Mike the Mad Biologist

There are now indications that more Russian exile critics of Putin who live in the UK might have been poisoned with polonium-210. Doesn’t that mean that the West’s ability to stop state-sponsored terrorism even with all of the ‘necessary’ encroachments on our civil liberties is utterly non-existent? Just asking.

Comments

  1. #1 Grady
    November 29, 2006

    Putin is former KGB.

    I use “former” somewhat sarcsstically.

    He is also an atheist.

  2. #2 lazarou
    November 29, 2006

    He’s an atheist??? Wow, I was wondering why he would be implicated in something as horrible as giving fatal radiation poisoning to one of his critics. Now it all makes sense though, stupid me…

    Of course religious politicians would never even dream about carrying out assassinations, especially not of people who had merely criticised their actions. Bush was only kidding when he trie to wipe Al-Jazeera off the map, it’s not his fault they don’t have a sense of humour!

  3. #3 Thomas
    November 29, 2006

    Apart from being irrelevant it doesn’t even seem to be true that Putin is an atheist. Wikipedia lists him as Russian Orthodox, and this seems to confirm it:
    http://www.ticketsofrussia.ru/gov/putin/religion.html
    http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7020-6.cfm

  4. #4 csrster
    November 29, 2006

    It would be amusing to compile examples of bad science reporting resulting from this event. One report I read yesterday stated that his urine contained substantial amounts of alpha radiation. Well, sorry, alpha radiation _radiates_, at the speed of light (pretty much). What they found presumably was that his urine contained a _source_ of alpha radiation.

    The BBC also reported that the alpha radiation would only be dangerous to nursing staff if it came into contact with an open wound. oh dear …

  5. #5 Joshua
    November 29, 2006

    The answer is simple, Mike: these state-sponsored terrorists aren’t Muslim, so who cares?

  6. #6 Roman Werpachowski
    November 30, 2006

    I think the major fact is that these state-sponsored terrorists have nukes and deliver a significant part of Europe’s energy supply.

    Now you can see what could happen if North Korea becomes a nuclear power. Untouchable and unrestrained.

  7. #7 Tyler DiPietro
    November 30, 2006

    Some things just aren’t adding up about this whole story. I know the media has been taking it as a license to revive Cold-War era Russophobia, but there is so far no direct evidence that Putin did it. And I find it hard to believe that a Russian president sitting awash in oil revenue and on good terms with the west would sink his reputation, especially given these facts about the situation:

    1. Litvinenko was nothing but a ranting non-entity since his Russian exile, proffering conspiracy theories that are no more credible than those of our own homegrown nuts (e.g., Alex Jones). Why would Putin waste his time on this dumb fuck, especially given that he was obviously no threat?

    2. Everyone we know Litvinenko met that day (Scaramella, Lugovi, etc.) was vehemently anti-Putin as well.

    3. As many have pointed out, Polonium 210 is expensive and could easily indicate state involvement. If this was a KGB style assassination, Putin might as well has left his business card, a brochure and gift basket with extensive contact information. Why all this, when a bullet would have been just as effective?

    I think that, if it wasn’t Putin, it becomes even scarier. It says a lot more about our security against nuclear terrorism than we’d like to hear.

  8. #8 Roman Werpachowski
    December 1, 2006

    “Litvinenko was nothing but a ranting non-entity since his Russian exile, proffering conspiracy theories that are no more credible than those of our own homegrown nuts”

    Well the point is that for those who know more about how Russia was and is run, stories about FSB (Russia’s security service) blowing up its own citizens in order to blame it on the “terrorists” make a lot of sense. Consider the following *facts*:
    - both Yeltsin and Putin attacked their own citizens in Chechnya, for political reasons killing tens of thousands of innocent people by direct artillery fire (so even don’t try to compare this to Iraq); Yeltsin sobered up later on and, under the influence of *deceased* general Lebed, made peace with Chechen leaders, which Putin later broke
    - Putin did not accept foreign help to rescue sailors from the sank nuclear submarine “Kursk”, sentencing them to death; he put state secrets over the lives of >100 people
    - the FSB stormed the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow, killing a lot of hostages with unkown type of gas (they didn’t tell the Moscow doctors in the hospitals what kind of gas it was, so that they could rescue the poisoned hostages), without trying to negotiate with the terrorists — they didn’t want to lose prestige.
    - Russian air force routinely violates the air space of Lithuania, a former Russian colony
    - Polish company Orlen, against the wishes of the Russian Gazprom, buys the Lithuanian oil refinery Mozejki; “accidentally”, just before the final deal is signed, a fire breaks out in Mozejki and destroys a significant part of the refinery
    - remember two years ago, when in Ukraine a Russia-backed candidate for presidency, Yanukovych, had trouble with competition from democratic candidate Yushchenko? “Someone” poisoned Yushchenko and he fought for his life for a month in Vienna. Who do you think that poisoner could be?

