Dec 19 2006

Am I Eating Polonium-210 Crow?

According to an ex-KGB officer in London I might have to eat some Polonium crow on the smuggling angle of this story:

Gordievsky claimed he knew who the murderer was on the fourth day after it happened. He said that British experts also knew it, “but they have been doing everything step by step, as it is correctly and it is necessary in this case according to procedure”. “Some time next year will publish the results”, said Gordievsky.

Asked to name the murderer, the ex-spy said he could make a hint only. “It was the person, who joined Lugovoy and the company for ten minutes”. According to Gordievsky, they [Lugovoy and the company] introduced him to Litvinenko as Volodya and told that “he also works in such business that could provide [you] some work”. Gordievsky said the man went away for a while and brought a cup of tea, and “so the end of Sasha had come”. The ex-spy said the participants [of the murder] was a large group and they had rehearsed [their action] several times, in Moscow and then in London. However “they did not know what force this material possessed, even the main murderer did not know, only the bosses did know”. According to Gordievsky, the British experts had found out that the murderers once had even dropped the container when they rehearsed; this was registered by the British equipment that “simply appeared to be the best in the world”. Gordievsky added that the tablet of polonium that was made for the crime “does not cost $10 million, someone had exaggerated its price”.

The ex-spy marked that polonium-200 is available only in Russia and in the United States. Both Americans and Englishmen know, which power plant had produced that polonium, what had been the size and the weight, and how and in what container it was packed, they know everything, Gordievsky said.

Asked about the role of Lugovoy, Kovtun and Sokolenko in the Litvinenko affair, Gordievsky repeated that judging by initial calculations, they were not murderers, because they simply were the mates of the murderers. “The person, who came on the side, was the killer. And they were sitting, distracting [his] attention all the time”. Gordievsky pointed out that the main failure of the operation was the fact that nobody knew that polonium-200 was leaving traces. “They did not know that such equipment [to discover such traces] exists in the West, here again they have miscalculated”.

Now I have my doubts about the Alpha-emitter technology as one of our readers pointed out our water supply is regularly tested to very low levels of alpha emitters. Levels that would easily detect Polonium-210. But in addition, there is no way anyone would confuse Litvinenko’s radiation illness with anything but radiation poisoning. And Polonium-210 is just not that subtle. This could be another person trying for their 15 minutes of fame. But we shall see. I would be very happy to be proven wrong on this – because an assassination is the least troubling scenario.

69 responses so far

69 Responses to “Am I Eating Polonium-210 Crow?”

  1. mariposa says:


    The Axis article is a poor translation of an interview Oleg Gordievsky gave on Dec. 18, 2006 with Radio Liberty (Russian Service), and of course I read it since it is the one AJStrata cited to start this thread.

    There are better and more thorough translations of Gordievsky’s interview — read both of David Mc Duff’s “A Step At A Time” blog entries for December 19, 2006, for instance:


    I prefer assassination to smuggling radioactive materials for terroristic ends, too. I think anyone rational would.

    But if Gordievsky turns out to be right, I’m very concerned. Worried that those like you who are more motivated by mass “terrorism” will take a collective sigh of relief and go back to business — saying dismissively, “Who cares about a nasty bunch of ex-pats none have heard of or can trust anyway?”

    Which would be a shame, because it’s precisely the propaganda the Kremlin is releasing right now through plants like Julia Svetlichnaya — and a whole host of greater and lesser characters.

    Because if this is murder and the FSB is involved — which, by choice of materials, I think the case will be made that it is — then this is state-sponsored.

    That , too, is terrorism. In addition, the method put hundreds of thousands of people into paths of risk.

    No one can forget that Russian leverage over Europe — through its oil — is enormous.

    Because of that, I have always predicted that this investigation would be shunted and little to nothing would happen. It looks like I may have been wrong there, I’m happy to say.

    These times are perilous, no matter which way this falls.

    Here’s another of Gordievsky’s recent statements:
    Russia’s Killing Ways (op-ed)
    (I vehemently disagree with his dismissal of Gaidar’s importance here — read more about the topic of Gaidar’s new book to see why.)

  2. copydude says:


    Svetlichnaya is not a plant. She happened to be sitting on the last interview with Lit before his poisoning. The accusations are all innuendo – incurred because she questioned the ‘Saintliness of Sasha’.

    She is not even a supporter of Putin and came to London years before Litvinenko in the early nineties. She’s caught up in a propaganda war as she explains here

    Gordievsky is MI6 and come on, MI6 is one of the prime suspects if it is an assassination. G. not only claimed he knew who it was from day one but also that the poison was Thallium. Like Limarev, he’s changed his story a few times to concur with facts – real or imagined. Talk about a compromised and unreliable witness.

    This investigation will most likely be shunted because it is MI6.

    You write:
    “No one can forget that Russian leverage over Europe — through its oil — is enormous.”

    Don’t overstate the case. Russia needs markets for its oil and revenue too. Russia doesn’t have that much leverage that it can even get visa-free travel to Kaliningrad.

    Europe is compromised by its NATO bases pointing at Russia, that’s the real deal. And that’s why an encircled Russia will threaten Europe’s energy even if it hurts economically. The villain of the peace is is, as ever, the US.

  3. mariposa says:


    No legitimate media source will touch either Julia Svetlichanaya or James Heartfield now. They have no evidence for the “hundreds of emails” Svetlichnaya originally claimed to have received from Litvinenko, and even a moderate peak into their backgrounds brings up more problems for them than solutions.

