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Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin Cover Image

K.A. Bachus

February 17, 2022

Saint Vladimir of Rus or Vlad the Impaler?

Where does Vladimir Putin fall on the scale between sanctity and ruthlessness? Is he closer to the canonized Russian prince of Kiev who first accepted Christianity or to the Romanian ruler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula?

Putin has supporters who like him and prefer him to real or imagined alternatives because of the stability his leadership provides and the tough guy image he projects as both protector and enforcer over the Russian people. Those who criticize him, however, have an uncomfortable habit of winding up dead.

Just ask Alexei Navalny, a popular opposition leader who has survived multiple attacks and a nearly fatal poisoning and is currently imprisoned. Below is a list compiled in 1917 by The Washington Post of a few other opposition figures who did not survive. For now, it is enough to remember that the Russian president is neither saint nor torturer.

He is a spook of the old school. Think Felix Dzerzhinsky. I suspect Mr. Putin would be proud of the comparison.

The grandson of Lenin’s cook, Putin has a law degree from Leningrad State University, and spent much of his KGB service in East Germany. The exact date and rank at which he retired is a bit murky, as are the nature of his activities in the closing days of the Soviet Union, but he was at least a major in one of the more ruthless intelligence services of the modern era, so it should come as no surprise that he knows how to keep a secret.

For details on the inadvisability of crossing this man in a way that may be perceived as a threat, look up any of the following names, courtesy of The Washington Post. Though most of these were shot on the street or in their homes, many of the more mysterious deaths among other opposition figures had a tendency to fall out of upper story buildings.

Boris Nemtsov

Boris Berezovsky

Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova

Sergei Magnitsky

Natalia Estemirova

Anna Polikovskaya

Alexander Litvinenko

Sergei Yushenkov

Yuri Shchekochikhin


See Filipov, D. 2017, March 23. Here are 10 critics of Vladimir Putin who died violently or in suspicious ways: The Washington Post.