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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Russian Special Forces Used Litvinenko's Image for Target Practice

You may recall how various Russophile wackos have claimed that Alexander Litvinenko was too small a fish in the Kremlin's eyes to justify taking any action against him; in essence, they say, the Kremlin couldn't care less about him. Reader Jeremy Putley directs us to a report from the Polish newspaper Dziennik, which reports that the FSB has been using Litvinenko's image for target practice. A video is available here and below is an image from a Russian website with more photographs of the target practice scenes.

One must say that Mr. Putley is far more than just a "reader" and is in fact an important driving force behind the movement for democratization and justice in Russia as a contributor not merely to this blog but also to David McDuff's A Step at a Time and Norbert Strade's Chechnya List. La Russophobe is indebted to him for his invaluable contributions to this effort and to this blog, as are all those concerned with opposing the rise of the neo-Soviet Union in Russia.

Putley offers, via Strade's Chechnya List, the following translation from the Polish press (if any reader has a facility with Polish language and can translate the entire Dziennik article, LR would be delighted to receive it): "Sergei Mironov, the Chairman of Russian Federation Council, the third person in the country, visited a shooting range with targets that had portraits of murdered former FSB officer Aleksandr Litvinenko. On the internet site of the Center of Russian special services Vityaz we have found a photo of Mironov against a background of targets with Litvinenko. Sergei Mironov visited Vityaz on November the 7th. On one of these photos he wears earmuffs and safety glasses. We don't know if he was actually firing or just wore shooting acessories, because someone else was firing at targets standing beside him."

This information about Mironov (pictured, below left) was subsequently censored, according to SCL, which adds more translation as follows:

Our source, a person connected with special units, explained to us that this videoclip was taken during practice of spetznaz in the Vityaz Centerm 10 km from Moscow, in the town of Balashikha. Exactly 2 days after the attack on the theater at Dubrovka (23 Oct.2002). This is the base of Russian special units, assembled from veterans of spetznaz, Alfa (units of the former KGB, now FSB) and Vityaz (Interior Ministry anti-terrorists unit). Soldiers of these formations were extracting hostages in Dubrovka and Beslan.

Nervous reaction of Russians

Reaction of Russians when we asked about that videoclip in the Center Vityaz was very fast. From Center's webpage immediately has disappeared that picture on which a shooting target with Litvinenko's silhuette can bee seen. We were able to copy it from the site (see above right, photohere)

Colonel Sergei Ivanovich Lysiuk, the commander of the Center, belittles the issue: "It appeared to you (that was him). Nobody fires at picture of Litvinenko" - he told to our journalist. "But on the Center's webpage we also found a picture on which a target with Litvinenko can be seen" - we were inquiring. "Where it is says that this is Litvinenko? - he asked ironically.

When we phoned him one more time with a question why after our call that picture has disappeared from the Center's webpage, colonel Lysiak reacted nervously:" Girl, you just think (that was him). Goodbye" - and he hung up the receiver. Military attache in the Russian embassy Vladimir Bietekhin, asked by to comment about this, he first send us to the department of Interior Ministry in Moscow, and then asserted that he didn't know Litvinenko. Also added that there's nothing unusual in firing by the commandos at human silhuettes. "To think like this, we can go too far, because putting questions if soldiers shoot at human silhuettes, to learn to kill something concrete, that's a complicated philosophy" - he put us off.

UPDATE. Now, Jeremy Putley points out that the AP has got the story. Here's their report:

A private facility that trains security personnel used pictures of poisoned Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko's face for target practice during a competition for special forces, the center's chief said on Tuesday. In video circulating the Internet, trainees dressed in camouflage maneuver between slats in a wall, leap through an obstacle course, then tumble to a semi-sitting position with outstretched arms aiming their weapons at a black-and-white target showing Alexander Litvinenko's face. Several black holes appear on the target near the ex-spy's nose before the video goes black. Click here to watch video of trainees firing at the Litvinenko target.

Sergei Lysyuk, Vityaz Center's chief, said the video is from 2002 and shows military recruits. He said he was unaware the target depicted Litvinenko, who died of radiation poisoning after eating at a sushi restaurant. The former spy was an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and from his deathbed accused the leader of pulling the strings in a plot to kill him. "The fact that it was Litvinenko, we only found out later from the press," Lysyuk said. "We did not shoot at Litvinenko; we shot at a target."

Use of the target at the center, which held a competition for Russian special forces, became known this week after Russian media published photographs of Sergei Mironov, head of the Russian parliament's upper house, visiting the center in early November. His visit, to present awards in a competition for Interior Ministry special forces, came about a week after Litvinenko fell ill; one photo shows the Litvinenko target in the background behind Mironov.

Lysyuk insisted his company does not normally hold such contests and was granting a favor to former Interior Ministry colleagues, whose own training ground was being repaired. Litvinenko, once an agent in the Federal Security Service, the Soviet KGB's main successor, fled to Britain and was granted asylum after accusing his superiors of ordering him to kill Boris Berezovsky, a Russian tycoon and one-time Kremlin insider who also has been granted British citizenship.

Dmitry Peskov, a senior Kremlin spokesman, said using a person's face as a shooting range "was ethically incorrect," but stressed it was that company's responsibility and insisted government troops were not involved in the exercises. "There is no talk of such shooting ranges being used by Russian special forces or by the Vityaz unit," Peskov told AP in a telephone interview. "This [company] has no relation to the elite Vityaz troops."


Igor said...

Meanwhile, the Exile seems like its gearing up for a fight:

La Russophobe said...

Gosh, they are really a Russian newspaper then! We only posted about them FIVE MONTHS ago:

Any day now they may get around to realizing that a KGB president runs the country, and then the fur will really start flying.

