Search Results for "LITVINENKO"

Jul 15 2007

New Litvinenko Eye Witness Sounds Completely Implausible

The UK news is out with a very eye opening account of what would seem, at a glance, to be a clear assassination attempt. And it would seem to be an attempt on Litvinenko, Kovtun and Lugovoi – not just Litvinenko. The supposed eyewitness’s story is at odds with what we know about Po-210. In fact, it is so much science fiction one wonders why authorities would put this out? First the incredible story, which seems to have been authorized to become public by police but is not being publically supported by police:

Recounting the extraordinary events of November 1 last year, Mr Andrade, who has worked at the hotel for 27 years, told The Sunday Telegraph: “When I was delivering gin and tonic to the table, I was obstructed. I couldn’t see what was happening, but it seemed very deliberate to create a distraction. It made it difficult to put the drink down.

“It was the only moment when the situation seemed unfriendly and something went on at that point. I think the polonium was sprayed into the teapot. There was contamination found on the picture above where Mr Litvinenko had been sitting and all over the table, chair and floor, so it must have been a spray.”

Mr Andrade, from Brentwood, Essex, also revealed just how close he came to becoming an unintended second victim of the assassin. Shortly after the three men left the bar, Mr Andrade cleared the table. It was then that he noticed the contents of the teapot had turned a “funny colour”.

“When I poured the remains of the teapot into the sink, the tea looked more yellow than usual and was thicker – it looked gooey,” he recalled. “I scooped it out of the sink and threw it into the bin. I was so lucky I didn’t put my fingers into my mouth, or scratch my eye as I could have got this poison inside me.

“For nearly three weeks, we were working in a contaminated area. The dishwasher, the bar and the sink were contaminated. In the weeks after what happened, I was feeling hot and had a throat infection.

Interesting – but scientifically at odds with how Po-210 spreads, even in a ‘spray’. To understand how Po-210 acts we simply need to go back to two posts I did on the matter which relate the historic record of Po-210 deaths. The first post on December 12th related how, when Polonium was first discovered, it contaminated an entire lab and caused the slow death of at least two people:

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Jul 07 2007

Did A Spurned Litvinenko Turn To Smuggling Nuclear Materials?

As my regular readers know I have always found the idea that Russia would send assassins to kill Alexander Litvinenko a ludicrous waste of effort. Litvinenko was a small time, outrageous misfit who only made Putin look like a respectable, serious leader in comparison. Litvinenko was of no use to Putin dead, and there was only a massive PR downside to a bungled assassination.

Which made the use of Polonium-210, the deadly radioactive material once used in triggers for older nuclear bombs, even more ludicrous. A material that could be traced back to its production source (as all radioactive material can be) and which killed slowly instead of silencing the target, and also showed clear signs of radiation poisoning is not the weapon one would use to silence a critic. It would only make the target a well-known martyr. And the cost! for the price of a few millionths of a gram of Po-210 you could hire 10,000 street thugs with .22 caliber pistols.

My view has been, with the pattern of Litvinenko constantly meeting with the Russia-based businessman Lugovoi (and many times with businessman Kovtun) Litvinenko was trying to make some kind of killer deal, possibly in smuggling nuclear contraband, when the containment system for the Po-210 failed and exposed Litvinenko, Kovtun and Lugovoi to the deadly material. Litvinenko was obviously either the closest to the spill or accidentally inhaled/ingested the material in greater quantities than his two associates – because he died while they nearly died. But if you look at the month of October, 2006 you find three trips to London by Lugovoi, and at least three meetings with Litvinenko, and Po-210 trails at each trip. We know Po-210 was smuggled through London in October of last year. And it is clear there were possibly 3 consignments of the material. And the amount that killed Litvinenko was so microscopic it could not be seen, let alone handled. Don’t even bother to claim it required three trips to smuggle.

No, there clearly was a smuggling effort going on, and the idea it was aimed at killing the marginal Litvinenko is an insult to people’s intelligence. What has always bothered me was the UK authorities always seemed to buy into the media hype – even though they should know better and be sweating bullets that this material was being shipped through London where it appears to to have been dispersed to many points beyond the UK (since at every meeting with Lugovoi and Litvinenko there were many rooms contaminated, as if it was a distribution or collection point). But now we have a new angle coming out.

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Jun 05 2007

Why Isn’t Britian Showing Proof In Litvinenko Charges?

