Thursday, September 03, 2020

Putin's opponents have a habit of dying unexpectedly.

 So it seems that Alex Navalny was poisoned with Novichok.

Vladimir Putin will of course deny that it has anything to do with him, but then he would, wouldn't he?

Navalny is just the most recent of a series of opponents and critics of Putin who have met with trouble.

Here is a list:

2003  Sergei Yushenkov             - Opposition politician, shot

2004  Paul Klebinov                   - Journalist writing on corruption, shot

2006  Alex Livinenko                - Ex-spy, accused Putin of corruption and starting the Chechen war by fraud, poisoned

2006  Anna Politskaya                - Journalist, writing on Human Rights and corruption, shot

2009   Sergei Magnitsky             - Lawyer, uncovered fraud, died in (Russian) police custody 

2009   Natalia Estemirova           - Journalist writing on human rights, shot

2009   Stanislav Markelov         - Human Rights lawyer, shot

2009   Anastasia Babarelova       - Journalist, shot

2009   Boris Berezovsky            - Oligarch, put Putin in power, then became disaffected. Suicided in  his home in UK

2015   Boris Nemtsov                 - Opposition politician, shot

2018   Sergei Skripal                  - Double agent, poisoned by Novichok in UK, survived

2020 Alex Navalny                     - Opposition politician, poisoned by Novichok

So that is 12 prominent critics of Putin who have died or been poisoned in suspicious circumstances, two in the UK. There are many others, predominantly journalists, who have died.

This cannot be ignored. So what can we do?

The International Court of Justice has the ability to issue advisory opinions on contentious issues. 

This would be a reasonable place to start. Or possibly the International Criminal Court, which has authority to try cases where states use systematic murder.

The UK is best placed to initiate proceedings as two of the alleged crimes have occurred on British soil.

It would take a long time to set up and to deliberate, but the whole process would be at very least embarrassing for Putin. He would not attend himself, naturally, but could send his lawyers. The relatives and friends of his alleged victims could have their day in court. 

If the ICJ or ICC found against Putin, they could declare that he could be arrested if he left Russia.

And this is where it gets political. Putin could be offered a safe haven if he stepped down from power in Russia, but if he stayed he would be at risk of being arrested. 

This solution worked well in the case of Idi Amin, the dictator of Uganda, and it could work on Putin and many other dictators.

We should ask our MPs to consider this course of action.

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