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Navalny-Skripal-Prigozhin: Courage and the Tall Poppy Syndrome

Doug Garland
Doug Garland
5 min read
Navalny-Skripal-Prigozhin: Courage and the Tall Poppy Syndrome
Photo by author.

Table of Contents

Death is the solution to all problems.
No man - no problem.
~ Joseph Stalin
AI Narration (Stephen)

Governments may be considerable cutters of Tall Poppies. Dictatorships or authoritarian regimes and the "isms" always come to mind since they are often unobstructed and unabashed when they cut down their opposition. But, democracies do it as well. Their cutting may not be in plain sight and more subtle. Leaders say one thing, but their "three letters" departments such as the FBI, DOJ, and FBI do the opposite. Politicians commonly cut each other down rather than run on their accomplishments.  

Vladimir Putin is the archetypical former - brazen and blatant.  

Courage is considered a virtue in the Jewish tradition, particularly in the Old Testament. The Jewish tradition highlights the importance of courage in facing challenges, transcending self-interest, and persisting through uncertainties with spiritual inspiration. Greco-Roman-inspired virtue ethics included courage as
one of the four Stoic virtues. Soon it became a Christian one as well when Stephen became its first martyr (Acts 7: 54- 60). Courage had become one of the paths to Tall Poppydom.

Novichok nerve agents are a group of highly toxic chemical weapons developed by the Soviet Union during the late stages of the Cold War. The name "Novichok" translates to "newcomer" or "newbie" in Russian. Novichok agents are organophosphate compounds, similar to other nerve agents like sarin and VX, but they are designed to be more lethal and potentially more difficult to detect and counteract.

Novichok agents can be in the form of a liquid or powder and can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin. They work by disrupting the normal functioning of the nervous system, specifically inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which is responsible for breaking down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This leads to an accumulation of acetylcholine in the nervous system, resulting in overstimulation of muscles and glands, leading to symptoms such as convulsions, respiratory failure, and ultimately death if exposure is not treated promptly.

Sergei Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the British intelligence agency MI6. Skripal was recruited by British intelligence in the 1990s while he was serving as a colonel in the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. He provided classified information to the British for several years before he was arrested by Russian authorities in 2004 and convicted of high treason.

In 2010, as part of a spy swap between Russia and the United States, Skripal was released from prison and sent to the UK, where he settled in Salisbury. He lived a reclusive life but in March 2018, he and his daughter Yulia were poisoned. After several weeks in critical condition, they recovered but have experienced ongoing health issues related to the poisoning.

The Skripals have remained out of the public eye, and their location and activities are unknown. It's assumed they are living in a safe location, possibly under protection.

Alexei Navalny was a trained lawyer and is a former fellow at Yale University. His first political foray was part of the ethnic Russian nationalist movement. In 2012, he became part of a coalition of opposition groups that sought to prevent Putin from returning to the presidency after serving four years as prime minister.

Then, he founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which conducted investigations into the pro-Kremlin elite. He had a popular weekly YouTube video that targeted many of Putin's politicians and businessmen. He also exposed Putin's lavish lifestyle. This made him a public enemy and eventually led to personal including physical attacks by pro-Kremlin activists.

He was arrested many times and convicted a couple of times, but the sentences were suspended. He attempted to challenge Putin in the 2018 presidential election but was declared ineligible because of these convictions.  

In the summer of 2020, Navalny conducted a campaign to prevent constitutional amendments that also included measures permitting Putin to stay in power until 2036. In August 2020, he became ill on a flight to Moscow which necessitated an emergency stop. His wife, Yulia, was able to facilitate a medical flight to Germany where he, unconscious and on a ventilator,  was determined to have been exposed to Novichok.

He returned to Russia in January 2021 and was immediately detained because he was on a wanted list as well as for violations of probation. He was sent to the Far North which made it more difficult to participate in the resistance. It did not prevent him from ridiculing Russian policies or condemning the war in Ukraine.

On December 8, 2023, Putin announced he was running for re-election in 2024 which could keep him in control until 2030.  On February 16, Navalny collapsed and died after taking a walk in prison. The verifiable cause of death very likely will remain a mystery.

In 2021, President Bidnen threatened "devastating" consequences should anything happen to Navalny while in prison. Oh well, I guess Biden has forgotten.

Yevgeny Prigozhin was previously profiled (Yevgeny Prigozhin Is Tall Poppied by Vladimir Putin). I thought a follow-up was in order since more information is available in the aftermath of the plane crash.

Nikolai Patrushev is Putin's oldest ally and confidant. He joined the spy services in the 1970s and remained entrenched through the collapse of the Soviet Union. When Putin was appointed prime minister in 1999 by President Boris Yeltsin, Putin recommended Patrushev to head of FSB (formerly KGB).

As head, he warned that the Kremlin would not tolerate traitors. Laws were passed legalizing killings of Russians abroad identified as terrorists. He was linked to the 2006 killing of Alexander Litvinenko from radioactive material in his tea. Litvinenko was a former FSB agent who escaped to England and wrote about his and Putin's work as spies.  

Patrushev was a strong supporter of the Ukraine invasion and warned Putin in the summer of 2022 about the dangers of the two armies and Prigozhin. Prigozhin's call to Putin complaining about his lack of supplies was his undoing. Patrushev felt Prigozhin had become a danger and threat. Patrushev took over from there.

Prigozhin was a dead man walking but he was the key to finding other collaborators. A few weeks later after a tour in Africa, Prigozhin was waiting on his plane's safety inspection at a Moscow airport. There, a small bomb was placed under the wing. Thirty minutes after take-off the jet exploded and fell from the sky with a detached wing.

DNA tests confirmed the deaths of Prigozhin, the Wagner group's Commander, and another Wagner associate.

Maksim Kuzminov, a Russian pilot, flew his Mi-8 helicopter to Ukraine in a plot with Ukraine's HUR military intelligence service in 2023. He received a $500,000 reward. He was found shot dead in a Spanish Mediterranean town in mid-February, 2024.
Putin in 2022, "An nation, and especially the Russian nation, can always distinguish genuine patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out like a fly."
On February 24, 2024, Sergei Naryshkin, a Russian spy chief, stated that Kuzminov " became a moral corpse at the very moment when he planned his dirty and terrible crime."
We don't let them have ideas.
Why would we let them have guns?
~Joseph Stalin
NavalnySkripalPrigozhintall poppytall poppy syndromecourage

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Douglas Garland, M.D. practiced orthopedic surgery for 37 years in Southern California. Doug was also a Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Southern California.


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