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Alexander Litvinenko

John Simkin

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The Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko died yesterday. Newspapers were reporting this morning that he had probably committed suicide in order to blame his death on the Russian government. It has just been announced that his death was linked to the presence of a "major dose" of radioactive polonium-210 in his body. A strange way to commit suicide.

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The Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko died yesterday. Newspapers were reporting this morning that he had probably committed suicide in order to blame his death on the Russian government. It has just been announced that his death was linked to the presence of a "major dose" of radioactive polonium-210 in his body. A strange way to commit suicide.

The CIA...oops I mean Radio Free Europe's take on things:

Doctors initially speculated his illness was the results of poisoning with thallium, an extremely potent toxin that attacks internal organs and the central nervous system. There had also been suggestions Litvinenko was suffering the effects of radiation poisoning.

In recent days, however, doubt had been cast on those theories. The UCH official in charge of the critical-care unit where Litvinenko spent his final days has said he has no clue about the actual cause of death.

UCH spokesman Down said the investigation was continuing. "Every avenue was explored to establish the cause of his condition and the matter is now an ongoing investigation being dealt with by detectives from New Scotland Yard," Down said. "Because of this, we will not be commenting any further."

London police later issued a statement saying the matter was being investigated as an "unexplained death."

Full story: http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/...f670f8f15b.html

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There is a valuable lesson to be learned here. Whenever a spook sits down for a meeting with fellow spooks, sources, or other shady types, he should not eat or drink anything that glows. Or to quote the venerable Geoffrey Chaucer, "When dining with the devil, use a very long spoon."

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There is a valuable lesson to be learned here. Whenever a spook sits down for a meeting with fellow spooks, sources, or other shady types, he should not eat or drink anything that glows. Or to quote the venerable Geoffrey Chaucer, "When dining with the devil, use a very long spoon."

In addition, a good maitre de will always offer a pepper mill and a geiger counter to their customers.

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Polonium is a strong Alpha-particle emitter...a very clever 'poison' Even a cardboard box would hide the radiactivity [should someone have a detector] but once ingensted the alpha particles can do enourmous damage over a few weeks....and kill in very small amounts [haven't done the calulation, but I'd guess less than a few shakes of salt or pepper total. It is tasteless, can be made white or any other color, hidden in food or dissolved in many drinks - or in fine power just somehow gotten into the lungs...though more harmful ingested via mouth. I think Vladimir in Moscow has a bit more explaining to do than he has......

The police have still not said that it was murder. The day before he died, the press were being told that he poisoned himself. The UK government is trying hard not to point the finger at Putin. The reason being that he is a supporter of the "war on terror".

Does anyone know the 9/11 connection?

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The right hand of bin Laden, the Number Two in "Al-Qaeda" was trained at the secret base of the Russian secret services on Caucasus, the former Lieutenant Colonel of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Litvinenko told the Polish Rzeczpospolita newspaper. Until the end of 1998, Litvinenko had served in several top-secret units that specialized in struggle against the terrorist and the mafia organizations.

Litvinenko claims that Ayman al-Zawahiri, who headed at that time the terrorist organization "Al-Jihad al-jadid" (it was formed from the Egyptian emigrants - activists of "Al-Jihad" and "Al-Jamaah al-Islamiyah"), in 1998 secretly stayed on the territory of Russia.

Up to the beginning of 1998, the process of merging of the two most radical Islamic organizations – "Al-Jihad al-jadid" and "Al-Qaeda" was completed. Al-Zawahiri became the second person in the hierarchy of the Osama bin Laden's "Al-Qaeda". In February 1998, being together in Afghanistan, they have created the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. However, at that time the Western secret services yet did not pay any special attention to al-Zawahiri's activity (several years prior to that, he freely visited the USA, and several countries of the Western Europe). The hunt for him, as well as for his fellows in arms began only after the explosions in the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in August, 1998.

Only then the CIA analysts with the help of the Egyptian and Israeli colleagues managed to restore retrospectively a part al-Zawahiri's "activity schedule" for seven months prior to the attacks in East Africa. As it was discovered, since January till the end of July, 1998, he personally supervised the preparation for the terrorist attacks in Kenya and Tanzania.

For this purpose al-Zawahiri had left the territory of Afghanistan several times, in particular traveling to Sudan (in the middle of May, 1998). In parallel, he paid a lot of attention to strengthening "Al-Qaeda's" ties with secret services of Khartoum and Tehran.

