October 19, 2019

Epoch Times op-ed: Putin runs the streets in Britain

Putin Runs the Streets in Britain

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson
CONTRIBUTOR
December 13, 2019 Updated: January 19, 2020

 

Commentary

There are few certainties in life, but there’s one thing that does seem certain that we should all keep in mind. If Russian strongman Vladimir Putin wants you dead, don’t move to England.

You have a much better chance of not paying taxes than surviving that mistake.

Case in point, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal. Skripal was a Russian GRU military intelligence officer who had been spying for the West. He was caught and in a Russian jail until 2010 when he was released in a spy swap prisoner exchange. He and his daughter settled in Salisbury and nearly died in 2018 from the nerve agent Novichok, which had been smeared on the door handle to their home.

Putin denied any involvement in the poisoning, but has made public comments in the press to the effect that any traitors will die.

Character and Background

It’s well known that Putin originated in the KGB during Soviet Union times, but it’s rarely discussed in any detail or what it really means. The KGB has often been compared to a combination of the CIA and FBI rolled into one, which is in fact more or less true.

The CIA concentrated on overseas intelligence and does not have police powers, and the FBI concentrated on domestic law enforcement and counter-intelligence (CI) and does have law enforcement powers. For the record, mission creep by all federal agencies has warped those definitions, and the overlap is wildly out of control.

The KGB did vaguely follow a similar organizational pattern and was generally divided between the overseas cadre and the domestic cadre. The overseas cadre was the more desirable and the best and brightest went there. The domestic side of the KGB was the junior side of the partnership and far less desirable.

In one of the largest differences between the U.S. and USSR versions, the FBI’s CI duties have always been largely defensive in nature, attempting to thwart the intelligence efforts by other countries that run intelligence operations inside the United States. The KGB did have all of those powers but concentrated their manpower and resources differently.

In a major deviation between the American and Russian versions, one of the largest responsibilities of the domestic KGB was to control their own population and seek out any hint of political discontent with the one-party socialist system.

Through the years right up until the fall of the Soviet Union, many dissidents just simply disappeared. There are thousands of stories of torture, individuals being grabbed off the street or masked men pounding on the door in the wee hours taking someone away with a bag over their head. Some came home eventually; many did not. Some ended up in the infamous gulag.

It was the domestic arm of the KGB that was responsible for all of these activities; these were the thugs, torturers, and murderers that kept the population under control. This is where Putin got his start, and from his perspective it’s perfectly normal to track down traitors and dissidents and kill them.

That’s not going to change. In 2006 Putin even passed laws that made it legal (by Russian law) to kill those deemed enemies of the state even if they are on foreign soil.

Suspicious Deaths

However, in England, Putin and his modern-day thugs seem to be left to act at will, and the Russians have an impressive array of tools for exactly this sort of work—inhalants that cause fast-acting cancer or heart attacks; poisons of all kinds, including radioactive, even poisons that can be applied to a door knob and only need to be touched, such as in the case of Skirpal; some even designed to cause such mental instability that the victims kill themselves.

Here is a partial list of some of the victims who died suspiciously or who were conclusively murdered by mother Russia. Alexander Litvinenko (poison), Boris Berezovsky (suicide), Gareth Williams (found decomposed in a bag), Igor Ponomarev (dropped dead), Yuri Golubev (dropped dead), Daniel McGrory (died suddenly), Badri Patarkatsishvili (sudden heart attack), Paul Castle (suicide), Robbie Curtis (suicide), Johnny Elichaoff (fell from high building), Scot Young (found impaled, fell from high building), Stephen Moss (heart attack), Stephen Curtis (helicopter crash), Alexander Perepilichnyy (dropped dead), Alex Chapman (drug overdose), and Dr Matthew Puncher (stabbed).

Most of these deaths and a number of others have gone largely uninvestigated and sadly unnoticed, even though there’s a clear pattern and serious problem. As we all know, just follow the money to find the answer.

In recent years, Russian investors have poured $11 billion into the UK. That would not happen without Putin’s permission or at least acquiescence. In Russia, Putin has his finger on all of the big money. If extensive investigations pointed the finger to Putin’s Russia, it would likely cause a public rift that could stop that flow of money. The question is, does the British government turn a blind eye to maintain the flow of money?

A similarly suspicious death, very possibly linked to Russia, recently took place in Germany. With Russia’s weaponization of the energy sector controlling much of the EU economy already, Putin is well positioned to expand his control and influence. Since it appears he can already kill whomever he wants, where will it stop?

Brad Johnson is a retired CIA senior operations officer and a former chief of station. He is president of Americans for Intelligence Reform.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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