Here is the end of a letter written by the spy after he was poisoned:
"But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death. I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like. I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.
"You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.
"You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value.
"You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilised men and women.
"You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people."
I really thought Russia had moved on from this kind of thing. Clearly, not. The Economist had an article on Russia about a month ago; here are the last two paragraphs:
Russia's huge size and troubled history make any comparisons risky. Yet some see historical parallels in present trends. Yegor Gaidar, a former prime minister, draws an analogy with inter-war Germany, which like post-Soviet Russia experienced economic chaos, then a period of stabilisation in which post-imperial nostalgia took hold. Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the few remaining independent parliamentarians, worries that Mr Putin seems to be switching from an imperial idea of Russia towards one more resembling a “Reich”.
History also offers a term to describe the direction in which Russia sometimes seems to be heading: a word that captures the paranoia and self-confidence, lawlessness and authoritarianism, populism and intolerance, and economic and political nationalism that now characterise Mr Putin's administration. It is an over-used word, and a controversial one, especially in Russia. It is not there yet, but Russia sometimes seems to be heading towards fascism.