Now that the country is getting richer and rouble getting more valuable (which means that i am getting poorer), normal Russians are experiencing a semi-virtual increase in their living standarts. There are no more mafia shootouts or small-time bandits in the streets (they live like Corleone's now...legally and neat).
But not everyone is happy in this blossoming country built on an ocean of oil, gas and diamonds. Although there seems no political opposition or insurgency, some part of the public firmly believes that Putin has brought back the terror reign of Stalin and there is no freedom of speech. Coming from a country infamous with coups and contract killings of artists and writers, I have maybe been immuned to quasi-oppressive governments; but this invisible (so-called) terror has surfaced to media and international attention throughout the last months. First the (unknown to me) opposition figurehead journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered and an irritating public debate has started about the glamorous comeback of the ex-KGB, FSB. The supposed logic is simple: "Shut Up and Obey, or be annihilated"
The latest "martyr" to russian political cleansing is the over-publicised poisoning of the ex-spy and an author of (also unknown to me) an anti-Putin bible, Litvinenko. He is praised by the british tabloid press as being killed by FSB on the order by evil Putin.
Now, please be reasonable. The guys at FSB has a history of maybe all known (and unknown) ways of covert killings. Why should they try hard to smuggle a precious and easy to detect radioactive material into Britain and inject into the guy to kill him through a long period of agony where he (or others) can use it to run an anti-russian show on TV. They could just propose a fake traffic accident or brainwash a scotsman to kill him with a bagpipe (the very odd manchurian candidate)
So let's look at the events from a broader view: Putin has done a lot good for the country but has done some harm for a lot others, The new corrupt and rich russian guys and their richer and corrupter international partners, by nationalising and rationalising some key institutions in Russia. That means he now has enemies with lots of money and media access ( more dangerous to Mother Russia than Ronald Reagan with nuclear missiles). So a conspiracy theory is that the "enemies" have injected the easily detectible material into Litvinenko's veins and used him as a martyr to free speech. Anyway, he would be more valuable to them as dead (since nobody cared to read his anti-Putin book)...and it seems that they have succeeded to pump up the british tabloid press (Putin must be furious to see his photos near the Page 3 nude girls)
Another thing is that the western public is still in belief that Russians use the 007-ish styles to wipe out their enemies. Here is a list of the recent killings:
For example, the killing of Markov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov )or the killing of Bandera http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan_Bandera Both confirmed KGB kills.
- 2002 a Saudi-born Chechen rebel leader, Omar ibn Khattab, died after receiving a letter with poisoned ink. (he must have licked off the whole letter)
- In 2003 a leading Russian journalist and anti-Kremlin parliamentarian, Yury Shchekochikhin, died of what appeared to be poisoning.
- In 2004 a former president of the separatist Chechen republic, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, was killed by a car bomb in Qatar. Two Russian FSB agents were arrested and convicted of the crime in Qatar, but later released under strong diplomatic pressure from Russia.
- Also in 2004 Ukrainian presidential candidate Yushchenko was hospitalized with dioxin poisoning, which disfigured his face and nearly killed him. (I saw him warmly handshaking with Putin yesterday on TV)
- Also in 2004 Ms. Politkovskaya accused Russian security services of trying to poison her during an airline flight. She survived some poisoning attempt but was “fatally” shot in the head in her apartment on October 7th . . . . Putin’s birthday. (Just a coincidence?)
The decision is yours...I believe that Putin is a firm, decisive and a good leader for Russia to rise up again; and no leader is clean and innocent. (Go ask Bush)