Saturday, December 11, 2004

Reviewing, Recalling Rybkin: A Poison Post

Does anyone now remember Ivan Rybkin, the Russian politician who vanished during the presidential campaign back in February and who claimed to have been drugged by the secret services? He turned up in London having been missing for several days, and announced in a bizarre press conference hosted by zillionaire exile Boris Berezovsky that he would not return to Russia but would continue to campaign, perhaps giving interviews by video link. (In the end, the plan to broadcast campaign material from the UK was blocked by the Central Election Commission.)

The whole business was intensely odd - first he vanished, then his campaign manager said he'd just been spending a weekend in Kiev and hadn't been watching TV, then a member of the Duma security committee said he was being held at a sanatorium run by the presidential administration, then retracted this and claimed he was joking, before he finally rocked up in London. According to his statements at the time he had been lured to Kiev, drugged and forced to take part in a pornographic video.

At the time, after the first shock had worn off, his allegations were treated with derision by an impressively wide spectrum of opinion. But how would your answer change, as they say, in the light of continuing and credible suggestions that Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned and considerable evidence of Russian interference in the Ukrainian election? After all - what exactly is the job description of a "political technologist"?

Whilst we're on the subject, the Exile has an excellent article about the eastern Ukraine. Fact grab - Donetsk oblast has the highest rate of wage arrears in the country.

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