The UK news (and much of the world news) is lambasting Putin and RussiaM for not buying into the UK charges against Andre Lugovoi. As people know I am not convinced either that this was not some covert operation being run with Berezovsky and Litvinenko that is really the accidental handling of Po-210, not a state sponsored murder of some small-fry dissident in London. But why would the UK risk a major political fallout over Litvinenko’s death when supposedly they could make their case to why this is NOT some covert activity involving nuclear materials which was accidentally exposed, with deadly consequences.

The transfer of nuclear material, which follows Litvinenko and Lugovoi all over London, is a serious problem. But the UK has dismissed the idea any wrong doing could be eminating from the Russian dissidents who have ties to Islamic terrorists and Po-210 trails to their doorsteps. I would think they would, for the sake of working this out, show their evidence that this was not a smuggling effort gone bad, but a murder. It doesn’t make sense to hide what they have (which apparently they are doing) since the danger of the material moved and its possible uses far outweigh any loss of surprise in a court case. You would also think anglo-Russian relations would be a serious priority and the UK would go to lengths to make Putin or Russia or the Russian people confident the man who called for the violent overthrow of their country is not involved in nefarious nuclear activity.

But they are not making the effort at all? They are not demonstrating with a solid prima facia case why murder is the only possible option in a story that clearly has the potential – from what is in the public domain – to be either murder or terorism gone bad. I am beginning to wonder if Putin is right. I keep trying to find a way to believe in the murder theory, but when I review all the evidence I am completely unconvinced. From the well crafted and pre-staged PR push from Berezovsky to Berezovsky’s constantly shifting alibis and excuses to the fact Lugovoi was right about contacts between MI6 and Berezovsky I keep finding one discrepency after another which not only leaves me some reasonable doubt, it leaves me so much doubt I don’t buy the charges. The UK needs to make a better case for their case. So far they have provided little to explain why the meetings between Lugovoi and Litvinenko are not part of a plot to traffic Po-210. For those who do not recall the Po-210 contamination in the hotels that Lugovoi used to when meeting Litvinenko had numerous rooms contaminated. It left a pattern that looked like material was being collected or distributed out to many places and paths. I heard whispers this was the case early on – the material’s trail is much larger and dispersed than the media has reported. I would like to know, at a minimum, is this the case? Po-210 is dangerous to the public, we deserve to know why there is so much confidence this is not a smuggling activity.

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Jun 03 2007

The Media And Litvinenko

Someone has produced a very detailed analysis of the media’s bias, lack of curiousity and lack of skepticism in reporting on the Litvinenko story. Thankfully they provided a summary so I do not have to post lots of exceprts.

This report will show that…

…many headlines and storylines in this story have no apparent basis in fact

…one of the major themes in coverage doesn’t make sense.

Press bias was evidenced by its failure to report the change in Alexander Litvinenko’s theory of who poisoned him,

The Press virtually ignored a web of mysterious connections

…there was an active PR push behind the Litvinenko story

The focus of this report is on the coverage of the story, not the details of the case.

Actually, I think these ARE facts in the case because I think the media, or someone using the media, is trying to divert attention from the fact that a dangerous nuclear material was found to be surrounding people with terrorist ties who were trying to overthrow the democratic government of Russia. The fact is the PR push behind this smells of covering up something. The question has always been was it our side who had to do the covering up or some criminal element?

And to emphasize the questionable nature of the current claims regarding Lugovoi we have an interesting and telling picture from the day of the poisoning:

The picture, published for the first time, shows Lugovoi, his son Yegor, daughter Galina, 19, and friends before they set off to watch a football match between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow at the Emirates Stadium.

All Lugovoi’s family members later tested positive for traces of polonium.

The real problem here is still the timeline. Recall that initially it was Litvinenko who tracked Po-210 into Berezovsky’s office on November 1st before Litvinenko met with Lugovoi and Kovtun at the Millenium Hotel. Later, when it was assumed it was not Scaramella who contaminated Litvinenko at the sushi restaurant before Litvinenko met with Berezovskly, the story changed. Right now the timeline seems fairly broken since Berezovsky’s office contamination has to proceed the Pine Bar meeting. So how is this resolved with the new Lugovoi charge? I doubt the media, who have already tried and convicted Lugovoi, will investigate any more.

I do admit, though, the case for an assassination is still very plausible. But I still have a lot of doubts about it. Mainly the fact the Po-210 looks to be some sort of planted evidence. It also seems plausible that Litvinenko was attempting to mark Lugovoi, using business meetings as a cover, and accidentally killed himself. I still say this is an accidental exposure for lots of reasons. The question is what was the scenario surrounding the accident.

