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Friday, November 24, 2006

Alexender Litvinenko R.I.P.

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With great sadness, La Russophobe reports that yesterday Russian patriot and hero Alexander Litvinenko succumbed to his poisoning at the hand or instigation of the evil forces that control the Kremlin. He becomes only the most recent in a long line of Russian patriots murdered by the state, from his namesake Alexander Pushkin (murdered in a rigged duel when he began to get uppity about freedom and equality) through Anna Politkovskaya. Now, they are starting to fall on our own soil! Terrifyingly, doctors have not yet even been able to identify the poison that was used to strike him down, a clear indication of the KGB's increasing level of sophistication and menace. Bloomberg reports on his last words to the Kremlin:

Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who died in a London hospital yesterday, accused the Kremlin of killing him in a statement dictated shortly before he lost consciousness. Litvinenko alleged he was poisoned because of his fierce criticism of the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "You succeeded in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life,'' the posthumous statement said. It was dictated on Nov. 21 and read publicly today by Litvinenko's friend, Alex Goldfarb, outside University College Hospital in London, where the former spy died last night.

Every medical avenue was explored to establish the cause of Litvinenko's illness and it remains a mystery, Jim Down, a spokesman for University College Hospital in London, said late yesterday. Litvinenko, 43, died at 9:21 p.m. on Nov. 23, he said. U.K. police are treating his death as "unexplained'' and haven't yet begun a murder investigation. "Inquiries continue into the circumstances surrounding how Mr. Litvinenko became unwell,'' Scotland Yard said in an e-mailed statement. The U.K.'s top counter-terrorism officer, Peter Clarke, is leading the investigation.

"May God forgive you for what you have done not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people,'' Litvinenko said in the statement, referring to Putin. The person responsible for his death was "barbaric and ruthless,'' had no respect for civilized values and was unworthy of office, Litvinenko said.

Danger to World

The Russian regime is "a mortal danger to the world,'' the former spy's father, Walter Litvinenko, said outside the hospital. "My son fought this regime, he questioned it and this regime got him,'' he said. The Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, have denied any involvement in Litvinenko's death.

"Death is always a tragedy,'' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said by telephone today. "Now it's time for the relevant authorities in Britain, where Mr. Litvinenko lived, to investigate the case.''

Litvinenko himself was in no doubt that he was poisoned by Russian enemies. "The bastards got me but they won't get everybody,'' he said shortly before he stopped being able to communicate on Nov. 21, his friend Andrei Nekrasov told the Times. Before he died the ex-spy looked "like a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps,'' Nekrasov said. Photographs of Litvinenko released Nov. 20 showed him lying in a hospital bed looking frail. His hair had fallen out.

Thallium Ruled Out

His sickness wasn't due to a heavy metal such as thallium, as doctors initially thought, Geoff Bellingan, director of critical care at the hospital, said yesterday. It was also "unlikely'' that he had suffered radiation poisoning, the doctor said. "Despite extensive tests we are still unclear as to the cause of his condition,'' Bellingan said.

Litvinenko's family are "all shocked and horrified at this terrible crime,'' family spokesman Alex Goldfarb said outside the hospital. He had a son with his wife Marina. Litvinenko, a former lieutenant colonel in Russia's FSB, or Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, applied for asylum in the U.K. six years ago and became an outspoken critic of the Kremlin over issues including the conflict in Chechnya. He had been investigating the killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, 48, another prominent critic of Putin and Russian policy in Chechnya. Politkovskaya was shot at her Moscow apartment building Oct. 7.

Picadilly Meeting

Litvinenko first reported feeling ill on Nov. 1 after meeting with a friend at a Japanese sushi restaurant, Itsu, in London's Piccadilly. Mario Scaramella, an Italian, said at a Nov. 21 news conference in Rome that he was the friend. Scaramella said he and Litvinenko had both received e-mailed threats days before the poisoning. Shortly before the restaurant meeting Litvinenko met two Russian men, including a former KGB officer whom he knew, for tea at a hotel in central London, Goldfarb said. Litvinenko's death has echoes of Cold War assassinations such as that of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident who died after being spiked with a poison-tipped umbrella on a London street in 1978.

The KGB is already trying to minimize the public relations nightmare it has created by attempting, in pathetic fashion, to claim that Litvinenko was too small a fish to interest them and the gutless, lemming-like Russian media (mostly state-owned) is falling right in line (disturbingly, this included Kommersant, a recent Kremlin takeover victim, while state-owned television didn't even report the events at all). If that is so, then the "big fish" better start heading for their underground bunkers and acquiring food tasters. Meanwhile, today it was announced that neo-Soviet Russia has begun delivery of missile systems to Iran that will seek to protect that rogue nation's developing nuclear power stations and ardent search for the atomic bomb, and another spy scandal is unfolding in Canada. In other words, Cold War II has begun in earnest, with all the trappings. It is highly doubtful Russia can survive this round.


17 ugly raccoons said...

Cheers. Reward found the hero.

penny said...

Putin can only pull these serial murders off because he has an ally in the indifference of the Russian sheeple.

In the age of cellphones and the internet, in spite of Russia's MSM censorship, Russians aren't living in a total vacuum anymore. Putin and his fellow FSB gangsters would be gone tomorrow if mass demonstrations were on the streets.

