Vladimir Putin, the President of the largest kleptocracy in the world is still actively invading Ukraine, through their eastern region, Donbas, in what is “one of the most heavily-militarized areas on Earth” (according to Vox). As of now, this war displaced more than 1.6 million people and killed more than 10,000.
The corrupt nature of Putin is simply undeniable. His fans are as blind as the German Church was to Hitler’s atrocities in the 20th-century. Anyone rightfully calling out Putin’s kleptocracy in Russia is the modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and should be championed as such. Garry Kasparov, Chess GM , and active critic of Putin, actually compares the seeming ambivalence of the West (NATO, and the UN) to Neville Chamberlain’s pacifism before the start of WW2. In Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, Kasparov writes,
“The failure to defend Ukraine today is the failure of the Allies to defend Czechoslovakia in 1938.”
Putin, who Heidi Blake tastefully calls the “creature of the totalitarian Soviet security state” in her book From Russia With Blood has repeatedly killed dissenting politicians, journalists, campaigners, defectors, investigators, and critics (11–2). In Putin’s Russia, but even abroad (most notable of which is London and Oxfordshire), critics are gunned down on bridges, poisoned in the parks, hit by cars in the streets, thrown out of windows from their homes, and blown up. Putin has done it all since day one of his presidency.
The Genesis: The Bombing of Moscow
It started in 1999, where bombings in Moscow were blamed on Chechnyan rebels which provoked Putin to launch a horrific bomb-raid of the Chechen capital, killing tens of thousands of civilians. This act of war only solidified Putin’s popularity ratings with the Russian people because of the propagandizing machine Putin put in place. Today, it is known that these bombs in Moscow were planted by the FSB, which Putin put into motion (From Russia With Blood 61).
Putin thus killed 3,000 of his own people to get ahead in the election.
Putin continues to kill, however. Consider the “curious” assassination of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the 13th journalist killed under Putin’s regime (162–3). Putin in response said that Politkovskaya was a “very minor” figure who had “no influence on political life” (163). His remarks show the value he places on human life.
After that, Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy, defector, and friend of Politkovskaya, accused Putin of his friend’s murder, was poisoned and later died in the hospital. The evidence was “incontrovertible” writes Blake (180).
The radioactive polonium that was used on him created a pathway all over London, which allowed for a vivid reconstruction of the assassin’s whereabouts, from the offices, bars, hotels, restaurants, strip clubs, all the way back to Russia. Lugovoy the prime suspect, when visiting the British embassy to declare his innocence left so much polonium on the furniture that it had to be burned due to the radioactivity (180).
As a result of this assassination, more than 300 people were exposed to polonium, including two policemen (182).
Then came the killings of Igor Ponomarev, Russia’s representative on the UN International Maritime Organization, Daniel McGory, the veteran journalist and maker of NBC documentary on Litvinenko’s death, and Paul Joyal, also interviewed about the murders and shot twice but not killed (185).
Some of the assassinations attempts as late as 2012 on the Russian billionaire, Boris Berezovsky, were absurd (269). I recommend looking into them. Berezovsky was later found dead in his bathroom choked to death (273). Blake also discusses the accusations that this was the result of hanging, claiming they were ludicrous (276).
One thing is crystal clear: all these murders have ties to Putin who puts hundreds at risk on international soil.
I am sad that Western media is too busy with their populist demagogues that they cannot focus on some of the biggest threats to democracy. Of course, there is no simple solution to Putin. But the damage is clear. I’ll end with the words of Garry Kasparov (words that I included at the beginning of this article):
“The best reason to stop Putin today is perfectly simple: it will only get harder tomorrow” (Winter Is Coming 248).
The West should focus on Putin and Russia with increasing intensity. Indeed, this anti-democratic behavior should be stopped precisely because it is too late that we are realizing Putin’s faults.
In brackets are page numbers included for the books that I was quoting. I recommend them both. Here are links to my reviews of both books (On Instagram):
- Heidi Blake, From Russia With Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin’s Secret War on the West (2019).
- Garry Kasparov, Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped (2016).
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I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,