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FSB KGB - Russia's Interest in Litvinenko (Putin Andropov) -- Friedman

FSB KGB - Russia's Interest in Litvinenko (Putin Andropov) -- Friedman

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Published by PRMurphy
The recent death of a former Russian intelligence agent, Alexander Litvinenko, apparently after being poisoned with polonium-210, raises three interesting questions. First: Was he poisoned by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB? Second: If so, what were they trying to achieve? Third: Why were they using polonium-210, instead of other poisons the KGB used in the past? In short, the question is, what in the world is going on?
The recent death of a former Russian intelligence agent, Alexander Litvinenko, apparently after being poisoned with polonium-210, raises three interesting questions. First: Was he poisoned by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB? Second: If so, what were they trying to achieve? Third: Why were they using polonium-210, instead of other poisons the KGB used in the past? In short, the question is, what in the world is going on?

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Published by: PRMurphy on Jun 10, 2010
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06/16/2012

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November 30, 2006 | 0314 GMT
By George Friedman
The recent death of a former Russian intelligence agent, Alexander Litvinenko,apparently after being poisoned with polonium-210, raises three interesting questions.First: Was he poisoned by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor totheKGB? Second: If so, what were they trying to achieve? Third: Why were they usingpolonium-210, instead of other poisons the KGB used in the past? In short, the questionis, what in the world is going on?Litvinenko would seem to have cut a traditional figure in Russian and Soviet history, atleast on the surface. The first part of his life was spent as a functionary of the state.Then, for reasons that are not altogether clear, he became an exile and a strident criticof the state he had served. He published two books that made explosive allegationsabout the FSB and President Vladimir Putin, and he recently had been investigating theshooting death of a Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who also was a critic of thePutin government. Clearly, he was intent on stirring up trouble for Moscow.Russian and Soviet tradition on this is clear: Turncoats like Litvinenko must be dealtwith, for two reasons. First, they represent an ongoing embarrassment to the state. And second, if they are permitted to continue with their criticisms, they will encourageother dissidents--making it appear that, having once worked for the FSB, you cansettle safely in a city like London and hurl thunderbolts at the motherland withimpunity. The state must demonstrate that thiswill not be permitted--that turncoatswill be dealt with no matter what the circumstances.The death of Litvinenko, then, certainly makes sense from a political perspective. But itis the perspective of the old Soviet Union--not of the new Russia that many believedwas being born, slowly and painfully, with economic opening some 15 years ago. Thisdoes not mean, however, that the killing would not serve a purpose for the Russianadministration, in the current geopolitical context.For years, we have been forecasting and following the transformation of Russia under Vladimir Putin. Putin became president of Russia to reverse the catastrophe of the Yeltsin years. Under communism, Russia led an empire that was relatively poor butenormously powerful in theinternational system. After the fall of communism, Russialost its empire, stopped being enormously powerful, and became even poorer thanbefore. Though Westerners celebrated the fall of communism and the Soviet Union,these turned out to be, for most Russians, a catastrophe with few mitigating tradeoffs.Obviously, the new Russia was of enormous benefit to a small class of entrepreneurs,led by what became known as the oligarchs. These men appeared to be the cuttingedge of capitalism in Russia. They were nothing of the sort. They were simply peoplewho knew how to game the chaos of the fall of communism, figuring out how toreverse Soviet expropriation with private expropriation. The ability to turn state
 
