Indiana Daily Student

EDITORIAL: Poisoning relations with Russia

U.K. investigators reached a conclusion last week to the bizarre 2006 killing of former Russian KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko.

The investigators concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Litvinenko to be poisoned with radioactive polonium that would be slipped into his green tea at the London Millennium Hotel.

While Litvinenko’s murder sounds more like a subplot in the new James Bond film than something that happened in real life, the Editorial Board sees the Litvinenko killing as a political reality all world powers face.

Litvinenkno became a political enemy of Russia and Putin after he publicly announced he was ordered to kill businessman and government official Boris Berezovsky in 1998 as part of his involvement with the Federal Security Service. Litvinenko was immediately dismissed from the FSB after publicly revealing agency secrets and more personal accusations against Putin. He later fled to the U.K., where he was granted political asylum.

During his time under British protection, Litvinenko wrote at least two notable books about FSB corruption and his disdain for Putin, who served in the KGB at the same time as Litvinenko and headed the FSB in 1999.

Although Putin ordered Litvinenko to be poisoned with radioactive material in the sneakiest and least diplomatic manner possible, many governments, including the United States, also carry out killings of political enemies., also carry out killings of political enemies.

Governments of other nations find ways to get rid of political enemies in order to preserve the status quo in their countries.

For example, the U.S. government uses regular drone strikes to take out enemies all over the world. The New York Times exposed President Obama’s administrative takeover of counter-terrorism with the institution of the “kill list” and weekly meetings to determine potential targets. The meetings have been nicknamed “Terror Tuesday.”

But it isn’t only the U.S. and Russia. On the 21st of August, the U.K. executed a drone strike in Syria that killed two British citizens. British Prime Minister David Cameron justified the attack as “self-defense” against future attacks on the U.K. by the Islamic State, the Guardian reported.

The Russian government chooses to go about eradicating political enemies in a less direct, more painful way. They also seem to have few qualms about making their handiwork known.

If we take a look at the history of the Russian government and their practices of eliminating political enemies, it comes as no surprise that Litvinenko’s tea was poisoned. NPR’s Moscow correspondent Gregory Feifer’s book “Great Gamble,” about the Soviet war in Afghanistan, details an attempted attack in 1979 using the same method.

In his book, Feifer describes how the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics attempted to poison several members of the Afghan government, including then president Hafizullah Amin, by poisoning their dinner.

While this attempt failed because of a counteracting agent in the victim’s beverage, Coca Cola, it’s easy to see that the Russian government has used poison to solve their political problems for some time.

The 2006 death of Litvinenko by poison might seem out of the ordinary, but for the Russian government, removing political enemies with poison is fairly normal.

It’s important for the Editorial Board to emphasize that while the Russian government has very different policies than the U.S. in dealing with political enemies, the U.S. and other governments engage in similar behavior.

Basically, it’s a dog eat dog world, and we are all wolves.

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 Indiana Daily Student