Revised and updated.
An official British inquiry has concluded that Vladimir Putin probably ordered the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, an FSB defector and whistleblower, in late 2006.
I think it was obvious from the beginning that Putin not only ordered the killing, but wanted it to be known that he ordered the killing.
How else could the killers have obtained the deadly radioactive isotope, Polonium 210, which was used to poison Litvinenko? Why else would they have used such a method unless they wanted to signal that this is what happens to defectors?
They were not only eliminating an enemy. They were sending a message.
This is not the only death of a Russian dissident on British soil under suspicious circumstances. In 2012, a Russian whistle-blower named Alexander Perepilichnyy, who was due to testify against a Russian company in a $200 million fraud case, was poisoned in Britain with an extract from rare plant known as “heartbreak grass” and found in the mountains of Asia.
In 2013, Boris Berezovsky, a Russian opposition figure in exile, was found dead by hanging. The coroner’s verdict was suicide, but years before Scotland Yard foiled an apparent assassin who’d traveled to Britain from Russia.
It is one thing to refrain from hostile confrontations with Russia in bordering countries. It is another to tolerate crimes by the Russian government on British soil – or American soil.
Alexander Litvenenko: the man who solved his own murder by Luke Harding for The Guardian
Killers of Russian dissident left radioactive trail around British embassy in Moscow by Adam Lusher for The Independent.
Murder in Mayfair by Peter Pomerantsev for the London Review of Books.
Britain Warns Allies: Russia’s Next Assassination Could Be On Your Streets by Nico Hines for The Daily Beast.
Litvinenko isn’t the only Putin critic who ended up dead by Dan Peleschuk for the Global Post.