin was able to take revenge on a man who had been troublesome indeed — in the days before he was poisoned, Litvinienko not only accused Putin of being a pedophile, he stated unequivocally that Putin was behind the notorious assassination of the journalist Anna Politkovskya.
The Guardian argues that Putin’s actions are not only a danger to his overseas allies, they are dangerous for him — Russia itself is compromised by Putin’s extreme and dangerous acts.
“The events are horrifying enough – any Londoner could have been harmed – but perhaps even more telling is the window it provides into today’s Russia. This is a world of routine contract killings, always deniable because they are delivered at arm’s length, by a state security service intertwined with clandestine gangsters.”
The chumminess of the state security service and mafia in Russia may help Putin when it come to masking assassinations and weaving a web of illusion, but it will ultimately work to his disadvantage, as will the corrupt, undemocratic style of rulership Putin favors.
The Guardian report argues that Putin’s Russia may be able to produce a “Gazprom” (a dodgy Russian energy company) but if Putin continues to rule with his trademark authoritarian style, Russia will never produce a Google, an Apple, or any sort of earth-shaking, ground-breaking innovation.
“[Russia will] never create a Google, an Apple, a BBC, a Siemens or even the Anglo-Saxon rock’n’roll culture. For that, it would need the rule of law and all the open democratic structures that support it.”
According to the report, “Alexander Litvinenko, dying in agony, left a last letter cursing Putin and declaring his pride in becoming a British citizen – because of what Britain stands for.”
[Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]