Dec 07 2006

Chechen Leader Zakayev Speaks Out: Threatens West

Another surprising outburst today from someone I would have thought would keep a lower profile as the news that the death of newly converted Muslim Litvinenko, who died while coming into contact with massive amounts of a nuclear material which can be used for creating a dirty bomb or in a crude nuclear bomb’s trigger, and who sympathized with the Chechen Islamicists, had turned towards a murder investigation. But apparently Chechen leader in exile, friend and neighbor of Litvinenko, and associate of oligarch Berezovsky feels the need to speak up – and illustrate is potential complicity:

An exiled Kremlin opponent accused the West on Wednesday of standing by passively as Russia passed laws allowing its agents to hunt down opponents overseas, saying these had led directly to the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev, a close friend of Litvinenko, accused Western countries of helping to strengthen a “criminal regime” in Moscow by their failure to stand up to President Vladimir Putin.

In case he hasn’t noticed or people forget, we have the same authority here for Bin Laden and Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda leaders. Just consider it our version of a Fatwah.

The macabre episode has strained relations between London and Moscow, and British police said for the first time on Wednesday they were treating it as a murder investigation.

Zakayev, a Chechen rebel leader whom Russia has tried in vain to extradite from Britain, confirmed he drove Litvinenko in his car on November 1, the same day the former agent fell ill. He said traces of polonium 210, the radioactive poison that killed Litvinenko, had been found several weeks later on the back seat where he sat. But Zakayev himself has tested negative for the substance.

Sadly we do not know when the traces were left and if they represent one trip in the car or more than one. With that said, a reminder of the potential Chechen involvement and their anger at the west, this sounds more like a rationalization about why something may happen to the West, becuase of their complicity with Putin:

“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.

“The fact that Russian democracy and freedom of speech has been betrayed — the responsibility for that lies with those who today welcome Putin with outstretched hands and call him a crystal pure democrat.”

He said Western reliance on Russian oil and gas supplies was no excuse for passivity.

“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.

Dirty Bomb? Why would he say something about a dirty bomb? Zakayev is building a case why Europe should expect to be seen as allies to Putin and Russia from a Chechen perspective. Zakayev is saying that Europe’s purchase of Russian oil brings these things with it. It is like saying these are the prices one must pay for not being pure to Chechen eyes. He is building the case for a a violent take over of Russia, and is calling on sympathetic people to see that action must be talen:

“If today, this country that occupies a sixth of the earth, on whose territory is concentrated tons of bacteriological, chemical and biological weapons, isn’t taken under control and questions aren’t asked about the responsibility of the man in charge and the government, that will be a danger for the whole world.”

What worries me most about this incident right now is the Polonium-210. It’s utility as weapon is severely time constrained. For either a nulcear bomb or a dirty bomb it only has so much shelf live. In a little over four months after it is produced it loses half its potency and is half lead. I would guess (and I am guessing) at that point it is not very useful in a weapon. At 2 months it loses a qarter of its potency. The Litvinenko poisoning was a month ago. This doesn’t leave this batch much more time to be of use to terrorists. If this was an assassin attempt then there is a problem that there could be a large source of Polonium out there somewhere. But that same problem exists if this is all about a smuggling effort for a very dangerous nuclear material. How much was brought into London? We know how much killed Litvinenko – enough to kill 100 people (at a cost of 30 million euro). Obviously that was not all the material given all the contaminated sites. When will the UK discuss this aspect of the situation – the left overs. How can we be sure Litvinenko ingest all the Polonium apparently smuggled in?

82 responses so far

82 Responses to “Chechen Leader Zakayev Speaks Out: Threatens West”

  1. mariposa says:

    “As for the smuggling for the Chechens, I find it unlikely that one would smuggle the stuff out of Moscow for shipment to Chechnya. Look at the map. ”

    Actually, not so sure about that. The Chechen borders into Russia are probably very heavily monitored, so they might use another door, one where they aren’t watched as carefully.

  2. Enlightened says:

    I’m not so sure it was delivered to the buyer at the “factory”. If we are to believe these guys were the “buyers”, then we must assume they know how to handle PO210, and likewise would have “transported” the product to escape detection. At this point in time, it does not appear the PO210 was detected anywhere in Russia except the Embassy, correct? And we assume that exposure was by Lugovoi after the Litvinenko exposure – correct? So why would a savvy, black markleteer expose himself to the risks of transporting these goods, when all he need say is “Yo – You want PO210? I got it, come and get it”?

