And another one bites the dust.

The leadership of the TNK-BP partnership, the third-largest oil producer in Russia, which is half-owned by BP (NYSE:BP), continues to dwindle. Anthony Considine, executive vice president and head of the partnership's downstream operations, will step down in the middle of next month. Considine, who has been with TNK-BP since its founding five years ago, has charge of its refining, trading, and marketing. His departure will follow that of James Owen, the partnership's chief financial officer, who quit in early August.

More importantly, it also occurs not long after CEO Robert Dudley was forced to begin running the company from an unidentified location in Central Europe because Russian authorities refused to grant him a work visa renewal earlier this summer. As Ray Charles could have seen, those authorities almost certainly are in cahoots with the three Russian billionaires who own the other half of the partnership and have been pushing for Dudley to be fired. Indeed, given Russian shenanigans on other fronts these days, Mr. Charles -- were he still with us -- would have ample reason to re-release his wonderful hit "Georgia on My Mind."

But that, I suppose, is neither here nor there. What matters first is that Russia's lawless, pugnacious attitude toward investors clearly renders it absurd for Westerners to do business in that country, either as operators or as investors.

Secondly, though, BP's plight reflects similar difficulties in the country faced by Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) (NYSE:RDS-B), ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and even Moscow-based Mechel (NYSE:MTL), a metals and mining company that has attracted negative attention from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. But in BP's case, being forced to follow Mr. Dudley by leaving Russia or emulating Shell by selling its assets to a Russian company at a bargain-basement price would affect a quarter of its total global production.

It's to be hoped that other Western companies such as France's Total (NYSE:TOT), which has expressed a desire to increase its activity in Russia, realize that they're witnessing an intensifying and not-too-enjoyable circus.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own a lick of any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, welcome your questions or comments. Total is an Income Investor selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.