Jan 20 2007

Litvinenko Assassination Theory Just About Eliminated

Published by at 11:21 am under All General Discussions

This is a follow up to my previous post on the news that police are now publically admitting what I predicted a while ago: the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko took place in a 4th floor room of the Millenium Hotel, and not in the Hotel’s Pin Bar has had been assumed for many weeks now. And this was all after the sushi restaurant meeting with Scaramella had been eliminated as the prime spot for the event. Now that we have three key people and three key pieces of evidence all in the same room, we can put the assassination theory to rest. This post is long – be patient. This is a complicated crime which requires some knowledge of chemistry, biology and physics to sort through.

The first thing to keep in mind is the size of Litvinenko’s deadly dosage. Po-210 is so deadly that, when ingested or inhaled, an amount the size of a dust grain is sufficient to kill someone 30 times over. That is roughly the amount detected in Litvinenko. What has been the Achilles Heel of the assassination theory is the dosage – specifically the impossibility of controlled handling of a dust grain. In contrast, the Po-210 trail represents a lot more than a dust grain, since it consists of P0-210 being spread over three countries and numerous hotel rooms, offices and restaurants. Po-210 in a disolved form is manageable with simple hygiene, as the UK HPA has pointed out many times. Simple soap and water can remove a dust grain of Po-210 from your skin or clothes, which is why the people contaminated in this incident have been contaminated by direct contact with the material and not so much by bodily fluids. These people are no threat to the ones they live and work with. In comparison, any assassin’s potion at the levels seen in Litvinenko would be as manageable as Po-210 in bodily fluids. That is because disolved Po-210 salts act and interact differently with the environment and people than a solid form.

And this is another important factor in assessing the evidence: the form of the Po-210 material being seen. We have discussed many times on this blog that an assassin would brew an acid solution of Po-210 disolved in a liquid prior to coming to London to administer the deadly dose. Why? Because a liquid is easy to handle. A dust grain in a small vile is manageable. And fact it is the only way to handle such small amounts.

Disolved in a liquid the Po-210 atoms are basically floating freely associated with their binding salt counterpart. This is just like table salt disolving in a liquid (except Po-210 salts need more acid in the liguid to actually ‘disolve’). When salt is in its granular form (a single grain of which would produce 100 to 1000 times the dosage Litvinenko took, which in turn is 20-30 times the amount required to kill) are packed one on top of the other in a crystal lattice. When disolved, the Sodium and Chloride atoms – still bound together – are freed from their crystal structure and float freely in the water, distributing evenly throughout the liquid. So when Litvinenko takes a drink of the tea, he is getting a fixed amount of sugar, salt or Po-210 salt per swallow. The density is fixed by how much is added to the volume of liquid, but it is fixed.

And here is where the evidence is pretty clear. In the amounts seen in Litvinenko, the tea cup would contain 1 – 20 dust grain’s worth of Po-210 – depending on whether he took a sip or drank the entire cup (and the size of the cup of course). There would not be Po-210 in amounts that would come close to a single grain of salt. But the tea cup clearly showed signs of a much more concentrated presence of P0-210. Why? Because the cup was easily identified from all the other cups, glasses and dishes in the hotel which had been washed and contaminated in the Pine Bar dishwasher. To be so clearly identifiable, to stand out like this after weeks of use, the tea cup had to have come into contact with a much larger and more dense amount of Po-210 than would be seen from the Litvinenko dosage. The signature on the cup and the Litvinenko dosage do not appear to match up, and we are talking orders of magnitude differences, not slight amounts.

Going back to the assassination method, it is clear that the most controlled method of transport and delivery is in a pre-made liquid. This was not and could not be done in London hotels. It is complex and requires a lab, but it produces what an assassin needs: a small vile of liquid with dropper to administer the few drops needed to kill. As I said, in a liquid the atoms or compounds disperse evenly. That is why every sip of your drink is sweetened or salted to the same level. That is why liquid would be the preferred form of assassination – all the liquid would have the same dosage per sip. Solids would drop to the bottom or adhere to the sides, making it possible that the material is never ingested. And, given the fact Litvinenko was delivered a fraction of a grain of salt to kill him, a liquid form is THE ONLY form that could have been deliberately used to assassinate him. the solid forms could not be handled in these microscopic amounts. So does the room support this form? No.