    The editorial blurb of Litwinenko’s book “This book attempts to demonstrate that modern Russia’s most fundamental problems do not result from the radical reforms of the liberal period of Yeltsin’s terms as president, but from the open or clandestine resistance offered to these reforms by the Russian special services.” is not a conspiracy theory — it’s a truism. Putin is a former secret service man. He still thinks like one.

    “As many have pointed out, Polonium 210 is expensive and could easily indicate state involvement. If this was a KGB style assassination, Putin might as well has left his business card, a brochure and gift basket with extensive contact information. Why all this, when a bullet would have been just as effective?”

    That’s the whole point. It was a message “don’t fuck with us”.

  9. #9 Monado
    December 1, 2006

    “….or you will die horribly.”

  10. #10 Tyler DiPietro
    December 2, 2006

    - remember two years ago, when in Ukraine a Russia-backed candidate for presidency, Yanukovych, had trouble with competition from democratic candidate Yushchenko? “Someone” poisoned Yushchenko and he fought for his life for a month in Vienna. Who do you think that poisoner could be?

    Yushchenko’s story fell apart not long after it was disseminated. For one thing, soup wasn’t even available on the menu when he claimed to have dinner at the dacha restaurant where he claimed to have taken in dioxin poisoning, and there are also serious questions about whether dioxin could’ve taken it’s effect as quickly as he claimed. And, of course more strangely, he’s been the primary culprit in holding up any investigation into the matter.

    Needless to say, I take Yushshenko’s story with a grain of salt, same for the neoconservative Westerners and defense industry high-ups who were enthusiastic about having another client in NATO and all too eager to buy his own approved anti-Russian propaganda without sufficient evidence.

    Nonetheless, Litvinenko makes even him look credible compared to his accusation that Putin was responsible for the Beslan massacre and 9/11. And no evidence has surfaced to implicate the FSB in either case. But who needs facts when Cold-War era Russophobia is just so much easier?

  11. #11 Tyler DiPietro
    December 2, 2006

    Sorry, meant to add this:

    That’s the whole point. It was a message “don’t fuck with us”.

    And assassinating a naturalized British citizen on British soil through covert amounts to an act of war, which is unwise for Putin when he’s sitting on good relations with the west and a butt-load of oil revenue. I highly doubt he would waste it all on small Potatoes like Litvinenko, on top of doing such a shitty job of it overall.

  12. #12 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    Nonetheless, Litvinenko makes even him look credible compared to his accusation that Putin was responsible for the Beslan massacre and 9/11. And no evidence has surfaced to implicate the FSB in either case. But who needs facts when Cold-War era Russophobia is just so much easier?

    A lot more people claim that Putin’s henchmen were responsible for fucking up Beslan. They could negotiate but they didn’t, for reasons of prestige.

    W/r to Yushchenko: he *was* gravely ill. What do you claim, that he did it to himself in order to win the election? Absurd. The article you linked to is 2 years old and says that Yushchenko didn’t want to bring up the topic of poisoning during the elections. If that says anything about him, it says the opposite to what YOU say. The fact that Yushchenko’s opponents tried to falsify the elections, that Putin readily accepted the rigged results and congratulated Yanukovych his false “win”, show even more clearly how deeply Russia was involved in internal Ukraine politics and how much interested they were in preventing Yushchenko from winning. The post-Soviet people like Putin still see Ukraine as their “sphere of influence” and can’t stand Ukraine steering towards democracy and freedom. Compare Moscow’s attitude towards Yushchenko (almost open hostility) with the attitude towards Lukashenka, Byelarussia’s dictator (who recently openly admitted to manipulating the voting results), who is “our man” for Putin, and you get the picture. Recall how Russia tried to punish Ukraine by stopping the natural gas supply *in the middile of the winter*. If you want to be a reliable supplier, you don’t do such things to your customers — unless you want to play politics with energy supply.

