Friday, November 24, 2006

What is Going on in Russia?

Events of the last week raise the question: Is the Cold War really over, or not?

We've had a glimpse into the ruthlessness of public life in Russia this week when a former Russian spy and critic of the Kremlin was poisoned with a high dose radioactive substance.

Former spy Alexander Litvinenko has now died in a London hospital. He left a statement pointing to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his death.

According to reports, polonium-210, a radioactive element, was found in Litvinenko's body.

Before his death, Litvinenko had been investigating the death of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian investigative journalist who was gunned down Oct. 7 in her Moscow apartment building. Litivinenko had also been seeking to uncover corruption in Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB.

According to a report at, Litvinenko worked for the KGB and its successor, the FSB. In 1998, he publicly accused his superiors of ordering him to kill tycoon Boris Berezovsky and spent nine months in jail on charges of abuse of office. He was later acquitted and in 2000 sought asylum in Britain, where Berezovsky is now also living in exile.

Litvinenko's father told reporters tearfully that, "This (Russian) regime is a mortal danger to the world" and that "It was an excruciating death."

The U.K Times has an account of a final interview with Litvinenko before he died. The text of his final statement is here.

Meanwhile, Russia is selling rockets to Iran. Russia has begun deliveries of the Tor-M1 air defense rocket system to Tehran:

The United States has pressed Russia to halt military sales to Iran, which Washington accuses of harbouring secret plans to build a nuclear weapon.

Moscow has consistently defended its weapons trade with Iran. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the contract for 29 rocket systems, signed in December last year, was legitimate because the Tor-M1 has a purely defensive role.

ITAR-TASS reported that the rockets were to be deployed around Iran's nuclear sites, including the still incomplete, Russian-built atomic power station at Bushehr.

It looks to all the world as if Russia is killing its critics and arming our enemies.

1 comment:

David said...

The rockets in question apparently have the capability of attacking targets with a small radar cross section--such as cruise missiles--thus, they could greatly reduce our chances of a successful and relatively low-cost operation against the Iranian nuclear sites.