- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Killing influential Russians overseas is nothing new for Russian leaders. It is almost like a tradition.

Leon Trotsky was killed in Mexico with an ice pick in 1940 on orders from Josef Stalin, long after he was no longer a threat to Stalin. Ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was killed in Great Britain in 2006 with radioactive polonium-210 laced in his tea, which is the current weapon of choice, and a nasty one at that, causing a painful and agonizing death. Litvinenko made enemies in high places in Russia after accusing Russian officials of plotting to assassinate political opponents.

Litvinenko’s friend, former Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, was recently found dead in Great Britain, with the medical examiner ruling it “death by hanging.” The only question is, was it a genuine suicide, or murder made to look like suicide?

Since Berezovsky was friends with Litvinenko and bitter enemies with Russian President Vladimir Putin and highly critical of his policies, with Putin perceiving him as a political rival, his death has to be perceived as suspicious.Owing to multiple lawsuits and his own extravagance, Berezovsky was nearly penniless, in addition to being deeply depressed, so suicide is a possibility — though not a certainty for the former billionaire.

KENNETH L. ZIMMERMAN

Huntington Beach, Calif.