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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Mailbag: Thoughts on Litvinenko

A reader offers fasinating and insightful thoughts on the Litvinenko killing (all readers are welcome to submit material for publication consideration, anonymity assured if desired):

I have been spending an unhealthy amount of my spare time in the last couple of days reading about it and it really does seem to be an incredibly complex web of intrigue. So I find myself thinking what statements are the most likely to be true, grading down to the least likely. Of course, the British Police investigators will get as near to the full story as anyone can, but I don't know if it will be near enough. I also don't know if their findings will be made fully public or if the government will hide them so as not to rock the boat.

Anyway, in the (left leaning) Guardian and Observer, they have repeated the Russian allegation that Litvinenko had threatened to blackmail anti-Russian contacts of his, because he was short of money. This then would make it plausible that Berezovski would have him killed knowing he was really no friend of his, while at the same time creating the anti-Russian reactions that we have seen. I have to say that I have not heard this allegation repeated on British television news.

It has also been reported that Berezovski bankrolled Litvinenko and Zakayev, and paid for them both to live(in houses opposite each other) in north London. (I assume at the very least, it is true that they were neighbours). This actually begs the question: if Berezovski was happy to pay them some of his "$500m fortune", why did Litvinenko want to get £10000 each from his ex contacts by blackmail? The newspaper websites also published an absolutely wierd photograph of Litvinenko posing threateningly with a Chechen sword in front of a Union Jack. They also mention other very strange things about his personality.

Meanwhile, Scaramella has been described on British news as a shady character who lied about his lectureship in two different universities. However, he was described on a mainly Russophile website "Europe Tribune", as definitely being a lecturer at a university in Italy (I think it was Milan). However, the worst thing about Scaramella is that he appears to have lied to the Italian authorities about a couple of things, including saying that the Soviet navy had placed a lot of nuclear torpedoes in the Bay of Naples. And yet, he was apparently a friend of Litvinenko, or at least a trusted contact.

Another thing that is hard to swallow is Scaramella's accusation that Romano Prodi was really a KGB agent. That could be an even bigger story than Litvinenko. I'm sure that I am not the first to suggest that maybe Scaramella is an FSB (or SVR) plant, put into the Mitrokhin Commission to make a lot of false allegations and discredit the commission itself.

Meanwhile, an apparently independent Irish reporter has testified that Gaidar was only briefly unconcious and that doctors believe he was suffering from the effects of his diabetes - in flat contradiction to Gaidar's daughter's account. And yet, how wierd is it that Gaidar (a man with anti-putin ideas, and with a daughter absolutely opposed to Putin) should collapse in the middle of a speech, coughing up blood the day after Litvinenko was diagnosed with chemical poisoning. How often do government officials collapse in the middle of speeches coughing up blood?! Now the Russians say he was poisoned!

It has occurred to me that on this very important issue, the FSB would think that, if they were not working strenuously at putting out information - probably disinformation - they were not doing their job. Therefore it is not just possible, but likely that some of the information being written and copied in cyberspace, and the blogosphere was put there by the FSB.

If Litvinenko really was a whacko, does it mean that it was OK to poison him with Polonium? I don't think so. And when the Russian authorities say they had no reason to kill someone so unimportant, what about the fact that he wrote a book that could bring down Putin's government and so they destroyed 4500 copies of it and prevented its publication in Russia? Putin reportedly said that the suggestion that he was responsible for the Moscow apartment bombings was a crime itself. Litvinenko not only suggested it, he wrote a book about it.
It is also interesting to think about Russian statements since the poisoning. On approximately the day the news broke they apparently said "if you want to find who did it, look at the people standing around his bed". Also, since the British police arrived in Russia the authorities have said "the investigation is OK as long as it does not include the Kremlin", and "it is OK but no one should try to politicise this".

Surely, if this killing was done to discredit them as they claim, they should have been more than willing to help to find the perpetrators. Perhaps they should have sent some Russian police to London to cooperate with the British police. Because after all, the perpetrators would have been as much enemies of Russia as of Britain.

Finally, the Russian authorities said that the idea that the Polonium 210 probably originated in Russia was "absolutely ridiculous". I hope that all thinking people in the world treat this statement with the ridicule that it deserves.

It is of course ridiculous to think that I am capable of working out all of the details of Litvinenko's murder. However, I hope that you may find some of these stories and observations useful.

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