Monday, March 12, 2018

Mirror: "'Paranoid' Vladimir Putin hires even more food and drink tasters over fears he could become poisoning target"

This seems odd behavior if Russia was, in fact, behind the March 4, 2018, attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in the UK. The Mirror reports:
         Vladimir Putin has reportedly boosted his team of food tasters, paranoid that he will be targeted for a revenge poisoning following the Sergei Skripal attack. 
         For several years the Russian leader has employed someone to test all his food and drink before he eats it to check it has not been tampered with. 
         But now he has said to have hired even more officials to check his food because he is worried about potential counter-attacks after the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury. 
        The police have not yet officially announced who was behind the attempted killing, which also left Skripal's daughter Yulia in intensive care, but many have pointed the finger at Russia.
However, British intelligence sources have indicated that Britain will probably retaliate by "taking out" Russian intelligence agents, so perhaps Putin believes that the UK will attempt to assassinate him.

        It is noteworthy that Russia has denied any knowledge of the attack on Skripal, and in fact has challenged the UK to release its final conclusions from its investigation into the death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006. The obvious insinuation is that the British must have determined that another country or entity was responsible for Litvinenko's death.

         According to British authorities, Skripal was poisoned with a Russian-made nerve agent group novichok. However, other nations have supplies of the nerve agent, procured or made in order to develop an antidote; this includes the UK.

        Meanwhile, in echoes of the Soviet SMERSH, critics of Russia claim that Russia actively hunts down those it considers to be enemies. For instance, Deutsche Welle reports:
        However, a prominent critic of the Russian government told DW TV that the "obvious theory is that this was a Russian Kremlin organized assassination attempt." 
        Bill Browder – former hedge fund manager in Moscow and author of "Putin’s No. 1 Enemy" — claims that his own lawyer was tortured and killed by Russian authorities in 2009, and that another Russian colleague died under mysterious circumstances several years later. He also claims that a fellow campaigner for sanctions against Moscow was the victim of two near-fatal poisonings. 
        "The one thing you should understand about Putin is that he kills traitors," Browder told DW. "Anyone who is a traitor is meted out the harshest punishment. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a foreign country or in Russia."
Meanwhile, the British are attempting to link Russia to the deaths of other Russian exiles and dissidents.

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