Saturday, March 03, 2007

Metro Section, p. B04

Buried deep inside this morning's WashPost Metro section was a rather unprepossessing little piece, tucked up next to the obituaries and the local-crime roundup:
Expert on Soviet Intelligence Shot in Adelphi

...Paul Joyal, 53, was shot Thursday, four days after he alleged in a television broadcast that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin was involved in the fatal poisoning of a former KGB agent in London.

Law enforcement sources and sources close to Joyal, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the motive for the shooting was unclear. But several sources confirmed that FBI investigators are looking into the incident because of Joyal's background as an intelligence expert and his comments about the Alexander Litvinenko case....
So let's see, here... Two mysterious men walk up to a man who just happens have been interviewed on "Dateline" this past Sunday saying that "A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin: 'If you do, no matter who you are, where you are, we will find you, and we will silence you -- in the most horrible way possible.' " The men shoot him in the nuts and disappear. The police are unwilling to part with any informative detail.

And the Washington Post plays it on page B4 of the Metro section.

I suppose it could have been just a random mugging. Nobody slipped any Polonium into Joyal's Rice Crispies, or carved portentous Cyrillic warnings into his bleeding flesh, but what do you think the odds are of getting "randomly" shot within a week of your appearance on "Dateline" in which you accuse Vladimir Putin of murder?

I think this one bears watching, don't you?
Call a lawyer,
Let me will my ass to you forevermore!
(BTW, as of the article's date, Joyal is in critical condition at "a hospital.")

Later Edit (Monday, March 5): It turns out Joyal was robbed of his wallet and briefcase in the course of the attack, which, according to the Post (which has now elevated the story to p. 1 of the Metro section), "supports the theory that he was shot during a robbery rather than in retaliation for public criticism of the Kremlin, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing."

While I'm prepared to concede that this attack may actually have been a mindbendingly unlikely coincidence, I don't think that the fact that his effects were stolen proves anything one way or the other. I can quite easily imagine that the attackers' marching orders included the instruction, "And remyember, mek it look like a muggingk..."

The newer Post piece includes one sentence that's a real insight in to the Editorial Mindset: "Joyal was shot hours after meeting with a former KGB general, Oleg Kalugin, near the Spy Museum in Washington." It's a fascinating combination of the possibly relevant with the shriekingly immaterial: "Met with a former KGB general" -- a potentially useful fact, combined with "near the Spy Museum," a detail that's plainly included purely for the purpose of titillation. Other public places "near the Spy Museum" that might have been mentioned include the MCI Arena (thus inserting the all-important Basketball and Hockey Factor into the equation) and (frisson!) Chinatown, which would have suggested the involvement of Jake Giddes and/or the Tongs.

Come to think of it, the office of the Washington Post itself is only a few blocks away from the Spy Museum...

At any rate, this story is just deliciously weird.

Update to the Update (Tuesday, March 6): Joyal's son says his father's wallet wasn't stolen after all. Down the rabbit hole we go!


Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound like the Vicodin's impairing your thought process to me. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does the former Soviet Union seem more sinister these days--between the Mafiya trafficing in prostitution on a massive scale, among other things, and the gummint being run by ex-KGB all the way to the tippy-top--than it did in the old hammer-and-sickle days?

Neddie said...

Yeah, I know what you mean... I get the firm impression that they're regressing into something like Stalinism Lite mixed with the absolute worst aspects of utterly unregulated capitalism -- a paranoid authoritarian security state mixed with fat-cat oligopoly...

Idly wondering what Karl Marx might have said about it...

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Yeah, there's definitely some weird shit afoot here these days.

It's getting strange over in Russia too, I hear.

Nick Kasoff - The Thug Report said...

You're absolutely right, the fact that they stole his wallet and briefcase doesn't mean it was a random mugging. In fact, a mugger would likely take the wallet and leave the briefcase, which is bulky and unlikely to contain anything of value.

Nick Kasoff
The Thug Report

david said...

"which is bulky and unlikely to contain anything of value."
although i don't think it a coincidence that this guy was targeted,around here thieves do like a laptop, which is what's usually in the briefcase these days.