First, the tea cup showed a clear indication of Po-210, which means the ceramic coating of the cup must have been altered and some Po-210 was embedded in the ceramic – which caused the tea cup to go on and contaminate the Pine Bar kitchen and staff. This is important as well. Under the Litvinenko dosages a simple rinse at the sink and the Po-210 should have been flushed down the drain (BTW, when this is over we will find a drain in that room contaminated with Po-210 levels well beyond Litvinenko’s dosage). But this cup was so contaminated it contaminated a kitchen, the kitchen staff and it held its signature over weeks of use.

In addition, we have the spill in the room:

The assassins were so bungling that they dropped the polonium on the floor of a London hotel room, a senior government source told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.


The senior government source, who is aware of the discussions of the Cabinet’s emergency committee, Cobra, said the picture of the killers that was emerging was closer to bungling assassins than cool James Bond-type killers.

Clear traces of the radiation were found on the floor of a room, thought to be in the Millennium hotel in central London, the source said, as well as on a light switch in the same room. The traces were so strong that they indicated the actual source of the radiation was present, not a secondary source such as excretions from Mr Litvinenko’s contaminated body.

It was one of these statements that hinted at Litvinenko’s presence in the room that made me stand by my prediction of where the poisoning took place. But I digress. If the form was a liquid, then there is now way to really recover it from a hotel rug. No one would try. So it would not likely end up on the light switch. We are talking about a few drops for assassination. Why? The assassin only needs a few drops with maybe 20 dust grains worth of material to deliver what is still a massively excessive dose.

The signature in the hotel room looks to much larger than a few dust grains. So we must assume the form of the spill was actually one of two solid forms: a block of material or granules of material. Was it a small metal rock or a bunch of tiny pebbles? Was it pure Po-210 or one of the salts in solid form>? Either way, it has to be in a form and amount that can be handled by humans. It really doesn’t matter at this point which form of the metal, but we know to be handled by humans, even in the granule form, implies amounts thousands or millions of times larger than the Litvinenko dose.

My theory has been that the container used to transport the material failed in the room, dropping the Po-210 rock or pebbles onto the rug. Litvinenko, and possibly Kovtun (now both placed at in the room), tried to collect the material. They used the tea cup to hold the material (it is hot) while a new transport container was made ready. When they removed the material from the tea cup they noticed it had been burned by the material, the ceramic had been discolored. They attempted to remove the cup from their room by dropping it outside the Pine Bar area where other cups would be collected for lunch. In the process of leaving, one of them turned off the room light and left a clear mark on the light switch. This too is important. Someone had Po-210 on their hands when they left that room.

The final piece of the puzzle is the timeline. The three did meet in the Pine Bar around 4:30 PM before the Arsenal-CSKA Moscow game. My guess is Litvinenko dropped by to pass on the news he heard from Scaramella. Scaramella’s presence at the same time the 3rd consignment of Po-210 was traversing London would have raised alarm bells to a smuggling ring . I doubt if Scaramella was part of the ring, the Litvinenko “friends” would not have pointed the finger at him originally if he was. They have tried to divert attention from the smuggling ring angle since Berezovsky brought in Lord Bell’s PR firm (which has disappeared from this story) and mouthpiece Alex Goldfarb read the supposed deathbed claim of Litvinenko the day AFTER he died. But the Pine Bar is at the end of the trail, not the beginning.

We know Litvinenko was contaminated, and possibly poisoned already, when he met Scaramella at 3:00 PM. If Litvinenko only had one contact with the Po-210 itself, and it was not at the Pine Bar at 4:30 PM, then he was in the hotel room before he met Scaramella. In fact, there was Po-210 found very recently at another Picadilly restaurant, one which reports say Lugovoi and Litvinenko visited that fateful day. This visit too must be before the Pine Bar, before Scaramella, and seems to be a lunch visit.