    Why was this stuff transported 1500 miles West, when it would need only go 700 miles or so south if Chechnya was the intended destination?

  3. Lizarde1 says:

    Enlightened – I think there was contamination on a Moscow London plane that Luguvoi took around Oct. 31. And in addition there was radioactivity at a hotel he stayed in (5 rooms total) Oct. 25

  4. Lizarde1 says:

    Police are still checking for radiation at places Lugovoi was on an Oct. 16 trip – the Parkes Hotel, and an office building on Cavindish Place.

  5. crosspatch says:

    “You are a black marketeer, your product is highly toxic. Your product is manufactured in Russia.”

    See, you are assuming the people in the black market knew how dangerous it was. I believe Litvinenko already said some years ago when he was talking about the nuclear black market that polonium was available but he mentioned it in a list of other stuff like it was just one thing in a list of things, not attaching any particular danger to it.

    He might not have been aware that it was so deadly. You are looking at this through the eyes of someone who now knows quite a bit about polonium. What if I came up to someone and said “I will give you $40 million for x amount of polonium” and you happen to have seen it being available on a list of black market items.

    You would have never heard of polonium being used as a poison. You would have no idea how extremely toxic it is if ingested. Even if someone told you that it was an alpha emitter and even your skin could protect you from the radiation, just don’t eat it, you might not be too concerned about it. You might figure you can open it up and divide the contents or look at it or whatever, as long as you don’t ingest it. You would have no idea that even a tiny little speck of the stuff can kill you if you accidently get it in you. So you have a little particle on your sleeve that just happens to drop into a drink …

    Also, we can’t assume everyone was only contaminated in November 1. Litvinenko could have been contaminated in the past. His final body content of polonium could have been an accumulation until he finally got sick. The other Russians were apparently exposed a month ago.

    Scaramella by his own admission got 5x a lethal dose and isn’t showing outward signs of illness yet. He was released from one hospital but if you dig around, has been admitted to another. I believe there are going to be several deaths out of this but they are going to take months to manifest.

    It points to clumsy handling of dangerous material but anything is possible. Look, I am a myers-briggs ENTP … I can easily adopt a different position when I see evidence that points in that direction so don’t take my advocation of a particular scenario as any great emotional investment in that scenario because I don’t have one. What I am trying to do is remove completely my thoughts about what scoundrels the Russians generally are and just look at the evidence that I have seen reported (in a pretty sloppy fashion) so far. So far the evidence points to ongoing smuggling and a lack of proper precautions. Exactly what you would expect from someone who has no idea what they are dealing with.

  6. mariposa says:

    “At this point in time, it does not appear the PO210 was detected anywhere in Russia except the Embassy, correct? ”

    Enlightened, we only know that because the British tested their embassy. If any location in Moscow is contaminated, and the Russians discover (or discovered) it, would they tell the press?

  7. Lizarde1 says:

    The london times has a new graphic of the polonium trail that includes the Oct. 16 places: look for poison trail

  8. crosspatch says:

    Yeah, Luguvoi was sprinkling polonium around Europe for weeks.

  9. crosspatch says:

    “Scotland Yard said that it was “important to stress that we have not reached any conclusions as to the means employed, the motive or the identity of those who might be responsible for Mr Litvinenko’s death”. It added that it would not speculate on the many theories offered by friends of Mr Litvinenko as to who orchestrated the poison plot.”

    Hey, are those little bombs on that necktie in the timeline pictire?

  10. clarice says:

    Eyeopener at the Times:
    “As Scotland Yard announced that it is treating Alexander Litvinenko’s death as murder, the suspicion is that whoever smuggled the radioactive isotope into Britain, they are not the assassin.
    Evidence suggests that a sizeable team was sent from Moscow to shadow its prey, and that this surveillance squad may not have known the identity of the killer.

    Scotland Yard said that it was “important to stress that we have not reached any conclusions as to the means employed, the motive or the identity of those who might be responsible for Mr Litvinenko’s death”. It added that it would not speculate on the many theories offered by friends of Mr Litvinenko as to who orchestrated the poison plot. After a frustrating first day in Moscow, the nine-strong police team held meetings with the Prosecutor General’s staff to try to remove some obstacles.

