A NEW COLD WAR?

A NEW COLD WAR?

Mon, 01/01/2007 - 11:34

The murder of Alexander Litvinenko bears uncanny resemblances to the murder of Georgi Markov 28 years earlier. To an extent

Alexander Litvinenko

There are ingenious crimes in terms of scale or the perfect concealment of their perpetrators. Recently, we have witnessed a crime that is ingenious as a scheme.

Every day following the murder of Alexander Litvinenko brings new details to the symbolic message that the evil genius behind this plot is sending.

The former Russian secret service agent was a well-known figure among Russian emigres in the West. He was one of the most outspoken critics of the Kremlin. And he was not a marginal character without citizenship or protection. He had recently become a naturalised British subject and been assigned police protection as well as private guards as a person whose life was under threat.

With his elimination, brought about in a particularly agonising and sinister way, the mastermind behind the crime made it clear that none of its adversaries should feel safe. The choice of the murder weapon had been made in keeping with the best traditions of Cold War terrorism. When a traitor from inside the KGB has to be punished, his death alone is not enough; the members of his family must also die. Any political assassination must be turned into an example to scare others. Now there is news that Alexander Litvinenko's widow, his father, and even his son, have also tested positive for radioactive particles. The poison, polonium, affects not only the immediate target, but also his family and close friends, those who have stood by his deathbed. Though not lethal at present, the dose is enough to cause cancer in the future, experts claim. The wickedness of all this is mind-boggling.

The crime has a more far reaching message. Someone who exercised his basic human right of freedom of speech was assassinated in the midst of Western civilization. The similarities with the murder of Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov 28 years ago are obvious (see here). However, there are important differences.

During the Cold War the frontlines were a lot better defined, and it was easy to at least guess where the deadly orders were being issued. Today, matters are much more complex.

Alexander Litvinenko

Walter Litvinenko, centre with orange scarf, the father of the dead former spy Alexander Litvinenko, accuses Russian President Vladimir Puin (below) of having killed his son

Litvinenko was killed using an as yet unknown deadly device. It is clear to any thinking member of Western society that a weapon of incredible potential has been unleashed for the first time. "We can use it anywhere and on a much larger scale, if necessary," is the message being sent. The aim is to make the West a hostage of its own fears, just in keeping with the notorious Gromyko doctrine. Nobody knows when and where a probably unsuspecting perpetrator, a victim himself, will blow some deadly cigarette smoke, or where and when some aerosol capable of fatally injuring thousands of people will be sprayed.

Burying our heads in the sand will be of no help to anyone. Sooner or later we will be faced with a situation of helplessness in the face of an adversary who aggressively lays down his terms. Recent history has given us enough examples of this. Edward Lucas from the Economist wrote that Alexander Litvinenko's murder marked the beginning of a new Cold War. Some are scared by this conclusion; others see it as wishful thinking. The West, the community to which Bulgaria now belongs, has but a single chance to preserve its democratic way of life established over the decades. This chance, however peculiar it may seem, is that Ed Lucas's prophecy comes true. Otherwise, our cultural and political values will continue to erode, imperceptibly, until they become a spineless, sclerosis stricken appendage to the ruthlessly advancing giant from the East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Few Western politicians appear to realise the dramatic power of the threat. The process of confrontation inevitably leads to better identification of where the frontlines are. The issue is whether we shall find the will and determination to survive; a survival not only physical, but spiritual, political and cultural - if necessary, despite the Russian gas pipelines.

Issue 4

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

pro-russia rally bulgaria
IS PUTIN 'WORLD LEADER' OR SADISTIC VILLAIN?
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has polarised public opinion in Bulgaria. In fact, Bulgaria has emerged, since the start of the war in Ukraine, as the only EU state where public support for Putin remains high.

anti ukraine protest bulgaria.jpg
WHY DO SO MANY BULGARIANS SUPPORT PUTIN?
Perhaps surprisingly for a country that was once an enthusiastic applicant to join NATO and the EU Bulgaria is now home to a significant number of people who support... Russia's tyrant Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine.

Satan strategic nuclear-head missile, capable of reaching the island of Manhattan in 20-30 minutes after launch
WHAT BULGARIANS GET WRONG ABOUT WAR IN UKRAINE
Though it has been a member of NATO since 2004 and of the EU since 2007 present-day Bulgaria appears not to be very enthusiastic about any involvement in the war in Ukraine.

king samuil statue bulgaria
BIG MACEDONIAN QUESTION
The "Macedonian Question" is one of those Balkan conundrums that even outsiders with more than just passing knowledge of the history and geography of the region can have trouble understanding.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM BULGARIAN 2-IN-1 ELECTIONS
As the dust settles down after Bulgaria's third attempt in a year to elect a government and as the post-election horse-trading begins, there are several key conclusions to be drawn from Boyko Borisov's dramatic downfall and the emergence of the Changes Cont
REFORMS TO BE CONTINUED?
During 2021 Bulgarians have so far gone to the polls twice, in April and in July. On both occasions the sort of parliament they elected was so split that it failed to form a government.
police brutality bulgaria 2020
BULGARIAN POLITICS
What many Bulgarians have known all along ever since the collapse of Communism – that the police force, formerly known as People's Militia has hardly reformed itself during the past 30 years – became painfully obvious with the broadcast, in the house of par

boyko borisov wanted
BORISOV'S DOWNFALL?
Some analysts were surprised, others were not: the 11 July snap election, called in the wake of the failure of Bulgaria's 45th National Assembly to set up a government, returned more or less the same results.

WHERE TO FROM NOW ON?
The month of June, officially the election campaign month ahead of the early ballot scheduled for 11 July, has been extraordinary even in the standard of Bulgarian politics.
WILL BOYKO BE GONE FOR GOOD?
Following the failure of Bulgaria's "short" parliament, which sat for less than a month, to fulfil its basic constitutional duty, form a functioning government, President Rumen Radev stepped in and appointed a caretaker administration.
boyko borisov hospital
BULGARIA'S BALLOT SHOWDOWN
Most public opinion agencies got it wrong. Following a month of an exceptionally tepid (even in Bulgarian standards) election campaign, in which the coronavirus pandemic was hardly mentioned, Bulgarians went to the polls to elect their new parliament.

TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE?
One of the topics debated in what was an exceptionally tepid election campaign was how Bulgarians abroad should be enabled to vote.