property into their own property represented freeenterprise only to the most superficialor cynical viewers.The West was filled with both in the 1990s. Many academics and journalists saw theprocess going on in Russia as the painful birth of a new liberal democracy. Westernfinancial interests saw itas a tremendous opportunity to tap into the enormous value of a collapsing empire. The critical thing is that the creation of value, the justification of capitalism, was not what was going on. Rather, the expropriation of existing value wasthe name of thegame. Bankers loved it, analysts misunderstood it and the Russianswere crushed by it.It was this kind of chaos into which Putin stepped when he became president, andwhich he has slowly, inexorably, been bringing to heel for several years. This is thecontext in which Litvinenko's death--which, admittedly, raises many questions--mustbe understood.
The Andropov Doctrine
Let's go back to Yuri Andropov, who was the legendary head of the KGB in the 1970sand early 1980s, and the man who first realized that the Soviet Union was in massivetrouble. Of all the institutions in the world, the KGB alone had the clearest idea of thecondition of the Soviet Union. Andropov realized in the early 1980s that the Sovieteconomy was failing and that, with economic failure, it would collapse. Andropov knewthat the exploitation of Western innovation had always been vital to the Sovieteconomy. The KGB had been tasked with economic and technical espionage in theWest. Rather than developing their own technology, in many instances, the Sovietsinnovated by stealing Western technology via the KGB, essentially using the KGB as anresearch and development system. Andropov understood just how badly the SovietUnion needed this innovation and how inefficient the Soviet kleptocracy was. Andropov engineered a new concept. If the Soviet Union was to survive, it had to forgea new relationship with the West. The regime needed not only Western technology, butalso Western-style management systems and, above all, Western capital. Andropovrealized that so long as the Soviet Union was perceived as a geopolitical threat to theWest and, particularly, to the United States, this transfer was not going to take place.Therefore, the Soviet Union had to shift its global strategy and stop threateningWestern geopolitical interests.The Andropov doctrine argued that the Soviet Union could not survive if it did notend,or at least mitigate, the Cold War. Furthermore, if it was to entice Western investmentand utilize that investment efficiently, it needed to do two things. First, there had to bea restructuring of the Soviet economy (perestroika). Second, the Soviet system had tobe opened to accept innovation (glasnost). Andropov's dream for the Soviet Unionnever really took hold during his lifetime, as he died several months after becoming theSoviet leader. He was replaced by a nonentity, Konstantin Chernenko, who also diedafter a short time in office. And then there was Mikhail Gorbachev, who came toembody the KGB's strategy.
 
Gorbachev was clearly perceived by the West as a reformer, which he certainly was.But less clear to the West were his motives for reform. He was in favor of glasnost andperestroika, but not because he rejected the Soviet system. Rather, Gorbachevembraced these because, like the KGB, he was desperately trying to save the system.Gorbachev pursued the core vision of Yuri Andropov--and by the time he took over, hewas the last hope for that vision. His task was to end the Cold War and tradegeopolitical concessions for economic relations with the West.It was a well-thought-out policy, but it was ultimately a desperate one--and it failed.In conceding Central Europe, allowing it to break away without Soviet resistance,Gorbachev lost control of the entire empire, and it collapsed. At that point, theeconomic restructuring went out of control, and openness became the cover for chaos--with the rising oligarchs and others looting the state for personal gain. But one thingremained: The KGB, both as an institution and as a group of individuals, continued tooperate.
Saving the System: A Motive for Murder?
 As a young KGB operative, Vladimir Putin was a follower of Andropov. Like Andropov,Putin was committed to the restructuring of the Soviet Union in order to save it. He wasa foot soldier in that process.Putin and his FSB faction realized in the late 1990s that, however lucrative theeconomic opening process might have been for some, the net effect on Russia wascatastrophic. Unlike the oligarchs, many of whom were indifferent to the fate of Russia,Putin understood that the path they were on would only lead to another revolution--oneeven more catastrophic than the first. Outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, therewas hunger and desperation. The conditions for disaster were all there.Putin also realized that Russia had not reaped the sought-after payoff with its loss of prestige andpower in the world. Russia had traded geopolitics but had not gottensufficient benefits in return. This was driven home during the Kosovo crisis, when theUnited States treated fundamental Russian interests in the Balkans with indifferenceand contempt.It was clear to Putin by then that Boris Yeltsin had to go. And go he did,with Putin taking over.Putin is a creation of Andropov. In his bones, he believes in the need for a closeeconomic relationship with the West. But his motives are not those of the oligarchs, andcertainly not those of the West. His goal, like that of the KGB, is the preservationandreconstruction of the Russian state. For Putin, perestroika and glasnost were tacticalnecessities that caused a strategic disaster. He came into office with the intention of reversing that disaster. He continued to believe in the need for openness andrestructuring, but only as a means toward Russian power, not as an end in itself.For Putin, the only solution to Russian chaos was the reassertion of Russian value. Thestate was the center of Russian society, and the intelligence apparatus was the centerof the Russian state. Thus, Putin embarked on a new, slowly implemented policy. First,bring the oligarchs under control; don't necessarily destroy them, but compel them towork in parallel with the state. Second, increase Moscow's control over the outlying

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