Former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar
The Russian government has been widely blamed in the Western media for the recent murders of the Russian journalist Anna Politovskaya and former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. The day after Litvinenko died from radiation poisoning, Yegor Gaidar, the former Russian Prime Minister who served with President Boris Yeltsin, became violently ill while visiting Ireland.
Mr. Gaidar, along with Anatoly Chubais, was one of the architects of Russia's "privatization" schemes during the 1990s, and as a result is not well-loved by ordinary Russians. I have heard Mr. Gaidar speak at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. twice in the last three years. In the years since he left government service, he has traveled around the world delivering presentations strongly critical of Putin's administration.
If Gaidar had died as a result of poisoning, it would have been very difficult to argue that the Kremlin was not behind this recent wave of political assassinations. However, Mr. Gaidar survived, and the first thing he did when he became conscious enough to make his own decisions was to fly back to Moscow. Mr. Gaidar apparently feels safer receiving medical treatment close to the Kremlin than he does abroad. That fact should give Westerners who assume that the Russian government sanctioned these awful crimes pause.
People accusing Putin of having his enemies shot and poisoned should ask the following questions: why kill a journalist who has not been politically important for five years, who has been caught fabricating facts, and who was more well-known in America than in Russia? Why poison a former spy who defected seven years ago and has lost all credibility? In addition to accusing the FSB of blowing up apartment buildings in Moscow, Mr. Litvinenko claimed that Russian security services supported Al-Qaeda and the terrorists who committed the Beslan atrocity.
The last question which comes to mind is: why would a person who survived this apparent assassination campaign fly back to Moscow?
President Putin called Mr. Gaidar at a Moscow hospital and wished for him to get better soon. Gaidar's daughter has been unequivocal: she and her father feel much safer in Russia than in Great Britain, where oligarchs the Russian government accuses of funding terrorism and murder enjoy political asylum.
We know that whoever ordered these murders timed them for the maximum amount of publicity and wanted Mr. Litvinenko's death to be a media event. The idea that any sane government would kill someone in such a way as to leave a trail of radioactive material all over London pushes all bounds of plausibility.
Please read this short BBC News report from December 4, 2006:
Former Russian PM leaves hospital
Mr Gaidar was rushed to intensive care after collapsing in Dublin
Ex-Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar has left hospital in Moscow following a mystery illness, a spokesman has said.
Doctors have yet to reveal their diagnosis, but have said his internal organs suffered "radical changes".
Doctors in Ireland, where Mr Gaidar first fell ill, had already said he did not have radiation poisoning.
Last week, Mr Gaidar's daughter said she suspected his illness was linked to the fatal radiation poisoning of the former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko.
Mr Gaidar, a 50-year-old economist, served as Russia's prime minister under Boris Yeltsin following the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Although Irish doctors ruled out radiation poisoning, there was no indication of why his health deteriorated so rapidly.
He fell ill a day after Mr Litvinenko died in London after being poisoned with the radioactive element polonium-210.
Mr Gaidar's daughter, Maria, quickly made the connection and claimed her father had been poisoned by people seeking to destabilise Russia.
When pushed to define who she meant, she said elements within the Russian security services and opponents of the government who were now living in exile abroad.