Sunday, July 14, 2024

Vladimir Putin’s Russia: No Prisoners, No Pardon

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Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, casts a long shadow over the international political arena. Russia has partially reclaimed its glory of the past under his leadership. The former KGB operative is known for his unique and ruthless leadership style. Many incidents prove that Putin’s approach towards dissent, threat, or detractors is “No Prisoners and No Pardon”. This uncompromising stance has led Russia to re-emerge as a global power and a serious threat to the US-dominant global economy. 

Wagner plot revenge for Prigozhin death with promise to 'take the Kremlin' | World | News |
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The recent death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a prominent leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary army, has triggered rumors about the long arm of Putin’s Russia. After his mutinous march in June 2023 against Putin, during the crucial Ukraine-Russia war, military analysts knew that Prigozhin was walking with a bullseye painted on his back. The mid-air destruction of Prigozhin’s plane emulates many deaths of those who defied Vladimir Putin. Thus, here is a presentation of a few confirmed and unconfirmed deaths that are laid at Putin’s door.

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Poisoned Truths: Litvinenko and Skripal

Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal's MI6 'handler' had ties to Alexander Litvinenko | The Sun
PC The Sun

Alexander Litvinenko was a former Russian spy turned British citizen. He met a slow and agonizing death in London in 2006 after being poisoned with radioactive Polonium-210. Subsequent investigations pointed to a connection with Russian authorities. However, Moscow vehemently denied any involvement and even refused to surrender the men for trial.

A similar narrative unfolded in 2018 with Sergei Skripal. Skripal, another ex-spy, and his daughter are rumored to be poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in the UK. The UK investigative agencies stated that the nerve agent was military-grade poison. The British government held Russian military intelligence accountable. Unsurprisingly, the Kremlin dismissed these allegations. However, these two incidents illustrate a pattern of lethal action taken against those deemed traitorous to Putin’s Russia.

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Journalists in the Crosshairs

The murder that killed free media in Russia | Russia | The Guardian
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Strident critics of Putin’s regime often find themselves in dangerous waters. Such were the cases of Anna Politkovskaya, Igor Domnikov, and Yuliya Latynina. Politkovskaya, known as a prominent investigative journalist, was assassinated in her apartment in 2006. Putin’s critics claim that her death was caused by her unflinching critique of the Russian regime. Although direct links to the Kremlin are unproven, her end underscores the risks faced by dissenting voices.

Russie: un homme d'affaires a été arrêté pour le meurtre du journaliste Igor Domnikov | HuffPost Nouvelles
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Igor Domnikov, another reporter, met his death in 2000 after he was bashed on the head with a metal object. His criticism of the local authorities was suspected to have led to his demise.

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Too dangerous to stay: Russia's journalists are leaving the country - Mapping Media Freedom
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Yuliya Latynina, another Russian journalist, fled from Russia to save her life after her car was set on fire. She also sent her family and loved ones abroad, away from the reach of Russian authorities. Her vociferous articles against the Putin regime and the local authorities had put her at the center of Kremlin’s crosshairs. The deaths or threats in all these cases have no proven connection to Russian authorities. However, the theme of death is common for detractors of Putin’s Russia. 

Death of Political Rivals

Boris Nemtsov obituary | Russia | The Guardian
PC The Gaurdian

Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader, was shot near the Kremlin in 2015. While the perpetrators were convicted by law, conspiracy theories continue to paint Putin as the mastermind behind the hit. Most rumors state that Putin got rid of his rival and political critic. However, there are no confirmed leads that point to Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the death of Nemtsov.

Sergei Yushenkov | De Standaard Mobile
PC De Standaard

Sergei Yushenkov was another vocal critic and rival of Putin. He also met his maker by being shot dead with a bullet to the chest in 2003. Global leaders and analysts state that his death was politically motivated. The case of Yushenkov’s death remains unsolved. Moreover, like always there are no witnesses or evidence that can lead to Putin or the Russian state.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia and India 

In Putin’s world, adversaries, traitors, detractors, dissenters, and critics face the same end. His strategy is to silence any and all adversaries. From ex-spies to journalists, those who dared to challenge Vladimir Putin met death under mysterious circumstances. Thus, whether through poison, assassination, or airplanes, the message is clear:

“Opposition of Vladimir Putin comes with Consequences”

The death of Yevgeny Prigozhin has again cast a spotlight on the Kremlin’s actions and motivations. Putin’s critics shall rebuild a narrative that displays the patterns of targeting opponents. The global political community will face diplomatic complexities to reshape international relations with Russia.

India must remember that friendship comes with a price in the realm of Putin’s Russia. The path of dissent is perilous and mercy appears to be in short supply in Russia. Therefore, the unyielding approach that Russia exhibits, where no prisoners are taken and no pardon granted, should be always at the forefront of India’s diplomatic narratives. Thus, if India wants to reshape a political landscape and join Russia in a scenario to converge power and politics, it must also be ready to face global criticism and suppression from the West. However, this suppression shall be minuscule compared to the challenge of Russia’s dominance in India’s global affairs. 

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