The great revolutionary Leon Trotsky was assassinated on 21 August 1940 by an agent of the Stalinist regime. Almost to the day, 80 years later came an attempted assassination of Alexei Navalny, a leading anti corruption activist and critic of Putin.
The intended method of dispatch these days is not an ice pick or a gun, but some form of poison. The intention of the exercise remains the same though - elimination of all opposition to a corrupt police-state regime.
Although property relation have undergone change since the fall of the USSR thirty years ago and the country purports to be some form of "authoritarian democracy", it is largely run by Stalin's heirs. Leading positions in the state and industry are occupied by former KGB men who steal from the national economy to enrich themselves. This is often done in conjunction with members of organised crime groups, the symbiosis effectively creating a "mafia state".
Attempts to turn Russia into some kind of western parliamentary democracy began to unravel when Putin became president in 1999. Independent media outlets have been effectively eliminated. Anti-government demonstrations are severely repressed by the police. Opposition candidates are barred from standing in elections, harassed and jailed.
And political opponents are murdered. Boris Nemstov, a former deputy prime minister and subsequently leader of massive street rallies against corrupt elections, was gunned down in 2015 as he crossed a bridge in full view of the Kremlin. Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky uncovered a massive tax fraud involving high ups in the police and was murdered in prison by their underlings.
London proved no safe haven for Alexander Litvinenko, whose attacks on so called security services for involvement in apartment bombings that were used to justify war in Chechnya made him a target, poisoned in his case with polonium.
The poisoning of Navalny, not the first attempt on his life, happened while he'd been campaigning in Siberia where dissatisfaction with Putin's rule has resulted significant protests in the city of Khararovsk calling for Putin to resign, "Down with the Tsar!" being one of the protesters' slogans.
Though Navalny has been on the hit list for a long time, he may have been targeted now because of the unrest in neighbouring Belarus. The Kremlin dread the colour revolutions in neighbouring former Soviet republics - orange in Ukraine and rose in Georgia - in case their example is followed in Russia itself, with a popular revolution overthrowing its own corrupt regime. Belarus is even closer to home, which is why the Kremlin is encouraging the dictator there, Alexander Lukashenko, to tough out the mass protests against his rigged election.
Putin of course conducted his own travesty of democracy last July with his referendum to change the constitution which effectively made him president for life. Many voters who turned up at polling stations were surprised to learn that they'd already voted.
The Putin regime relies for its survival nowadays exclusively on repression and fear. On the surface it appears secure, but the fact that so many of its members have squirrelled their black money abroad would indicate they don't have much faith in the future of the country whose assets they've pillaged.
The left must support the struggle for democratic rights and free elections in Russia and build a movement to overthrow its kleptocratic ruling class.