The main thing is that, given how insignificant we obviously are and how great and mighty THEY are by comparision, their need to talk about us is clearly the beginning of the end for them.

Which is a good thing.

nopsam said...

I am afraid I can't follow the line of thought here. Please, where *exactly* is the connection between 'Russian Special Forces Used Litvinenko's Image for Target Practice' (or is it actually a virtual face vaguely looking like Litvinenko's) and 'Who Is "la Russophobe"?' on ?

Did suggest to use Kim's face (or a virtual face vaguely looking like Kim's) istead of Litvinenko's for target practice purposes ?

I'm just curious ;-)

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

For a change I wouldn't read too much into the incident. The most fascinating faces can turn up on range targets in this age of internet, computers and printers.

Not that anyone would ever use photos of Putin, Stalin, Zhirinovskiy, Lenin et al for target sillhouetes, no, no, no.

nopsam said...

[quote]Not that anyone would ever use photos of Putin, Stalin, Zhirinovskiy, Lenin et al for target sillhouetes, no, no, no. [/quote]

Hmmm ... I always use the photo of my *mother in law*. Preferably when testing an AK or a pumpgun ;-)

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Quite sergej.

Of course one can go for the Saiga and thereby combine the AK and shotgun.

La Russophobe said...


Let's try to imagine George Bush having a photo op at a target range with pictures of a bullet-riddled Martin Luther King in the background. Surely, at the very least, one would question his judgment in placing himself in such a position, which would, at least, clearly imply that he though nobody would be offended or, if they were, they couldn't do a damn thing about it because of his power.

And as you undoubtedly know, one can only shoot at one target at a time, so a selection process of some type was utilized and effort taken to put a gun in his hand. And it's not just one target, but many, and it's not just any shooter, but Spetznaz. If you ask me, it's pretty clear proof that Litvinenko is not "nobody" to them. If he was "nobody" they wouldn't have gone to the trouble.

And the main point is not that they did it, but how they and the Kremli n reacted afterwards. That speaks volumes about the state of modern Russia. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to read a similar story tomorrow about Politkovskaya's photo, and that show's Russia's hopes for a civilized future slowly fading away.

La Russophobe said...

SERGEJ: It's acceptable to comment on a matter directly connected to this blog on any post if there is no current post dealing with that subject. As to your question, eXile doesn't deal in faces or facts or substance. As you can see from the article, the only target they've got the guts to fire at is Kim's imaginary ass. They didn't have the guts to mention, much less link to, our article about them, and their article consists of nothing but pathetic scatalogical personal abuse. In other words, it's pretty conclusive proof of how very right we originally were about them, we couldn't have done a better job of trashing their credibility if we had written the piece ourselves. Meanwhile, we're delighted with the free publicity (the six or seven people in the eXile's readership now know about us!) and they can always fall back on pimping Russian women as mail-order brides to foreigners for profit. So all is right with the world!

La Russophobe said...

Sounds like you shoot-em-up boys would be interested in trying our newly installed sniper game at the bottom of the sidebar. You can imagine your mother-in-law's faces on the KGB agents, that should really make for a rousing battle.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Hmmm. "shoot-em-up boys" LR ?

I should have paid more attention to the date. The dateline for the visit photograph is real interesting, 07 November.

Using a Litvinenko target would be easily explicable black humor after the news appeared with accusations against the Russian authorities. Even if still in bad taste.

But Litvenko targets before it became a public issue? Now that is like woah, dude. When did the first news coverage of Litvinenko's poisoning hit? Offhand I can't find any internet reference dating earlier than 11 November ....

nopsam said...

Kim: 'You can imagine your mother-in-law's faces on the KGB agents, that should really make for a rousing battle'.

No way ! I am loyal down to the bone. I'd never aim at any of my (former) buddies. ;-) Aiming at KGB / FSB men is far beyond my imagination ;-)

nopsam said...

Peacekeeper: 'Hmmm. "shoot-em-up boys" LR' ?

Maybe we should tell Kim that there are no longer 'Latvian Riflemen' serving in Russian elite forces ? Lenin's days are over and faded away for a long time already ;-)

nopsam said...

Kim:'It's acceptable to comment on a matter directly connected to this blog on any post if there is no current post dealing with that subject.'

I didn't question whether the comment was acceptable or not. I simply asked myself if there was a connection between the two issues. That's all.

Kim: 'As you can see from the article, the only target they've got the guts to fire at is Kim's imaginary ass.'

As I haven't seen 'Kim's a**' yet, I can't tell if it should be a target or not. How about having some tea or a nice dinner sometime in the near future ? ;-) London ? Moscow ? Paris ? Rome ? ;-)

Don't worry, I am an old, bearded and ugly old man. I am no threat to your moral values ;-)

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Former red latvian riflemen like Yan Berzin were instrumental in creating and leading the GRU of course. Stalin finally offed him and virtually all of the old Latvian Red Rifles remaining in the USSR in '38. Those guys had 14 years to realise the jig was up after Lenin died, and still reported back to Moscow to get a bullet. The fools.

You could say that he who lives by the cheka, dies by the cheka. I imagine Litvinenko might have agreed.

nopsam said...

@ Peacekeeper

Just to get the record straight ...

The 'GRU' (ГРУ), which stands for "Гла вное Разве дывательное Управле ние" (Glavnoe Razvedyvatel'noe Upravlenie), meaning Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff refers to the Military Intelligence.

The KGB / FSB, or the Cheka (ЧК - чрезвычайная комиссия, which was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations, created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917 by Lenin) are / were organs of the State Security, not the military.

Don't confuse 'soldiers' for being 'agents' ;-)