Is Putin Being Set Up?

PARIS—Whoever poisoned Alexander
Litvinenko had two goals: a long and lingering death for
the KGB defector and pointing a finger of accusation for
his killing right in the face of Vladimir Putin.

Which leads me to believe Putin had
nothing to do with it.

In an assassination, one must ask:
Cui bono? To whose benefit? Who would gain from
the poisoning of Litvinenko?

Certainly not Putin. Litvinenko`s
death puts him, the Kremlin and the KGB, now the FSB,
under suspicion of having reverted to the terror tactics
of Stalin, who commissioned killers to liquidate enemies
like Leon Trotsky, murdered in Mexico in 1940.

What benefit could Putin
conceivably realize from the London killing of an enemy
of his regime, who had just become a British citizen?
Why would the Russian president, at the peak of his
popularity, with his regime awash in oil revenue and
himself playing a strong hand in world politics, risk a
breach with every Western nation by ordering the public
murder of a man who was more of a nuisance than a threat
to his regime?

Litvinenko, after all, made his
sensational charges against the Kremlin—that the KGB
blew up the Moscow apartment buildings, not Chechen
terrorists, as a casus belli for a war on
Chechnya and that he had refused a KGB order to
assassinate oligarch Boris Berezovsky—in the late 1990s.
Of late, Litvinenko has been regarded as a less and less
credible figure, with his charges of KGB involvement in
9-11 and complicity in the Danish cartoons mocking
Muhammad that ignited the Muslim firestorm.

Yet, listening to some Western
pundits on the BBC and Fox News, one would think Putin
himself poisoned Litvinenko. Who else, they ask, could
have acquired polonium 210, the rare radioactive
substance used to kill Litvinenko? Who else had the
motive to eliminate the ex-agent who had dedicated his
life to exposing the crimes of the Kremlin?

Indeed, no sooner had Litvinenko
expired than his collaborator in anti-Putin politics,
Alex Goldfarb, was in front of the television cameras
reading Litvinenko`s deathbed statement charging Putin
with murder:

may succeed in silencing one man, but the howl of
protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr.
Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. … You
may succeed in silencing me, but that silence comes at a
price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and
ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed." [
Spy Was Victim Of Radiation,
The Guardian,
November 24, 2006]

Litvinenko`s statement is awfully
coherent and eloquent for a man writhing in a death
agony. But if he did not write it, who did? All of which
leads me to conclude Putin is being set up, framed for a
crime he did not commit. But then, if Putin did not
order the killing, who did?

Who else could have acquired the
polonium 210? Who else would kill Litvinenko to make
Putin a pariah? These are the questions Scotland Yard,
which also seems skeptical that Putin had a hand in this
bizarre business, has begun to ask.

As the predictable effect of
Litvinenko`s death has been to put a cloud of suspicion
over Putin and a chill over Russian relations with the
West, one must ask: To whose benefit is the discrediting
of Putin? Who would seek a renewal of the Cold War?

Certainly, the oligarchs and robber
barons like Berezovsky—many of them now dispossessed of
the wealth they amassed in a collapsing Soviet Union,
and all of whom have been run out of the country or
imprisoned—have the most powerful of motives. They hate
Putin and seek to bring him down. And Goldfarb and
Litvinenko both enjoyed the patronage of the billionaire

Surely, rogue or retired KGB
agents, passed over by Putin and bitter at Litvinenko,
would have a motive: to send a message, written in
polonium 210, that this is what happens to those who
betray us and Mother Russia.

Scotland Yard has yet to declare
this a murder case and is looking into the possibility
of a "martyrdom operation"—suicide dressed up
like murder—in which Litvinenko may have colluded. The
Putin-dominated Russian press is pushing this line, as
well as the idea of an oligarchs` plot to discredit
Putin and destroy Russia`s relations with the West.

Yet Litvinenko was still in his
early 40s, with a wife and two children. While his
agonizing public death would make him a celebrity even
more famous than

Georgi Markov,
the Bulgarian anti-communist murdered
in London in 1979 with a poison-tipped umbrella,
Litvinenko would not be around to enjoy his fame.

America has a vital interest in
this Scotland Yard investigation. What it discovers may
tell us more about the character of the man into whose
eyes George Bush claimed to have stared, and seen his
soul, or it may tell us who the real enemies of this
country are, who are out to restart the Cold War, and
perhaps another hot one.



Patrick J. Buchanan

no introduction
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State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America

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