A well-known opposition leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin fell into a week-long coma after ingesting a mysterious poison following a visit to Washington, D.C. in 2015 to lobby against Putin.
Political murder was a time honored tradition in the former Soviet Union, and a New York Times investigation reveals it is being used with increasing frequency by Putin.
Political murder, even outside Russian borders, was sanctioned by the Russian parliament in 2006. Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who defected to Britain, died of radiation poisoning in 2006 after Kremlin agents reportedly slipped radioactive material into a cup of his favorite tea.
“The government is using the special services to liquidate its enemies,” former KGB officer and former member of the Russian parliament, Gennadi V. Gudkov, told The New York Times. “It was not just Litvinenko, but many others we don’t know about, classified as accidents or maybe semi-accidents.”
Alexander Perepilichny, a Russian oligarch involved in exposing a large Kremlin tax fraud case dropped dead at age 44 in 2012 while jogging in one of London’s richest housing developments. Pereplichny was in perfect health, and in 2015 a botanist discovered he had ingested an extremely rare poison called gelsemium. Gelsemium only grows in the Himalayas and was used by China to carry out assassinations for centuries.
“Too many of these happening to important people. Captains of industry and lawyers are not dying left, right and center like this in the West,” William Browder, an American financier involved in pushing sanctions on Russia through Congress told The New York Times.
In February 2015, Boris Nemtsov, a leading Putin opposition leader was gunned down on the streets of Moscow. Nemtsov was in the midst of preparing a report detailing Russian intervention in Ukraine, an intervention Putin repeatedly denied. Three weeks before Nemstov’s death, he wrote on a Russian website that his 87-year-old mother was afraid Putin would kill him.
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