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Monday, February 12, 2007

More Russophile Gibberish on Litvinenko

Here's an article (with LR's running commentary) by an abject moron named Justin Raimondo (pictured, left) from the Ethernet blog which tries to help the Kremlin avoid blame for the Litvinenko killing. Raimondo is the wacko publisher of "" and here he is "anti-war" in the same way that good old Neville Chamberlain was. Notice how he only mentions Litvinenko and Yushchenko as indications of Kremlin malevolence. Not a word about Anna Politkovskaya, no mention of Yuri Shchekochikhin or any of the other Kremlin-critical journalists murdered since Putin took power, no mention of the attack on Yegor Gaidar. No mention of the Khodorkovksy sham trial, no reference to the Kremlin's recent conviction for torture in Chechnya. What's more, no mention in the article (dated February 7th) of the report by ABC News on January 26th that a highly placed official in the British government had confirmed their investigation showed it was a Kremlin hit. Notice, too, how he won't say one single word about what he'd be prepared to do if it turns out the Kremlin is guilty. Just a blindly partisan screed even as he attacks others for allegedly telling only one side of the story. It's a Maalox moment:

It isn't very often that we come across news of a radioactive poisoning, let alone a state-sponsored one, but in the past few months we've had no less than two – and, more significantly, two completely different reactions from the "mainstream" media and Western governments (or do I repeat myself?). The first such alleged poisoning was the death of Alexander Litvinenko, whose supposed status as a prominent Russian "dissident" set him up as the perfect candidate for a KGB-style "hit." Or so the public relations campaign unleashed by Russian oligarch-gangster Boris Berezovsky would have us believe. There are several problems with this scenario, however, not the least of which is the question: instead of poisoning him with $10 million worth of polonium, a rare radioactive substance – after traipsing all over London and half of Europe, spilling it and leaving a radioactive trail in hotel rooms, private homes, offices, and airliners – why didn't they just put a bullet in the back of his head?

LR: The author appears unaware of recent reports that the Polonium used cost thousands, not millions, of dollars. But let's say he's right, and it did cost millions. So, he's saying it's credible that Boris Berezovsky (or some other unnamed Kremlin foe) would not only spend $10 million to buy this "rare radioactive substance" from illicit sources in Russia, thereby exposing himself to worldwide criminal liability in the massive investigation that would inevitably follow, but would use it to kill someone who is an ally in attacking the Kremlin. On the other hand, he saying it's totally incredible that the Kremlin would use such a substance, which it can get for free, and use it to kill one of its most vocal dissidents? And it's irrelevant that Scotland Yard, which is investigating the matter, has not said one single word about Berezovsky being involved, while they've been reported to have blamed the Kremlin. And it's irrelevant that not one but two high-ranking KGB defectors (Gordievsky and Kalugin) have confirmed that Litvinenko was killed by the Kremlin. Right?

The alternative is that Alexander Litvinenko, who this guy says is an absolute nobody that the Kremlin couldn't care less about, got his hands on $10 million worth of Russian polonium and then spilled it, killing himself, and blamed it on the Kremlin, which for some unknown reason failed to tell the world that its polonium had been pilfered. This all makes perfect sense. Right? And it's all balanced and fair, unlike the coverage this orangutan is attacking. Right?

Why not shoot him? Well, because that wouldn't cause him to suffer so long and publicly, and hence it wouldn't be a warning to others. It's not really that complicated, except to an abject moron like this one here. Also, it wouldn't be a really good test of a powerful new weapon the KGB had invented. In other words, it wouldn't kill two birds with one stone. Is this guy really qualified to lecture us on how the KGB thinks? Is it possible he imagines he is?

The other killing this little reptile is making reference to involves an Arab, and he thinks Israel could have been responsible. He's shocked an offended that the idea of Israel killing a suspected Arab terrorist isn't just as offensive to us as the idea of the Kremlin killing a dissident. He seems to genuinely feel that the governments of Israel and Russia are equally threatening to the West. In other words, he's a lunatic. He doesn't seem to be aware that Israel is a tiny little country with no control over a gigantic supply of oil and no huge nuclear arsenal aimed at the US, no proud KGB spy as "president" and no legacy of seeking to "bury" the West. Perhaps, somebody should clue him in.