Scaramella testified Litvinenko said he had a prior meeting, which was why he could not meet Scaramella until 3:00 PM. this meeting is clearly with Litvinenko and Lugovoi, and was probably a strategy meeting for dealing with up coming meetings with RISC Management and Erinys, two UK security firms that show signs of Po-210, and which where associated with Litvinenko (and defunct Russian oil giant Yukos). It is clear from early timelines Litvinenko bought a paper around Picadilly circus at noon and showed no signs of contamination at that time. I postulate Litvinenko went to the Millenium Hotel to meet up with Lugovoi and Kovtun (and possibly others who had contaminated rooms at the Millenium), the spill occured while someone, possibly Litvinenko, investigated the latest consignment. They went onto lunch after they thought they took care of their ‘accident’ to discuss their logistics for this round of the smuggling. Someone still had the Po-210 on their hands, showing up in the restaurant. It could have fell into food or an absent-minded touch of fingers to mouth, would be enough to deposit that deadly dust grain of P0-210 so that Litvinenko ingested it. Clearly Kovtun got a massive dose as well. And tKovtun’s poisoning is why this is probably NOT an assassination with liquid, and therefore not likely an assasination at all.

It seems clear Kovtun and Litvinenko got nailed during the same event. A liquid delivery would not leave the trail behind Litvinenko as he went around town on November 1, it would be inside him and not yet excreting through bodily fluids, It might have been arguable for Kovtun to be around a liquid spill, and then the poison was later administered in Litvinenko’s tea cup. But the trail follows Litvinenko’s movements, not Kovtun’s. Therefore Kovtun was nearby when Litvinenko got contaminated. But a liquid in Litvinenko’s tea would not poison Kovtun like it seems he was – unless he shared the tea. Most unlikely.

If there was another person in the room, they must have fell ill by now – possibly died. On the other hand, if this is a fictional scenario involving one of the people who took the Po-210 material onto their next destination (which is clearly what seems to be what is happening in the three hotels Lugovoi visits in October with the multiple contaminated rooms) then the person will not fall ill. Why? He is a scapegoat who was not in the vicinity of the spill that killed Litvinenko and nearly killed Kovtun. Either he was there and is ill or was not there and is fine.

And what about these previous shipments, where Lugovoi is always present, Litvinenko always shows up, Po-210 is found in multiple hotel rooms, and at which Litvinenko got his first dose of P0-210? How does the assassination theory address what is clearly other shipments? What I want to know is when did Litvinenko trail the Po-210 to Berezovsky’s office? The reporting on this claimed there was Po-210 on the copier and the couch. The copier was used by Litvinenko supposedly. Was it Litvinenko’s hand that contaminated the light switch, the copier and the couch? Did they go to Berezovsky’s office before the restaraunts? Is this why Berezovsky’s office shows more contamination than any site visited afterwards? At some points that contaminated hand stopped depositing a lot of material, because the trail never shows a harmful amount of Po-210. Did Litvinenko finally get around to washing his hands there?

With the tea cup in the room with the spill and the light switch, and Litvinenko now there with Lugovoi and Kovtun (at least), we see that (a) the meeting events in the room happened before the meeting with Scaramella, and probably after the visit to Berezovsky’s office, and (b) the early reporting and evidence did NOT lead to the Millenium hotel room first. It did not lead to this meeting in the hotel. Early reports seemed to try and establish a diversionary set of events to distract from this earlier meeting, which would point to smuggling. And how is it the Picadilly Circus restaurant meeting with Lugovoi and Litvinenko only surfaced after Scotland Yard returned from Moscow and the questioning of Lugovoi and Litvinenko. Some people are still doing all they can to keep shaping these events to an assassination theory. But that shape is just not fitting. It still looks like Litvinenko and ‘his friends’ were, and still are, trying to distract everyone from a possible Po-210 smuggling activity. One which Litvinenko was a key part of, and probably died in from an accident in transporting and handling the deadly contraband.

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Litvinenko Assassination Theory Just About Eliminated”

  1. jerry says:

    As I recall the idea that Sasha visited room 411 was originally denied by authorities, thought they found the room quickly, and the sushi bar and Pine Bar seemed likely alternatives.

    So it is new that the authorities now are saying Sasha went up to the room and that there’s this mysterious assassin with multiple passports, also Gordievsky’s telling Sasha’s story about “Vladislav” making him tea.