Although our American and Israeli sources do not know about al-Zawahiri staying in Russia, they have supplied us with some other interesting details. According to this information, in the first half of 1998, leaders of "Al-Qaeda" tried in every possible way to increase the level of coordination with terrorist groups worldwide. For this purpose the leaders of many such groups and cells of "Al-Qaeda" were invited to Afghanistan. Getting close to the large-scale attack on the USA, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have organized a "congress" of the adherents from all over the world. It took place on June, 24, at the capital of the talibs - Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. Among the visitors were the representatives of the Balkan countries, the Middle East and Africa, and even of the radical Islamic groups from the republics of the former USSR. The Uzbeks and the Chechens were especially outstanding. Besides them, the Kazakhs, the Kyrgyz, the Dargins, the Lakks, and the Tatars had also secretly arrived to Kandahar. All of them came here separately, using sideways. A week prior to the beginning of the conference, a group of well-armed al-Zawahiri's assistants had left by jeeps in the direction of Herat. Following the instructions of their patron, in the town of Koh-i-Doshakh they met three unknown men that arrived from Russia via Iran. The latter called themselves by Muslim names, despite the fact that the two of them had a clearly Slavic appearance. After their arrival in Kandahar, the 'guests' split up. One of the "Russians" was directly escorted to al-Zawahiri, and he did not participate in the conference.

Later on, this 'Russian guest', for almost six years disappeared out of the secret services' sight. He reappeared only in 2004. On February, 13, in the capital of Qatar the car of the ex-president of the Chechen Republic Zelimhan Yandarbiev was blown up.

Couple of days after his death, the authorities of the United Arab Emirates detained two Russian citizens. They turned to be the officers of the secret services. For the last three months they had been working in the embassy of Russia in Doha. After Yandarbiev's assassination these two Russians together with several other of their fellow citizens have hastily left Qatar. Having found out all this, investigators have carefully studied video and photo materials made by the counterspies during the last months on a course of supervision over the Russian diplomatic mission. The results were surprising not only for the Qatar's secret services, but also for their Western colleagues. It appeared that at the end of November, 2003, the embassy was visited by the above-mentioned "Russian", who met al-Zawahiri in the summer of 1998 in Kandahar.

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Alexander Litvinenko: the poison of power

Zygmunt Dzieciolowski

20 - 11 - 2006

Their dream was a poison which would kill a man instantly but which could not be found in a corpse’s blood during the post-mortem examination. For years, the secret poison laboratory of the Soviet-era biologist Grigory M Mairanovski, founded on the orders of Lavrenti Beria in 1938, researched deadly substances. The moment came when Mairanovski and his team felt that, by deceiving even experienced medical experts, they had achieved their dream.

It happened when German prisoners-of war who had been killed with Mairanovski’s poison were immediately transferred to the Sklifasovskii emergency clinic in the heart of Moscow. The Sklifasovskii medics were unable to find the poison - and concluded that the German POWs had in fact died of natural causes.

The Mairanovski laboratory was closed in 1946 following the replacement of Lavrenti Beria by Vsevolod Merkulov as head of the NKVD. But poisons continued to be used intermittently throughout modern Soviet and post-Soviet history, indicating that the tradition of toxicological assassination was never completely abandoned.

It was some times pursued via proxies. Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian writer and journalist with the BBC World Service, died in London in September 1978 after apparently being injected with poison from the tip of an umbrella.

Yuri Shchekochikhin, a Russian journalist (deputy editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta) and member of the Duma (parliament), died on the night of 2-3 June 2003 after returning from a business trip to the city of Ryazan where he had sought to investigate a furniture-store corruption scandal involving high-ranking intelligence officials.

His illness was first described by Moscow doctors as allergy but when he lost his hair, and the skin on his face changed its structure, it became obvious that his body was reacting to a strong, unidentifiable poison. Doctors were unable to save him; he died within a few days.

For a few years, Shchekochikhin’s Novaya Gazeta colleagues tried to discover the real reasons for his death, and sent tissue-samples to London for further investigation. In the event it was not possible to identify the poison which killed Shchekochikhin, though his editor-in-chief Dmitri Muratov has no doubts that this was the cause of death.

Another poisoning attempt affected journalist Anna Politkovskaya (later shot dead by an unknown assassin on 7 October 2006). At the first news of the Beslan school siege in September 2004 she rushed to the airport to seek a seat on flight in the direction of the north Caucasus. In the end she got a ticket for a flight to Rostov-on-Don. Aware of all possible dangers she refused to eat and drink on board. Only at the end of the flight did she request a glass of water. She fainted after the plane landed, and for days doctors struggled to save her. She had been poisoned, perhaps by two secret-service agents who had followed her onto the plane.

The most famous poisoning case involved the Ukrainian opposition leader (now president) Viktor Yushchenko. A few months before the presidential election in 2004 he was hospitalised suffering stomach pains. Soon his face began to change, and a mask of lesions and blisters disfigured the Ukrainian politician’s previously youthful looks. Numerous examinations held by laboratories in the Britain, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany confirmed that Yushchenko was poisoned purposely by a poisonous substance called dioxine.

