A British policeman roping off the scene of the chemical weapon attack targeting Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England on March 4, 2018 (Image: video capture)
Sergey Skripal’s cooperation with the Spanish authorities in exposing the criminality of the Russian oligarchs rather than the idea that this action was revenge by the security services for someone who betrayed them is a far more likely explanation for Moscow’s decision to poison him, Vitaly Portnikov says.
Until The New York Times report about Skripal’s work in Spain, the Ukrainian commentator says, most people explained the murderous attack on the former Soviet agent as revenge by the Russian security services. But that explanation had at least two shortcomings.
On the one hand, Portnikov says, it doesn’t explain why Skripal was attacked while many other Russian agents and defectors have been left in peace. And on the other, it fails to recognize that “as long as Skripal was a traitor [only in this sense], he could count on being pardoned” if that would serve the Kremlin’s interests.
But as soon as Skripal “touched upon the interests of the mafia” in Moscow, as he surely did in Spain, then there was every reason for that mafia to “decide to liquidate him,” a decision that demonstrates as few other things have that the Putin regime is a mafia state rather than a normal one.
In analyzing Kremlin actions, Portnikov says, it is important to keep in mind that Russia today is “a mafia state,” one in which the state not only participates in massive corruption but “above all acts in the interests of the mafia,” including going after and even murdering those who work against that mafia structure.
Ukrainians in particular need to remember this because under Yanukovych, “we had precisely the same mafia state. But after 2014, Ukraine began the transition from a mafia state to a corrupt one. And, if after the 2019 elections this transition continues, … that will become our very biggest victory.”
Corruption can be fought and contained in a country with a normal state of the kind Ukraine has been moving toward, Portnikov says; “but in a mafia state, there is simply no society at all, only government positions occupied by mafiosi and their assistants.” That kind of state can’t be reformed: it can only be overthrown.
Yanukovych’s mafia state was overthrown by the Ukrainian people. “But Putin’s mafia Russia continues to exist – and to kill.”
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