LITVINENKO

Discussion in 'Russian Politics' started by Alexander Mercouris, May 18, 2013.

  1. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    The latest developments in the Litvinenko inquest vindicate the claims of the two suspects, Lugovoi and Kovtun, that they cannot have a fair trial in Britain.

    The Coroner has acceded to the Foreign Office's request to exclude a large part of the evidence from the inquest on the grounds that it cannot be publicly disclosed. Contrary to what is being said by Litvinenko's widow and by the British media, this is not in order to protect trade links or relations with Russia. The Coroner made it absolutely clear that it is so as not to compromise intelligence sources (including human agents) and information provided by foreign intelligence agencies that cooperate with Britain's (probably those of the US).

    The Coroner admitted that the case for Russian state involvement in the Litvinenko murder rests entirely on this excluded evidence. He pointedly said that such "evidence" of Russian state involvement as is to be found in the public domain originates from sources that are hostile to Russia and is unreliable. That includes all the gossip and rumours that have been circulating about the case for years.

    The Coroner obviously did not say what the excluded evidence is but dropped a heavy hint that it includes evidence of the source of the polonium that supposedly poisoned Litvinenko.

    The Coroner admitted that for the inquest to proceed without consideration of this evidence would make its findings incomplete. He has therefore all but decided to close it down. He recommends that the government instead set up an inquiry into Litvinenko's death that will look at this evidence in secret.

    The point is that since the evidence cannot be publicly disclosed it would have to be excluded from any future trial of Lugovoi and Kovtun. The British authorities believe or claim to believe that Lugovoi and Kovtun killed Litvinenko. The extent of the Russian state's involvement in Litvinenko's murder would however be decided at a secret hearing on the basis of evidence that neither Russia nor Lugovoi and Kovtun could see or refute. The key decision of whether the Russian state employed Lugovoi and Kovtun to murder Litvinenko would therefore be decided not at their trial but elsewhere and in secret on the basis of evidence, which neither they nor the Russian state would be permitted to see or refute.

    In the light of this I cannot see how any trial of Lugovoi and Kovtun could ever be anything other than a show trial. If the inquiry reports that the Russian state was responsible for Litvinemko's murder, then Lugovoi and Kovtun would be tried for Litvinenko's murder whilst being prevented from challenging the key finding that declared the Russian state, their supposed employer, guilty of the murder. The supposed agents would be tried after condemnation of the principal. Given that Lugovoi and Kovtun are the only individuals who could realistically have murdered Litvinenko on the Russian state's behalf, it is difficult to see how their trial could in that case ever end in anything other than a conviction.

    Ending the inquest and transferring consideration of the case to an inquiry also has from the British point of view the further advantage that the Russian state would no longer automatically be an interested party. The 60 volumes of evidence submitted to the inquest by the Russian Investigative Committee could therefore be excluded from consideration or given only cursory attention. The entire case would be decided in secret by a carefully vetted British tribunal of inquiry on the basis of evidence provided by the British authorities. So far this evidence does not even include the autopsy report.

    As I have repeatedly said, I do not know who murdered Litvinenko or even if he was killed. What is now clear is that I now never will know. Past experience (eg. over the presence of WMD in Iraq or, more pertinently, in relation to the Zatuliveter case) shows that "evidence" from British intelligence sources is not to be relied upon. It is now clear that the entire British case in the Litvinenko affair depends on such evidence. However that evidence is now never going to be made available so that it can be subjected to proper public or legal scrutiny. The inquiry the Coroner proposes be set up inspires no confidence. It looks too much like a device to enable the British state and media to continue to say that Russia and Lugovoi and Kovtun killed Litvinenko without having to make public their evidence to support that claim.
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  2. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Really makes you wonder what was going on. What would anyone think that a low-ranking bottom feeder and rumour-purveyor like Litvinenko had anything to tell them that was worth paying for? But.... maybe/maybe Chechnya (why did Ichkeria give him a medal? died a Muslim. etc etc)
    Something is being covered up. I am not a tin-foil hat kind of guy but I'm starting to wonder just how close US and UK int types were to the jihadists in Chechnya.

