Andrei Lugovoi promised a “sensation for public opinion in
On the whole, Lugovoi played the ever so overplayed, “the entire affair is to discredit
You can listen to the press conference here (in Russian).
This fiasco is just getting better and better.
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By Sean — 11 years ago
So there you have it. Sounds like Andrei Lugovoi was right after all. The London Daily Mail revealed today that Alexandr Litvinenko was indeed a paid MI6 agent. Says the Mail:
Alexander Litvinenko was receiving a retainer of around £2,000 a month from the British security services at the time he was murdered.
The disclosure, by diplomatic and intelligence sources, is the latest twist in the Litvinenko affair, which has plunged relations between London and Moscow to their lowest point since the Cold War.
Sources also say that Litvinenko was recruited by Sir John Scarlett. Scarlett now heads the Crown’s secret service. Before that he was stationed in Moscow. It’s also said that Litvinenko was working for MI6 at the time of his murder.
Litvinenko’s wife Marina denies that her husband ever worked for MI6. But why would she know? I’ve seen enough Hollywood spy movies to know that wives being clueless about their husbands spy work has some grain of truth in reality. Marina Litvinenko is in Portugual trying to lobby European leaders to put pressure on Russia to extradite Andrei Lugovoi. It’s no wonder she would want to deny the MI6 story even if she did know it. I doubt this revelation will garner any sympathy. Regular murders are one thing. But spy vs. spy killings involving radioactive materials. Well that is another . . .
One thing, however, is clear. Mrs. Litvinenko is indeed worried about her husband’s legacy. So much so that she’s bankrolled it into a Hollywood film. It was announced last week that Hollywood blockbuster veteran Michael Mann has bought rights from the Litvinenko Justice Foundation to make a film about Litvinenko’s murder. I don’t know how much the rights were sold for, but I’m sure it can buy a lot of “justice.” Mann’s version (Johnny Depp is said to making a similar film) is based on, you guessed it, Marina Litvinenko’s book (co-written with Alexander Goldfarb) Death Of A Dissident: The Poisoning Of Alexander Litvinenko And The Return Of The KGB. The film deal news coincides with the book’s release in Portugal. What a coincidence! Marina Litvinenko is in Portugal to “lobby” European leaders at the same time her book comes out there, and news about a movie based on said book is announced. Here in Tinsel Town that’s called a publicity tour. Whichever PR firm handling all this gets a gold star!
This is not to sound like I think Marina Litvinenko and her colleagues at the Litvinenko Justice Foundation (whose founders incidentally include Boris Berezovsky, Goldfarb, and their lawyer Louise Christian) are not interested in finding the killer. After all, you can’t make a good film without an evil villain. And spinning the murder into some elaborate Kremlin plot might be too ephemeral for audiences to follow. Just think of the celluloid confusion Syriana induced. For Alexandr Litvinenko to be fully canonized as an anti-Kremlin dissident (that is if his canonization isn’t complete already) , the evildoer needs to be caught. Because if left in the hands of Hollywood scriptmeisters who knows what kind of elaborate tale will be wrought.Post Views: 588
By Sean — 8 years ago
DE RUEHMO #2429/01 1441227
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241227Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0559
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002429
EO 12958 DECL: 05/23/2017
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PINR, RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN REACTION TO LITVINENKO MURDER CHARGES
REF: LONDON 1997
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. Reasons 1.4 (b and d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOR is highly unlikely to extradite former FSB officer Andrey Lugovoy to Britain, citing constitutional and other legal prohibitions against the extradition of Russian citizens. Official and unofficial Russian reaction to the May 22 British announcement that Lugovoy would be charged with the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko has been nearly uniform in rejecting the UK request that he stand trial in London. The MFA held out the prospect of further cooperation in the investigation, while citing the impossibility of extradition, but other Russian commentators were more categorical, suggesting that the British charges were politically motivated. A few opposition voices called for Lugovoy to voluntarily submit to British justice. The British Embassy expects a further worsening in the UK-Russia and EU-Russia relationships. We should continue to reinforce to the GOR the damaging consequences to Russia’s reputation should this case fail to reach trial. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On May 22, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service announced that it had sufficient evidence to request Lugovoy’s extradition and to charge him with the polonium poisoning of Litvinenko in November 2006. UK Ambassador Brenton told the Ambassador May 23 that the UK Embassy expected to receive the final warrant by the end of the week and would transmit it to the Procuracy shortly thereafter.
EXTRADITION: OBSTACLES AND OPTIONS
3. (SBU) Both the Russian Constitution and the Criminal Code prohibit the GOR from extraditing Russian citizens, as is the case in several other European countries whose legal systems have evolved from the Napoleonic code. Russia has a 2006 Memorandum of Understanding with the Crown Prosecution Service and is a signatory to the 1957 European Convention on Extradition. Both of these were mentioned in the Prosecution Service’s announcement of the charges, but neither of them would supersede the Russian Constitution and obligate Russia to extradite Lugovoy. There is a precedent for the GOR to prosecute Russian citizens in lieu of extradition. Three times it has done so at U.S. request — two murders and one money laundering case — but none of these cases led to a conviction, and the British are not apparently considering this option.
4. (SBU) In a May 22 statement on its website, the MFA reiterated its readiness to cooperate further in an objective investigation into Litvinenko’s death, but it emphasized that Russia’s legal prohibitions against extradition were well known and similar to those in place in other countries.
