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Thursday, December 07, 2006

BLACKMAIL!!!

The Times of London reports that Russia is attempting to blackmail Britain over assistance in the Litvinenko killing (perhaps the Kremlin killed Litvinenko just so they could make this demand):

Russia demands the handover of Putin's critics in exchange for poison case help

FSB is off limits, police team is told

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.


The ultimatum came as Russian officials imposed strict limits on how Scotland Yard detectives will be allowed to operate as they began their investigation in Moscow. The strict conditions threatened to deepen the diplomatic rift between Moscow and London caused by the death last month by radioactive polonium-210 poisoning of Litvinenko.

John Reid, the Home Secretary, pledged this week that no diplomatic obstacles would stand in the way of Scotland Yard’s investigation. But yesterday Yuri Chaika, Russia’s Prosecutor-General, told the nine British counter-terrorism detectives that they would not be allowed to question senior officers in the FSB, Russia’s secret service.

Whitehall officials are convinced FSB agents orchestrated the poison plot, but Mr Chaika said: “The issue of the FSB authorities is not on the agenda.”

Andrei Lugovoy, the key figure of interest to the police, who was among the last people to see Litvinenko on the day he fell ill, was suddenly admitted to hospital in Moscow yesterday. He claimed that he was too ill with radiation poisoning to speak, but later from his hospital bed said that he had nothing to hide and was ready to meet the detectives.

Even when doctors decide that he is well enough to talk to investigators, the Prosecutor-General says that his men, and not Scotland Yard, will question Mr Lugovoy. In addition, British detectives will have to seek FSB approval to conduct any interviews in Moscow.

Mr Chaika said that during the interviews the British detectives “may participate with our consent, and we might also withhold our consent”.

Any trial of a Russian suspect would have to be in Moscow, he added.

Russian officials also said that the British team would not be able to interview Mikhail Trepashkin, a former FSB agent who is serving a four-year sentence for disclosing state secrets. Mr Trepashkin claims to have vital information about the plot to kill Litvinenko.

At a press conference yesterday Mr Chaika again promised his full co-operation with the British inquiry, but gave little tangible sign that he will make it easy for Scotland Yard. He denied that the radioactive substance used to poison Litvinenko could have come from Russia, and emphasised that Britain would have to provide evidence to that effect before he would open a formal investigation.

Alexander Sidorov, a spokesman for the Russian prison service, said: “Trepashkin is serving a sentence for treason, therefore we cannot allow him to contact foreign security services.”

Prison officials have moved swiftly to punish Mr Trepashkin for “violating regulations”. A district court is to hear an application today to transfer Mr Trepashkin to a tougher, more secure prison, despite concerns from his lawyer about his deteriorating health.

Meanwhile, in Moscow yesterday a search was carried out at the British Embassy for traces of polonium-210 in the room visited by Andrei Lugovoy when he applied for a visa to visit Britain. Experts said they did not expect to find evidence of the radioactive substance.

In England an HPA spokeswoman confirmed that minute quantities of radiation had been found at the Emirates Stadium in North London at “barely detectable levels”. She reiterated previous advice that there was no public health concern, adding that the levels picked up were lower than natural background activity.

In a clear sign of growing diplomatic tensions, the Prosecutor-General appeared to link the Litvinenko investigation to the demands by the Kremlin for Britain to hand over Boris Berezovsky, the exiled oligarch, who is one of President Putin’s fiercest critics.

British courts have thrice rejected Russian requests for the extradition of the billionaire businessman, but Mr Chaika said that he expected a fresh application “in the near term” for Mr Berezovsky and for Akhmed Zakayev, the Chechen separatist leader.

The two men were close friends with Litvinenko.

Last night British diplomats gave a restrained response to Russia’s ultimatum but ruled out any idea of “a swap”.

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”.

    Mr Scaramella claims he has evidence that leading Italian left-wing politicians are agents of Moscow. However he is increasingly seen as a figure of diminishing credibility. His claims to be an academic have so far failed to stand up, since none of the universities with which he says he is associated — from Naples to New York — have endorsed him.

    Britain wants to interview

    Andrei Lugovoy Former KGB officer. Worked for a TV station in Moscow run by Boris Berezovsky. Briefly jailed, on release set up business offering bodyguards for wealthy Russians.

    Mikhail Trepashkin Former FSB officer. Investigated 1999 bombings of Moscow apartments, which President Putin blamed on Chechen separatists. Mr Trepashkin claimed FSB was behind the explosions.

    Russia wants to extradite

    Boris Berezovsky Russia’s first billionaire. Mr Berezovsky, 61, fell out with Mr Putin and sought asylum in Britain. Employed Litvinenko and other dissidents. Wanted by Kremlin for alleged corruption

    Akhmed Zakayev Foreign Minister of the Chechen government in exile, he is accused by Russia of terrorist attacks. Mr Zakayev, 50, lived next door to Litvinenko and saw him hours before he fell ill

  • 8 comments:

    17 ugly raccoons said...

    perhaps the Kremlin killed Litvinenko just so they could make this demand

    Or Berezovsky did it just so this demand will be declined anyway. But Berezovsky is saint...

