Murder Not Relevant

This week the United Kingdom expelled four Russian diplomats in response to the Kremlin’s refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi on the charge of murdering Alexander Litvinenko with the radioactive substance polonium-210.

We see that at last someone is reacting to Putin’s disregard for the rule of law. This disregard is symbolic of a regime that has done nothing but work against the interests of law and human rights both domestically and internationally. The world’s first proven case of nuclear terrorism is being blocked by the Kremlin, just as it has delayed or blocked the investigations into domestic terror cases and the murders of a dozen journalists.

As tragic and frightening as the Litvinenko case is, it’s only a drop in the bucket. Nobody wants a new Cold War, but ignoring reality and letting the Kremlin get away with murder — literally in this case — will allow things to get worse. Those who worry that strong actions will antagonize Putin and make relations worse, we ask what could be worse? What positives has appeasement achieved? Blair, Chirac, Berlusconi, Schroeder, and Bush watched quietly as Putin crushed civil liberties in Russia and bullied its neighbors. At times they practically applauded. Now this new generation of European leaders needs to decide what they stand for, or if they will stand up at all.

It’s also clear that Britain recognizes what a travesty the justice system is in Russia today. There’s no such thing as a fair trial under the Putin regime, as our leaders and activist can attest. Just last week a prominent Russian defense lawyer, Boris Kuznetsov, fled the country after the state opened an investigation against him. Most of the judiciary is under direct Kremlin control. We of the Other Russia are doing our best to apply domestic pressure in the streets, the only avenue we have thanks to state control of the media. We hope Britain is not going to take the assassination of one of its citizens with resignation. Especially when you consider the method and how it could have led to countless more deaths.