Monday, November 27, 2006

What to make of Putin's Russia?

This WSJ column by David Satter is a must read. Excerpts below.

Who Killed Litvinenko?
Try asking Vladimir Putin.

Monday, November 27, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

MOSCOW--Until a week ago, Alexander Litvinenko, a former colonel in the Russian Federal Security Service, the FSB, was virtually unknown outside the murky world of Russian intelligence. With his death in London from a massive dose of the radioactive element polonium 210, however, his fate may lead to a fundamentally different relationship between Russia and the West.

Beginning with the Yeltsin era, two U.S. administrations have muted their criticism of Russia. This was the case even in the face of a series of political murders in Russia. But if Litvinenko, a British subject, was murdered by Russian intelligence on British soil, self-censorship is no longer an option. Unless we want to give the Putin regime carte blanche to dispose of its enemies on our soil, we now have no choice but to react.


In the wake of Litvinenko's death, the West must insist on cooperation from the FSB in finding his killers. If that is not forthcoming, it should be assumed that the murder of Litvinenko was ordered by the Russian regime.

Under those circumstances, not only should Russia be expelled from the G-8 but the whole structure of mutual consultation and cooperation would need to be re-evaluated. This is not just a matter of refusing to trivialize a murder. It is also a vital political obligation. Russians of all types are watching to see whether the West will simply swallow this crime or finally react to the rampant criminalization of Russian society. There are forces in Russia that want the country to be part of the West. But to back them, we need to demonstrate that we have moral values that we defend. To do less would be to abandon Russia to the forces of nihilism and obscurantism.

I'm sure most people don't care about what happens to Russians or Iraqis or Cubans, for that matter, as long as they get in line to buy their PS3's.

If you do care, then read the whole column here.

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