    Last night Yuri Chaika, the Prosecutor General, issued a statement saying: “Despite the fact that the UK’s request for legal assistance has some departures from international standards, Russian and British officers have begun investigations.”

    Russian newspapers suggested that Scotland Yard’s investigation had been rendered toothless. The Vremya Novostei newspaper headlined its front page report with Mr Chaika’s comment: “We are doing the interrogating and they (Scotland Yard) are present.”,,2-2491281,00.html

  11. mariposa says:

    Great chart, L! Thanks.

    CP, I agree with you. Usually I don’t get bent out of shape if my theories don’t work. They change all the time to fit the evidence that’s published. I just wonder how accurate all of that is, though. I think sometimes the press is deliberately fed disinformation as part of the intrigue poker game between governments.

  12. Lizarde1 says:

    Clarice, that is the times speculating – that stuff about a big surveillance team is not coming from Scotland yard and is attributed to no one

  13. clarice says:

    I think it clear that was off the record from Scotland Yard..It could just be the Times, but in context, I don’t think so.

    In any event, under this scenario we have:
    Smugglers bringing the stuff to London
    Russians tailing them to catch them
    An assassin/s who did the deed but who the trailing team from Russia did not know and can’t identify

  14. Lizarde1 says:

    funeral and goldfarb: in yet another curious twist in the ever more complex affair, proceedings were briefly interrupted by an imam performing Muslim prayers.

    Some family members claimed Mr Litvinenko converted to Islam on his deathbed, something disputed by close friends.

    Mr Litvinenko’s friend Alexander Goldfarb said the imam’s prayers were allowed to continue, despite being contrary to Mrs Litvinenko’s wish that the burial service be strictly non-denominational guardian uk

  15. crosspatch says:

    I don’t think you will find the parts about any large team appearing with quotation marks around it attributed to Scotland Yard. The part that is directly attributed to Scotland Yard makes no mention of it.

    Whatever, in fact, I am rather bored with this whole issue until some new evidence comes up. If it was a smuggling ring, then Scotland Yard isn’t going to get at it inside Russia and if it was friends of Putin’s involved, the Russian authorities probably won’t either.

  16. clarice says:

    Maybe Scaramella was tracking them, too..and that’s why he didn’t just send the stuff to Litvinenko. He used the trip as a pretext to be in London and sniff around.

  17. crosspatch says:

    Well, he obviously got a whiff of something. 5x the lethal dose.

    Here’s the thing, none of the others contaminated were at the Sushi bar and Scaramella wasn’t at the hotel bar.

  18. Lizarde1 says:

    CP where did you read that Scaramella was admitted to another hospital after he was discharged yesterday? I can’t find it. 5 x the lethal dose is his exaggeration I think per news accounts. I think he got it from the table cloth at the Sushi bar from it leaking off of Litvinenko though nobody else there was contaminated per news reports – tests on the workers there were negative.

  19. topsecretk9@AJ says:

    –You are a black marketeer, your product is highly toxic. Your product is manufactured in Russia.
    You make a deal to sell the highly toxic product for a large amount of money.
    Do you:
    1) Transfer all risks of transportation to the buyer at the factory (ie: product location)
    2) Transfer all risks of transportation to the buyer 1500 miles away?

    This doesn’t answer Enlightened’s question, but the question made me think of something….WHAT if Litvinenko set up some scheme (maybe using his Russian contacts unwittingly in his end goal (or they were in on it) – but that Litvinenko cobbled together some investors and set-up a legitimate (legitimate -for lack of a better word) buy from Russia — somehow concealing his involvement/identity. I strongly believe Litvinenko was wanting to screw Putin some way.

    ALSO…CrossP’s observations that these people may not have understood the risk in the substances they were dabbling in…which made me wonder if maybe they thought they were trading around a entirely different substance altogether – hence the mishandling?

  20. topsecretk9@AJ says:

    Here’s the thing, none of the others contaminated were at the Sushi bar and Scaramella wasn’t at the hotel bar.

    This is what leads me to believe they were knowingly handling the substance…so to the above, they thought they were handling something else?