Their silence is deafening.

winsc2 said...

Amidst much wild speculation, including the "leak" to the BBC's "Today" programme the morning before he died that Litvinenko had supposedly swallowed three 1/2inch wide packages which had just showed up on an X-ray (now reported to be Prussian Blue to counteract the thallium - and I wonder where that story came from...), an interesting insight comes from Boris Volodarsky, an historian who has looked back at how the KGB has behaved in the past to make some pertinent observations about recent events.

That article is here

I have some comments of my own:

Why so public? everyone seems to ask. And why not something that kills him quickly, as well as quietly? Here are some possible reasons:

1) The FSB chooses to show it doesn't care about possible fallout from this public attempt to nail an opponent abroad as a deliberate projection its new confidence. With one of their old colleagues as President, bankrolling their expansion, they feel their day has come once again.

One take on this story: "We are back in business, boys." This is the swagger of a revitalised KGB.

2) To make anyone still in Russia (especially in the FSB) think again if they are thinking of one day becoming a whistleblower themselves. They now know that they can't even escape abroad afterwards. In the 1960s KGB recruits were shown a film of one renegade GRU man (most people say it was Penkovsky but other names sometimes crop up) being torched to death for spying for the West. It was a very effective deterrent then. This will be now.

Another take on the story: This keeps a lid on as yet undiscovered FSB secrets and ensures that there won't be another Litvinenko for a long time.

3) To scare the **** out of any Russians who have fled abroad. Publicity has always been thought of as a protective asset for the dissident. "They couldn't go after Anna Politkovskaya, surely, isn't she too well known?". Not any more. The attack on Litvinenko will shut up dissenting voices abroad and provides a satisfying for way for an organisation of sadists to inject yet more terror into the lives of those people they can't or don't want to physically harm (yet?) - and their families, of course, because a wife who is terrified of seeing her husband die such a horrible, long drawn-out death will do whatever she can to stop him meddling in politics.

This take says: Its an efficient way to silence a lot of nuisances abroad all at once. If you can't stop them going, shut them up when they are there.

This poisoning may not have been ordered from the top of the FSB, or the Kremlin, but to those who cite the torrent of negative publicity (which the perpetrators surely should have anticipated) as a reason why it couldn't be from the Kremlin or the Lubyanka, I have a couple of other observations:

1) Bad publicity didn't put Syria off in the Lebanon when they assasinated Hariri last year. Why should Russia be different? Many believe the Syrians are also responsible for a number of major political assasinations since then but the Hariri one at least is now pretty conclusively believed to be Syrian-sponsored.

Put simply, Russians ask themselves "Is the security of our nation more important than what people abroad think of us?" If the answer is "Yes" and if Litvienko is seen to be threatening the internal security of the nation (as interpreted by the FSB), then Litvinenko's coffee is poisoned. It is as simple as that.

2) This Russian government has shown in the past it couldn't give a toss for what foreigners think about it. Look at the handling of the gas crisis last winter. Has Putin's chum Alexei Miller lost his job as head of Gazprom after one of Russia's worst PR own-goals of the decade? No way.

Many ordinary Russians are convinced the West wants to destroy them and their nation anyway (just read Pravda, Gazprom's newest acquisition), so at a public level they don't care. And not a few will feel proud that the KGB can still "get their man" - not least amongst them, no doubt, that wonderful specimen of Russian manhood Mr 17 Ugly Racoons who graces this blog from time to time with his witty and cultured comments.

3) We credit governments too generously with the foresight to anticipate the negative implications of some action they are about to take. We make a mistake to believe someone wouldn't do something just because, after the event, it looks like it was handled in a crassly inept way... as might be said of Iraq.


BlackMinorcaPullets said...

Putin is using a common ploy - deny, deny, deny. Too bad there are no more Durantys execute these ploys.

Now we have the internet to expose Russia's culture of unequalled genocide.

17 ugly raccoons said...

And not a few will feel proud that the KGB can still "get their man" - not least amongst them, no doubt, that wonderful specimen of Russian manhood Mr 17 Ugly Racoons

Thanks, thanks, but you are wrong, as usual. Wonderful specimen just thinks that man who willingly took an oath, willingly betrayed it and inflicted harm to which he sworn to protect - this man should be rewarded properly, regardless of country or abbreviation - CIA or KGB (FSB, perhaps?).

Anyway, as a hand of intellectual help I can offer you other version of this unfortunate incident, version which starts with words 'Saint and unduly prosecuted great Russian patriot Mr. Berezovsky tired of keeping this lackey and decided use his death for old play named "Gongadze's Head"...'

But it is clear that all-wise Western think-tanks gathering here at portal of freedom and nursery of democracy already found evil murderer just by effort of their cholesterol-filled brains, without these tiresome moves like investigation of the case or court proceeding. So my hint isn't going to be taken.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Even Stalin still played relatively nice until his hold on power was secure, then Holdamor-Kirov-Great Terror.

Remarkably, all those events seemed to happen largely without Uncle Joe's explicit involvement (Bad Yagoda! Bad Yezhov! Bad Beria! etc etc).


Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest*?

* journalist/defector/politician

Roustem said...

Ready for some less obvious analysis? Please go to