Back in April Putin’s agents botched an alleged assassination case so badly that it looked like the script from The Simpsons.
They were supposed to be framing the Ukrainians for ordering a hit on a Russian TV star. In fact, the items ‘found’ in the apartment of the alleged assassins displayed a level of incompetence that only comes about when assassination becomes a routine so boring it leads to errors.
The build-up story of Putin’s various murders has been told before. What drives them, is the fact that totalitarian societies are totally insular — the state explains everything by its Alternate Reality and citizens have a choice of acceptance or terror.
Putin’s people set up such a system in Russia. Intent on controlling its oil wealth, the families at the top tell The Boss how right he is, and The Boss is beguiled and strengthened by that message.
If they don’t, they see the other face of the dictator. When your power depends on cutting off the heads of the tallest plants in the garden, you get pretty good at cutting.
But there are some cuts that just don’t make the grade. They stand out for their absolute incompetence.
Putin did have history to guide him. Stalin personally signed execution orders for forty-four thousand people, people he did not know and whose cases he had not read, if the cases even existed — he had simply signed off on long lists. On November 22, 1937, for example, Stalin and two his advisers approved twelve lists submitted by the NKVD, containing 1,352 people who would be executed. But Stalin could give it a personal touch, too. He once invited an old friend to Moscow for a reunion. They dined and drank — Stalin personally chose the menus — and later the same night, the friend was arrested in his hotel room. He was executed before dawn.
The Soviet state was based on punishment. Not even counting the millions who died in the Soviet collectivization campaign, Stalin’s mass terror machine murdered 20 million people.
The Russian fascist state that followed, under Putin, is no different. It relies on national genocide and selected murder.
There is a formula for such killing, and we can use one of Putin’s straightforward murders as a…