The Return of Wetwork

Putin’s Kremlin employs assassination abroad as state policy in a manner not seen in Moscow since Stalin.

This week’s announcement by a British court that Russian spies murdered Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006, made global headlines. Particularly because the massive report, based on a multi-year investigation, concluded that the Kremlin must have approved the assassination at the highest levels, “probably” including President Vladimir Putin himself.

This is a big story, given the sensational manner of Litvinenko’s death, notwithstanding that the complicity of Russian officialdom in the murder has been obvious for years, while the likelihood that Mr. Putin green-lighted the hit could be news only to those unacquainted with how his regime actually works.

The essential facts of the case were known almost from the outset. Mr. Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer who had moved to Britain, where he received sanctuary, met with two Russians on November 1, 2006, at London’s Millennium Hotel, where Litvinenko had tea. That tea had been poisoned, apparently by one of the two Russians he met, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun, and Litvinenko soon fell seriously ill, dying in agony three weeks later.

Read the rest at the New York Observer