    Boston revelations: this one seems to me to stay inside the boundaries of plausibility
    https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/didnt-contribute/b235e7a0ce7c4b7c88352792b192d12582f5e841/

    While this one wanders outside
    http://tracesofreality.com/2013/04/29/the-tsarnaevs-and-the-cia-who-is-graham-fuller/

    But who the hell knows these days what idiocies are perpetrated.
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  3. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    My own take on the Litvinenko affair is that when it first started the British authorities genuinely believed that Litvinenko was murdered by the Russian secret services.

    One thing that is completely obvious to anyone who reads the British media or who meets with British officials is that they don't know or understand Russia very well and don't at all understand how Russia works. When they were told by Berezovsky & co and supposedly by Litvinenko himself on his death bed that the Russians had killed him they believed it because that is how they genuinely believe things happen in Russia. The possibility that Russia is actually a state as orderly and as legally structured as their own and is not a ruthless neo feudal despotism or "gangster state" never occurs to them. Anyone with experience of this sort of thing knows that there is nothing easier than believing in what you think you already know and that is the trap the British fell into.

    Given that we now know that Litvinenko was at the time of his death a British agent it is easy to imagine the anger within official circles in London that Putin or Russia would "dare" to murder a British agent in this grisly way. It is easy to see how in this atmosphere the British decided to take what they thought was a "tough stand" and to send a "strong message" to Russia by naming Lugovoi and Kovtun as Litvinenko's killers, demanding their extradition and by expelling Russian diplomats and ceasing all intelligence and security cooperation with Russia when this was not done.

    That the extradition request was not a genuine request is shown by the fact that it consisted of apparently no more than a single witness statement from a British official. If one understands that it was intended as a message and not as a genuine demand or (as has sometimes been suggested) a diversion then this becomes understandable. The British did not see the need to set out the details of the case against Lugovoi and Kovtun because as they assumed that Lugovoi and Kovtun are Russian agents they assumed the Russians knew it already.

    What has happened since then is that this whole web of assumptions has fallen apart. Far from being impressed or alarmed by the British extradition request or understanding its "message" the Russians (as is clear from the Epstein article in the New York Post) were bemused by it. Very naturally they asked to see the evidence, which is the one thing the British never expected. Worse still the Russians showed the British extradition request to journalists such as Epstein, which exposed how threadbare the British case actually was. On top of that people like William Dunkerley set to work, exposing more contradictions in the case and Berezovsky's fictions and absurdities on which it appears to be largely based, and since we now live in an interconnected world, these were widely reported first in Russia and then elsewhere.

    The result is that more and more people including ultimately Litvinenko's widow have demanded to see the evidence the British say they have. The result is that the British authorities now find themselves in the position they never wanted or expected to be in, where they are being repeatedly challenged to produce their evidence and where their own legal procedures are being used against them. Since it is absolutely clear that they do not want to produce this evidence we find them engaging in the bizarre contortions we have just seen.

    Incidentally, I do not consider it a given that an inquiry will take place. It's absolutely clear that the British authorities don't want to disclose anything substantive about this case, even the autopsy report. I suspect that there is already anger and embarrassment at the disclosure from Litvinenko's widow that Litvinenko was a British agent. Even a partially secret inquiry risks exposing more about the case than the British want us to know and there will be many people in Whitehall who will be advising against it.
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  4. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Certainly a very plausible and "low excitement" theory, although I think you should stir more Berezovskiy into the mix.

    But. The Ichkeria connection, the fact that Polonium has a use in making nukes still stands out there.
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  5. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Another thing related to the Berezovskiy connection: widow Litvinenko did a complete about face as regards her denying that her husband had been a British agent when Berezovkiy's money for her legal costs ran out - and for her abode in London.



    [​IMG]


    Now who might that be behind Maria Litvinenko and Berezovskiy outside University College Hospital London, where, at the time the photograph was taken, her husband was dying and whose agent of death was only determined after his demise, and Goldfarb was daily presenting to the world the Berezovskiy version of events?

