Finally the news we’ve all been waiting for. The British have formerly charged Andrei Lugovoi with the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko. Reports Kommersant:
KGB former officer Andrey Lugovoy will be charged with intentional murder of FSB former officer and then exiled dissident Alexander Litvinenko, Sky News reported referring to Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Britain will seek to extradite Lugovoy.
There was one more suspect in Litvinenko’s case, his business partner Dmitry Kovtun, who had also met with Litvinenko on the day of polonium poisoning in Millennium hotel. But no charges against Kovtun have been presented yet.
FSB former officer Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital on November 23. The doctors diagnosed polonium poisoning. Britain’s detectives visited Russia past year and interrogated Kovtun and Logovoy, who denied the involvement.
Boris Berezovsky, the exiled tycoon of Russia, was also questioned in the course of investigation. Berezovsky predictably blamed the murder on Moscow and said the Kremlin wants to poison him as well.
More later . . .
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By Sean — 11 years ago
I promise to get on to other topics but with all the drama, which I am an avid sucker for, I feel compelled to continue. I am the moth to the flame.
It appears to be Berezovsky-fest in the Western press. A Google News search reveals hundreds of articles on the alleged assassination plot against BAB. Unfortunately, there few concrete concrete details. RIA Novosti is reporting that British police lacked enough evidence to arrest the would be killer. According to an article published in the Independent, “One reason why the man was not charged was because he was not armed,” the paper said. “Although intelligence had led the security agencies to believe that a plot was being organized against Mr Berezovsky, there was not enough presentable evidence to put before a court, according to security sources.” The man police detained is said to be in his thirties and British intelligence had been tracking him for a week after his arrival in the country. Suspicion heightened when the man attempted to buy a handgun. Police detained him for two days and then handed over to immigration services. He’s since been deported. Nothing more has been said about the alleged kid the assassin was to use as a human shield. Too bad. I thought that was the most compelling part.
My question if there was not enough evidence to charge this man with attempted murder, then what evidence do the British have? Do they even have any?
No one, and I mean no one, is surprised that some powerful people want Berezovsky dead. Even Edward Lucas admits that he “wanted to strangle him.”
Whether the plot was real or not, what it has done is given BAB yet another platform to mouth off. I mean could this guy be even more of a narcissist?
“I am one of the most important witnesses in the Litvinenko murder. They are trying to reach me because I concentrate a group of people who create real opposition, an opposition able to act, and I have enough money to support this opposition.” He then admitted that he’s dumped $300-$400 million into it.
Kommersant claims that in an interview with the French paper Le Figaro, Berezovsky is claiming that he “pioneered Russian capitalism.”
Sure if by Russian capitalism, you mean crony capitalism. Hey BAB, checkity-check yo’self before ya wreckity-wreck yo’self. Is this what Chappelle meant by when keepin’ it real goes bad?
BAB did say in an interview with RFE/RL that he would accept being tried in a third country. “There are actually many countries that fit that description, such as Denmark, Norway, Germany, and one can name at east five or six other such countries in Europe,” he said. One country chomping at the bit is Brazil, whose Public Prosecutor, Rodrigo Di Grandis, issued an arrest warrant yesterday for BAB if he enters Brazil.
In other related news, Russia has expelled four British diplomats and promises to “act reciprocally” on visas in response to the British move. This tit-for-tat reminds me of “I know you are, but what am I . . .” To think that these countries are actually considered world powers.
I must say the repeated statements that “cooler heads will prevail” is getting stale. If they will, will someone please say were the hell are those cool heads gonna come from? Certainly not the US or the EU. US Secretary of State Rice and the EU are just fanning the flames with their categorical statements that Russia cooperate with the British. The EU statement evoked “unpleasant surprise” says Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov. “We would not like the principle of European solidarity to be applied selectively to Russia. That will inevitably harm Russia-EU relations,” he added. This doesn’t bode well for Rice’s doublespeak about not “isolating Russia.”
This, of course, doesn’t mean that Russia can stand there innocent and perpetually play the deck of victim cards it appears to have. Consistently claiming “russophobia” and “western plots” sounds more pathetic everyday. I think the Russians would have done well to just listen to Andy at Siberian Light and respond by giving no response to claim the moral high ground. Or they can take some advice from Don Corleone, who told a whining Johnny Fontaine, “You can act like a man! What’s the matter with you? Is this how you turned out?” But the Russians didn’t, to virtually no one’s surprise.
As many will point out at issue here is law and politics. And it is no surprise that when one side claims law, the other charges that it is really politics. True, Britain does have an obligation to solve a murder committed on its soil, especially one involving radioactive material. And Russia does have an obligation to follow its Constitution and protect its citizens from extradition.