Even if they had resorted to such mundane measures, however, another question arises: why bother? The truth of the matter is that hardly anyone in Russia ever heard of Litvinenko – and if they had it is unlikely that either his political views or his activities on behalf of Berezovsky would have put him in good stead with the Russian people.

LR: Too bad this ape (sorry, apes!) doesn't read the papers (or simply this blog) a bit more. If he did, he'd know about the big scandal in which Litvinenko's photograph was used for target practice by the KGB with a high-ranking Kremlin official in attendance. He'd also know about the BBC interview in which a former director of the KGB called Litvinenko a traitor who deserved killing. Nobody ever said the Kremlin killed Litvinenko because the Russian public wanted him dead. Anybody who thinks the Kremlin is concerned about what the Russian people want can only be a world-class idiot. Incidentally: Does this maniac really think he has a pipeline to the inner thought processes of the KGB, so he knows what motivates them and how they would respond to a given situation?

In spite of the tremendous puff-job being done on him – apparently no less than two Hollywood studios are competing to come out with the first movie about the Litvinenko affair, one of which stars Johnny DeppLitvinenko was hardly a "dissident" on the level of, say, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. His kooky ideas – that the KGB is really behind al-Qaeda, and plotted the 9/11 terrorist attacks – compromising allegiances (aside from being a paid employee of Berezovsky's, he regularly palled around with Chechen terrorists), and dubious moral character (shortly before his death, he announced to an interviewer that he was planning to blackmail several prominent Russian business figures and politicians) belie the posthumous portrait of him as a saintly martyr to the cause of freedom and democracy in Russia.

LR: That's true, Litvinenko and Solzhenitsyn were dissimilar in many ways. For instance, Litvinenko didn't return to Russia after his exile and publicly support the Putin dictatorship, or try to host a bizarre TV talk show, the way Solzhenitsyn did. KGB support for terrorist organizations is documented on the world wide web ad nauseam, from the highest-level sources in both Western and Soviet intelligence. Notice how the author doesn't mention the "interviewer" (Julia Svelitchnaya) by name, or mention the questions that have been raised about her possible Kremlin connections, or explain why Litvinenko would announce to someone he didn't know that he intended to engage in blackmail (much less quote any actual language of Litvinenko to that effect)?

And for the record, nobody has said Litvinenko was a saint. What they've said is that he was a harsh critic of the Kremlin who was silenced in an outrageous act of international murder, right after the Russian Duma passed a law allowing this to occur. That this ape dares to claim alliances, as he does, with the libertarian cause while rationalizing such action by the neo-Soviet state clearly establishes just how demented he really is. Apparently, this so-called "libertarian" believes it's OK for a government to kill somebody, as long as it's a nasty somebody. So much for his principles!

In short, Litvinenko opposed Putin but hardly represented a credible threat to the Russian president. There was simply no reason for the Russians to assassinate him, and too many reasons – aside from his relative unimportance – not to. After all, Litvinenko was a British citizen who died on British soil: for the Russians to have offed him, in this context, would amount to an open declaration of war.

LR: Is this wacko really saying what he seems to be? Is he saying that Russians never do anything that doesn't make sense? Can he "explain" their behavior in the Kursk submarine sinking? Can he "explain" why the USSR devoted 25% of its GDP to military spending in a futile arms race with the USA, then disappeared? Can he "explain" the rationality of voting for a proud KGB spy to be the country's president, and favoring him with 75% approval ratings when the average wage is $300 per month and the population loses 1 million every year, and after the KGB murdered millions of innocent Russians during the Soviet era?

And again, does he really believe he has a pipeline to the secret corridors of the Kremlin and knows what they thought about Litvinenko? Is he that mental? In addition to silencing a vocal critic who was starting to investigate the Politkovskaya killing, in addition to sending a powerful message to all other Kremlin critics of what will happen if they dare to challenge The Power, in addition to sending a message to Britain about what Russia is prepared to do to punish it for protecting Boris Berezovsky, the killing also provides the Kremlin with a perfect basis to leverage Berezovsky's extradition, using the blackmail tactic of withholding cooperation on the Litvinenko killing (and even trying to blame it on Berezovsky himself, as this 8-ball author is oh-so-helpfully doing).

