It is suggestive that this story was filed by in the UK Telegraph by a chap identified as the “Security Correspondent.”
Here are the initial facts behind the headline. An exiled billionaire from the sovereign Republic of Georgia — as in the former Soviet Union not the US state — was discovered with his post-Soviet toes turned up in the glorious London suburb of Surrey. It is clear that he did not pass away from the ravages of old age. Akkadi “Badri” Patarkatsishvili — the wealthiest man from his part of the old empire — was a seasoned 52 when he died. Friends (who might be a tad nervous) ascribe his demise to heart failure. His obits characterize him as a “charismatic oligarch.” You have to love the lingo.
“Badri” moved to England after he reportedly received repeated threats on his life.
A rich man has his life threatened? Who wrote this copy — Agatha Christie?
It is natural to draw a squiggley — not straight — line back to the death of Alexander Litvienko, whose death has already left a deep rift in UK- ex USSR relations. As reported in this same space, Litvinenko wrote his own tell-all about the misdeeds of the Putin people and was dispatched for his trouble. The method by which Litvinenko met his maker had a rather quirky cultural twist. The former KGB agent (and let’s not forget Putin is a member of that club too) succumbed to the side effects of fallout from sipping a cuppa Polonium-laced radioactive tea.
Now we come to the demise of Mr. Patarkatsishvili who refused to return to Georgia claiming his life was in danger and that at least two previous attempts to kill him, in Britain, had failed. The reason he had been targeted was — ostensibly — that he wanted to run for the office of the President of the Republic of Georgia. For this run, Badri claimed, one’s reputation had to be “crystal clear.” What was his platform? Who felt threatened enough to kill him?
Let us recall that Eduard Shevardnadze was the first elected President of the Republic of Georgia when the old Soviet Union disassembled itself with a little help from the Gipper.
He was on the scene back in 1986 when, with Gorbachev, the terms of the end of the Cold War evolved. He helped delineate and encouraged the idea that the former USSR’s eastern European satellites could "do it their way" (known as the Sinatra Doctrine) as opposed to being forced to adopt a uniform policy or enforced model of democratization. Great tribulation ensued and that leads one to wonder about who would have it in for Mr. Patarkatsishvili? What philosophy did he represent which might be a threat to anyone in the days of President Putin’s new Russia? Who on the political scene would want to see him eliminated? There are plenty of suspects a la Ms. Christie, and no lack of plotters.
Badri felt he had to stay in England to save his life. Putin’s people claim that they had nothing to do with Badri’s early departure. And Badri’s spokespeople say that they had no knowledge of secret tapes in which Badri allegedly offer to pay for the assassination of a government minister back in Georgia.
The now late billionaire had been in the bidding process to acquire the West Ham United football (i.e., soccer) club, and once reputedly told the press: "The way they are going is proving they have only one plan — to get rid of me." So Badri dropped out of the Georgian Presidential race because of “black PR,” (lovely new term) which was linked to his desire to acquire a football team. Football is, for all intents and purposes, the religion of England. Sectarian violence can break out between team supporters who have too many pints of beers or just don’t like the outcome of any given game. Hooliganiam has become as strong an “ISM” as any ever witnessed in the British Isles and the same goes for the rest of a football mad world. The NFL pales in comparison.
So here we are in America, fussing over the separation of church and state and what we obviously ought to be concerned about is the separation of state and football. Can you see the day when we elect a President on the same day as the Superbowl? What will the networks charge for those ads? Blimey. The mind boggles and — by the way — who dunnit?
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