    For me what makes sense is that the Po was in a liquid that was put in the tea, that maybe the tea spilled (Vlad got nervous), that the cup remained very hot because the amount of radiation was very large (after several 100s of customers stirring their tea there’d probably be plently of surface scoring on the cup), that the other contaminated rooms and surfaces came from the spill on the floor and the cup – and Sasha, that neither Lugovoi nor Kovtun were actually poisoned, and that Vlad is probably responsible for all the contamination in Hamburg and the prior Po contamination found on the planes.

    I wonder how Lugovoi and Kovtun came to know Vlad, did he travel with them in October also (or did someone else)? It’s a bit like Clarice’s idea that someone (and definitely something – the Po) was shadowing these guys prior to the assassination. I remember reading an account of Sasha saying that he, and the KGB, used people with a grudge against the target as assassins, perhaps that’s true here also.

    The Times article also mentions mercury poisoning of Yukos people, this Russians had previously mentioned a mercury trail – I’d thought this had to do with the manner of producing the Po from Bi, put it in a mercury bath and “zap” it.

    Lastly, I was struck by this bit of the Times article:

    ” He reportedly travelled on the same flight as Dimitri Kovtun, a Russian businessman who is being investigated for trafficking the radioactive material used in the poison plot.”

    Now, I wouldn’t have said”trafficking” was what was being investigated, so I’m surprised that these picky UK journos would. Maybe this is a gift for AJ.

  2. AJStrata says:


    Physics is against you. The Litvinenko dose was not enough to heat the tea too hot. I was going to post on this, but Gordievsky’s story is laughable scientifically. Remember, Litvinenko’s dose, while very deadly, is still very small in terms of mass. There was no liquid form – wouldn’t show up on the tea cup then.

  3. clarice says:

    This story is remarkably unchanged from the original Times account–that the assassin followed the two Russians and was sent from Russia to kill Litvinenko.

    Almost everything else, including the purported role of Berezovsky is in mu opinion blowing smoke.

  4. jerry says:

    That also struck me as an odd detail, I haven’t worked with Po so I don’t know what to say about the heat (it does produce heat, but perhaps Gordievsky was confabulating a bit there).

    There are pretty many details of your description that I would challenge if I wanted to spend the time. For instance, I think the idea that there were “chunks” or “pebbles” of Po and clouds of particles trailed about London hotels by smgglers, is less believable – though necessary to a smuggling theory.

    I agree with Clarice. An idea I’d had since my earlier post is that “Vlad” cound have deliberately or accidentally contaminated Lugovoi and Kovtun while meeting them in Russia, and only come to London on Nov 1 for the poisoning/meeting.

  5. Molon Labe says:

    “A dust grain in a small vile is manageable. And fact it is the only way to handle such small amounts.”

    1) “…small vile is NOT manageable” perhaps

    2) “it is the only way”…unclear antecedent

  6. Carol_Herman says:

    I think most people are familiar with this: You decide to “try something new,” and you just screw up.

    That’s why it pays to look at the instructions. At other times? The “instructions” just add a new level of confusion.

    But we, in the West, have Occam’s Razor. And, yet, we don’t seem to know that there are groups of people in this world “different than us.”

    The russians are way different than us! Or you’d be standing on line for ballet tickets.

    As to the arabs, what’s there left to say? They lived in the desest, while most of us have grown along the technological benefits that came to the West. That’s just foreign to the arab mindset.

    And, then, with the “discovery of oil,” and our technological advances, some arabs, ALL DESERT DWELLERS, found themselves bombarded with lucra. And, they didn’t have to do anything at all. There was so much money coming at them, however, that they grew spoiled.

    Again, give people enough rope … and they screw up.

    Science has tried to rein this in. Because academia set down rules to enable people to learn how to OBSERVE. So the fault patterns, which happen, get accounted for. (We did that, for instance, during the Manhattan Project.)

    To the arabs, however, the “Manhattan Project” produced 9/11.

    First time out, enhancing their propensity for violence, grabbing passenger jets from the Americans “worked.” (There was one previous “test” where an egyptian pilot just aimed his plane into the sea, shouting alloo-fuckbar candy. And, no one in eygpt got upset. Not even relatives who were waiting for the plane to arrive. It seems in the arab mindset, they can take a lot of things in stride. And, not even call them “failures.”