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Jun 01 2007

Few People Notice Litvinenko’s Terrorist Ties

One has to wonder at the tunnel vision that exists in the news media. When Alexander Litvinenko died last November within days the Chechen terrorists declared Litvinenko a Muslim and a Martyr to the Islamo Fascist cause. Pretty high claim for a white Russian guy living in London. You think Adam Gadahn, the American al Qaeda, will be declared a Martyr if he dies? You bet he will be. That is how us Western White guys become martyrs – we die for the Islamo Fascist causes. People need to remember Chechens fanatics are the only ones to every plant a nuclear dirty bomb in a major city. They planted one in Moscow in 1995.

Litvinenko – British Citizen – did not want to be buried in his new home; England. He did not want to be buried in his home country of Russia. He wanted to be buried in Chechnya. Too bad for him, because his body was too radioactive to be transported to the place he loved. And the Chechen leader in exile not only lives across the street from Litvinenko and is good friends with him and Berezovsky. Ahmed Zakayev, leader of terrorists, has a car polluted with – you guessed it – Po-210. Worse yet< Zakayev once said if the West stayed aligned with the current Russian government (you know, the democratically elected and highly popular one) that the West had earned a dirty bomb. Oh yes he did say this:

“I think responsibility for everything that’s happening today in Russia lies not just with the G8 but all leaders of Western countries, European countries, who one way or another have helped to strengthen and establish this criminal regime in Moscow,” Zakayev said.

“Today Europe doesn’t just get energy from there (Russia). They get polonium 210, they get the dirty bomb, they get dirty money, they get corruption, crime,” Zakayev said.

Notice how Zakayev said we got the Polonium AND the dirty bomb for our alliance with Russia? Why is it NO ONE but us lowly bloggers picked up on that “small detail”. The guy is terrorist leader and he and his terrorist sympathizing neighbor are found with nuclear material which is PERFECT for a dirty nuclear bomb all over the house, the car, their associates…

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May 31 2007

Litvinenko Smoking Gun

Major Smoking Gun Update Gifts from Litvinenko passed to Lugovoi well before the day Litvinenko fell ill had Po-210 traces found on them. That puts Litvinenko with contamination much earlier than before. See below for details. – end update

Let’s assume Litvinenko and Berezovsky were cooperating with MI6 (not full time spies of course) and feeding some dribs and drabs of intel to help destabilize Putin. But what if, in parallel and unknown to MI6, Litvinenko and Berezovsky were ALSO working with the Chechens to open up a new front against Moscow – part of Berezovsky’s openly desired coup d’etat. What if Po-210 smuggling was part of this double agent plot to pretend an alliance with Britain while these Russians coordinated their coup from the safety of the UK. OK, picture that scenario while reading this transcript of Lugovoi’s press conference:

Mr Lugovoi said in 2005 Mr Litvinenko invited him to London where he proposed the idea of starting a joint business. Mr Lugovoi went on to say that he was paid too much money for giving minor consultations to British business partners.

“It became clear that the fee was aimed at gradually engaging me in co-operation. The talks were becoming more open. The British started to show interest in everything: my connections, financial opportunities, if I had direct access to the Russian president’s administration, as well as contacts with officers of the Federal Security Service, the Federal Bodyguard Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service. They were especially interested in an opportunity to get information about the FSB activities in the so-called English direction.

For maintaining an undercover connection, I was given a British mobile phone, which I was supposed to use for calling from Moscow to London. From bad to worse: Litvinenko gave me an edition of Yevgeny Grishkovets’ book Rubashka and told me that now we have to use cipher like in spy movies and to encode a text using numbers of pages, paragraphs and lines.

“One has to be a complete idiot not to understand that under the pretext of developing a joint business, a banal recruiting was going on with concrete political and intelligence goals with regard to Russia and its president.

The phone records for that personal phone Litvinenko provided would be quite interesting fodder. Recall that during this time Litvinenko was supposedly travelling to Georgia and Turkey and meeting with Islamic terrorist types. One thing is clear, the more I see Lugovoi’s comments in context the more I see his point

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May 31 2007

Media Covering Up Critical Charges Against Litvinenko

Update: The news is coming out fast and furious this morning. Kovtun is confirming Litvinenko bragged about his association with Chechen terrorists. – end upate

The one angle of this story which was barely reported on and never followed up is whether Po-210 was ever discovered in Turkey. Very few probably recall or know that Turkey was one of the countries where people were tested for Po-210 regarding Litvinenko’s death. The strange thing is no one has reported on what the results of the tests were. I assume no news means no Po-210 detected. But Turkey plays in this story very much because of the fact it is a gateway to the Middle East and a lot of nuclear smuggling has gone through the country via the Caspian Sea. I posted on these possible connections here.

