Who Is Nikolai Patrushev, Head Of The Russian Federal Police?

Although Nikolai Patrushev has been willing to compromise in other cases, this sentiment was not extended to former Russian operative Aleksandr Litvinenko. Here, his anti-NATO sentiments — particularly against the U.K. and the United States — likely influenced his views and involvement in the case. According to the official U.K. report, Litvinenko was poisoned in London after ingesting polonium. The report concluded that FSB agents were responsible.

So how likely is this? Russia specialists noted in the report that the price of failure in the Russian intelligence community and the Soviet apparatus before that was high. Thus, in order to cover the backs of the upper echelons of the service and field operatives, most operations were approved by the highest levels of the Soviet government to ensure that blame did not fall further down. So assuming FSB involvement, Patrushev would have had to know of the plan and approve the killing before passing the operation on to his boss, Vladimir Putin.

Patrushev’s guilt would cast him in a more ruthless light with two possible motivations. As New Lines Magazine notes, Litvinenko blamed the FSB — and therefore Patrushev — for the 1999-2000 bombings. As the BBC noted, Litvinenko had also worked with British intelligence, whom Patrushev implied were aiding Chechen extremists. If Litvinenko was truthful, Patrushev cynically approved Litvinenko’s killing to protect himself. Otherwise, he probably viewed Litvinenko — one of Patrushev’s fellow FSB employees — as a traitor and collaborator with the anti-Russian U.K. Regardless, it does show that one way or another, the president pro tempore is not one to be trifled with.

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