Tom Arms’ World Review

Mutineer Yevgeny Prigozhin – and the nine other passengers on his private plane — this week joined a long and growing list of “Putin’s Bodies.” Those on the grisly register share one common fatal flaw: They dared to cross the Russian president.

The tally starts with 1,300 innocent victims. It was 1999. Putin was yet to become president. But as prime minister and head of the FSB he needed a false flag operation to win support for his war in Chechnya. It is alleged, therefore, that he bombed a Moscow apartment building and blamed it on Chechen terrorists. Three hundred died and 1,000 were injured. Putin got his war.

Politician Sergei Yashenkov made the mistake of uncovering evidence linking Putin to the bombing. He was shot in the chest in 2003. Former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko also accused Putin of the apartment block bombing. He was poisoned in London in 2006 with polonium-laced tea.

Journalists are a favourite target of the Russian president. Paul Klebnikov, chief editor of the Russian edition of Forbes, was busy writing a series on Kremlin corruption when he was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2004. Anna Polikovskaya accused Putin of turning Russia into a police state. She was shot in the lift of her apartment building in 2006. Natalia Estemirova specialised in exposing human rights abuses. She was abducted outside her home and later found in a wood with a bullet in the head.

Human rights lawyer Stanislaw Markelov was walking down the street with his friend Anastasia Buburova when they were both gunned down in 2009.

Russian media mogul Mikhail Lesin was in Washington and on the verge of cutting a deal with the FBI on corruption charges. He was found beaten to death in his hotel room in 2015.

Boris Berezovsky fled Russia for exile in Britain after daring to challenge Putin. He was found dead in his Berkshire home. The inquest returned an open verdict. Boris Nemtsov accused Putin of being in the pay of corrupt oligarchs. He was shot in the back on a Moscow street in 2015.

The Ukraine war has resulted in a new crop of victims. Businessman Dan Rapoport was found dead in Washington in August 2022 after criticising the invasion of Ukraine. And in India, another prominent Russian businessman, Pavel Antonov, fell from his hotel room window in December 2022. And finally, Ravil Maganov—also a critic of the war—died in in September 2022 of a mysterious “short and serious illness,” which is usually shorthand for poisoned.

Tales of Putin’s Russia read like a Mario Puzo novel.

The second race to the moon has begun. India has made a giant step by being the first to land at the moon’s South Pole.

Access to the southern tip is vital for the long-term aim of establishing colonies on the moon. This is because scientists have located ice in that part of the lunar surface. Water is not only essential to life. It is also a coolant for equipment and an element in rocket fuel.

India, however, is only one of the six countries in the current dash. The others are Russia, China, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and, of course, America.

The Russians got off to a bad start. While the Indians were successfully landing their Chandrayaan-3 space vessel, Moscow’s craft was crashing on the lunar surface.

China has had considerable success with lunar orbits and intends to plant a Chinese flag on the moon’s surface by the end of this decade. The Japanese have the same ambition.

South Korea and the United Arab Emirates are the dark horses in the race and are being cagey about exactly when they will put a person on the lunar surface. Completely open is NASA with its Artemis programme. Next year, Artemis 1 will orbit the moon and the following year Artemis 2 will land a four-person politically correct crew which will include a woman and a person of colour.

The US has a series of nine Artemis voyages planned and by the end of the ninth they hope to have a string of permanent moon bases. These will be used to train astronauts for a trip to Mars.

Commercial companies are also involved in the moon race. Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has been touting a moon trip since 2017. It has yet to materialise, but NASA is using his rocket technology for the Artemis programme.

Another company—Circumlunar is selling seats for a lunar orbit at $150 million each, while Golden Spike has put a price tag of $750 million on the opportunity to walk on the moon’s surface.

This week’s Republican Party debate was scary. The scariest thing was that the star performer of the night was dangling off the right-wing edge of the political spectrum.

Virek Ramaswamy is a tech multi-millionaire who is a total novice to politics but ran vocal circles around the eight experienced politicians on the stage. His views, however, made the others look like looney liberals.

They included: raising the voting age to 25; cutting aid to Ukraine and forcing them to concede territory to Russia; a suggestion that the federal government was involved in 9/11 and abolishing the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, The Nuclear Regulatory Agency and the Department of Education.

The one policy on which Ramaswamy and most of his fellow candidates agreed was that climate change is a hoax. The only hold-out was former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley who was also a stand-alone on full-throated support for Ukraine.