    La Russophobe said...

    Are you saying Boris Berezovsky, the Kremlin's Public Enemny #1, is able to get his hands on nuclear material from a Russian reactor? And that the Kremlin knew it was missing but said nothing to the world? And that, although the Kremlin is innnocent, it's still refusing to allow Britain to interview Trepashkin unless Berezovsky is extradited, and otherwise stonewalling the investigation? And that it can't come up with proof of its innocence on its own to show the world?

    Frankly, that might be more disturbing than the Kremlin ordering the killing.

    You just don't care at all if you alienate the whole world, do you? Just like in Soviet times. Utter self destruction.

    winsc2 said...

    LR: Like the logic... of course... if BB did it, then Russia's enemy no 1 is capable of stealing Russian nuclear material. With all that that implies.

    Good point

    Jonathan said...

    *ahem*

    we proposed this before russia announced it and the times online covered it

    http://zhezhe.wordpress.com/2006/12/06/told-you-so/

    La Russophobe said...

    JONATHAN: Thanks for the tip! I will credit you, and congratulations!

    17 ugly raccoons said...

    Are you saying Boris Berezovsky, the Kremlin's Public Enemny #1, is able to get his hands on nuclear material from a Russian reactor?

    Yes. If Chechen terrorists might bribe their way through militia to their target, why BAB can't buy some nasty toys?

    And that the Kremlin knew it was missing but said nothing to the world?

    And what Kremlin should've been saying IF they knew? 'You know, there is some nuclear material missing... No, we don't know who or for what... Yes, it is powerful poison...' West would be REALLY glad.

    And that, although the Kremlin is innnocent, it's still refusing to allow Britain to interview Trepashkin unless Berezovsky is extradited, and otherwise stonewalling the investigation?

    Well, Britain wants to investigate, and if your counter-part wants something, try to get something in exchange, don't miss an opportunity. And what 'otherwise stonewalling' been there except usual obstacles for operating on souvereign territory of other country?

    And that it can't come up with proof of its innocence on its own to show the world?

    'World'? Megalomania again? And remember 'innocent until proven guilty' not other way around.

    You just don't care at all if you alienate the whole world,

    Especially Uruguay.

    Just like in Soviet times. Utter self destruction.

    Yeah, right, every business-deal West-Russia had been cancelled already. Utter alienation and self-destruction. Don't read anyone except La Rat, these evil Russopholes spoil you...

    La Russophobe said...

    UGLY: Strange as it may sound to you, we'd like to be warned. And we think your failure to warn is subhuman and outrageous. But I will make a note that if America allows dangerous toxins to get passed into Russia in the hands of assasins, we should keep our lips shut because Russians prefer not to know. I know that your doctors often conceal illness from patients, but you should try to get a shred of cultural comprehension and realize that perhaps other countries don't have the same total disregard for personal integrity that Russians do.

    And if you believe the Kremlin is that utterly incompetent, you should be doing a lot more to change its occupants, before the whole nation goes right down the toilet.

    17 ugly raccoons said...

    Strange as it may sound to you, we'd like to be warned.

    Well, it is your problem. Maybe Western countries should forge some mutual obligation with Russia about such things, I don't know. For now, such official obligation not exists, so we are not obliged to warn you. Too bad, heh.

    And we think your failure to warn is subhuman and outrageous.

    You might think everything you wish, we don't care.

    But I will make a note that if America allows dangerous toxins to get passed into Russia in the hands of assasins, we should keep our lips shut because Russians prefer not to know.

    Exactly. Because modern terrorist attack cannot be prevented even if you knew about means of it. If your government fed your other opinion... well, they had you.

    but you should try to get a shred of cultural comprehension

    La Rat, YOU really shouldn't say so. You do not understand ANYTHING about Russia, so relax and don't ask from me anything.

    and realize that perhaps other countries don't have the same total disregard for personal integrity that Russians do

    How many victims counted your invasion in Iraq already? 500 thousands or 600 thousands? I wonder if you use it as an example of respect to personal integrity...

    And if you believe the Kremlin is that utterly incompetent

    I believe.

    you should be doing a lot more to change its occupants

    You are constantly forgetting about very simple thing. Glass walls. I don't like Kremlin's occupants, but I reject ANY means of changing them which lead to shutting down of life-sustaining systems in the state and society. What we Russians experienced in 1918 should not repeat ever again.

    You Westerners cannot imagine what it was, so you are trying to incite turmoil and you are looking really abused when Russians dismiss your advices.