Declaration of war? This guy belongs in the loony bin. Does he really believe that if Britain conclusively proves it was the Kremlin that ordered the hit, it will declare war on Russia? Talk about credibility problems! Britain is in no position even to to do Russia serious economic harm, much less to launch a military assault. It burned its bridges with Russia during the G-8 Summit when both Tony Blair and his wife went after Putin on human rights. After that, the Kremlin knew it could no longer manipulate the British, so it had nothing at all to lose by killing Litvinenko there. In fact, it sent a message of how dirty it was willing to play if Britain got uppity. Now to be sure, killing a dissident on AMERICAN soil might be dangerous. But that didn't happen, now did it?

It makes no sense to assume that Putin or anyone in a position of authority in Russia pulled off this messy alleged assassination, yet the Western media rushed – nay, stampeded – to validate this improbable scenario. The British tabloids were awash in breathless accounts of past KGB hits, from the assassination of Leon Trotsky (the neocons never got over that one) to the elaborate poisonings carried out by the Russian secret service in the past. The American media followed suit. Invariably, the very different case of Viktor Yushchenko was raised, which has never been solved to this day – and which the Ukrainian authorities seem to have mysteriously dropped from their list of active investigations. On the Litvinenko and Yushchenko incidents, I have expressed my doubts about the semi-official narratives, which point to alleged Russian perfidy. This crude attempt to characterize the Russian government as run by serial poisoners evokes the old familiar Cold War imagery that portrayed the Russians as invariably sinister: it also depends on the reputation of the Stalin-era KGB, which has little if anything to do with the present-day FSB. So I won't go too deeply into these questions here, except to note that there is much more evidence regarding another incident of possible state-sponsored assassination, by means of radioactive poisoning, of a prominent person on his native soil.

LR: Let's ask the author a simple question. How many enemies of the Kremlin would have to be brutally killed before he would accept the possibility of Kremlin involvement? 100? 1,000? 10,000? What sort of person is willing to gamble with people's lives in this way? Not the kind you'd want to turn your back on, that's for sure.

The Litvinenko "assassination" – which could just as easily have been a case of a failed smuggling operation – was covered, and is still being covered, with wall-to-wall articles, and even two movies-in-the-making.

LR: So let's see if we understand. There's absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support the author's claim, but he believes it's reasonable that Alexander Litvinenko, a "nobody" and a defector from Russia, could get his hands on $10 million worth of Russian polonium in order to sell it to somebody. He can speculate about such things and it's perfectly reasonable, but if anyone speculates about the Kremlin being involved they are paranoid nuts, Right? But, wouldn't being able to get so much Russian polonium make Litvinenko a "somebody," and somebody that the Kremlin would really like to kill? And if he did so, wouldn't the Kremlin come forward and say "hey, this guy just stole our polonium!" Would it be logical that the Kremlin would report such a dangerous theft as soon as it occurred? After all, the author is sure the Kremlin never does irrational things, isn't he? The level of intellectual cowardice, dishonesty and ideological frenzy necessary to support this kind of gibberish is hard to imagine.

The Litvinenko affair, according to the version peddled in the Western media, dramatizes a narrative that both journalists and Western government officials have a whole lot invested in: they've largely swallowed the neocon-Cheney line that Russia is backsliding into authoritarianism, and that Putin – characterized as a neo-Soviet reincarnation of Stalin – represents a threat to the West. That's why the media is so willing to overlook the logical inconsistencies in the "Putin did it" theory, and, fueled by plenty of press releases from the Berezovsky organization, continues to point an accusing finger at Moscow without a single iota of solid evidence.

Interestingly, the author states that he believes the Israeli special forces were involved in a recent killing of an Arab using radioactive poison, yet he doesn't point to a "single iota of evidence" to support his claim. That's classic Russophile hypocrisy. Does this wacko somehow imagine he is an unbiased truth-seeker while using terms like "neocon"? Does he think that the abolition of all local elections, the nationalization of all television news and the usurpation of the entire energy industry does not constitute "democratic backsliding"? If not, what would? Would Putin have to start building gulags?

Doesn't the author find it at all strange to demand "solid evidence" of the involvement of Russia's secret police in a clandestine killing of a dissident? Wouldn't it be their business not to leave such indications after them? Isn't that what they spend their whole lives training to do?

Let LR ask you this, dear reader: If the KGB did kill Litvinenko, and if it decided to write an article in the Western press seeking to deflect blame, how would such an article be different from the one you see above in black and white?

Can anybody tell her?

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