But perhaps the most disturbing words spoken were not on the debating platform but in a pre-recorded interview from Donald Trump’s Truth Social Network. The former president decided that because he is 50 points ahead of his nearest rival (which he is) that it would have been beneath of him to join the political fray.

Instead he gave a long interview to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson which was released just as the rest of the pack were walking on stage. It was classic Trump, long, meandering musings peppered with conspiracy theories and no-holds-barred attacks on opponents. He expected the Democrats to “steal” the 2024 election. The Left were “savage animals” who would probably assassinate him.

But the most frightening comment came in the form of an exchange between Carlson and Trump. “Do you think America is headed to civil war,” asked Carlson. “I don’t know,” mused Trump. Then he added: “But I can say this: there’s a level of passion I have never seen before. There is a level of hatred I have never seen, and that is a bad combination.”

The face of passion and hate was on show for the world after Georgia’s Fulton County police released their mug shot of Donald Trump.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice. He is also the author of “America Made in Britain” and co-host of the weekly world affairs podcast “Trans-Atlantic Riff” which can be heard by clicking here.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain". To subscribe to his email alerts on world affairs click here.

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20 Comments

  • Martin Gray 28th Aug '23 - 8:27am

    As regards Russian State targeted killings – they are dwarfed by the CIA’s drone strikes , & Israeli assassination squads … Virtually all of which goes on unreported in the West.

  • There is a difference between Russian assassinations and the killings of Mossad and the CIA. It is that Putin murders his domestic opponents. Criticise him and you run the risk of being killed, imprisoned or, at the very least, lose you job, home… Israel and America kill foreign opponents who, by and large, are trying to do the same to them. I should add that I am not a big fan of the Israeli government or the CIA. But I can still see the difference between their operations and those of Putin. Neither Netanyahu or Biden have used the FBI, CIA or Mossad to murder their home grown political opponents.

  • Israeli assassination squads are predominantly carried out on Palastinian targets in Palastine…
    What gives the CIA & the Israeli state the right to be judge jury & executioner …There’s is no difference – it’s state sponsored assassination….

  • “There is no difference.”

    Yes, there is a factual difference between killing domestic opponents and killing foreign opponents.

    The former is never justifiable for a democratic state.

    There latter may be in certain circumstances.

  • Any objective view of Putin’s Kremlin can only conclude (as Russian dissident exiles in a position to know conclude), that Putin is heading a Mafia type organisation that has gained control of the Russian state. The greatest victims of this criminal organisation include the Russian people themselves (including especially Chechnya) and its near neighbours in Georgia and Ukraine.
    Former Russian Chess master Garry Kasparov in a twitter thread has commented:
    Russia has long turned into a mafia state and years ago Russia collapsed. “As I said, there is no Russian state, no political chain of command…Russia is a mafia front with factions fighting each other for money, resources and power.”

  • For some reason I don’t see the people in charge of ruthless states such as Russia as much responsible for all the atrocities it commits as the actions of democracies. It might be that I prefer to think it is the state apparatus that sanctions these deeds rather than a single person. I wonder how autonomous Putin is and if he might face the same fate as those you describe in certain circumstances.

  • When Tucker Carlson asks “Do you think America is headed to civil war,” he may have a point. If Trump gets reelected or this guy Virek Ramaswamy gets anywhere near the Whitehouse, California, Texas and the rest of the American South-West might be better off going for secession and reuniting with Mexico. Alaska too might fare better with its Canadian neighbours.
    The Kingdom of Hawaii may have a strong case too for reasserting the sovereign independence the archipelago held before its overthrow by US Marines in an 1893 coup PuetoRico’s path to decolonisation could also switch away from statehood to independence.

  • …in a pre-recorded interview from Donald Trump’s Truth Social Network.

    It was Tucker Carlson’s channel on X (the micro-blogging site formerly known as Twitter). Fox News claimed 12.8 million viewers for the official Republican Presidential Primary Debate in Milwaukee, while Carlson’s online interview with Trump has had over 260 million views and counting – over 20 times more. While many will be from outside the US, it’s yet another nail in the coffin of legacy media.

