There have been a great number of recent articles about the future of Vladimir Putin, but as Winston Churchill once described Russia as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” who really knows what is going on?

“Any fool can commit a murder, but it takes a true artist to stage a natural death or suicide,” said KGB defector Walter Krivitsky in 1941.  A recent drone-attack supposedly against Vladimir Putin raises questions on the gentleman’s future.  He says the Ukrainians did it, but maybe it was the Russian military or someone close to him.  The Russians seem pretty clumsy in many walks of life, but whacking their own has long been a fine art.

Joe Stalin had a real thorn in his side with Leon Trotsky.  Once, thick as thieves in the old days of Marxist intrigues in Mother Russia, after the successful revolution against the Tsar, Bolshevik takeover, and death of Lenin, Leon ran afoul of Joe and was exiled.  He continued to yap against Stalin, who finally decided Leon had to go away permanently.  By 1940, Leon was in Mexico City and in bad health, fearing that he would suffer a cerebral hemorrhage.  Would he ever!  One day, Spanish-born NKVD agent Ramón Mercader, approached Leon from behind in his study with a mountain-climbing ice axe and planted it a couple inches into his brain.  Adios Leon.

Thousands of other significant figures in the bloody last one-hundred years of Russian/Soviet history were murdered as well, such as: Yevhen Konovalets (Ukrainian,) 1938, explosive hidden in a box of chocolates; Lavrentiy Beria, 1953, shot through forehead; Sergei Kirov, 1934, shot back of the head; Grigori Rasputin, 1916, a combination of cyanide-laced cupcakes, poisoned wine, three gunshots, and drowning.

So how might Vladimir Putin meet his end sometime soon, thus is already a dead man walking?

Vlad, stay away from windows in tall buildings.  It is amazing how many Russians have recently died “committing suicide” or “accidentally” falling out of high windows.  Marina Yankina (high-level Russian defense ministry official,) St. Petersburg; “law enforcement agencies haven’t ruled out that she took her own life.” Ravil Maganov, (chairman of Russian oil giant Lukoil,) 6th floor, Central Clinical Hospital of Moscow; “It’s unclear why Maganov was in the hospital in the first place.”

I don’t know if you have any one-story ranch-type houses over there, Vlad, but if so, they’re pretty nice and you don’t have to climb stairs.

Vlad & Alina

Vlad, get rid of every rope.  In your office, the house, dacha, or love nest with Alina in your penthouse at Korolevskiy Park in that resort city Sochi on the Black Sea.  (Hey, Vlad, if I know, everybody knows.)  Hanging seems to be the demise of numerous oligarchs lately, and if there aren’t any ropes around, you are halfway to safety.

Vlad, don’t accept any statuettes as gifts.  You know what happened to pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky at a St. Petersburg café, where he had been attending a patriotic meeting with supporters as a guest speaker.  Kaboom!  Vlad, you probably aren’t getting an Oscar anytime soon.  Have people who want to give you trophies or other gifts, leave them on a big table about 100 yards from where you are sitting or speaking – further away if you think it might be a suitcase nuke.

Snaiperskaya Vintovka Chukavin sniper rifle

Vlad, get really familiar with that Snaiperskaya Vintovka Chukavin sniper rifle.  You know, the SVCh, that you all replaced your old Dragunov SVD with, and that you personally took a peek through, and maybe even fired.  That bad boy has a maximum range of more than 1,600 yards.  The Chukavin, mostly chambered in 7.62x54R, also comes in .308 Winchester and the high-powered .338 Lapua Magnum.  The Lapua version has an estimated effective range of 1,640 yards.  Why is that important?  Because the Russian sniper that bags you is going to try to throw off suspicion.  Lapua ammunition is made in Finland.  Finland just joined NATO and they hate Russians.  You feeling me, Vlad?

The shooter, who will bag you from almost a mile away, is based at the 161st Special Purpose Specialist Training Center in eastern Moscow.  You’ve probably already met him; he knows you – your size, your gait, the bench you sit down to rest for a moment while walking, all your routines.  You should have paid attention to him; steely eyes that don’t blink much is my guess.  He belongs to Unit 29155; you know, Andrei Vladimirovich Averyanov’s boys.  Andrei has direct communications with both the chief of the GRU (military intelligence, which has its own spetsnaz [special ops]) and to the Kremlin.  Wonder who Andrei talks to, Vlad?  He drives a 1996 VAZ 21053, a rattletrap Russia-made sedan.  Maybe you ought to buy him a new car.  Just sayin’.

That rifle may have an American scope on it, or even a thermal sight that you all bought from the Taliban after the Americans unassed Kabul and left a few thousand.  It’s probably already been used in Syria, and has a ten-round magazine, but the shooter won’t need more than one.  Good news is he won’t target Alina and the kids, because the Finns wouldn’t do that (see above, Vlad.)

Your successor will just say that you shot yourself.  Or it was an accident when you were cleaning your own personal SVCh.

Do svidanya (до свидания)