President Putin’s right-hand man says that Russia is more than fit to host the G8 summit, The Times reports:
The leading Kremlin spin-doctor [Vladislav Surkov] rebuffed Western critics yesterday with a robust defence of President Putinâ€™s democratic credentials in the run-up to the G8 summit in St Petersburg. […] Mr Surkovâ€™s sudden emergence into the spotlight is part of a Kremlin campaign to buff its image before the G8 summit, with the help of Ketchum, an American public relations company.
[…] President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered special services to hunt down and “destroy” the killers of four Russian hostages in Iraq – slayings that shocked Russia and prompted an angry outcry against the U.S.-led coalition. The Kremlin did not specify whether Russia’s top security agencies – the Foreign Intelligence Service and the Federal Security Service – or others would be take the lead in finding the al-Qaida-linked group that claimed it killed the four Russian Embassy workers. But Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Federal Security Service, the main successor to the Soviet KGB, said his agency would be involved. “We must work so that not a single terrorist who has committed a crime would be deprived of responsibility and get a fair punishment.”
Is “hunt down and destroy” a fair punishment? Assassinate, in other words? Maybe so, in which case so much for Mr Putin’s democratic credentials.
A bit of an understatement.