This makes it all the more surprising the early media stories, and a lot of them overall, decided to not make public some of the more intriguing claims made by Lugovoi and Kovtun. Thankfully one news organization did:

In the beginning of the news conference, Lugovoi announced that Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky living in exile in the UK and ex-FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko were recruited by the British intelligence, which made it easier for them to obtain political asylum and UK citizenship. Besides, according to Kovtun, having a British passport, Litvinenko repeatedly visited Pankissi Gorge in Georgia. In Turkey, he, under an instruction of one of militants leader Ahmed Zakayev met representatives of illegal militant groups.

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May 31 2007

Litvinenko Was British Spy, Lugovoi Was Being Recruited

Lugovoi’s sensational news was sensational– and unexpected. Basically Lugovoi is claiming Litvinenko was a British spy (which would probably make Berezovsky a MI6 contact as well).

Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian agent murdered in London last year, was working for British intelligence at the time, the man charged by Britain with his murder alleged on Thursday.

Andrei Lugovoy, whom Russia has refused to extradite to face charges of killing Litvinenko with radioactive polonium in London, did not say who he thought murdered Litvinenko but suggested that British intelligence was the most likely suspect.

“Litvinenko became an agent who left the control of (British) special services and was killed,” Mr Lugovoy, himself a former KGB agent, told a news conference.

“If not by the (British) intelligence services themselves, then under their control or with their connivance.”

Mr Lugovoy said Litvinenko and his patron, self-exiled billionaire Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, were both working for British secret services.

Should read ahead more often. So Lugovoi is claiming both Berezovsky and Litvinenko were spies for the UK. That is interesting given the two men’s ties and groundswell of support from the Chechen rebels and their repeated claims Putin was behind every Chechen incident in recent memory. Lugovoi suggested three possible scenarios at the news conference:

‘Today I am ready to make an announcement that should shine light on this dark political story in which the main role is played by British intelligence services and their agents – (Russian oligarch) Boris Berezovsky and the now deceased Litvinenko,’ Lugovoy said at a press conference in Moscow, Interfax reported.

Lugovoy put forward three versions of Litvinenko’s murder last fall by radioactive poisoning, calling the most likely of them a campaign by Berezovsky.

Other versions were that the British intelligence services or Russian mafia in Spain were behind the killing, Lugovoy said.

I am not sure what to make of this news off the top of my head. But clearly Lugovoi is making it clear the UK may have a bias regarding Berezovsky and Litvinenko:

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May 25 2007

Litvinenko Update

Major Update:: It seems that the investigation into the Litvinenko case is not shut down and the Lugovoi angle is not the only scenarion being investigated:

A source close to the investigation said Wednesday that a version involving Leonid Nevzlin, a core shareholder of bankrupt oil company Yukos, in the death of the former secret agent is still being investigated, along with other possibilities.

What is up with the prosecutor claiming Lugovoi is the suspect and this news about other possibilities still being investigated? Is this some kind of media game? – end update:

The posturing continues and we await the supposedly sensational revelations Andre Lugovoi has promised. The somewhat interesting news is Russia’s ‘commitment’ to try Lugovoi if Britain shows a strong enough case. My guess is Russia is being fairly honest on this, they just don’t think the British authorities have a strong case (neither do I). But it does require the prosecutors to release information to Russia which have never been publicized: like the level so of contamination in key locations, Litvinenko’s autopsy details on whether he inhaled or ingested the Po-210, etc. These details would be needed to convince Russia to prosecute. But they could also be used by Russia to bolster what ever alternative theory they have. So we shall see.

The most interesting, and misrepresented, news was regarding Lugovoi being in the UK on a fourth trip in October. Lugovoi was in London many times over the year to meet with Litvinenko – this was reported by early on and totaled around 16 trips. But the reporting implies Lugovoi hid this one trip from authorities:

The chief suspect in the murder of Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko paid a previously unreported visit to London in the weeks before his poisoning with radioactive polonium, a witness in the case told Reuters.

The witness, Yuri Felshtinsky, said police initially thought he must be mistaken when he told them he had bumped into suspect Andrei Lugovoy on London’s Piccadilly on the evening of October 12 last year.

Lugovoy, whom British authorities want to extradite from Moscow to face trial for murdering Litvinenko, has publicly acknowledged making three trips to the British capital last October, but only from October 16 onwards.

