Most people know that the Russian government likes to poison dissidents. Even after hearing about some of the big names below, most people simply don’t care:
- journalist Anna Politkovskaya
- former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar
- oligarch Alexander Lebedev
- politician/journalist/investigator Yuri Shchekochikhin
- former Putin confidant Roman Tsepov
- Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko
- ex-KGB spy turned British agent Alexander Litvinenko
Terrible unjust things take place all over the world, and the rule of law isn’t exactly commonplace in Russia (I would encourage you to look up the Magnitsky affair). While some of the poisonings took place abroad, most people view these events as being internal to Russian politics (each individual was Russian and did ostensibly constitute some sort of harm to the Russian government) so it isn’t surprising that this doesn’t register too high on the outrage meter.
What does surprise me is that nobody seems to care that Russia is also poisoning Western dignitaries.
As a judge, Wildhaber had made many decisions against the Russian government. In fact, he was threatened four years earlier when a Russian ambassador showed up at his office and told him that if he didn’t reverse his decision to deny the extradition of 13 Chechens in Georgia to Russia, that Russia would blame the Moscow Theatre Siege (where over 170 people died – also, speculated to have been orchestrated by the Russian government) on him.
Around the same time as the Wildhaber poisoning, while on a Canadian delegation to Russia, former Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler was also poisoned. At the time, Cotler was serving as legal counsel for imprisoned Russian environmentalist Alexander Nikitin.
Cotler later learned from one of the doctors that attended to Alexander Litvinenko that he suffered the same symptoms, albeit with less severity. In 2010, Russia all but admitted to the poisoning when officials from their embassy in Ottawa told Cotler that it was a mistake, and it wouldn’t happen again. Cotler who was originally banned from entering the Soviet Union in 1979, was once again banned from entering Russia in 2014.
In the time of the Roman Empire, uttering the words Civis Romanus Sum (I am a Roman Citizen) was enough to protect every citizen from unjust harm committed by foreign states. While I don’t expect the Canadian or Swiss governments to declare war on Russia for these acts like the Roman Empire would, I do expect people to care. Despite all of this information being widely available in the press, I haven’t met a single person who genuinely felt outraged by the poisonings. In fact, very few people seem to actually know about these events.
If you feel disturbed by Russia poisoning foreign dignitaries, please help me shame Russia by sharing this message.