Apart from the occasional sideswipe, I don't really do politics on this site. However I was very moved by the death in London of former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko. Mr Litvinenko was almost certainly assassinated by elements from his former country who used an unusual form of toxin: a radioactive isotope known as polonium 210. The story bears ominous similarities to that of the unfortunate Bulgarian dissident, Georgi Markov who was killed in London in 1978 (ironically on 9/11). In this latter case the poison ricin was used and deliverd by a miniscule pellet fired from an umbrella. Why I am disturbed by a single act of political violence in an era when it is commonplace to read of 150 people killed by car bombs on any given day in the Middle East, is the sheer sinister nature of the deed. The use of a rare isotope suggests that a degree of sophistication well beyond that of the common criminal was involved: a notion that will probably be reinforced when the toxin delivery system is revealed. I am thus saddened and outraged that acts of overt political criminality are perpetuated by governments pretending to have foresworn such activities. But more so I was moved by the dignified statement issued by Mr Litvinenko before hs passing and I will repost here:
I would like to thank many people. My doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are doing all they can for me, the British police who are pursuing my case with vigour and professionalism and are watching over me and my family.
I would like to thank the British government for taking me under their care. I am honoured to be a British citizen.
I would like to thank the British public for their messages of support and for the interest they have shown in my plight.
I thank my wife Marina, who has stood by me. My love for her and our son knows no bounds.
But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death.
I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like.
I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.
You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.
You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value.
You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilised men and women.
You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.
May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.
21 November 2006