George H. Wittman writing in today's American Spectator has some insight into Vladimir Putin that parallels the thinking of the EB:
Western administrations have done their best to fashion a perception of Vladimir Putin as some form of European social democrat. The recent poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko in London and the gunning down of the anti-Putin journalist Anna Politkovskaya earlier in Moscow, as well as other "wet affairs," have brought that characterization sharply into question. The real issue, however, is why such a benevolent representation ever existed in the first place.
Little "Putka", as he was called by his boyhood friends on the streets of Leningrad, has been a dedicated apparatchik since his school days when his ambition to join the KGB first began. He hasn't changed -- only the world around him changed -- and he has taken advantage of these changes.
Wittman goes on to say that Putin hasn't authorized the recent spate of killings but has fostered an environment where his former KGB cohorts have been allowed to "run wild" on his behalf. Putin, he says would never authorize such a traceable agent such as polonium to be used. Putin, he says, has lost control.
Putin never would have authorized the killing of a loud but lightweight dissident like Litvinenko. Such action placed Putin in a vulnerable leverage position. Additionally he never would have ordered the use of an exotic killing agent in a situation that required "plausible denial."