Sunday, November 19, 2006

Return of the Soviet Union

Critics of Vladimir Putin and his administration in Russia have a strange habit turning up dead. Or poisoned.

The UK press is reporting on what appears to be an attempt to poison Alexander Litvinenko, a former Federal Security Bureau agent who had a falling out with Putin and defected to London six years ago.

Litvinenko was investigating the murder of maverick Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in Moscow under suspicious circumstances last month. He met a "contact" in a London restaurant who claimed to have information about those behind the murder. He became ill the next day and now, almost three weeks later, clings to life in a London hospital. The poison thallium, used to kill rats, is suspected.

It is a fair guess that the Russian government is behind this latest attempt to silence dissent against Putin and his regime. It is perhaps ironic that as we struggle to bring democracy to Iraq, the last semblance of it is slipping away from Russia. Even as we create new enemies, an old and familiar one is rising.
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