Saturday, 10 March 2018

Russian assassins, real and fictional

Five years ago I wrote Wolf by the Ears, a novel involving a Russian oligarch. The spark for the story came from the death of Boris Berezovsky, which struck me as decidedly fishy and unlikely to be suicide, which was the official verdict. The Oscar Pistorius case happened about the same time, and it was striking how every last detail of that murder was reported, while we were given almost no information at all about Boris Berezovsky.

My conclusion was that the Kremlin had picked their moment to get rid of an enemy who was working against them. Berezovsky had just lost a hugely expensive lawsuit against Abramovich, a buddy of Putin's, and faced financial ruin. (You can read a long article about their feud here.) Badri Patarkatsishvili, who was present at a key meeting between the two men and was to have testified in support of Berezovsky, had died in 2008, allegedly of a heart attack. That left Judge Gloster, with no concrete evidence, to decide which of the men was lying about a verbal agreement. She decided in favour of the more personable candidate, Abramovich. Berezovsky trusted our legal system and our police because they are not corrupt like Russia's, and both let him down.

I did a lot of research into other mysterious deaths of Russian nationals on British soil, which turned out to be both fascinating and worrying. The FSB is known to research methods of killing undetectably, and Putin passed a law in 2006 making it legal to kill Russian traitors on foreign soil. It seemed to me that our government was turning a blind eye in order not to get on bad terms with Russia. The Kremlin knew this and took advantage of it. I cringed at photos of David Cameron cosying up to Putin. 

For more details of possible assassinations, see this Buzzfeed article. Our government's timidity bears some responsibility for the recent attack in Salisbury.

I seem to be writing about politics, something I generally avoid. What I really want to do is sell books. So if you haven't read Wolf by the Ears, why not take a look? It's a good read, and topical.