On May 14, IWP Professor J. Michael Waller gave a statement to Poland’s “Solidarity Weekly” (Tygodnik Solidarnosc), which is the official publication of the Independent Free Trade Union “Solidarity.”
Please click here to read the Polish version. The English version is below.
Let’s look at the facts. Key leaders of the most anti-Russian, pro-American government in Europe are killed in a single stroke. The killing occurred in Russian territory. The Russian government’s system is so opaque that it is impossible for any independent verification of what did in fact occur. The Russian state security system, which still refers to itself by the Bolshevik term Chekisti, is a state within a state, and exists under no independent system of checks and balances but is answerable to the Putin-Medvedev leadership and only to them. Putin stated that he would take personal control of the investigation into the crash.
Here are some more facts. We know that the Russian government for the past decade has had a policy of assassinating its political opponents at home and abroad. We know that the Chekisti are involved in these assassinations and attempted assassinations. We also know that the Chekists had no problem killing large numbers of innocent civilians just to create a desired political outcome, as we saw with the FSB-sponsored bombings of apartment buildings across Russia – the bombings that Putin used as a pretext for starting the Second Chechen War and ultimately ousting Boris Yeltsin as president. We know that the assassinations are not only against Russian citizens – journalists, human rights activists, ex-KGB defectors, Members of Parliament, etc. – but against citizens of countries that the Kremlin considers part of the Soviet space. The poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine is a case in point. And then there is the overthrow of the government of Kyrgyzstan at about the same time as the Second Katyn Massacre last month. It didn’t involve the assassination of a foreign leader, but the same objective was achieved. Finally, we see the Chekists’ hand in assassinations in places like the United Kingdom, with the murder of a Chekist defector with polonium as a weapon. We also know that death by aircraft accident is a documented form of Chekist tradecraft throughout history, that the Polish presidential plane was a Russian-built plane that had been maintained by Russian mechanics at a Russian facility, and that the Russian special services excel at technologies to produce electronic interference that could disrupt or confuse an airplane’s guidance system.
So a Chekist hand in the decapitation of the most anti-Russian government in Europe does not seem so farfetched.
Finally, look at what happens when Vladimir Putin takes personal control of the investigations of killings. Let’s take, for an example, the assassination of Duma member Galina Starovoitova of St. Petersburg. She was a friend of mine. She was a strong critic of Putin and an investigator of corruption that involved Putin’s allies. After she was gunned down in her apartment, Putin declared he would take personal control of the investigation into her death. Some gunmen were found, but the actual authors of the murder were never brought to justice. Putin was never held accountable.
In Russia, one is guilty until proven innocent. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation has given the world no reason to trust its impartiality, and every reason to suspect the worst. I do not know if the regime was behind the killing of the Polish leaders. But for the defense of Poland and the security of NATO, we must presume that the Russian government played some role in the disaster.
J Michael Waller, PhD
Annenberg Professor of International Communication
The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036 USA