On July 8, former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was killed in the prefecture town of Nara outside Osaka. He was shot demonstratively during his speech, leaving the Japanese society and government in a deep shock.
There is, however, a country, perhaps the only country in the world, that likes demonstrative political murders at scale. And it is the subject of this article.
In the past decades, Russia stopped hiding personal threats, and even nuclear threats, to the leaders of countries that pursue an “unfriendly” policy toward the Kremlin. For Moscow, an unfriendly policy includes sanctions and assistance to those whom Russia has already attacked. Moreover, Moscow is not restraining itself to threats only.
On April 10, 2010, the infamous plane crash took place in Smolensk. According to Russia, the plane with Polish President Lech Kaczyński onboard descended to a too low altitude as it was approaching the airfield and exploded after hitting trees. The president of Poland and 95 representatives of the Polish elite died in the crash.
However, the investigative commission established conclusively that two explosions preceded the accident. At the same time, Russia did not hand over physical evidence from the scene of the accident to the Polish authorities. That is, Moscow hid the crime.
In 2014, the private plane of the head of the French oil company Total that does business in the Russian Federation, Christophe de Margery, collided with snow removal equipment on the runway at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport. All four people, including the main passenger of the plane, died.
That is, one of the main shapers of the Russian-French relations died because an airport dispatcher took the equipment to the runway. The culprits were immediately amnestied by a special order. No one was held accountable for this crime.
Not all of the victims of the Kremlin die in a plane crash. Russia has had many options for killing demonstratively. One of the famous cases of recent years is the failed assassination of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer who spied for the British in the 1990s. The assassination attempt took place in the English town of Salisbury in 2018. Skripal whose age was almost 70 worked, where he lived since 2010 after he had been released from prison in Russia.
Skripal was supposed to die from the “Novichok” chemical weapon. Two Moscow agents applied the substance to the doorknob of Skripal’s house. Only by a miraculous coincidence did Skripal survive.
In 1995, the infamous Sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway took place, resulting in 12 to 27 dead. The terrorists who were Aum Shinrikyo sect members carried it out. They placed bags with the deadly poison inside subway cars and pierced the bags with an umbrella as they exited.
The sect members made Sarin on their own but the how-to documentation was kindly provided to them in Moscow. The then secretary of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation Oleg Lobov, who oversaw the activities of the sect in Russia, allegedly helped the terrorists on his own initiative.
Japan joined the sanctions against Russia since the beginning of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Japan knows firsthand what it means to be a Russian neighbor since it occupied a number of the Kuril Islands when Japan was weak. The relations between Russia and Japan have never been friendly because of that.
And when the country is “unfriendly” to Moscow, terrorist attacks, political murders and other acts of terror are justified in the eyes of Moscow elite. Terror is embedded into the national security policy. In fact, because Russia does not invent anything else, its national security policy, tied together with merciless environmentally-unfriendly natural resource exploitation, has been raised to Russia’s raison d’ être. And that is why Russia is the main exporter of terror in the world.