This weekend another critic of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was found dead, this time in his apartment in Kiev, the capital city of the Ukraine. Journalist Alexander Shchetinin died of a gunshot to the head; because the door was locked, initial “speculation” was that he committed suicide, although by now such explanations for the ever increasing list of the dead should be taken for the propaganda tales that they are. Ever since Boris Yeltsin incomprehensibly appointed Putin as the head of the KGB/FSB in 1998, and eventually as his political successor, a list of the dead makes it seem as if a serial killer is on the loose in Russia.
Just four months after Putin’s appointment as head of the state security services, pro-democracy activist and Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova was found murdered in her apartment; it was known that she had opposed Putin’s appointment. Two “hitmen” were convicted of her murder, although who ordered the “hit” remains “unknown.” In 2003, Sergei Yushenkov of the Liberal Russia party, was murdered during the course of investigating two apartment building bombings that killed more than 200 people soon after Putin became president of Russia, which he used to rationalize indiscriminate bombings in Chechnya during the course of an unpopular war in that breakaway republic. Many suspected the apartment bombings were actually planned and carried out by the KGB in order to raise popular support for the war.
Also in 2003, journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin—who had accused the FSB (the former KGB) of money laundering and other crimes—apparently died of poisoning. In 2004, despite poor poll numbers, Putin won re-election as president by a huge margin, followed by more “mysterious” killings, like that of the editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, and a prominent anti-racism and human rights activist. In three straight months in 2006, prominent anti-Putin activists were killed: in September, Andrei Kozlov, head of Russia’s Central Bank, was assassinated in the course of attempting to stop a money laundering trail that led directly to the Kremlin; in October, Anna Politkovskaya, who was busy writing how Putin’s Russia was quickly slipping back into the “bad old days” of the Soviet era, was murdered; and in November, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who accused the Kremlin of masterminding the two apartment complex bombings, died of apparent poisoning in London.
The list goes on and on. During Putin’s first two terms of office, 77 journalists alone were murdered, and nothing much has changed since he was re-elected to a third term. The brazen murder of Putin critic Boris Nemtsov right in the sights of the Kremlin last year has yet to be solved, not surprising since Putin himself took “personal” charge of the investigation of the crime.
Looking back, one wonders why Yeltsin “chose” Putin. The West generally had a “favorable” view of Yeltsin, a “hard-partier” who liked the good life, which many mistook to be “pro-West” proclivities. But Yeltsin was more of an opportunist who chose to identify with whatever ideology was suitable for his needs at the moment, and he could be easily led in his later years, when some wondered if he was losing his mind. Yeltsin apparently wanted a “strong” personality to continue his “legacy,” although Putin himself was an even greater opportunist whose only interest (much like Hillary Clinton) is the accumulation of power without principle.
Also like Clinton, Putin has left a trail of corruption so thick that his own people refuse to believe that anyone can be so vile, or choose to believe that the “interests” of the state are being “served.”