    Last of all: it’s not Russophoba, a lot of bright and educated Russians want democracy and would get rid of Putin, a lot of them see the crimes Russian Army committed in Chechnya. People like Galina Starovoytove (murdered), Anna Politkovskaya (also murdered) and many others, like the “Memorial” organization, have my deepest respect. This is not Russophobia, this is Sovietophobia, a fear that Putin is bringing Russia back to the times from before 1989. Putin doesn’t want to shred ties with Russia’s totalitarian past, he didn’t even want to carry on the investigation of the Katyn mass murder of 1940!

  13. #13 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    “And assassinating a naturalized British citizen on British soil through covert amounts to an act of war, which is unwise for Putin when he’s sitting on good relations with the west and a butt-load of oil revenue.”

    The point is, he doesn’t have good relations with the West. Recent EU-Russia summit was an example.

  14. #14 Tyler DiPietro
    December 2, 2006

    Roman:

    1. Litvinenko doesn’t only claim that Putin “fucked up” Beslan, he claims that he was responsible for it, as well as 9/11, and simply pinned on those peace loving Chechnyans. Those aren’t credible claims, no matter how you spin them.

    2. Yes, the article I linked was two years old, and that makes a great point that you seem willing to ignore. Why hasn’t any new information surfaced in the case in over two years? I highly doubt that, given Yushchenko’s past behavior and his contradiction-riddled stories about what happened, that he would sit on even the most circumstantial of evidence that could pin it on Putin. The fact that he was a political opponent of Putin (and a trenchant ally of the American military-industrial complex) isn’t enough to close the case. Same for the Litvinenko incident.

    3. The political struggle in Ukraine had about as much to do with democracy and freedom as our adventure in Iraq, our support of the Contras in Nicaragua, our support of Pinochet in Chile, etc. Yushchenko got his support from us because of his expressed support for “upgrading” the Ukrainian military to meet NATO standards. It was a transparent attempt to establish our own satellite and stick a dagger into the face of a potential challenger to our hegemony.

    4. Democracy in Russia already exists, with Putin getting 70% of the vote in the last election and the Westernized Liberal-Democrats, associated with the rigged privatizations and embezzlement of the Yeltsin era, representing about a 10th. of the population. You may disagree with the results, but they bear themselves out pretty well, at least with regard to what the Russians, as opposed to Western foreign policy wonks and their handful of Russian sympathizers, want.

    5. He may not have perfect relations with the West, but he has no reason to assassinate a naturalized British citizen just so he can wave his dick in the air, or furthermore create a potential public health problem in Britain that could amount to state-sanctioned nuclear terrorism. There is no incentive for Putin to do this, and no evidence so far that he did (other than Litvinenko’s own absurd conspiracy theories on the matter) that Scotland Yard has been able to find.

  15. #15 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    I’ve been living a bit closer to Kiev then you in 2004 and remember the atmosphere very well. Poles supported the “Orange Revolution” because Kuchma falsified the election results and did not allow Ukrainian people to express their will. End of story.

  16. #16 Tyler DiPietro
    December 2, 2006

    BTW, if Roman is especially tuned in to suspicious deaths of political figures, I’m wondering what he thinks of the extraordinarily high number of suicides committed by former regime members under Yushchenko in Ukraine. Can I with a similar grandiosity assume that Yushchenko is behind them as everyone seems to be to assume that Putin is behind the death of every small time political dissident?

  17. #17 Tyler DiPietro
    December 2, 2006

    I’ve been living a bit closer to Kiev then you in 2004 and remember the atmosphere very well. Poles supported the “Orange Revolution” because Kuchma falsified the election results and did not allow Ukrainian people to express their will. End of story.

    Perhaps. However, I’m talking about Western support of Yushchenko, which probably has less to do with his support of “democracy and freedom” as it does with his willingness to cooperate with NATO. You’ll notice that American zeal for democratic revolution has seemingly missed any of the countries in the anti-Russian and pro-U.S. GUUAM alliance. A coincidence, no doubt.

  18. #18 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    Yushchenko as a president of Ukraine does not act like a “trenchant ally of American military-industrial complex” (whatever this Cold War-era phrase now really means). The fact that us use such slogans (instead of just saying “ally of the USA”) indicates your bias, Tyler.

  19. #19 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    “You’ll notice that American zeal for democratic revolution has seemingly missed any of the countries in the anti-Russian and pro-U.S. GUUAM alliance. A coincidence, no doubt.”

