I do not know what to believe.
On the one hand, the first thought you get is that Putin killed Politkovskaya and Litvinenko because they opposed him. But then you think - that it is so obvious who wants them dead is the reason why he could not have done it. Too self-discrediting.
So it might have been done by those who want to discredit Putin. But by who? Could the British and Americans come down to this? It is not likely because if that were true opponents of Bush or Blaire within their own countries would get assassinated every day.
The Chechens? Oh, they technically could have killed Politkovskaya. But that would mean killing someone who is one of the biggest protectors of their people's rights.
And they technically could not have killed someone in the UK or US.
That leaves dissidents like Berezovsky. But what makes them in apposition to the Kremlin - their non-approval of his authoritarian anti-democratic policies - makes me think they would not use their enemy's methods.
So the most likely option is that guys at the Kremlin are simply stupid and do not realize that killing someone in the West will not shut everyone's mouth but quite the contrary - will outrage the West and bring more attention and action to the situation in Russia.
Maybe. But I'm having trouble with the concept that Putin and his operatives are that stupid.
There is of course, a third possibility, and that is that Putin & Co. ARE responsible, and are deliberately going about this in a way that, if the pattern continues, will convince the world that some powerful and vicious anti-Putin operatives are trying to frame him.
And a fourth: that parties who Putin believes are loyal to him, but actually are not, are doing this to convince Putin himself that he has very powerful enemies who are successfully framing him to undermine his power. This would make Putin more susceptible to being manipulated by underlings with ulterior motives, into doing things that he previously declined their advice to do. "See, we told you so."