    And, here?


    What a set up! Money, galore.

    And, “purpose,” IF you could sell the arabs on an idea that they could “better 9/11” … and you could “prove it.” By selling them something even better than a nuke inside a suitcase bomb.

    No need to hold demonstrations. The money flowed.

    Then, there was an accident.

    Well? Did you know when man first tried to fly, there were men who thought if all they did was cement wings to their backs, they could jump off mountain tops? Still. Today, we see man has learned to build contraptions that get lots of people on board, and up in the air.

    Here? Was the tea cup for LIQUID? That’s not exactly answered, yet. Because some people have suggested that the contraband was in power, or salted, form. Flakes or peanuts? Who knows?

    The bad guys, however, have met the laws of “doing something new” and finding out that it looked better on paper, than it did when you were in a hotel room. And, perhaps? The Vlad character came in with a new addition to your pool?

    Why else would Litvinenko go there?

    It’s been said he was “adding on” blackmail. Hmm. But there were no russian blonde broads in the bed with prime ministers. So, perhaps you could discount the “blackmail” angle.

    Is it more surprising that to the end Litvinenko said “nothing.” I find it interesting, because he had at least two weeks in the hospital with symptoms, while he was still talking. And, he was looking for, perhaps, a bone marrow transplant? Not just a wig.

    Later, when he was dead, all you got was Goldfarb. And, PR. And, then you saw the photo of Litvinenko’s casket. Out in the parking lot.

    It should be added that it’s not uncommon for arabs to live by rumors. (Including the one Mark Steyn wrote about; where lots of egyptian men were showing up in egyptian emergency rooms; claiming “Israel had a secret weapon. They shook hands with a Jew. And, their penises fell off.)

    You can really “sell” the arabs very interesting rumors, to go along with all the promises of success they’ll have as soon as they have nukes.

    All this time, none of them are out looking for jobs. They don’t need jobs, because oil wealth makes them rich enough to live in fantasy.

    Fantasy. That’s just another name for believing in things that lead you down the garden path. And, that path? Littered with all the things that can go wrong.

    At least Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison had the wherewithal to stick out all the experiments they tried, that failed.

    While I doubt po-210 will be a leading product among smugglers who can earn money smuggling Cuban cigars. And, dames. (And, threating to kill people with tire irons.)

    Think about it. This story is saying russia has decided to switch the method of how thugs kill people. Since there’s no tire irons in this story, at all. Just bogus PR. And, lots of human curiosity.

  7. Snapple says:

    Dear AJ,

    More than 10 years ago I helped a scholar research nuclear trafficking.

    I am not expert, however. I just looked up articles in the EE and Russian media.

    There were some cases of drug smuggling I noticed where drugs were mixed in with sugar and people got sick.

    You mentioned the mercury. There was this stuff called “red mercury” that was sometimes reported on. I never knew if this was some hoax or what. Some people said it was an explosive. Some people said it didn’t exist.

    Is there any suggestion that this polonium was mixed in mercury?

    I am just speculating because you mentioned the incident with the mercruy.

    There have been people murdered in Russia with nuclear materials.
    One mad had some readioactive metal put in the apolstery of his office chair. He died.

    I still incline to the idea that this was Putin getting rid of his critics of the Chechen war.

    These Russians in London like Berezovsky are being sheltered by the Brits, so the Brits must be getting information from them. Not that they are angels.

    Gordievsky was exfiltrated out of Russia by the British.

    Litvinenko defected to the Brits.

    This just looks like Putin taking revenge to me.

    But I keep reading what they say.

  8. Snapple says:


    Here is an English translation of an interview with Gordievsky done by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

    Do you have this?

  9. Snapple says:

    Putin himself, while working for Mayor Sobchak in Petersburg, was in charge of licensing people to export non-ferrous metals.

  10. jerry says:

    “that the cup remained very hot because the amount of radiation was very large (after several 100s of customers stirring their tea there’d probably be plently of surface scoring on the cup”

    AJ, I’ve realized that this might be read to suggest that I was talking about heat (Gordievsky’s comments for example) rather than radioactivity. I meant that the cup remained highly radioactive – as in “hot spot” or “screaming hot” (referring to the noise a Geiger Counter makes when it encounters a hot spot).

