Dec 05 2006

Litvinenko Update

Major Update: Breaking news: The Arsenal stadium has become an new contamination site:

Traces of polonium-210, the radioactive isotope that killed Alexander Litvinenko, have been found at Arsenal’s new stadium.

Scotland Yard has been searching for clues since the former Russian spy was poisoned and the stadium in Highbury, north London, was checked before the Premiership match against Spurs on Saturday but the game was given the go-ahead.

However, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have confirmed Polonium has been detected at the ground.

HPA spokeswoman Katherine Lewis said: “Minute quantities were found at barely detectable levels at localised areas. There is no risk to public health.”

Localised areas! Note the plural. There were rumors that Lugovoi had asked Berezovsky for seats at his box and was denied. It will be very interesting to learn where this contamination was.

– end update

The news media seems all atwitter to learn Russia is a soveriegn nation and UK police cannot just walk in an arrest Russian citizens. The lack of thinking this kind of reporting exposes is stunning. Litvinenko and others have been wanted in Russia for years and hiding out in the UK – but now people are surprised Russian law is like UK Law? Laughable.

Some interesting notes from my catch up reading this PM. I found the fact a UK representative might have tripped up and leaked a detail on the Litvinenko contamination quite interesting:

The alleged radioactive poisoning of Russian security service defector Alexander Litvinenko, a British national, has strained tensions between London and Moscow. Before his death on November 23, the former agent accused the Kremlin and the president of ordering his murder, a charge that Moscow dismisses.

Speaking on the high-pitched media coverage of the poisoning case, Ambassador Tony Brenton said papers could write whatever they liked.

Brenton said it was premature to make guesses as to who may have put radioactive polonium-210 in Litvinenko’s food and who orchestrated the murder, before the outcome of the probe was known.

We know the autopsy was done on Friday and I am sure there are some preliminary results out now awaiting final confirmation on test results. But it would be interesting if Litvinenko’s poisoning was from oral ingestion. Then the question is did he contaminate his own food? I keep going back to the theory that there was a big spill of the Polonium 210 at the Millenium Hotel which contaminated Litvinenko, and then in a secondary fashion Scaramella. It is at this ‘spill’ that Litvinenko and Lugovoi would have been contaminated. From there we can envision many accidental ways to ingest the material.

push the Putin assassination theory into the dustbin:

Security experts say it is unlikely Putin was involved in Litvinenko’s killing, but they say it is possible it was the work of rogue elements in the security apparatus that Russia inherited from the Soviet KGB.

Some in the Kremlin believe Litvinenko’s death is being manipulated for political capital by Boris Berezovsky, a Russian millionaire and implacable Putin critic now living in London.

The thinking is the Putin theory is the least likely of many possibilities:

…Alexander Rahr, a leading Russia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, a Berlin-based think tank, Tuesday told United Press International via telephone from New York.

He added that there were three main theories of who was responsible for Litvinenko`s death, the first being that Putin wanted to silence one of his most outspoken critics; the second that conservative forces in Russia wanted to hurt Russia`s relations with the West so that Putin would be forced to call back elections and establish a dictatorial regime; the third being that Russian exile oligarchs wanted to destabilize the Kremlin in a way that would allow them to return back home and reclaim their lost wealth. That third theory would include in the range of suspects Boris Berezovsky, the exiled oligarch, in whose house police found traces of the radioactive isotope.

Of course there is also the smuggling angle. What I find interesting is the search of another set of hotels supposedly visited by Lugovoi. If we find a Polonium-210 trail every time Lugovoi visited London recently, and each trip includes contact with Litvinenko and/or Berezovsky, that would indeed be huge progress towards resolving this puzzle. Here is some information on Lugovoi’s recent London travels and meetings:

The three witnesses are businessman and former KGB and FSB colleague Andrei Lugovoi, and businessmen Dmitry Kovtun and Vyacheslav Sokolov, who spent several hours with Litvinenko in London’s Millennium Hotel on November 1.

Lugovoi seems like the most interesting witness.

In the last month before Litvinenko’s death, his former KGB and FSB colleague had met with the deceased four times in London.

It is not clear if this is four meetings across three trips (10/17, 10/25, 11/1) or four trips. We will have to wait and see if such a connection can be established.

But one thing is clear, the Litvinenko dosage was unbelievably expensive. We now have one hint at the price of ‘the bullet’ under the assassination theories:

According to information leaked from the post-mortem examination, Litvinenko died from a dose that could cost 30 million euros. This seems a bit too rich for a murder.

Actually it seems ridiculously rich for a murder, especially of a marginal character like Litvinenko. And here is something that would point to a dirty bomb plot (which is a variant of the smuggling theory)

About two years ago, Berezovsky told the world that Chechen separatists had acquired a portable nuclear bomb and lacked only one minor detail. That “minor detail” could be polonium-210, which can be used to detonate a dirty nuclear bomb, experts say.

Frighteningly interesting, to say the least.

49 responses so far

49 Responses to “Litvinenko Update”

  1. jerry says:

    Carol, you can use a Geiger counter:

    Alpha particle are also detected on photographic film – so a film could be put on the floor of the Millennium and a photo of the dropped Po pill visualized. Swabs could also be put in a scintillation counter to detect alphas.

  2. Lizarde1 says:

    The Times UK: Russia named its price yesterday for providing help in the investigation into the death by poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. It demanded that Britain hand over the enemies of President Putin who have been given asylum in London

    and buried below the fold so to speak:

    Last night Litvinenko’s father said his son would be buried on Friday in a sealed coffin in a Muslim ceremony in or near London. Valter Litvinenko said that the family is negotiating with police and the Health Protection Agency on the location.

    Police in Naples last night seized documents and computers from the home of Mario Scaramella, the self-styled Italian defence consultant who was with Litvinenko when he was poisoned, after prosecutors accused him of “illegally dumping waste

  3. crosspatch says:

    “Swabs could also be put in a scintillation counter to detect alphas.”

    That is indeed how it was found in the case of Litvinenko.

  4. Lizarde1 says:

    just a reminder:
    Terror alert severe where it has been since 14 August.
    It was critical Aug. 10-14

  5. topsecretk9@AJ says:

    –Police in Naples last night seized documents and computers from the home of Mario Scaramella, the self-styled Italian defence consultant who was with Litvinenko when he was poisoned, after prosecutors accused him of “illegally dumping waste—

    Why don’t I get this, what does this mean Lizarde1?

  6. Lizarde1 says:

    It means that Scaramella was attempting to dump his files in a trash dump and the police took this as an opportunity to get possession of the whole lot of them I think. In Europe there are all kinds of rules about garbage (not that the Italians follow them usually) but it looks like they used this as a reason to search his house and seize his files etc.

  7. jerry says:

    Why does Alice’s Restaurant come to mind? Totally inappropriate comparison.

  8. topsecretk9@AJ says:

    Burn baby burn…disco inferno!!!

    …President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who flaunts his ideological fervour, has been accused of undermining Iran’s Islamic revolution after television footage appeared to show him watching a female song and dance show.

    via Drudge.

  9. Barbara says:

    Did anyone really think this guy was not a hypocrite? Most male muslims have women and sex on the brain in a way that makes makes a 16 year old western boy seem impotent.