05 December 2006
I am sitting in my hotel room high above the streets of Manhattan, overlooking Central Park, back in New York for the first time in over four years. For much of the past four years I have, accidentally, become a student of Russia and Russian politics and I have been itching to blog on this topic, but being rather busy lately, I have not managed to do so, but here goes...
The demonisation of Putin and the current Russian administration has become so widespread it is no scandal when a British cabinet minister basically accuses the Russian government - supposedly a "friendly" state - of orchestrating a murder of a British citizen on British soil.
Little comment has been made of the fact that Britain has been offering political asylum to some rather dubious characters. Leaving aside the Chelski factor, the most high profile refugee is Boris Berezovsky, an oligarch who made a fortune from buying State-owned assets at knock down prices from the Yeltsin regime. How did he do it? He had the bright idea of publishing Yelstin's autobiography which gave him a "legitimate" reason to visit the Kremlin on a regular basis and hand over large amounts of cash to the President on the pretext that sales were booming and the contents of the suitcase were simply royalties.
What would the reaction of the British public be if, say the cash for honours scandal was a hundred times worse - instead of cash to the Labour Party, it went straight to Blair, and instead of giving out honours, he had given away to Lord Levy - or whoever - something the British hold dear - e.g. the Post Office - or worse, all Rural sub-post offices (but profitable ones...) - and then David Cameron got into power, tried to bring Lord Levy to justice, but he was given political asylum by France. We'd be pretty hacked off, I imagine.
So Britain has effectively invited Russia to deal with its miscreants in London, since half of them have been allowed to move there. The simple solution would be to deport the whole lot of them and allow Russia to decide what it wants to do with them. This would, in the long run, also make the Premiership a lot more interesting.
Second point is, the whole radiation plot looks like someone wanted the world to assume that the Russian state was responsible for Litvinenko. Maybe he wasn't really supposed to die, maybe he was supposed to point the finger at Putin and then recover? Or maybe he had fallen out with some other powerful Russian interests who wanted him dead. If the Russian state wanted to murder someone my guess is that they would make it look like a gangland killing - bang - unless they wanted to take responsibility a la Trotsky, which clearly they don't.
As for the polonium-105, I have continued to travel quite happily with British Airways (and no, I am not boycotting it over the cross fiasco either), but continue to follow my usual practice when travelling by any form of public transport of not licking any surfaces. So far I have not transformed into the Ready Brek kid...