When lead­ers of coun­tries see power as ab­so­lute

The Amherst News - - OPINION - Shirley Hallee Shirley Hallee’s col­umn runs weekly in the Amherst News


A cou­ple of in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cles in last Mon­day’s Chron­i­cle Her­ald caught my eye. In the Voice of The Peo­ple sec­tion, Scott Bur­bidge of Port Wil­liams de­cided it was pre­ma­ture for the U.K., U.S., Ger­many, and France to blame the Rus­sian govern­ment for the nerve agent at­tack on ex-Rus­sian spy Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter, Yu­lia. In that same news­pa­per colum­nist, Scott Tay­lor, ques­tioned the va­lid­ity of blam­ing the Rus­sians for the at­tack.

Tay­lor pointed out that the deadly nerve agent known as novi­chok was de­vel­oped by the for­mer KGB dur­ing the Cold War, and that fact would au­to­mat­i­cally put the blame on the Rus­sians. He also noted that if the Krem­lin re­ally wanted Skri­pal dead they would have sim­ply shot him, or stabbed him in a fake rob­bery, rather than go­ing to the trou­ble – and risk – of us­ing a nerve agent. To fur­ther strengthen his ar­gu­ment, Tay­lor asked the ques­tion... why now? Skri­pal was ar­rested in 2004, con­victed of trea­son in 2006, and re­leased to Bri­tian in 2010 as part of a spy ex­change be­tween Rus­sia and the U.K. They had many op­por­tu­ni­ties to get rid Skri­pal be­fore this point in time.

Scott Tay­lor states that to ac­cept the Bri­tish govern­ment’s the­o­ries “we have to ac­cept the fact that Putin’s FSB agents must be some of the dumb­est spies in the busi­ness.” I dis­agree with Tay­lor and I be­lieve Theresa May has hit the nail on the head. Putin or­dered the at­tack on Skri­pal and the nerve agent was used for a rea­son. That rea­son is to in­still fear in any Rus­sian who might con­sider tak­ing a stand against the Putin regime. Skri­pal and his daugh­ter were the cho­sen sac­ri­fi­cial lambs.

There have been many mur­ders of Rus­sian cit­i­zens and there seems to be no doubt as to who is be­hind those deaths. In 2015 Rus­sian press min­is­ter, Mikail Lesin, died from blunt force trauma to the head. He was found in a Washington, DC ho­tel room. Lesin had been con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a deal with the FBI to pro­tect him­self from cor­rup­tion charges. Since he was very in­volved in the po­lit­i­cal arena in Rus­sia he knew a lot about a lot of peo­ple.

Most of us likely re­mem­ber the death of Alexan­der Litvi­nenko, a for­mer KGB agent who drank tea at a Lon­don ho­tel. It seems his tea had an ex­tra in­gre­di­ent...polo­nium-210. An in­quiry found that the two FSB agents who ad­min­is­tered the poi­son were act­ing on or­ders. Litvi­nenko ac­cused Putin of blow­ing up an apart­ment block and or­der­ing the mur­der of jour­nal­ist Anna Politkovskaya. She had pub­lished a book in which she ac­cused Putin of turn­ing the coun­try into a po­lice state. An­other jour­nal­ist, Natalia Estemirova, was work­ing on un­cov­er­ing hu­man­rights abuses car­ried out by the Rus­sian state in Chech­nya when she was ab­ducted and later found with gun­shot wounds to her head.

Stanislav Markelov, a hu­man­rights lawyer who rep­re­sented jour­nal­ists who were crit­i­cal of Putin was shot near the Krem­lin. Anas­ta­sia Baburova was walk­ing with him and was also shot and killed. Boris Nemtsov, a for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter and critic of Putin was shot...and Boris Beresovsky, an oli­garch who fled to Bri­tain was found dead from an ap­par­ent sui­cide. Paul Kleb­nikov, chief edi­tor of the Rus­sian edi­tion of Forbes, had writ­ten about cor­rup­tion and was then killed in a driveby shoot­ing. Sergei Yushenkov’s at­tempt to prove the Rus­sian state was be­hind the bomb­ing of the apart­ment block cost him his life.

And the list goes on. There are many more sus­pi­cious deaths in Rus­sia and deaths of Rus­sian cit­i­zens in other coun­tries. Vladimir Putin has been re-elected for six more years as Rus­sia’s pres­i­dent. Alexei Navalny, the only real chal­lenger, had opened 60 cam­paign of­fices but was de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to reg­is­ter as a can­di­date. Ab­so­lute power cor­rupts ab­so­lutely, and those with ab­so­lute power will go to all and any means to main­tain that power.

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