    Bullshit. Firs of all, Ukraine is a member of GUUAM. Second, Georgia got support from the USA as well.

    You seem to suspect and dislike everyone who ever got support from the USA. A coincidence, no doubt.

  20. #20 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    Coming back to Litvinenko’s accusations towards FSB (formerly known as KGB) and Putin, read those two links:

    http://context.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2004/09/03/101.html

    http://www.rferl.org/features/2002/09/06092002192656.asp

    Litvinenko was not a lone loony.

  21. #21 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    Interestingly, Litvinenko reputedly called Putin a pedophile.

  22. #22 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006
  23. #23 Tyler DiPietro
    December 2, 2006

    Yushchenko as a president of Ukraine does not act like a “trenchant ally of American military-industrial complex” (whatever this Cold War-era phrase now really means).

    So you think that our support for Yushchenko has absolutely nothing to do with his support of NATO and his strategic position with regard to Russia and everything to do with America’s altruistic need to spread democracy? Furthermore, my use of GUUAM was meant to indicate exactly what my posts have alluded to: that U.S. support for states has far more to do with strategy than the respective state’s commitment to democracy and freedom, and if you need corroboration just ask the residents of a good chunk of Latin America.

    As for the rest of your comments:

    1. I admit I have a bias against the Manichean “Superhero American against evil-villain Russia” version of the Cold-War, it’s not something I hide.

    2. Litvinenko may not be a lone-nut, but he’s a still a nut. There is no credible evidence implicating Putin in Beslan, and certainly not in 9/11 as Litvinenko also claimed. I’ll also note that our own “9/11 Truth movement” is hardly a bunch of “loners”, it’s an entire movement, and similar to Russia’s in that it springs from obvious political biases among it’s adherents.

    But back on topic, I’m still wondering why Putin is automatically considered the culprit here. The whole incident reminds me quite a bit of the Syria/Harriri incident a while back. I don’t see any clear motivation for Putin to do what is claimed, and certainly not to have done such a sloppy job of it (the KGB is usually far more meticulous).

  24. #24 Tyler DiPietro
    December 2, 2006

    Just to get as much of the facts on the table as possible, there are more plausible suspects than Putin being investigated.

  25. #25 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    “o you think that our support for Yushchenko has absolutely nothing to do with his support of NATO and his strategic position with regard to Russia and everything to do with America’s altruistic need to spread democracy?”

    No. I consider it as a shades of gray issue, not as black-and-white issue (as you do, since you imply that the West supported Yushchenko *only* for reason other than the support for democracy in Ukraine).

    What you apparently fail to see is that there is no conflict between the desire to support democracy in Ukraine and the desire to strengthen the position of the NATO. It is in Europe’s best interest to have a friendly and democratic Ukraine. That’s why EU officials travelled to Kiev in 2004 (though reluctantly at first). The fuss was started then not because the wrong guy won, but because the elections were RIGGED in favor of Yushchenko’s opponent. If Yanukovych had won fair and square, there would be no fuss then and the West would treat him like a partner. A year later Yanukovych won the parliamentary elections, became a prime minister and was not ostracized by the West in any way.

    “But back on topic, I’m still wondering why Putin is automatically considered the culprit here.”

    Perhaps because of this?

    “I don’t see any clear motivation for Putin to do what is claimed, and certainly not to have done such a sloppy job of it (the KGB is usually far more meticulous).”

    I’ll reiterate my point: it was not sloppy, it was a message. You judge Putin by Western standards, i.e. if we kill someone, we try to do it as secretly as possible to avoid blame, since we know we do the wrong thing (or at least care about the opinion of others that much). While for Putin, he tries to prove how ruthless he is. The traditions of the Tzars were alive all the time through the history of the USSR. You won’t understand the USSR and you won’t understand modern Russia without reading up on fellows like Ivan Grozny. Tzars liked to show how powerful and ruthless they were to their enemies. Putin wanted to send a message, that’s why he chose such an exotic and cruel method. The message says “don’t fuck with us”.

    BTW, do you also think that Anna Politkovskaya was a “loony”? That those “Memorial” guys are loonies?

  26. #26 Roman Werpachowski
    December 2, 2006

    “Just to get as much of the facts on the table as possible, there are more plausible suspects than Putin being investigated.”

    Yeah, because every Russian gangster has the access to pure Polonium-210.

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