In April 2002 the Russian secret services used a poison in order to liquidate one of the most dangerous Chechen warlords, Omar ibn-Khattab. He died within five minutes after opening a letter said to be written by his mother. It was delivered by a Chechen fighter recruited by the Russian secret services as their agent.

Events in Moscow’s Dubrovka theatre in October 2002, when 900 spectators were taken hostage by Chechen fighters, further demonstrate how much the Russian secret services are fond of employing poison-gas substances. After getting inside the building, members of the special forces used an unidentified narcotic gas to subdue the terrorists. But it affected hostages too. 129 of them died, all but two from the adverse effects of the gas.

The case of Alexander Litvinenko, the former secret service (FSB) agent now in a London hospital after being poisoned in a restaurant with a dose of the metal thallium, is no different. Before and after his flight to London, the colonel had made enemies in the Russian government and intelligence services.

At first he accused his bosses of organising an attempt to kill émigré businessman Boris Berezovsky, himself a strong critic of president Putin. Litvinenko’s book on the mysterious explosions of apartment blocks in Moscow and other cities in September 1999 which killed more than 300 people angered his enemies even more. Litvinenko had no doubts that the explosions - which helped propel Russia into its second Chechen war, and were followed a year later by the election of Vladimir Putin to the presidency - were organised by the FSB to convince public opinion that war was essential to curb Chechen terrorism.

The Kremlin’s allies in Moscow deny that the FSB could be involved in an attempt to poison Litvinenko with thalium. In their view the incident helps Boris Berezovsky, who will now use it in his propaganda campaign against the Kremlin. Gennadi Gudkov, a Duma member and retired KGB colonel, acidly praised Berezovsky’s talent as a director of theatrical spectaculars.

But Kremlin critics such as Sergei Kovalev, or former Yukos executive and KGB general Alexei Kondaurov, do not exclude anothrer possibility: that former colleagues of Alexander Litvinenko had themselves had enough of his criticism and activities.

As with so many elements in the melancholy trail of Russian deaths in the last sixteen years, the truth will be hard to find. But the method, the symptoms, and the mysterious circumstances in which a poison was used in London all indicate that the tradition of Dr Mairanovski’s laboratory has not been forgotten.

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It is certainly interesting. Well, we know that someone did it. You can't rule out suicide, either.

The method, however, is quite strange. It's slow, and detectabe. Why not a simple 'street crime' incident? Or an undetectable, rapid-acting poison? If they wanted him to suffer, why not a kidnapping-torture-murder?

The whole thing just doesn't make sense.

Still, John has raised other strange cases so it may be that this is a 'signature' killing - letting others who may speak out know that they will be vunerable.

I'm still very much on the fence - it could have been by a party / parties unknown related to the Russian government or one of its agencies, it could have been from someone unrelated to the Russian government (or any other government), or it could have been a bizzare form of suicide - designed to lay the blame on others.

I don't think we'll ever really know.

Edited to add: Although probably unlikely, we also have to consider that it was unintential; that he was accidently poisoned somehow.

Edited by Evan Burton
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When you enter this neither world up is down, white is black. An outsider can probably never really know or completely determine what is really going on. The only test you can give is, who benefits? Definitly not 100% accurate by any stretch of the imagination. One may seem to benefit in the short run only to be upended in the long run. Whereas the side it seems to hurt may ultimatly benefit by it. Who knows? If someones relations with the former Soviet Union have come to a fork in the road and destablizing the existing regieme every which way they can becomes the new direction to be taken.Then perhaps some western intellegence agency felt an operation like this could result in benefits that outweighed the costs. These people frame each other's country all the time make them look bad and then harp on each other in the respective press get as much mileage as they can out of it. If called to task officially by the opposition they blame it on the press. It's not us its them. Can't hold what they do against us, of course. You understand, you have your own press to deal with. Now, what was the cost? Not even a dead Russian operative for them to take offense too. Just a Russian version of one of our "kook's" promulgating some wacky false flag conspircy theory and such. Clean, quite profitable and low cost, not even much chance of any nasty repercussions either. Do you think they would hesitate to do something like this? Who loses? I'm speculating, of course, just an academic exercise. They would never, certainly, do anything like this. Against our western values and such. Just an after dinner conversation over a cigar.

Sorry, but, as I seem to be saying a lot these days..."And another thing!". On the slow acting poison aspect of the story. A slow acting poison might be desirable if you wanted to drag out press coverage, milk it for all it's worth. Saturate coverage, have it rise to the level that even "security Mom's" get to hear about it. They're the new benchmark of media saturation, you know. How do you know what to believe when all you have to go on is what they tell you? Finishing my cigar now, maybe time for a nap.

