Here is Larisa Alexandrovna, of Raw Story, criticizing my most recent column on the Litvinenko affair — at some length. It starts out: “Seriously, if one more person defends Putin based on the single reason that Putin stands up to Bush, I shall pull my hair out.” My dear Larisa, please don’t do anything so drastic: it isn’t worth it. Aside from which, ascribing motives to me before even bothering to examine my argument is an interesting way to approach the issue: so, you’re a writer and a mind-reader!
But seriously: the lovely Larisa misperceives my motive. I’m not interested in defending Putin “because he stands up to Bush” — just in defending reason from the sort of “logic” that pins a murder on someone when there is no convincing evidence.
Larisa avers that my piece is based on “the faulty premise that the victim of a crime should be tarred and feathered postmortem” — and then goes on to write:
“While I do not doubt that Litvinenko was desperate for money, there is no evidence that he hatched a blackmail plot as some have suggested. He was working for Erinys International at the time of his murder and in fact, one of the contaminated locations was an Erinys office. What did he do for Erinys? Well, a bit of spying and dirt digging that Erinys could use for blackmail in negotiating an energy contract. How do I know this? I broke the damn story.”
Er, um — so, he was involved in blackmail. Right? Â
Larisa makes a big deal out of my questioning of Litvinenko’s “poisoning,” and claims that this is an established fact. But is it? If the polonium-210 that killed him was part of a smuggling operation in which Litvinenko was somehow involved — well, then, yes, he was poisoned, but by whom? Perhaps his fellow smugglers, perhaps by accident: we don’t know. What we do know, however, is this: if Putin or his followers wanted to get rid of Litvinenko, a bullet to the back of the head would have been far more effective, and much less messy. Why leave a trail of radioactive polonium-210 stretching from Moscow to Germany to Britain? It seems … unnecessary, to say the least.
Until and unless Larisa, or the other Putin-did-it conspiracy theorists — including Scotland Yard — can answer that question, I shall continue to be skeptical of the “official” story.