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Thursday, June 13, 2024

This is how Putin eliminates his enemies. “There are no inhibitions to take revenge”

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The world wonders if the head of the Wagner Group will share the fate of other people who openly opposed Putin. The list of names is long.

Is Vladimir Putin a dispassionate former KGB agent who coldly calculates costs and profits? Or rather, Putin makes decisions under the influence of strong emotions: anger and the need for revenge. – Strategic action and personal revenge are absolutely not mutually exclusive. In the case of Navalny, on the one hand, this is a signal that there is no room for any opposition activist. No matter how popular. On the other hand, there is also an element of, of course, revenge. One kind of complements the other – says doctor Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz, Strategies 2050, former Polish ambassador in Moscow.

Alexei Navalny was extremely dangerous for Vladimir Putin – an energetic oppositionist who uses social media to expose the pathologies of the Russian state. There were several attempts to poison him. Finally, he ended up in prison, and it is quite likely that he will only be released when the regime changes in Russia.

– For 20 years, Putin has lived in an isolated world where no one opposes him. I defied him in 2003 because I spoke about corruption in the Kremlin and ended up in prison. Now Navalny challenged him, so Putin put him in prison too. He knows he has to show he’s the leader of the pack all the time, otherwise people will think he’s not as strong as he used to be,” said Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian opposition figure who spent 10 years in prison. Vladimir Putin pardoned him on the occasion of the Sochi Games to silence criticism from the democratic West. Khodorkovsky was released, but only after he lost his political and social significance.

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One of the most famous victims of Putin’s regime is Anna Politkovskaya – a journalist covering crimes in Chechnya who warned Russians and the world that Putin was as dangerous as Stalin. Her weapons were a computer, a voice recorder, an opposition newspaper and the truth. She was shot dead in a Moscow block of flats in 2006.

– I used to think that the fact that Politkovskaya was murdered on Vladimir Putin’s birthday was a coincidence. Because life is hard, unpredictable, mysterious. Today I know that it was no accident. This is how an authoritarian regime that hates journalists rules, said Boris Nemtsov in 2010, who spoke on the anniversary of Politkovskaya’s death. Sam died five years later. A supporter of pro-democratic reforms, an organizer of demonstrations against Putin’s rule and the annexation of Crimea, was shot dead on a bridge in the center of the Russian capital. The murder was probably carried out by Chechen fighters of Ramzan Kadyrov.

The Kremlin publishes Putin’s first statement after the end of Prigozhin’s rebellionReuters

Chief’s paranoia

There is virtually no doubt that the Kremlin ordered the murder of Alexander Litvinenko – a former KGB officer who calls the Russian services a criminal and terrorist organization. Litvinenko conducted his own investigation into the murder of Politkovskaya. He was poisoned with the radioactive polonium isotope. Putin has completely distanced himself from accusations of being involved in the death.

– The death of a person is always a tragedy. I extend my condolences to Mr. Litvinenko’s family. From what I understand from the British doctors’ statement, the death was not due to some violent attack. So there is no basis for speculation, Putin assured. In 2006, Putin was still pronouncing the names of his greatest opponents, but he has not done so for a long time. He does not talk publicly about Navalny, Khodorkovsky, Politkovskaya. – He has no inhibitions to take revenge, to imprison, torment, to kill, to murder. He won’t let anyone go. The question is how strong is he today to actually eliminate all his enemies, because he has more and more of them, he is weaker and they are getting stronger – adds doctor Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz.

The persecution of opponents is also an important warning signal for the environment and for potential candidates to take over the Kremlin throne. – Putin is very suspicious. He trusts no one. As a former man from the services, he is a person who believes that a conspiracy awaits him at every step, adds Dr. Agnieszka Legucka, an expert on Russia, PISM.

Putin’s entourage is to be faithful and obedient. There is no room for dissent in Putin’s Russia. – The choice is very simple. Either emigrate or go to prison. In the past, internal emigration was still a choice. Now, anyone who has taken a realistic stance should emigrate, while in the past it was enough for him to just stop talking – notes Witold Jurasz, a former diplomat, president of the Center for Strategic Studies. However, even emigration does not guarantee security. In addition to Litvinenko, Sergei Skripal was also poisoned in the UK. In 2018, this former agent of the GRU military intelligence barely survived an attack with the nerve agent Novichok. British media reports that after his recovery, Skripal left for New Zealand permanently.

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Main photo source: PAP/EPA

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