The chair of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has told talkRADIO that Vladimir Putin is sending a chilling message to his enemies with the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
Tom Tugendhat spoke to James Whale as the fall-out from Skripal's attempted assassination continues. Russia denies involvement in the attack, but Tugendhat says it was a clear and deliberate attempt by Putin to spread fear.
Asked by James why Putin would pull such a stunt on the eve of the Russian elections, Tugendhat suggested he was guilty of naivete, and of "treating this election as though it were an election for us."
Putin, the interviewee said, does not respect democracy; in fact he has filled his government with "friends of Vlad." He is not worried about the election, as he knows he is going to win, and is instead playing a longer game.
"He's trying to make sure that his opponents to know that the price of betrayal is death," Tugendhat said.
"This is a message to his own side.. 'this guy [Skripal] is supposed to be friends of the Brits. See what I did there? I had him killed.'"
Tugendhat also shed light on the many wealthy and powerful underlings in Putin's operation.
The Russian strongman even has a cellist, he said, who is richer than Elton John.