But since Russia is certainly tired of being damned if they do and damned if they don’t, I think that they are going to hold to their guns and test how far Britain is willing to take this. Putin’s mantra is sovereignty and it appears there is no compromise on that. Considering this, we should remember whose audience Russia is more interested in addressing here: its own citizenry. Russia clearly has enough geopolitical clout to thumb its nose at the illusion that is the “international community” with little repercussion. Losing a bit more international capital is nothing compared to the domestic political capital gained from telling your people, “Look we are no longer a defeated nation and we aren’t going to take it any more.” Putin’s on a roll and with Parliamentary and a Presidential elections coming up, he’s not going to change course for anyone, let alone the British. Plus it all seems to be working. According to a recent poll conducted by VTsIOM, 90 percent of Russians polled approve of his foreign policy. Perhaps there is some Russian muzhestvennost’ at play here after all.
By Sean — 12 years ago
It appears that the British police are about to find their men. Scotland Yard has decided to interrogate Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun as key witnesses in the Litvinenko murder. Lugovoi, 41, a Russian business man and former KGB officer was questioned by British and Russian investigators today. He also received tests for radiation posing, but vowed he would not to release them to the public. In a press conference, Lugovoi professed his innocence, adding, “Someone is trying to set me up. But I can’t understand who. Or why.”
Dmitry Kovtun has been the hospital with radiation poisoning for a week. And it was announced today that his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and her two children were hospitalized with contamination of radiation. Kovtun accompanied Lugovoi to meet Litvinenko on Nov. 1 at the Millennium Hotel in London. He is now being investigated by German police for being possession of radioactive material. British and Russian authorities questioned him last week. The British now want another crack at him. Kommersant reports,
The London police consider Dmitry Kovtun a witness in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. For its part, the Russian General Prosecutor’s office considers him a victim of attempted murder. Last weekend, however, Hamburg chief public attorney Martin Kenke announced that Dmitry Kovtun, who has a German residency permit, is being charged by the Hamburg police with the illegal possession and mishandling of radioactive materials. According to Mr. Kenke, the German investigators have grounds to believe that Dmitry Kovtun is not only a victim of radiation sickness but also the “poisoner” in the Litvinenko case.
Yesterday a representative of the Hamburg police told Kommersant that “the police currently cannot answer the question of what legal consequences the collected evidence against Mr. Kovtun could lead to.” “The investigation has several working versions, but we currently cannot comment on them,” said the police spokesman. In general, however, the Hamburg police believe that Dmitry Kovtun transported polonium-210 to Germany from Moscow on October 28. On that day, according to the police report, he flew to Hamburg on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow together with another Russian citizen, whose name has not been disclosed. Mr. Kovtun spent the night of October 28-29 in his ex-wife’s apartment on Hertzberger Street, where traces of polonium-210 were found. The next day he bought a pair of pants in one of the stores in the center of Hamburg, leaving traces of radiation behind. He spent the next night in his former mother-in-law’s apartment in the Haselau region, where radiation was also discovered.
It looks like Scotland Yard might have itself two potential suspects, that is, if they live. Or if they would even be extradited to Britain. The Russians have set conditions for the British investigation. Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said last week that the Russian Constitution doesn’t allow extradition of Russian citizens to Britain, and that all interrogations would be done by Russian officials. Though there were hints that the investigation would go smoother if the British allow them to interrogate, and possibly extradite, Boris Berezovsky and Akhmed Zakaev in return.
And to top off everything, Litvinenko’s wife, Marina Litvinenko, 44, is speaking out. She told the Daily Mail, ““Sasha was a very emotional person. He could blame Putin. Obviously it was not Putin himself, of course not. But what Putin does around him in Russia makes it possible to kill a British person on British soil. I believe that it could have been the Russian authorities.”
The Charlie Rose Show has a roundtable discussion on the Litvinenko Affair with Prof. Stephen Cohen, Former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock, Edward Jay Epstien, and Litvinenko’s co-author, Yuri Fleshtinsky. Watch it courtesy of Russia Blog.
By Sean — 12 years ago
I don’t have time nor much interest in continuing to comment on the recent developments of the Litvinenko Affair. Suffice to say that it has become so complex that one would have to only concentrate on it to successfully wade through much of details. The Daily Telegraph has been kind enough to provide a Who’s Who of the affair. A Google News search will reveal literally thousands of articles.
