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American Wild Man

The companion to Buzzfeed's gripping series describing the rampage of Russian assassination teams in the West is George Friedman's observation that in the process Putin has destroyed his protectors as collateral damage.  Buzzfeed vividly demonstrates that long before Trump Putin's secret service was out of control in the West, liquidating dozens of regime opponents in London and even in Obama-era Washington DC.

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.

Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost yearlong "comprehensive investigation," a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an "accident," and prosecutors closed the case.

But the two FBI agents — as well as a third agent and a serving US intelligence officer — said Lesin was actually bludgeoned to death. None of these officials were directly involved in the government’s investigation, but they said they learned about it from colleagues who were.

“Lesin was beaten to death,” one of the FBI agents said. “I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can't get into.”

Agents can't get into the whys but the reasons are nevertheless well known. Dictators own too much London real estate, supply too much gas and have too many open accounts in the City and Wall Street to really risk clamping down on them.  This was was the situation months before anyone knew who would win the Republican primaries and a full year before the political upset of the century derailed the near-certain accession of Hillary Clinton to the White House.  There was to mix metaphors, a semi-stable Mexican standoff with Russia that is now gone.

In the meltdown that followed Hillary's loss the Democratic Party reacted by accusing Trump of colluding with the Russians. Trump responded by being Trump.  The result was Washington was soon in a state of Cold Civil War where none of the traditional mechanisms worked any more. No one had really prepared for a situation where no one dared pick up the phone in Washington because both political sides had discovered warrantless surveillance under Section 702. In this atmosphere the politicians had no alternative but lie low and play to the crowd. Friedman observes how politicians have been borne along by events: