Litvinenko Assassination High Stakes Gamble by His Murderers
Former Russian KGB Lt. Colonel Alexander Litvinenko died yesterday of what turns out to have been radiation poisoning. He was poisoned using a a highly unusual radioactive isotope called polonium 210:
Scientists were astounded at the use of the rare and hard-to-produce substance, polonium 210, which is dangerous when breathed, injected or ingested…
The cause of his death was so unusual, so baffling and so chilling that a senior British official called it “unprecedented.” The government called a high-level meeting restricted to the most senior ministers — codenamed Cobra — and the Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office. Rebutting the accusations of foul play, Russian officials hinted at a devious conspiracy to discredit President Putin…
At a news conference on Friday, Dr. Pat Troop, the Health Protection Agency’s chief executive, described Mr. Litvinenko’s death as “an unprecedented event in the U.K., in that someone has apparently been poisoned by a type of radiation.”
A British counterterrorism official said polonium 210 was a byproduct of the nuclear industry and is used in the production of antistatic materials. But in the form believed to have been used in the suspected poisoning, it would have required high-grade technical skills and a sophisticated scientific process to produce, probably within a nuclear lab.
If this official is correct, then can there be any doubt who is behind his murder? Russia and the KBG, of course.
And if this is the case, then it raises several interesting issues. Litvinenko himself said he’d been poisoned because of his work attempting to unravel the recent contract assassination of muckraking Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya. There is speculation that she in turn, might’ve been murdered either by the FSB or Russian-sponsored Chechens whom she accused of corruption and crimes of violence. So if Litvinenko is right, then it might be the case that the KGB murdered Politkovskaya and then followed that with Litvinenko’s poisoning in order to stifle any chance that her murder would be solved (at least by Litvinenko).
The Times provides this background on Litvinenko’s spying career and recent relations with the Kremlin:
Mr. Litvinenko was a former operative in the K.G.B. who became a colonel in its successor organization, known by its Russian initials as the F.S.B. In the late 1990s, Mr. Litvinenko said publicly that he had been ordered to assassinate Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Russian tycoon, but had refused to do so. He fled to Britain and secured British citizenship earlier this year. In 2003, he wrote a book accusing the Russian secret service of orchestrating apartment house bombings in Russia in 1999 that led to the second Chechen war.
Since his illness became known last week, his friends have depicted his poisoning as an officially sanctioned reprisal for his criticism of the Kremlin and his efforts to investigate the fatal shooting of Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Russian journalist.
This is precisely what the murdered man and his family believe/d as well:
The former agent’s family, citing what they called a statement dictated by the dying Mr. Litvinenko, accused President Putin of a “barbaric and ruthless” murder — a charge the Russian leader promptly rejected. Mr. Litvinenko’s father, Walter, also accused Russian authorities of responsibility, and said his 43-year-old son, who had been inquiring into the killing of a journalist in Moscow last month, was “killed by a little, tiny nuclear bomb.”
…Alex Goldfarb, a friend of Mr. Litvinenko, read what was described as the former spy’s deathbed statement, addressed largely to President Putin.
“You may succeed in silencing me, but that silence comes at a price,” the statement read. “You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.”
“You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value,” the statement said. “May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.”
Haaretz reports that the former CEO of Yukos, Leonid Nevzlin, recently met with Litvinenko in Israel and turned over to him documents regarding Yukos which cast the government in a very bad light. The former CEO believes Litvinenko might’ve been killed by Yukos’ enemies both in Russian business and the FSB or Putin administration:
Russian-born businessman Leonid Nevzlin, former CEO of the Yukos oil company and current chairman of the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, said Friday that he had met in Israel with former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who died Thursday in London from poisoning.
During the meeting, Litvinenko allegedly passed Nevzlin documents containing classified information possibly damaging to the current leadership in Russia.
In Nevzlin’s estimation, Litvinenko’s murder was tied to the information relating to Yukos contained in the documents. Nevzlin has turned the documents over to the London Metropolitan Police, who are investigating the murder.
So there seem to be many possible reasons for his murder but they all seem to lead back to the FSB.
The world has seen countless examples of the barbarity and cruelty of the current Russian regime under Vladimir Putin. It is a system that despises not only its external and internal enemies, but its own inhabitants. Think of the Moscow theater siege in which government agents poisoned not only the attackers but scores of hostages as well. Think of the Beslan siege in which the security forces assaulted the school killing not only the attackers but several hundred hostages most of whom were women and children. Not to mention the two assassinations I’ve outlined here plus the Yuschenko dioxin poisoning which likely was FSB work as well. Russia’s recent nuclear meltdown over the expulsion of its spies caught red-handed in Georgia indicates that Putin has raised hysteria and bellicosity to standard modus operandi in Russian international policy. This is a rogue state. A state willing to use terror whether at home or abroad to advance its corrupt agenda. Do we want Russian FSB hit men stalking our streets ready to settle internal scores on behalf of their corporate/state sponsors back in Moscow?
There is another element to the brazenness of this crime. Instead of choosing a more mundane means of killing Litvinenko which would’ve provided an element of confusion and cover for his killers, they chose a method which could clearly only be implemented with the aid of a highly specialized scientific lab as the Times writes. This points the finger clearly back at the Russian government and its spy apparatus. Who else would have both the motive and this particular means? Almost no one except them. So in its method of murder, the FSB seems to be leaving its signature clearly for all the world to see. It’s almost that they’re bragging in our face about their expertise and bravado. “We’re good, and we’re proud of our work. Let our enemies beware. Our reach spreads everywhere,” they seem to be saying.
Of course, there is the distinct possibility that his murderers were so supremely (or insanely) self-confident in their method that they believed British authorities would never figure out how Litvinenko had been killed. After all, this is one helluva tough poison to detect.
The NY Times published an even more expansive piece on the nature and history of polonium. It further reinforces what I’ve written above:
“This is wild,” said Dr. F. Lee Cantrell, a toxicologist and director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System. “To my knowledge, it’s never been employed as a poison before. And it’s such an obscure thing. It’s not easy to get. That’s going to be something like the K.G.B. would have in some secret facility or something.”
In a quick search of medical journals, he could find only one article describing the deliberate use of a radioactive poison to kill. It was from 1994, he said, published in Russian…
Making the “significant quantities” described in Mr. Litvinenko’s body by the British Health Protection Agency would require a nuclear reactor that could bombard the metallic element bismuth with neutrons.
“To most chemists, this is astonishing,” said Dr. Andrea Sella, a lecturer in inorganic chemistry at London’s University College. “This is not available commercially. It is present in food, but only in the kind of trace quantities that can be detected by ultrasensitive analytical techniques. It is one of the rarest elements on the earth’s crust and also one of the most exotic.”
Britain is now faced with what will probably turn out to be a brazen affront to its sovereignty in the form of the Putin regime settling scores with its enemies in the heart of London. And make no mistake, if Putin and his FSB assassins have the balls to murder a man in London, they will become emboldened and feel they have been given license to murder them in Washington, Paris, Berlin and Rome. Is this something that the west is willing to tolerate? If not, strong action must be taken. Warnings must be made. Punishments inflicted. Ship the entire FSB contingent housed in all major western capitals back home as personae non grata (Latinists did I get that right?). Putin must be made to pay a price as Litvinenko said on his deathbed.
I always allow villains to have their say here both for reasons of fairness and because they often make a bollocks of their own defense. And Putin’s enablers are no exception:
In Helsinki, where the poisoning overshadowed efforts to resolve disagreements on European-Russian relations, Mr. Putin’s aide in charge of European affairs, Sergei V. Yastrzhembsky, said: “What is alarming is the eye-striking, excessive number of deliberate coincidences of high-profiling deaths of people who positioned themselves as opponents to the existing Russian government with international events in which the Russian president takes part.”
He added that Russia faced “a well-orchestrated campaign or a plan to consistently discredit Russia and its leader,” according to the Interfax news agency.
This is worthy of Robert Mugabe’s fever dreams about his foreign enemies out to get him. Leave it to mad tyrants to imagine that their vague, mysterious enemies are those committing these heinous crimes. Instead of bizarre conspiracy theories, Putin, give us some evidence to prove there is even a scintilla of truth in this particular fever dream. Even better, cooperate fully with the Scotland Yard investigation (a laugh!).
6 thoughts on “Litvinenko Assassination High Stakes Gamble by His Murderers – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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It looks like the cold war between the US and Russia is re-emerging. The use of exotic toxins to poison dissidents is a blunt message reminiscent of the former USSR. Neither polonium nor dioxin, which was used to poison Ukrainian Victor Yuschenko, is commercially available. The Russians are sending a message to other dissidents that they are unsafe, wherever they are. The first order of business is to restore the Soviet empire by blackmailing Ukraine, Georgia, and other former Soviet states. The second order of business is to bolster Iran by supplying them with advanced antiaircraft defenses. These allow the Iranians to bolster conflict in Iraq without fear of retributions. The Putin-Ahmadinejad friendship is reminiscent of the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact
I don’t think anyone, even a tyrant or would be tyrant like Putin can “restore the Soviet empire.” They may harbor a delusion that this is possible, but hopefully they are not that impaired. The Soviets have a feeble, encrusted military apparatus that couldn’t conquer Latvia, let alone Georgia, Ukraine, etc.
But they ARE acting as if they’re the toughest dude on the block & willing to use their sharp elbows (& straight razors) to throw their weight around.
I don’t agree w. the Iran analogy at all. Since Iran borders Russia wouldn’t you think they’d want to impose their will on the Iranians as well? Wouldn’t you think a nuclear empowered Iran would threaten Russia? Yet the latter gladly provides assistance to the Iranian nuclear program.
And as to likening Putin-Ahmadinejad to Hitler-Stalin, I don’t think so. Putin is a tin pot dictator not capable militarily of projecting any power at all. For God’s sake, he can’t even rescue a submarine stuck on the ocean floor without foreign assistance or conquer a recalcitrant territory like Chechnya. He kills almost as many recruits in hazing incidents as he seems to train. The rest seem to starve or freeze depending on the season because of such poor logistics support & finances.
He CAN project economic power as long as his resources are valued & last. And he can do damage in this way as he’s tried to do last winter to the Ukraine. But that is far diff. than having serious military power. I am not arguing that Putin & Russia are not serious enemies of democracy in their region and the world. They are. But we have to keep in perspective just what they are, and are not capable of.
I think that the reason Russia is arming Iran is to bleed the US. Russia has little hope of taking over Iran, but can gain economic benefit from Iran. Another reason for a Russian-Iranian modus vivendi is that Russia can arm Iran with a promise of noninterference in Chechnya. What do you think would happed if the International Solidarity Movement tried to join Soros’ new lobby?
What you say about Russia & its agenda in Iran sounds plausible. But while they can reap great financial rewards by plying the Iranians with nuclear technology, they may live to regret their greed if a nuclear bomb ever explodes in their region.
As for the new lobbying group, it’s meant as an American Jewish group and all its member are distinctly Zionist, though all are willing to be critical of Israel. Neither the ISM nor the new lobbying group would want to have anything to do w. ea. other.
Another opponent of Putin, Yegor Gaidar, has a mystery illness. It seems that the old Soviet tradition of murdering opponents is still in style. With Pierre Gemayel’s assassination, it seems that the Russians and Syrians have a lot of confidence
Haha, you guys are funny. Anyhow, before you try to accuse anybody in removing Litvinenko, first you need to look at who he was and who he was not. He’s not a “former spy” or GB agent. In the late 80-s he was employed by Internal Forces (Ministry of Internal Affairs structure, similar to US National Guard) in a role of non other than a regular prison guard. In the early 90s’ he was a regular internal operative with no access to big secrets. He first met Berezovskijj, being a member of squad of regular bodyguards, provided by АЫИ, after Berezovskijj requested assistance from government after the bombing of his car.
Litvinenko was nobody, who was trying to make some dough any way possible. He went as far as using his FSB credentials to press on people, in other words — banal racketeering, for which he and some of his colleagues were investigated, when Berezovskijj smuggled him out. All in all he reminds me of the hero in the popular cowboy-themed Russian anecdote:
“See that guy over there in the corner?”
“Yea, what about him?”
“They call him Elusive Joe”
“Huh, so really, no one can catch him?”
“No, nobody gives a rat’s ass about him.”
And to put him on the same level as prominent and respected journalist such as Anna Politkovskaja is to give him too much honour, and/or show utter disrespect for Anna’s memory.
* * *
As for details of the murder, after prolonged discussions (including with many physicists (hell, my dad has a degree in nuclear physics)), and using some common sense I really doubt the legitimacy of the common theories. Firstly, as a mean of murder, alpha-emitting isothope is in fact useful, although highly exsotic. However, to kill with it, is like to drive nails with the microscope. Even aside from the my above doubts about Litvinenko’s perceived importance, there’s much cheaper and easier ways to kill someone.
There was an incident worthy any bondiade — “umbrella murder” of a Bulgarian dissident in London some 25 years ago. Died from the meager amount of natural and available poison — ricin, which you can extract from castor beans in your basement. Another aspect of that memorable murder is that suspected killer — Dane of Italian descent. Which illustrates the practice of secret services in any country to work indirectly, through many middle men.
But, according to the media hystery, it seems as if murderers were packing Polonium in the backpacks, and routinely flying planes from Moscow to London. More over, in the light of the fact, that, when properly done, you can move Polonum around in hermetiс container, which can take the form of the regular pill (and yes, even with digestable or soluble shell, perfect for food poisoning so long it is airproof) without any noticeable trace or effect on carrier’s health, it looks rather suspicious, that there are traces everywhere. Like there were dragging ther polonium backpacks all over the place and radioactive metallic salt was seeping everywhere.
It was either completely unprofessionally done, or, rather, “a job that looks very much like a job”…