In a word, yes.
Vladimir Putin is clearly implicated in killings of Russian citizens.
It is true that Barack Obama also initiated a policy of killing individuals he deemed a threat to the United States, and a couple of those were American citizens. It is true that the U.S. supports dictatorships that use death squads. But changing the subject to the U.S. doesn’t change the facts about Putin.
Is the fact that Vladimir Putin is a killer a reason not to have diplomatic relations with Russia? It certainly is a reason not to be naive in dealing with Putin. It is a reason not to regard him as a friend.
But President Franklin Roosevelt formed an alliance with Joseph Stalin, one of the greatest mass killers of the 20th century, in order to defeat Nazi Germany. President Richard Nixon flew to China to open U.S. relations with Mao Zedong, another mass killer, in order to checkmate Soviet Russia.
If working with Putin can eliminate the danger of nuclear war over Ukraine or defeat the Islamic State, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.
Having the President of the United States denounce Vladimir Putin as a killer on network television would not benefit Americans and it would not benefit Russians.
However, I am not a representative of a government, so I am free to say: Putin is a killer.
How Fair Is It to Call Putin a Killer? by Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg View.
Who Killed Alexander Perepilichny? by Jeffrey E. Stern for The Atlantic.
Putin’s Dark Rise to Power by Scott Anderson for GQ (via Cannonfire).
1999 Apartment House Bombings—Was Putin Responsible? by David Satter for National Review.
Lessons from Putin’s Moscow by Michael Idov for New York magazine.
My e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey forwarded a link to an article that pointed out that although journalists and political opponents of Vladimir Putin have been murdered, there is no proof that the murders were done by order of Putin or the Russian government.
All these people could have been murdered by members of Russia’s criminal underworld or fighting factions in Russia’s war zones.
This is possible in some cases although highly unlikely. It is possible that the initiative in some cases was taken by private individuals and the Russian government looked the other way.
But in the case of the Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko, for example, you would have to believe that Russian criminals would be able to obtain rare radioactive materials used to poison him and that the dying Litvinenko would maliciously shield the real killers in order to implicate the Russian government.
What it would take to change my mind about this would be for the Russian government to indict and convict murderers of journalists and dissidents, in fair trials based on convincing evidence.
Trump’s Apology for ‘Killer Putin’ Is Wrongheaded by Finian Cunningham for the Strategic Culture Foundation.
Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder by Luke Harding for The Guardian.