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March 08, 2012


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Eugene Ivanov


One small comment. The very last (and supposedly "the best") Levada forecast -- submitted to CEC on March 2 to take part in a "forecast competition" -- gave Putin 61.5%

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Patrick,

A fine overview as always. I am honestly embarrassed to say that I have nothing very much to add. The one thing I would say is that if there is convincing evidence linking Berezovsky and Zakayev to Politkovskaya's murder the implications could not be more serious. Berezovsky at least (I do not know about Zakayev) has been granted British citizenship something which was refused to (for example) Mohammed Al Fayed even though his business career hardly compares with Berezovsky's and even though as the proprietor of Harrods Al Fayed paid taxes and employed thousands of people in Britain which Berezovsky of course does not. No one has ever suggested that Al Fayed was a murderer whilst such allegations were already being made when Berezovsky was granted British citizenship. I should quickly add that the decision to refuse Al Fayed British citizenship long predates his son's relationship with Diana Princess of Wales. If there is convincing evidence linking Berezovsky to the murders of Politkovskaya and apparently Khlebnikov then especially given that Khlebnikov and possibly also Politkovskaya were US citizens the potential for embarrassment for the British government is huge.

Alexander Mercouris

I have just checked Wikipedia and it seems that Politkovskaya was a US citizen at the time of her death. This raises an interesting possibility that so far as I am aware no one has so far considered. This is that if there is convincing evidence that links Berezovsky to her murder then the US authorities could bring their own prosecution and could demand Berezovsky's extradition to the USA. If that were to happen (and I appreciate that this for the moment looks farfetched) then I do not see how given the terms of the US/UK extradition treaty the British authorities could refuse to extradite him. Bear in mind that the US has a highly evolved system of judicial review so that even if the US authorities were reluctant to bring a prosecution if the evidence were strong someone with an interest case might be able to bring a civil case to compel them to do so. The same is equally true if there is strong evidence linking Berezovsky to the murder of Paul Khlebnikov who was also a US citizen.

I am not of course saying that any of this is going to happen. All I am saying is that there is great potential for embarrassment for both the UK and it seems the US governments.

Lastly I would just add on checking Wikipedia I notice that the entry on Politkovskaya herself makes on a very brief reference to the latest developments in her case whilst the separate Wikipedia entry entitled "Assassination of Politkovskaya" omits them completely and stops at the point in 2009 when the Russian Supreme Court ordered a re trial of the case involving the less important individuals involved in the murder who had been acquitted in a mistrial.

Patrick Armstrong

BAB had the great advantage of having a "certified ex-KGB officer" testify that, if he weren't allowed into the UK, he would be whacked out.
The big problem is to move the meme away from "Putin kills journalists who disagree with him" to actually looking at reality. (PS there are a lot of "journalists" in Russia who disagree with Putin who live and thrive. Many of them at Moscow Times.)
But, hey!, it's Russia: write what you like!

Patrick Armstrong

Didn't see that poll. But presumably done after the deadline.

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