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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Latest on Litvinenko

The news on Alexander Litvinenko gets more disgusting by the day. The BBC has an excellent Litvinenko page complete with various video links from their coverage. The most recent installment offers speculation (from a former KGB spy -- you can watch him on video) that the Kremlin may have acted against Litvinenko without even the justification of "patriotism" or defense of the Motherland, but simply crass commerical greed:

Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was murdered because of information he held on a powerful Kremlin figure, an ex-business associate has said.

Ex-spy Yuri Shvets said Mr Litvinenko was commissioned by a reputable UK firm to provide information on Russia.

Mr Litvinenko was poisoned after his dossier containing damaging details was deliberately leaked to the high-ranking Moscow figure, Mr Shvets told the BBC.

Mr Litvinenko died in London last month from suspected polonium-210 poisoning.

'Most probable theory'

In an exclusive interview, Mr Shvets told BBC Radio 4 programme The Litvinenko Mystery about his theory.

"I cannot really be 100% sure, but I am pretty sure," he said.

"Obviously there is always room for other suspicions, but in a tradecraft there is such a thing as most probable theory, and this is the one."

He said the British company wanted the eight-page dossier of commercial and political information before it invested millions of pounds in Russia.

Washington-based Mr Shvets, who advises businesses and individuals on legal and security issues in the former Soviet Union, said he talked to Mr Litvinenko in hospital.

Mr Litvinenko was convinced that he was poisoned when he met three Russians at the Millennium Hotel in London.

Mr Shvets said: "He drank a tea which was not made in front of him. He was agonised by the understanding that as a professional he failed.

"He was always saying 'I can identify my enemy a mile away'. But in this particular case, when it came to his own life, he failed."

Mr Shvets, who has been interviewed by senior Scotland Yard officers, said British detectives investigating the death now have the dossier compiled by Mr Litvinenko.

UPDATE: The Kremlin continued its propaganda offensive trying to claim that Litvinenko was never a very high-ranking authority in the KGB and never knew national secrets, so it didn't care about him and wouldn't exericise itself to kill him. Here the Kremlin is changing its tune, since previously it focused on the alleged lack of impact of his writings and criticism in the West. Then it turned out that Litvinenko had had huge quanties of his books confiscated and destroyed in Russia. Of course, the Kremlin is forgetting that Anna Politkovskaya wasn't a member of the KGB at any level, so this line of "thinking" won't work for her. This pathetic scurrying, like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, would be laughable if it weren't so tragic. At the same time, Litvinenko's father has come forward to directly accuse the regime of murder, following in the footsteps of high-ranking spy Oleg Gordievsky in the Washington Post a few days ago.

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