More From the Cretins in the Kremlin

It beginning to feel a bit like a James Bond film, but there’s no fiction involved. More and more evidence is emerging that the Kremlin has revived its policy of assassinating enemies wherever the can be found around the world.

As noted in The Times:

Twelve months ago the Duma passed a law allowing Russian security agents to pursue “terrorists” overseas and to kill them if they were deemed a threat. The clear aim was to assassinate Chechen fighters who had sought refuge in neighbouring countries. But the law also allowed the FSB to resume a practice that had been officially halted since the disbandment of an organisation (well known to James Bond readers) called Smersh, an acronym for Death to Spies, that was set up by the USSR to hunt down and destroy its enemies around the world.

Putin opponent Boris Berezovsky said that there had been an attempt to assassinate him and Scotland Yard acknowledged it was true, but that they had sent the assassin back to Russia a couple of days after they arrested him. You have to wonder what was going on there, but the Yard wouldn’t divulge anything else.

Russia has also been flexing its atrophied military muscle. Two bombers were headed into British airspace yesterday from their base in on the Kola Peninsula. RAF jets were scrambled to intercept them and Tu95s turned back before reaching British airspace. The RAF characterised it as a rare incident.

The Kremlin seems to think they are on the moral high ground become the British will not allow for the extradition Putin political opponents wanted for “corruption” in Moscow, but the British Government knows that there is no such thing as a fair trial in Russia and once convicted, opponents of the State will be subjected the worst violation of human rights in Siberian labour camps.

We won’t be bullied by the Russian bear. We cannot tolerate the revival of the their tactics. The Russians will just have to keep sending over hit men. The police and MI5 will just have to catch them and bring them to British justice.  At the same time, Russia needs to be diplomatically isolated – something it really can’t afford.

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The New Cold War

From the grave, Alexander Litvinenko blamed Vladimir Putin for his death from polonium-210. The Crown Prosecution Service wants Andrei Lugovoi tried for his murder. Russia refuses to hand him over.

Today the Government announced that it is expelling four Russian diplomats in response to the Kremlin’s refusal to cooperate. The Opposition is supporting the Government’s approach.

Lugovoi claims that either MI6, the Russian mafia, or Putin opponent Boris Berezovsky had carried out the killing. None of these is credible. After all Berezovsky was an ally of Litvinenko who has himself survived several assassination attempts including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur.

What seems much more likely is that the Kremlin was involved. What we have here is bully Russia punching above its weight. Putin he can play the same smoke-and-mirrors game as the old Soviet Union, pretending to be a superpower. The difference is that everyone can see that Russia is in a shambles. All it has left is cloak and dagger intrigue.

All sides recognise that relations between the UK and Russia are at the lowest point since the end of Cold War. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “In London they should clearly realise that such provocative actions masterminded by the British authorities will not be left without an answer and cannot but entail the most serious consequences for Russian-British relations.”

Let the Russians play chicken. We don’t need to flinch. It’s the equivalent of a head-on crash between a bicycle and a Mack truck.

Russian Civilisation?

If you were thinking that human rights are a reality in post-Communist Russia, you would be very mistaken. The former KGB officer serving president may claim to be a devout believer, but with another KGB agent leading the Holy Synod in which at least another two members were also KGB agents, perhaps its not surprising that things haven’t changed much in Holy Mother Russia.

When a Chechen meat wholesaler named Zaur Talkhigov helped the security services to negotiate the release of hostages in the Moscow theatre siege, he was arrested for terrorism and sent to Siberia. Investigating his case is one of the reasons investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya was murdered. As reported in The Sunday Times:

Talkhigov is now in a cramped cell with 18 inmates sharing one lavatory in Komi, a remote and forbidding region that became infamous under Stalin for its many forced-labour camps. In winter, temperatures drop to -30C. In summer, the cell is a stifling 30C plus.

He is allowed out of his cell for just an hour a day and permitted to wash once a month. The food consists of buckwheat porridge, rancid fishbone soup and the occasional plate of boiled meat.

His mother Tamara can visit him only once a year, for three days. The return train journey to the prison from her home in Chechnya takes 84 hours.

“Conditions in the prison where I am now are relatively good,” said Talkhigov. “In Moscow I was held in a cell so cramped that we took it in turns to sleep. Tuberculosis was rampant. In another prison, where I was held in solitary confinement, two guards came into my cell shortly after I arrived and beat me all over my body with their truncheons as their way of welcoming me. I’ve been under constant psychological pressure.”

Yet this is a country that wants to be treated as an equal with the G7 nations. Putin has cooled relations with the US over NATO missile defence systems in free nations that have aligned themselves with the West, rather than their previous compulsory alliance with Russian under the Warsaw Pact.

In terms of law and justice, Russia still has a long way to go to be considered a civilised nation. The other question is whether the Church in Russia is going to be an agent of reform or of collusion.

Okay Then

As every Orthodox reader already knows (all most non-Orthodox readers wouldn’t care to know) ROCOR has reconciled with the Moscow Patriarchate. While I’m always glad to see a schism end (though I’d really like to see the end of the one between Rome and the rest of the Patriarchates), I just haven’t gotten all that excited about this.

Maybe it has something to do with having been a member of the Moscow Patriarchate stuck under the Office for External Affairs because we were ethnically Russian. Since ROCOR is very Russian, I’m sure they won’t mind that Alexy and the Holy Synod believe in the use of strong-arm tactics to get their way. Alexy has promised to let the ROCOR hierarchy do their own thing for the “foreseeable future”. That’s probably true. It’s just that Moscow lacks prognosticatory powers.

That being said, we’ve traded Comrade Ridiger for Black Bart who appoints pro-abortion legislators as archons and whose theological contribution to the Church is to be the ecclsesiastical equivalent of Al Gore on the environement.

I know that there are some great and good hierarchs out there. Fortunately, the Church keeps going despite the others.