Felshtinsky is a Litvinenko ally and, in my mind, cannot be trusted on face value. And contrary to the reporting, Lugovoi has been circumspect about the details, citing his agreement with authorities to no provide details on the case. Since three trips were in the media reporting Lugovoi vould simply be commenting on the public information and not exposing the details he provide to authorities. This story is ripe for some major adjustments, if Lugovoi has been cooperating and providing details on something other than a state sponsored assassination. So I am going to go out on a limb here and predict Lugovoi did tell authorities that he was in London on Oct 12. If the story is correct, and not a plant by the Litvinenko-Berezovsky supporters. I am not implying the account is accurate.

I did take interest in Felshtinsky’s theorizing (which always exposes some insight about the one making proposing the theory):

He said Lugovoy had told him at their chance meeting that he was on a business trip and they had spent several minutes chatting. Police were surprised when Felshtinsky told them of the encounter during their investigation.

“They were quite sure I was wrong, because according to their information, Lugovoy was not in London on October 12. He had no stamp in his passport, they had no records of any kind that he was in London on October 12,” Felshtinsky said.

Felshtinsky said he faxed information to the police, including a hotel bill and a bank receipt from a cash machine, to prove he was right about the date. “I told them: ‘Look guys, sorry, you have to go deeper because I met him on October 12’.”

The U.S.-based writer said the question of how Lugovoy had come to make a previously undetected visit to Britain was potentially significant.

“Number one, he might have a different passport, he might have several passports. Number two he might be traveling under a different name. Number three, police simply overlooked the fact. Number four, somehow by chance he did not have an immigration stamp in his passport when he arrived,” he said.

Every time Lugovoi was in London in October 2006 he met with Litvinenko. Some times with Berezovsky. A ‘business trip’ in this time frame meant meeting with Litvinenko. The fake passport is an interesting first guess on the part of Felshtinsky. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, if it even holds up to scrutiny. Was it a smuggling trip under the cover of all the other public trips? Did this trip have the concurrent Po-210 trail or not? We shall see, possibly.

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May 22 2007

Lugovoi Charged In Litvinenko Death

Finally some movement in the Litvinenko case. The prosecutors in London have decided to charge Andrei Lugovoi for deliberate murder:

An ex-KGB agent is to be charged in connection with the murder of poisoned former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Moscow-based Andrei Lugovoy, although there is no extradition treaty with Russia.

No details yet, but this makes some sense (though there are challenges in the evidence). Lugovoi was tied to every hotel that showed a serious Po-210 contamination. For three rounds of visits to London in October of last year Po-210 shows up in four hotels (He and Dimitry Kovtun switched hotels during their visit around Oct 16th). At each visit Lugovoi met with Alexander Litvinenko and possibly Boris Berezovsky (they definitely met the during the last round on Oct 31-Nov 1 when Litvinenko fell deathly ill). Kovtun missed the second visit to London around Oct 25th. As Lugovio left London from that trip Kovtun departed Moscow for Hamburg where he deposited his part of the Po-210 trail.

What still makes no sense is the fact the amount of Po-210 that killed Litvinenko was so small as to be invisible to the human eye. It does not take three trips to move a micro-gram. In fact, it is hard to handle a microgram. It would be nice to see how this case pans out, except I am not sure it will go to court. The other option – a smuggling effort for Berezovsky being handled by his comrades Litvinenko and Lugovoi – still appears to me to be much more plausible. And a court case would expose the evidence and give us a chance to see what the prosecutor’s know and see why they went with the wild murder charge.

I am not familiar with British law, but if opening the case allows for depositions then there may be another reason to take this step. We know Berezovsky’s story has changed dramatically in the media. His media explanations of how Litvinenko and Lugovoi trailed Po-210 into his office has never been consistent. The timing of his meeting with Litvinenko on the day he died is critical (because if Litvinenko deposited the Po-210 in his office early in the day the Millenium Bar would not be the point of poisoning in the evening). And it was because of this conundrum Berezovsky admitted Lugovoi was in his office on Oct 31st.

It will be interesting to see if the prosecutor starts letting out some details or not. I fully expect the Russian investigators to play defense attorney in the media now – so maybe we will get the other side of the story. Lugovoi and Kovtun appear to be witnesses who turned evidence for their testimony. If true this entire story may still have some twist and turns in it. Then again, if nuclear material was being smuggled across London, a great way to bury that news is under a murder charge. But that is pure wild speculation on my part. We hopefully will havbe more details come out to fill in the picture. BTW, CNN has a reasonable overview of the case up.

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