5. (SBU) Other official and unofficial Russian reaction was overwhelmingly against the British request. Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said that the Russian parliament would uphold Russian law and not allow Lugovoy to be returned to Britain. International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev warned that diplomatic relations with the UK would be negatively affected should the charges be politically motivated. Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin, the vice chair of the Duma’s Security Committee, rhetorically asked why Russia should even consider Britain’s request when it ignored the GOR’s efforts to extradite Boris Berezovskiy and Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev. LDPR Chairman Vladimir Zhironovskiy thought that Russian law enforcement might want to trade Lugovoy for Berezovskiy.
6. (SBU) Independent Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov was one of the few who suggested Russia’s international interests ought to take precedence over national law and expressed confidence in the results of the British investigation. Protecting Lugovoy would lead to extensive damage to Russia’s image abroad, he said. Likewise, LDPR Deputy Aleksey Mitrofonov publicly called on Lugovoy to return to London voluntarily. Mitrofonov said that Russia and Britain needed to resolve the issue or Russia faced the prospect of further deterioration in its relations with the West amid growing suspicions that the GOR was protecting Lugovoy. He suggested that “public” pressure on Lugovoy to voluntarily face British justice might be the best way out of an impasse.
BRITAIN’S NEXT STEPS
7. (C) Noting that the UK would be seeking an EU statement of support in urging Russia to agree to extradition (reftel), Brenton predicted that the failure to turn over Lugovoy would create serious problems in London’s bilateral relationship with Moscow, and potentially problems in the EU-Russian relationship as well. Failing any progress, he reiterated the UK may reassess whether it would support a new EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The German and French missions have expressed to us their doubts about this approach, noting the similar constitutional restrictions on the extradition of nationals by some EU countries.
PUBLIC APATHY ABOVE ALL
8. (C) Ekho Moskvy’s Aleksey Venediktov told us separately there is little chance of a resolution soon, particularly given the rift in relations between Putin and Blair. Putin believes PM Blair betrayed him over the British refusal to extradite Berezovskiy, and Venediktov said that the GOR has now pinned its hopes for a better relationship with Britain on Brown. Venediktov said Russian public opinion is largely indifferent to the whole affair, based on responses to Ekho’s on-air discussions about Litvinenko’s death, and doubted it would be a factor in the GOR position. Demos Center’s Tanya Lokshina similarly questioned whether there would be anything other than public support for the GOR’s position and that the public was more likely to believe that the charge against Lugovoy was one more Western provocation.
9. (C) Comment. It is highly unlikely that the GOR will yield its constitutional principle on extradition. There is no indication that any Russian offer of cooperation short of extradition will satisfy the Crown Prosecution Service’s request. Given the sensational nature of the murder and the uncertainty over where the trial may lead beyond Lugovoy, there has been little official interest expressed in Lugovoy clearing his name in a UK court. Although we know of no other legal mechanisms that would trump the Russian constitution, we should continue to reinforce to the GOR the long-term damage to Russia’s reputation if this case fails to go to trial. BURNSPost Views: 422
By Sean — 11 years ago
Andrei Lugovoi has a trump card: becoming a Duma MP. If Zhirinovsky’s LDPR polls over the 7 percent threshold, which it is expected to do, Lugovoi will gain a seat in Russia’s legislature. Does a legislative seat worry ol’Andrei? What will he do for his constituency? These questions are only secondary when it comes to the seat’s real prize: immunity.
Like many countries, Russia’s elected politicians get immunity from prosecution. And if there’s anyone looking to exploit this legal loophole, Vladimir Zhirinovsky is their man. According to Alexander Kolesnichenko of Russia Profile, these days a LDPR seat runs about $3 million. This is threefold increase from the 1995 election when Zhiri was peddling them for $1 million. Of course, the flamboyant LDPR leader of denies selling Duma seats for the highest bidder. “We never sold anything. We don’t call anyone to join us. Our party activity strictly follows all the world standards.” World standards? Maybe. Political corruption is par for the course for even the world’s most celebrated democracies. But the standards that Zhiri and his ilk more closely follow are the Russian standards of electoral supply and demand.
Next week’s Duma elections should be better seen as a fire sale. About 25 percent of United Russia and Communist Party candidates are mini-oligarchs and selling them immunity is a good way to fill party leaders’ pockets. The price of seats are even set by quasi-market forces. According to Boris Kagarlitsky, the guaranteed seats chosen by party leaders are the most dear, costing up to $3 million. Contested seats, which are subject to votes and have no sure guarantee of victory, are must less. About $1 million will allow you to gamble on those. Any mini-oligarch looking to lock his skeletons in a lock box certainly pines for one of those guaranteed seats. And thus their price goes up. In the end, Russia’s Duma election might just be an example of capitalism’s purest form.
It’s unclear whether Lugovoi had to hand Zhirinovsky a bundle of cash to get on the LDPR list or if it was all a nationalist political stunt on the part of the latter to throw dirt in the West’s face. It was probably a combination of both.
Whatever the terms of Lugovoi’s “appointment,” he appears set on riding his celebrity to victory. In a stump speech in Manturovo, a village about 60 miles outside of Kursk, Lugovoi treated the crowd to a tirade against Britain. He singled out the island nation as responsible for much of Russia woes. He even cited the Crimean War as a historical bridge to connect Britian’s “Anglo-Saxon imperialist” past with its present geopolitical machinations. “If you look at Russian-British relations, the cold war never started and never ended.”
How effective Lugovoi’s Anglophobia was is hard to measure. When the Observer’s Luke Harding put the question to a certain Vladimir Shimankov, a Manturovo resident and Afghan War vet, he said, “In Russia, many strange things happen all the time. Britain is a long way away. But I know [the British] have nice apples.” Maybe once Andrei is immune he can use his English ties to set up special apple imports to the residents of Manturovo. Sans radiation, of course.Post Views: 375