What to Do?

It’s not easy being David Cameron.

Seems like the Prime Minister has a knack for getting himself into tight spots. Sometimes it’s his own doing, like when he promises referenda on who might want to opt out of what entity or country, but this one’s not entirely of his own making. Tomorrow retired high court judge Sir Robert Owen will publish the results of the lengthy British inquiry into the death of former FSB agent turned MI6 operative turned dead man Alexander Litvinenko. The Prime Minister (who already has the report) will be required to decide what if any punishment to impose on the Russian involvement the report will presumably show in Litvinenko’s death. This comes at a delicate time in Russia/western relations, what with the attempted reconvening of Syria talks next week.

The Litvinenko case makes for riveting real-life-tales-of-international-intrigue reading, and it will be all the news tomorrow. Catch yourself up with this longish summary by Luke Harding in the Guardian. The book to read is Blowing Up Russia, written by Litvinenko. Since the report comes out tomorrow, might be best to download the electronic version instead of waiting for delivery of a hard copy.

In the book Litvinenko alleges FSB involvement in an aborted bombing of an apartment building in Ryazan, Russia in 1999, just months after Vladimir Putin assumed power from Boris Yeltsin. By extension, Litvinenko means to make the assertion that the FSB, and possibly Putin, was involved in a string of fatal bombings of Russian buildings in 1999, presumably as a pretext for the second Chechen war. (While Litvinenko is not the only one to make such allegations, Steven Lee Myers gives short shrift to these allegations in his absorbing new biography of Putin, The New Tsar.)

Allegations like that would make anyone radioactive in Moscow, so Litvinenko fled to London, where ultimately he became literally, and fatally so, dying at age 44 in 2006.

After presentation to parliament, tomorrow’s report will be published on the inquiry’s web site.

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