Vladimir Putin murdered my neighbor. I am thrice-weekly reminded of this dreadful actuality, as the victim’s home is on one of my early morning running routes, where it is guarded 24/7 by one of several unsmiling officers of the Wiltshire, England, Constabulary. It is there that Putin unleashed a quantity of Novichok, one of the deadliest binary nerve agents ever conceived by the malign heart of human evil.
Her name was Dawn Sturgess, and Putin murdered her on the 8th of July this year, barely a thousand meters on foot from my house. Her boyfriend had found and gifted her a small bottle of Russian perfume carrying the deadly agent, originally intended for Russian defector Sergei Skripal. Where Dawn Sturgess died is a spot so untrammelled by the ten thousand occupants of the hamlet in which I reside that most of them don’t even know it is still guarded, if they ever knew it at all.
To be sure, like Charles Manson, Putin wasn’t actually present at the killing. Like with Manson’s “Family,” Putin’s minions did the actual deed. But unlike with Manson, the mainstream media seldom quibble over so minor a split hair. They prefer to speculate about the two Russian men who came to Wiltshire “on holiday.” Was it, they wonder, the GRU or the FSB that sent them? The smart money is on the GRU.
No. Like Manson, it was Putin all along. Indeed, had it not been Putin directing and micromanaging the killing, had it been a “rogue operation,” the two men who came to Wiltshire with murder on their minds and several members of that same GRU would now be dead instead of ceremoniously paraded about the Kremlin like blushing heroes.
That is how Putin murders people. By decree, by order, by fiat. He is the same man who stole the 2016 election and handed it to his simpering acolyte Donald Trump. He is the same man who murdered Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, Natalia Estemirovain in 2009, Boris Berezovsky in 2013, Denis Voronenkov in 2016, and dozens of others of dissidents, defectors, journalists and critics. He is the same man so devotionally praised, so thoroughly admired, so wistfully emulated by Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin, murderer, is the envy of the “president” of the United States. And he murdered my neighbor. It’s personal.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.