  11. Bill's Bites says:

    Litvinenko Assassination Theory Just About Eliminated?…

    Somebody’s right, somebody’s wrong. I’m afraid to bet either way right now. Read these and see if you can figure it out: Shock: Brit cops set to name mystery man as Litvinenko killer Litvinenko Assassination Theory Just About Eliminated…

  12. copydude says:

    Jerry wrote:

    Lastly, I was struck by this bit of the Times article:

    ” He reportedly travelled on the same flight as Dimitri Kovtun, a Russian businessman who is being investigated for trafficking the radioactive material used in the poison plot.”

    Now, I wouldn’t have said”trafficking” was what was being investigated, so I’m surprised that these picky UK journos would. Maybe this is a gift for AJ. ”

    The German police have always said that their investigation is into smuggling. It is true that the UK press simply doesn’t want to mention it.


  13. Charlie (Colorado) says:

    Guys, come on, much of this is just nuts. However the 210Po was being transported, there wasn’t enough of it to be in discrete rocks that could be picked up or handled, because the discrete rocks would be extremely hot — thermally, not radiologically — and would be slowly evaporating into the air.

    Actually, not that slowly.

    Whoever was carrying it would be burning their pants off, and not with alpha radiation; it would be hotter than a soldering iron, and glowing blue white in air.

    I might buy small amounts of 210Po salts in water solution, but micrograms or less. Even then, though, it makes no sense for any terror group to use it as an assassination weapon, because it’s worth too much — millions, or tens of millions, of dollars a gram, and it decays so fast that you can’t keep it around for very long.

    (For much the same reason, it doesn’t make sense they were smuggling it for initiators for suitcase nukes; 210Po has been used, in the past, but its very poorly suited to an initiator because it does decay. It certainly wouldn’t be used for these hypothetical pre-planted suitcase nukes, because it would mean that someone would have to carry hot (both ways) hard to handle trigger cores around within a few days or weeks of when you plan to blow the things. It would be aggressively stupid to do that when you could have a more conventional accelerator initiator.)

    I don’t know who had it or how they meant it to be used, but this ongoing theory spinning is in tinfoil hat territory.

  14. Great post. But can I just add a couple of things into the mix, if you’ll pardon the pun.

    On the 23rd December 2006, while the UK population (and media) were busily preparing for Christmas, the British government very quietly placed an order for 12,000 biohaz suits resistant to known CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiation and Nuclear) threats.

    On the same day, they also placed orders for 108 rapidly deployable physical barriers resistant to CBRN agent degradation, and 372 public communication systems that allow for the delivery of self-help and instructional information to the public at or within a CBRN cordoned area.

    You can see the original tender documents here via the link below:


    Boris Berezovsky

    Boris Berezovsky stated in January 2006 during an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio that President Putin was “violating the constitution and, today, any forceful actions by the opposition will be justified. That includes a forceful seizure of power, and that’s what I’ve been working on.” (BBC, link below)


    Naturally, this led to accusations that he was planning a coup and those accusations led to this rebuke in the House of Commons from the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw:

    “We are aware of the comments made by Mr. Boris Berezovsky in an interview on 24 January. Advocating the violent overthrow of a sovereign state is unacceptable and we condemn these comments unreservedly. Those granted asylum in the United Kingdom have duties to the UK which require in particular that they conform to its laws and regulations.” (Hansard, link below)


    Clearly, Boris Berezovsky had no part in the smuggling of Polonium-210, which when mixed with explosives creates a ‘dirty bomb’. But it was Berezovsky who hired London based PR agency, Bell Pottinger, to handle media enquiries concerning Litvinenko’s ‘poisoning’, and instructed Bell Pottinger to distribute worldwide, the now famous image of Litvinenko as he lay dying in a London hospital bed.

    Alexander Litvinenko had close links to Chechen fundamentalists. A year or so before his death he converted to Islam. The ‘poisoning’ theory is nothing more than a distraction from the real story.


    It suited Mr Berezovsky’s anti-Putin agenda to control the media story as he did. It also suited the UK government’s agenda – that of hiding the fact that when it comes to security issues they are wholly incompetent – to allow the ‘poisoning’ story to take hold.