Among the cacophony of news, I was grabbed by the headline “Brits Are Not Looking for the Truth – Ex-KGB Officer” in Kommersant. The article features a short interview, reproduced below, with one Viktor Afanasyevich (he wouldn’t give the paper his last name), the vice president of the KGB veterans’ organization, Dignity and Honor. Founded in 2003 and hosts a membership of 3000 ex-KGB agents, Dignity and Honor was dragged into the Litvinenko Affair as the group that allegedly drew up a “hit list” that included Litvinenko and Politkovskaya. In a statement to the press, Honor and Dignity’s founder Valentin Velichko said “Who is Mr Litvinenko? A traitor. But I am against the elimination of traitors. After certain events in my life I turned to religion and, as a believer, I think that the burden of our sins is already punishment enough. Litvinenko, having betrayed
, was already punishing himself.” Russia
Kommersant attempts to interview Evgeny Limarev, who is the author of the letter that speaks of Honor and Dignity’s “hit list,” were to no avail. As noted above they did manage to speak with Viktor Afanasyevich:
“Viktor Afanasyevich, the British Daily Telegraph directly accuses your fund of being involved in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko…”
“I’m not going to comment on it in any way! Imagine, your neighbor says you’re a murderer. You would naturally say it’s rubbish and would not even discuss it. Why should we behave differently?”
“Have your lawyer drawn up a suit against the newspaper?”
“Our lawyers have decided that it’s no use suiting the paper because they allegedly have Limarev’s letter and they have a right to refer to it. But we have no clue who this Limarev is. He has nothing to do with the KGB. In fact, Scotland Yard did not show any interest to this information, so it means nobody takes this letter seriously. Otherwise, they would be here. We are an open organization. It’s easy to find us. We have normal contracts with the press as well as with authorities.”
“How can you explain the fact that your foundation was mentioned in relation to the Litvinenko case?”
“We publish information about the organization, and our leaflets are available. The Daily Telegraph has taken Velichko’s picture from the leaflet, so apparently this was just the first thing that came their way. After that, they put information about our foundation into Limarev’s mouth. They think that veterans of the Foreign Intelligence Service are kind of power brokers. You know, a lot of people still remember that our organization helped to find and release the Dutch doctor Arjan Erkel from captivity. We were indeed involved in this affair – but we have nothing to do with Litvinenko.”
“Not every nonprofit organization is able to hold negotiations with Chechen militants and hold operations to save people…”
“It is quite a natural thing that we still have our work experience and we do have skills of information gathering. Therefore, we did our best after Doctors Without Borders contracted us asking for help. We still have some contacts and friends. You use your contacts as a journalist, don’t you?”
“Why did Litvinenko fear for his life?”
“Come on, he did not fear for his life! Now that he’s gone, everyone attributes all the possible nonsense to him. Of course as a defector he damaged
’s image. Everyone knows what he was doing – he was selling information for nice fees, but it could not have inflicted serious damage. To tell you the truth, he did not know much. There are lots of people like Litvinenko, and they are all well – no one would do anything to get rid of them. Western media traditionally blame the Kremlin. Recall Yushenkov’s murder. Everyone claimed that the Kremlin was to blame for his murder, but once a real killer was found, no one even bothered to apologize to special services for those ungrounded accusations. Russia
“Are there any other ‘defectors’ who are more important as public figures than Litvinenko?”
“I guess Gordievsky is.”
“Do you have your own theory of Litvinenko’s killing? Who could have been gained from it?”
“Those who contend Russian authorities, who want to mould the Empire of Evil, those who had their economic interests infringed – they could have gained some profit from it. Berezovsky of course! Well, you know,
Russiahas been quite hard on the Brits on Sakhalin, so they may still be resentful. I would not make a direct link here, though. Europe’s attitude is weird. It looks like we’re sliding back to Cold War times.”
“Do you know Lugovoi, Kovtun and Sokolenko personally?”
“We have nothing to do with them. They have no relation to the foundation. If they do know something about our organization, it must be from the press or our leaflets. This link has been made with no grounds whatsoever. We know who made his link – Berezovsky.”
“Do you think Scotland Yard will find the criminals soon?”
“You have to understand this – the Brits are not looking for truth now. They are looking for a Russian trace. If they succeed in stitching the case up to
, the murder will be solved. If it turns out that the killers have nothing to do with Russia , we may never learn about the results. I think this could prove to be the case.” Russia
“Viktor Afanasyevich, would you remind me please… how do you spell your last name?”
“Do you think it’s so necessary? My name and patronymic are quite enough, I guess…”
Kommersant’s search on the web has shown that the fund has two presidents along with Valentin Velichko. They surnames are Dolya and Ubilava. Ubilava’s first name is Anatoly, Dolya’s name is Viktor. Viktor Afanasyevich’s secretary confirmed that her boss’ last name is Dolya.
I love it when people say “I’m not going to comment!” and then comment anyway. . .