Sunday, December 03, 2006

Scissors Paper Stone 2

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody wondered why anyone would use Polonium 210 to assassinate a Russian dissident, it being much easier and cheaper to use a gun.

All depends on your purpose. If you want a nice quiet murder, best use a method that doesn't get into the papers, like a pre-arranged car crash. (Of course this method won't keep you out of the papers if your victim is some rich bloke's son with his pregnant girlfriend.) For all I know, there are hundreds of dissidents from various countries being quietly bumped off.

But if you want to put the fear of Stalin into the survivors, then you need something dramatic - like a poisoned umbrella, or perhaps leaving the body hanging from Blackfriars Bridge. An obscure isotope probably comes into this category. [note 1]

Meanwhile, Dr Alex Pravda [note 2] warns that if the Russian people think that Western media are unjustly blaming the Russian authorities, then this will benefit Putin domestically [BBC News, November 22nd]. But there is nothing like a good mystery with political overtones to keep the British public entertained.

Note 1: I am not saying that all these mysterious deaths were organized by the same people, merely that they seem to follow a similar pattern.

Note 2: Yes there really is an Oxford academic called Dr Pravda. He is a Fellow of the Russian and East European Centre at St Anthony's College, Oxford.

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