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Friday, October 19, 2007

Latynina on the "Assassination Threat"

Writing in the Moscow Times, Echo Moskvy host and hero journalist Yulia Latynina comments on the recent revelation of a so-called "assassination threat" against Russian dictator Vladimir Putin:

Interfax quoted "a reliable source in the security service" as saying there was a plan to assassinate President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Iran. With assassination attempts, however, it is the details that are really important. But no details are known in these cases.

And this is not the first time we have heard about the heroic accomplishments of the security services. Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev shocked everyone when he claimed that his agency thwarted terrorist attacks at the Sochi, St. Petersburg and Samara summits.

This is a bit strange, isn't it? If terrorist acts had indeed been averted, then those who were planning them should be prosecuted and jailed. But there are no such cases in the courts. Of course, we could assume that there were no court proceedings precisely because the terrorists were captured in top-secret operations and that the offenders were "wiped out in the outhouse" in the dark of night.

Patrushev also claimed that the FSB had prevented 300 terrorist attacks last year -- twice the number the agency stopped the previous year. How is this possible? The number of insurgents has been falling as their funding sources dry up. Under such circumstances, it is unlikely that the number of thwarted terrorist plots could increase. At the same time, however, the number of courageous majors and captains from various security services seems to have increased as they uncover explosives and claim, "We averted another terrorist act."

In addition, the FSB recently thwarted an attempt by Islamic extremists to assassinate St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko. An entire platoon of special forces agents seized a couple of young Muslims after they bought explosives. The apartment where the young guys had been meeting to discuss Muslim principles and condemn gay parades turned out to be stuffed with hidden cameras, strangely enough. But for some reason the heroic FSB agents weren't able to take the suspects into custody. Nor was the owner of the apartment arrested, even though his conversations with the suspects were caught on video. And, for some reason, the owner looked more frequently at the camera concealed in the wall than at his interlocutors.

Putin is surrounded by people who are inept at running business as well as government. But they do know how to do one thing very well -- fight enemies of the state. And when there are no enemies, they invent them. After all, the greater the number of enemies you are able to unmask, the more stars you get to pin on your uniform and -- even more important -- the more the president will depend upon you because you, and only you, can save him from assassination attempts at summits in St. Petersburg, Sochi, Samara and now Tehran.

By the way, the last time our security services were mentioned in connection with Tehran was when they claimed to know the exact date when the United States would begin military operations against Iran. This was pure disinformation. Nevertheless, the statement had the desired effect: Oil prices rose sharply, and those who were involved in this scheme earned a nice amount of money. Most people are used to treating such security service leaks seriously, and they would find it difficult to believe that a federal security organization would intentionally risk its own reputation so that a few generals could make money on energy futures.

In any event, it is safe to predict that the number of averted assassination attempts on Putin will increase as we approach the March presidential election. And, following the murders of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya and former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, it will only take one thwarted attempt on our beloved president's life -- which will be attributed to anti-Kremlin politician Garry Kasparov and, of course, the CIA -- for the situation in Russia to become irreversible.

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