Umbrella Man and Putin’s Russia

And the first draft of Book 4 in the Inspector Ramirez series, Umbrella Man, is written! It’s just over 80,000 words, so a little shorter than my other books. It could use a little fleshing out still, but that’s the easy party — the bones are there.

It was my first foray into the world of espionage, and I found it a challenge. Each time I write a book, I learn something new. This one has a Russian special forces officer so I had to learn a lot about Russian intelligence and politics, which was all new to me. But it was discovering the full extent of corruption in Russia that surprised me.

As we head towards Sochi, I’m thinking it isn’t just the anti-gay laws that the world should be concerned about, but the persistent rumours that Putin has been behind the assassination of a number of leading critics of his regime.

The vice chair of a commission investigating allegations against Putin was gunned down; so was the editor of an international magazine that reported the story.

Journalists critical of Putin, including Igor Domnikov, Sergey Novikov, Iskandar Khatloni, Sergey Ivanov, Adam Tepsurgayev, and Anna Politkovskaya, either murdered or “disappeared.” Anna Politkovskaya was shot to death on Putin’s birthday, in the elevator in her own apartment building. She had been investigating human rights abuses and atrocities in Chechnya. Some of her stories were sharply critical of Putin,  himself a former KGB spy.

Three months after Alexander Litvinenko, another former KGB officer who had already alleged corruption in the KGB,  claimed that Putin ordered her hit, he was poisoned to death with radioactive Polonium-210, a substance manufactured mostly in Russia.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As a former human rights lawyer, I’m as appalled as anyone else at the anti-gay laws that are attracting the world’s attention. But I  also have the sense that they just provide a glimpse into the ugliness and brutality of Putin’s Russia.

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