    A Chechen thread runs right through this sorry tale and started long before Litvinenko's defection to and his former London boss's voluntary exile in the UK. When the "Godfather of the Kremlin" was still an erstwhile candidate academic mathematician turned Moscow car dealer making crooked use of a bent car export licence, Berezovskiy's "enforcers" were members of a notorious Chechen criminal gang in Moscow that used to shoot the opposition - dead.
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  6. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Concerning Maria Litvinenko's admission that Litvinenko was a British agent after years of denial, what Moscow Exile says is entirely true. Moreover she has provided no explanation for her complete reversal on this question.

    One point I would make, and it touches on what Patrick Armstrong has been saying, is that Litvinenko was an appalling individual. As William Dunkerley has pointed out, he was never a spy for the Russians though as it turns out he was a spy for the British. Instead he was basically an extremely corrupt plainclothes policeman who from 1994 began to moonlight on a regular basis for Berezovsky, the so called "Godfather" of the Kremlin. In his very last interview before he was allegedly poisoned Litvinenko made the extraordinary admission that during this period he arranged assassinations for "Russian businessmen", which given Berezovsky's background and reputation presumably included Berezovsky himself. The two journalists who interviewed Litvinenko reported that they came away from the interview with the impression that Litvinenko was trying to blackmail someone, which again appears to point to Berezovsky (who had recently cut him off) and they also say that they came away with doubts about his mental state. It seems to me that this interview could be a significant clue as to the reasons and motives for Litvinenko's death, which so far as I know has never been followed up. I believe that the police have not even interviewed the two journalists concerned.

    Aside for any assassinations he may have arranged (in a way that incidentally bears a striking resemblance to the way another corrupt Russian policeman arranged Politkovskaya's assassination) in 1998 Litvinenko gave the clearest possible indication of where his loyalties (such as they were) lay by participating in an extraordinary press conference staged by Berezovsky in which he purported to speak for a group of masked men who he said were FSB agents supposedly protesting an FSB order to murder Berezovsky. I have never believed in this plot, which I am sure was a product of Berezovsky's imagination, but for those who believe that Putin was a protégé of Berezovsky's, it's worth pointing out that Putin was the head of the FSB at the time.

    Having sensationally declared his loyalties in this extraordinary way, Litvinenko went into exile with Berezovsky from where he became an active propagandist in Berezovsky's campaign against Putin. Thus he claimed that Putin came to power in an FSB coup, co wrote a book in which he claimed the FSB were responsible for the Moscow apartment bombings (this book is the ur source for many of the similar claims that regularly appear even though its unreliability is demonstrated by its use of anonymous sources), claimed that the FSB were somehow involved with Al Qaeda and had some foreknowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and even claimed that Putin is a paedophile.

    At some point, possibly in 2004, we now know that he also became a paid agent of the British intelligence service, a fact that shows incredibly poor judgement on the part of that service to say the least, but which also shows on Litvinenko's part a lack of loyalty to his own country.

    All in all I completely fail to find any trace of honour or principle in any part of Litvinenko's career. Instead he comes across as a corrupt, unprincipled and entirely cynical opportunist and , by his own admission, a murderer for pay. Calling him a "dissident" as some do is absurd and a gross misuse of that word to put it mildly.

    As for Litvinenko's widow, one must make some allowances to a wife anxious to protect her late husband's reputation, but given the reality of her husband's life I find her campaign for "justice" on his behalf shrill and at some level ridiculous whilst my patience and sympathy for her is wearing thin.

    As for the Chechen connection, I frankly admit that I am simply not on top of it though as Patrick Armstrong and Moscow Exile say it runs like a thread through the whole affair up to and including Litvinenko's death taking in his "conversion" to Islam along the way. That conversion by the way I personally consider as insincere and opportunistic as everything else Litvinenko did during his life.

    Since I am not on top of the Chechen connection I cannot really say much about it, my purpose being to explain instead some of the thinking there might have been in London after Litvinenko was killed and the mistaken decisions that were taken on the basis of it with the bad results we can now see.
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  7. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Litvenenko's widow is now going around with a begging bowl: Alexander Litvinenko's widow seeks donations to continue legal fight.

    "...Litvinenko is trying to overturn home secretary Theresa May's decision in July to block a public inquiry – a refusal partly motivated, May admitted, by a fear of offending Russia. But a panel of judges on Thursday declined to protect the dead man's widow with a cost-capping order for the government's legal bills if she loses her legal bid.

