Somewhere, the producers of the James Bond franchise are licking their lips. It has been more than 15 years since the Cold War ended; fifteen years of sub-par post-Soviet villains and equivocal heroes. Well, no more. The Russians are back. And crazy spy stories have come along for the ride. Consider this: in yesterday's papers alone you could read about German prosecutors hunting CIA spies, a poisoned Swiss human-rights judge and the British police considering charges against a Russian agent accused of murdering a dissident with a radioactive teapot. Expand your reading to Monday and you can add in Michael Specter's excellent New Yorker feature on the odd way Vladimir Putin's enemies have of dying or ending up in jail. Most of the revelations in Specter's story have been reported on before: murdered journalists, strong-armed oligarchs and the rapid dissolution of Western-style freedoms in Putin's Russia. But what was new, to me at least, was this: "Last July," wrote Specter, "the Duma passed law, introduced by the Kremlin, to permit the assassination of 'enemies of the Russian regime' abroad." In other words, to beat the Bond horse again, Russian agents now have legally endorsed licenses to kill. That's a happy thought.