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When you enter this neither world up is down, white is black. An outsider can probably never really know or completely determine what is really going on. The only test you can give is, who benefits? Definitly not 100% accurate by any stretch of the imagination. One may seem to benefit in the short run only to be upended in the long run. Whereas the side it seems to hurt may ultimatly benefit by it.

I agree. There seems to be three possible motivations for the killing:

1. Litvinenko had some important evidence that he was about to disclose.

2. Litvinenko's high-profile death was a warning to others who was criticizing the Russian government.

3. Litvinenko's death was arranged so as to smear Putin or the FSB.

For political reasons I want to believe it is 1 (it gives me hope that investigative journalists have the power to uncover the corrupt behaviour of politicians) but fear it might be 2 or 3.

Glenmore Trenear-Harvey has been closely identified with the Litvinenko investigation. He told the BBC:

"Litvinenko's last job within the FSB was heading up the anti-corruption unit and he discovered a lot of corruption there and made a lot of enemies within the KGB. When Yeltsin broke the KGB into different agencies such as the FSB and the SVR, the majority of its members stayed on but some went into the Duma and a third group went into legitimate business. My own belief, and this is speculation, is that it's not inconceivable that Anna Politkovskaya in her search for murderers within the Russian bank system discovered the contract killings were these former KGB people. She was killed and if Litvinenko indeed was privy to her investigations then it could well be that they will emerge as his killers."

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I have just uploaded a page on Alexander Litvinenko:


This page is linked to this thread. I will also start a thread on the death of Anna Politkovskaya. I believe the two deaths are closely connected. The links to the relevant threads will be as always be added to my web pages. Within a few weeks these pages will be high-ranked in the search-engines. In this way we can help influence public perception of these events.

If we show the world that cases like this will not be allowed to go away, we will help provide protection for those journalists who are risking their lives exposing government corruption.

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Putin was once head of the KGB, was he not? So one has to assume that he's a really nice guy. It's sort of laughable to think that Putin has a democratic bone in his body. But then I've never met the man, much less looked into his eyes and seen his soul like Dubya did.

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Sandra Laville, Severin Carrell Tom Parfitt in Moscow

Monday November 27, 2006

The Guardian


Anti-terrorist detectives are poised to fly to Russia and Italy in an effort to solve the fatal poisoning of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.

But as John Reid, the home secretary, said the police inquiry had been upgraded from an "unexplained" to a "suspicious" death, experts voiced doubt at the theory that anyone acting alone could have used the isotope polonium 210 to kill Mr Litvinenko. One scientist said polonium 210 would only kill so quickly if combined into a "designer toxin" with another isotope, beryllium, in a complicated process that would require state sponsorship. Such a process was used by Britain in early atomic weapons in the 1950s.

"No individual could do this," said John Large, an independent nuclear consultant. "What you are talking about is the creation of a very clever little device, a designer poison pill, possibly created by nanotechnology. Without nanotechnology you would be talking about a fairly big pill, a pea-sized pill. Either way you are looking at intricate technology which is beyond the means and designs of a hired assassin without a state sponsor."

He said the likely poison pill that killed Mr Litvinenko would have to have been manufactured in a special laboratory over two or three weeks and then used very quickly - possibly within 28 days - because the half-life of the isotope polonium is only 138 days.

Senior police officers are drawing in experts from the International Atomic Energy Authority, and from the Atomic Weapons establishment at Aldermaston. Every option is being considered, from Kremlin involvement to the theory that Mr Litvinenko's work in the anti-corruption unit of the FSB, Russia's MI5, created enemies with the means and knowledge to assassinate him.

The government's emergency planning group, Cobra, has met at least six times in the last few days. Police are studying hours of CCTV tapes to trace Mr Litvinenko's movements on and before November 1, when it is likely he received the dose of radiation that killed him. Officers may travel to Russia to interview Andrei Lugovoi and Dimitri Kovtoun, who met Mr Litvinenko in the Millennium hotel on November 1, and to Italy to speak to Mario Scaramella, who met him at the Itsu restaurant in Piccadilly.

"If we need to go to Russia and Italy we will do that at the appropriate time," one police source said yesterday. Mr Kovtoun, who denies involvement, said he was going for radiation tests, because of concerns over his own contamination. One man police may speak to is a former KGB general with links to the Dignity and Honour group of retired KGB officers.

The man is named in a document passed by Mr Scaramella to Mr Litvinenko as the ringleader of a group which could be planning to kill both men. He is understood to have left Moscow on Friday for an unknown destination.

The home secretary refused to be drawn on the police investigation yesterday. Meanwhile more than 300 people who were in the Millennium Hotel, in Grosvenor Square, London, and Itsu, in Piccadilly, on November 1 have contacted the NHS and the Health Protection Agency is following up the calls. Several have been asked to supply urine samples.

Mr Litvinenko's home in north London, where traces of alpha radiation from polonium 210 have been found, was still being examined yesterday.

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