    "The ruling means she would be liable for costs of £40,000 for government lawyers if she continues to push for a judicial review but loses. Her own legal team is working pro bono.

    "The government had argued that she had the means to meet any potential legal bills if she lost and says it has not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry after the inquest."

    Pro bono?

    That's jolly decent of them, I must say. I wonder who they are?

    And what might her source of income be, I wonder, that the British government is sure will enable her to meet any potential legal bills if she lost? Her former source of income has been pushing up daisies for several months now.
  8. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Lebedev junior's rag at its best in this article about Litvinenko:
    Exclusive: Murdered spy Alexander Litvinenko gave MI6 secret briefings about key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin

    Remember, this is the man who wasn't a "spy" and who died of polonium poisoning but whose death has still not yet been investigated by a coroner's court and it certainly looks like it never will be. So legally speaking, all that one can say about Litvinenko's death is that he died from radioactive poisoning: why he died from such poisoning and how the polonium was administered, no one has yet determined.

    His death was most certainly under suspicious circumstances, but it could have been an accident; it could have even been suicide, and it could have been murder - and we shall never know, because the British Foreign Secretary, he who believes that he is a latter-day Lord Palmerston, has once again put the blocks on a coroner's inquiry into Litvinenko's death, as reported here only two days ago in the Independent, where, once again, the unfortunate victim of radioactive poisoning is described as a "former-KGB spy" and that his death was through "murder".

    So the Independent's "investigative reporter" is now a coroner, it seems, and states most definitely that the man who wasn't a KGB spy was murdered.

    Not only a trial by newspapers - as was intended in this matter, I'm sure - but a newspaper coroner's court as well.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
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  9. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    It is clear that the British authorities are quietly closing down this case. Whilst obviously one cannot be certain until the decision is made I expect Marina Litvinenko's demand for a public inquiry to be refused by the High Court next year. The High Court's decision to refuse her legal aid for the case points clearly in that direction. Also having read the Home Secretary's reasons for refusing the Coroner's request for an inquiry I can see no legal argument against them.

    We will be left then with an ordinary inquest or perhaps I should say with a proper inquest since as William Dunkerley has been absolutely rightly saying for months it is no part of a Coroner's job to conduct the kind of investigation to determine who murdered Litvinenko and why that the present Coroner has been in effect conducting. Whether the present Coroner would in that case be prepared to conduct the inquest or whether indeed he would be the right person to do so is another matter.

    As for the Independent's story, it beggars belief that the British intelligence agencies would seriously think that a corrupt former plainclothes policeman like Litvinenko who left Russia in 2000 would have any reliable knowledge about Sergei Ivanov. That the British intelligence agencies should be seeking this sort of information from Litvinenko of all people shows how completely out of touch with Russia they are and how poor their sources in the country must be. No wonder British policy towards Russia gets the country so wrong.

    Since there are so many theories circulating about this case I am going to float a further one. I have no idea whether or not it is true, probably it isn't, but it does reconcile with such of the facts that I know. This is that Litvinenko was indeed poisoned most probably with polonium 210 and that this really was administered by Lugovoi and possibly Kovtun as the British say (the evidence for that is purely circumstantial but that is not to say that it doesn't exist) but that Litvinenko was poisoned by Lugovoi and possibly Kovtun on Berezovsky's instructions and not on the instructions of anyone in Russia and certainly not on those of the Russian government.

    If Litvinenko's last interview is genuine and if its contents are to be believed (about both of which I have serious doubts) he was openly admitting arranging contract killings for "Russian businessmen" at a time when he is known to have been moonlighting for Berezovsky. His interviewers say they thought he was blackmailing someone and that frankly is how the interview comes across to me.

    The most likely person Litvinenko would have been blackmailing was of course Berezovsky who was probably "the Russian businessmen" Litvinenko was talking about and who is known to have shortly before cut Litvinenko off, giving Litvinenko a reason to blackmail him. The fact that Litvinenko was seeking to blackmail him would have given Berezovsky a compelling reason to have Litvinenko put out of the way especially if the stories I have seen that Litvinenko was considering going back to Russia and doing a deal with the authorities there are true.

