Wednesday, November 29, 2006

From Russia, With....Love?

I think we can start to classify this as "Putin's Putsch":
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Yegor Gaidar, architect of Russia's market reforms, was being treated in a Moscow hospital on Wednesday after coming close to death with a mystery ailment during a visit to Ireland, friends and family said.

Gaidar, 50, who unleashed economic shock therapy before the dust had settled on the ruins of the Soviet Union, fell unconscious with unexplained symptoms on November 24 during a visit to Dublin to present his new book -- Death of the Empire.

[...]Gaidar, who now heads the Institute for the Economy in Transition, fell ill a day after former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital from radiation poisoning.
There used to be a word used extensively during the cold war, particularly in spy movies: "liquidation," which was particularly sexy when said with a deep fauz-Russian accent-- "leequee...dayshun"

This is now the fourth mysterious illness/death in the past three years, and the third this year alone. Along with Litvinenko, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, was shot dead last month in Moscow. Indeed, another target, Anatoly Chubais, narrowly escaped a roadside bombing and machine gun fire, not in Iraq, but on his way to his office in Moscow last year.

And of course, who could forget the poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko, elected President of Ukraine in 2004?

Is Putin behind it all? Certainly, he stands to gain from any one of these deaths/illnesses/attacks, as they involve Ukrainian bids for more autonomy, something Putin has been dead set against, despite the recent movement towards that autonomy fostered under Yeltsin (indeed, Gaidar and Chubais worked in Yeltsin's administration).

Why should this bother us? Well, Russia has a history of tyranny, for one thing, for another, this is the man, Putin, whom George Bush claimed to understand just from looking into his eyes (not a very good judge of character, unless Bush actually likes fascists), who once remarked that the fall of the Soviet Union was history's greatest tragedy.

These are all pretty much happening out in the open, which says either the KGB has lost its touch (Putin was head of the FSB, successor to the KGB) or the KGB had nothing to do with it, which opens a whole new can of worms (Russian mob taking orders from the government, or traditionalists?)

Events are unfolding. We ought to keep an eye on this.