    ‘Ep. 19 Debate Night with Donald J Trump’:
    https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson/status/1694513603251241143

  • Sandy Smith 28th Aug '23 - 2:59pm

    Next year’s Russian Presidential election will be interesting as opinion polls are not giving Putin more than half the vote when his name is offered alongside other possible candidates. Although Putin always has a commanding lead, he is only polling at twice the percentage of the current Prime Minister of Russia, the next most favoured candidate. Of course, whether other popular candidates choose to run if Putin seeks re-election is another issue….

  • Chris Moore 28th Aug '23 - 5:54pm

    Hi Peter,

    Joe is right in his description of Russia as a Mafia state.

    Putin has a loyal network of high-ranking officials in the security network and (to a much lesser extent) in the army. This is the basis of his rule.

    As long as the former remain loyal, his position seems relatively secure: i.e. relative to other potential Russian Presidents. It would be very difficult for internal forces to assassinate him.
    External forces would have more of a chance i.e. with over-kill, but this would be really unwise – even for the Ukrainians.

    In such a mafia state, might is right. Sadly, this value is tacitly or overtly accepted by a majority in Russian civil society.

  • Chris Moore 28th Aug '23 - 6:02pm

    Earlier I said, there were no circumstances in which a democratic state would be justified in killing political opponents.

    The obvious exception to this is where a poltical opponent is non-democratic and is in danger of gaining control and repressing freedom and democracy.

    Weimar Republic and the Kerensky government in 1917 are probable examples.

  • Martin Gray 29th Aug '23 - 6:30am

    @Chris…
    Seems like your advocating that it’s fine depending on the geography…
    An Afghan in Kandahar or a Palastinan in Gaza…
    As long as the illegality is carried out at home..
    Do thier lives have a lower value ?

  • Chris Moore 29th Aug '23 - 8:28am

    Martin, you have thoroughly misunderstood what I’m saying.

    “As long as the illegality is carried out at home.”

    Is this a typo? Are you serious? Read what I said again.

    Secondly, I’ve said nothing about either Gaza or Afghanistan.

    Please stop jumping to wrong conclusions.

  • I am surprised any member of the party would say that it is fine for a state to assassinate foreign opponents, even if they believe they are terrorists. A state should only kill someone who is in the process of committing an act which is likely to result in someone’s death (or when at war), not when they are planning the operation. Liberals believe in the rule of law and believe this should apply to states (as we once called for it to apply to monarchs) and the right of self-defence does not allow pre-emptive strikes. And we are against collective punishment which is prohibited by international conventions.

  • Chris Moore 30th Aug '23 - 6:03pm

    Exactly, Michael, whereas using violence against domestic opponents is almost never justified for a democratic state, we do go to war with other countries! We can visualize other circumstances too in which an assassination of a foreign operative might be justified. As you have done.

    Sometimes such wars with other countries are justified: World War
    II for example.

    Assassination of Hitler morally reprehensible for a liberal? I don’t think so. You may be aware of the nearly successful plot to kill Hitler in summer 1944.

    Of course, the UK has got involved in many totally unjustified wars. In recent history, second Iraq War and Suez were possibly the most unjustifible.

  • Chris Moore,

    Countries should not assassinate any opponent. They can kill members of an opponent’s military when at war and a country may if necessary to save lives kill someone who is in the act of trying to kill someone else as police can do in the UK. This would not allow the UK to assassinate Hitler. It would have been fine for the German state to execute Hitler for trying to overthrow the Bavarian government in 1923 if the crime had the death sentence. In 1944 there was no realistic peaceful method of removing Hitler from power which is why there was a German plot to assassinate him.

    Therefore the USA should have captured Osama bin Laden not assassinated him, and Israeli police should capture terrorists in Gaza not bomb the building they believe they are in.

  • Chris Moore 4th Sep '23 - 9:10pm

    Michael, so you do believe there are limited circumstances in which countries are justified in eliminating foreign enemies.

    So we are in agreement.

  • Chris Moore,

    We are not in agreement.

    You wrote that you can visualize circumstances in which an assassination of a foreign operative might be justified, while I cannot. And I gave examples of where such assassinations were not justified. While it is more difficult to bring such people to trial that is what a democratic state should attempt to do.

    You wrote that it would be fine for a democratic state to kill its political non-democratic opponents and you mean assassinate them. You seem to give Lenin and Hitler as examples of people it would have been fine to have been assassinated by their own state. I say there are no circumstances where a democratic state is justified in assassinating a political opponent even if they are calling for the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government. They should be arrested and tried under their own country’s laws for any crimes they may commit (and calling for the violent overthrow of a government should be against the law.)

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