    Using “Spiked!” as the media forum for attempting to rebuild their credibility is ridiculous since it’s actually more damaging (look up the LM Group). Notice, too, the article you cited carefully sidesteps addressing the heart of Aftenposten’s charge against Svetlichnaya — Svetlichnaya’s work with OAO Russian Investors. (And what’s this she “came to” London in 1994? Hey, so did I. Big deal. Then I went home. And she probably did, too.)

    Heartfield’s spreading the disinformation, too, and here’s his profile,, which includes:
    “He was the Manchester branch organiser of the now defunct Revolutionary Communist Party; in the early nineties, wrote for Living Marxism until it was closed by a libel action in 2000. He helped write the party’s manifesto. ”

    To that I say, “Hmmm…”

    Re. Oleg Gordievsky, I suspect that Gordievsky remains active in MI6, as I stated previously. I don’t loathe that group as much as you do.

    “The villain of the peace is is, as ever, the US.”

    Let’s see if I follow your reasoning in reaching that statement:
    *Former Soviet republics and bloc countries are joining NATO (which many say is their way to avoid becoming the next Chechnya)
    *They build bases which are now starting to ring the existing borders of Russia
    *Russia doesn’t like that, and wages its political will with its oil (which is actually legitimate in my opinion — definitely a realpolitik solution)
    * But denying surrounding country’s sales — or jacking up the price exorbitantly — in reality hurts Russia economically the most in the long run
    * So it’s all the USA’s fault
    (now, there’s some classic Cold War logic)

    And by the way, although it unquestioningly has economic, military, and founding clout in the organization, the USA is still only one vote in NATO.

    The villain of peace is tyranny and injustice, as ever.

  4. copydude says:

    Mariposa wrote:

    ‘Heartfield’s spreading the disinformation, too, and here’s his profile’

    Ha ha. Profile supplied by the Lincoln Group, America’s No 1 make-it-up and-plant-it.

    However, since there’s nothing in the interview that’s left or right, what’s that got to do with anything?

    Litvinenko’s CV and known associates are on a par with those of the Boston strangler. I don’t actually see how the interview makes him look any more repellent and degenerate than he was. So the controversy here escapes me.

  5. Gotta Know says:


    Are you Japanese? A few comments:

    “1. Although I can see a motive for Berezovsky and the Chechens to attack Russia, I’m not sure that it makes sense for a smuggling ring to bring the material into London first and start dividing it up there.”

    I agree that this is puzzling. It could be that Berezovsky wanted to appear to the seller to be in charge and able to source a bona fide supply of polonium, which, of course, is extremely difficult to procure. I even think Litvinenko’s death may have served the purpose of verifying that the consignment was indeed polonium, thanks to the hard work of the M-15.

    “2. If it was an assassination attempt it would seem to have gone badly wrong.” Yes, no matter which scenario, it seems a certainty that something went wrong, than god for those trying to solve the case. “In any case, would it not make more sense to take out Berezovsky than Litvinenko?” Very difficult to get to Berezovsky, much easier to get to Litvinenko, with perhaps a better effect, that is to say, manipulating the billionaire rather than taking him out and sending his assets to a living trust or clueless beneficiary.

    “3. Any information coming from MI5, directly or through people like Gordievsky (as some have speculated), will only be giving the message that MI5 wants to give. The British intelligence services are masters of disinformation and work closely with the police and government. ” Amen, truth is in short supply.

    “If there was a serious threat to London (dirty bomb, nuclear device) it is likely that MI5 would choose not to disclose it but to seek to track the network, and I would expect the police statements to fit in with the cover story. That is not being cynical in any way, just recognizing that it is the way the British intelligence services operate. ”

    Agreed. We need to focus on what they don’t say as much as what they say. And we can all agree that they know a lot more than we do. I would go so far as to say they are tilting towards smuggling rather than simple assassination, but reasonable people can disagree.

  6. Koba says:

    Thank you for your comments, Gotta Know.

    The one thing you did not comment on was the idea that it might have been an elaborate attempt to take out an entire network but it went wrong before the mission was complete.

    As for my name, I am not Japanese but English. Koba was the original nom de guerre of Joseph Stalin, so it is just my sense of humor in discussing this subject. 🙂

  7. mariposa says:


    “Ha ha. Profile supplied by the Lincoln Group, America’s No 1 make-it-up and-plant-it.”

    The Lincoln Group has absolutely nothing to do with the Sourcewatch web site whatsoever. Or the link you provided.

    I’m surprised you didn’t know that — because you’re such a heavy hitting advertising creative on your copydude blog, not at all the run-of-the-mill snake oil shyster or motivational hack.

    No, Svetlichnaya and Heartsfield are more than likely exactly what they seem: lying, attention-seeking nuts who tried to shape the story, but made ludicrous claims they couldn’t support and only other nuts believe.

    Now the media wants less than nothing to do with them. The Guardian is probably ashamed it didn’t do better due diligence in vetting their story, because these two have nothing to back it up.

    Hey, aren’t Putin’s in-laws in Kaliningrad?



    “The one thing you did not comment on was the idea that it might have been an elaborate attempt to take out an entire network but it went wrong before the mission was complete.”

    This was suggested by Oleg Gordievsky last month, too — a “nest hit” — but I can’t find that statement anymore, and can’t recall who published it.

  8. tempester says:

    I tink also that it was intended to be a multiple assasination. The polonium was smuggled in in the weeks prior to Nov 1. Maybe a smuggling ring accident was meant to be the ‘story’ when people started falling ill. But sometihng went wrong. I also think tat Gaidar was part of the story.

  9. Barbara says:

    Maybe the reason the polonium was brought to UK was that that was where the money was and there was no one Bereszovsky could trust to deliver the money anywhere else.