The apparent assassination of dissident Alexander Litvinenko by radiation poisoning at first left me to briefly wonder whether Vladimir Putin and his government really realize the cold war is over. The whole episode has a James Bond/ poison-tipped boot aspect to it that would've been right at home forty years ago.
Upon further reflection it appears the threat Litvinenko posed to Moscow was more political than security related. Putin worried what Livinenko's outspoken criticism would mean to his and his deputies electoral fortunes.
Ultimately if Putin ordered Litvinenko's assassination then he actually is crudely following Western political models. He just hasn't completely grasped the concept that in our political system it's the reputation of our political opponents that we send hit squads after not the political opponents themselves. I believe we refer to this as "swiftboating." Once he comes to terms with this concept he'll save himself a ton of time, effort and embarrassment in the future.