    What consistently gets overlooked about this case is that the person the British allege was Litvinenko's assassin, Andrei Lugovoi, is someone with a long history of very close connections to Berezovsky. Lugovoi for example provided through his company security services for Berezovsky's television station ORT and was even briefly arrested and charged for organising the escape of Berezovsky''s henchman the former Director General of Aeroflot Nikolai Glushkov. During his visit to London (the visit which coincided with Litvinenko's alleged poisoning) Lugovoi is known to have made several trips to the London offices of companies known to have been owned and controlled by Berezovsky, and it is surely likely that he met Berezovsky there.

    Incidentally claims that Lugovoi and Litvinenko both worked for the KGB and the FSB in Russia are wrong. Lugovoi was never employed by the FSB and Litvinenko never worked for the KGB. Lugovoi is a veteran of the 9th Directorate of the KGB, which provided bodyguard services to Soviet leaders. In 1991 that was hived off to become what is now the FSO. Lugovoi remained an employee until 1996. He was never an employee of the FSB. Litvinenko served with the Interior Ministry (MVD) until the particular department he worked for (combatting organised crime) was transferred after 1991 to the FSB, upon which he became an employee of the FSB. Though it is obviously possible for two people such as Lugovoi and Litvinenko who work in the same general field security in the same city (Moscow) to get to know each other, it is surely far more likely that Lugovoi and Litvinenko got to know each other through Berezovsky. It is incidentally striking that by all accounts the person Litvinenko initially suspected of having him poisoned was not Lugovoi but Marinella. Could this be because Litvinenko knew Lugovoi as someone who worked for his own former patron Berezovsky and therefore trusted him?

    Lugovoi's close relationship with Berezovsky makes him an unlikely person for the Russian authorities to use to murder Litvinenko. It seems that no one so far as I know has ever suggested that Lugovoi's history of providing security services to Berezovsky made him an obvious person for Berezovsky to use if he wanted to put Litvinenko out of the way.

    Lugovoi could have murdered Litvinenko on Berezovsky's behalf using polonium 210 provided by Berezovsky and possibly sourced from Berezovsky's friends in Chechnya or the Middle East. Once Lugovoi was safely back in Russia Berezovsky would have nothing to lose and much to gain if the fact that Litvinenko was murdered with polonium 210 became known. He would be in a perfect position to blame the murder on the Russian authorities (which of course is exactly what he did) in the knowledge that the Russian authorities could not send Lugovoi back to stand trial because the Russian Constitution prevents it, whilst Lugovoi for his part could not disclose the full detail of the plot and of Berezovsky's part in it without incriminating himself. The worst Lugovoi could do was drop hints and make claims about Berezovsky's involvement without providing any substantiating evidence, which is what of course he has done. Berezovsky would have killed several birds with one stone: he would have silenced Litvinenko in a way that made it appear that the Russians were to blame whilst putting the assassin (Lugovoi) in a position where he could pose no threat. Dunkerley and Epstein have shown that it was more likely than not members of Berezovsky's organisation who first alerted the British authorities to the possibility of polonium poisoning and to Lugovoi's possible role, a fact which is suggestive in itself.

    As I said before, I am not proposing this theory as the true explanation of what happened to Litvinenko. I do not know what happened Litvinenko. Since the British refuse even to disclose the autopsy result I don't think one can even say with any confidence that Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium 210 or that he died from radioactive poisoning. All I would say is that the possible scenario I have outlined above does seem to fit to what I know of the facts. It is also consistent with the intricate way Berezovsky used to go about things and the impression I have of his personality.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  10. john smith

    john smith Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    Hague wins legal bid to stop release of evidence on polonium poisoning of former KGB spy
    • High Court prevents release of evidence into death of Alexander Litvinenko
    • Coroner had called for secret material to be released for potential inquest
    • Government lawyers argue documents are 'sensitive to the highest degree'
    • Ex-KGB spy died in 2006 after he was poisoned with radioactive polonium
    • Family allege Mr Litvinenko was killed on the orders of the Kremlin


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...polonium-poisoning-KGB-spy.html#ixzz2mAv4jTJW
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