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Spystory Mania: Litvinenko's "Italian Connection"

by eternalcityblues Sun Nov 19th, 2006 at 08:43:09 PM EST

UPDATE: See our most recent coverage here and here, with many more links and sources.

The Litvinenko "Poisoned Spy" saga currently animating the UK press and media certainly sounds like vintage Le Carré, however you play it... and the more you explore the story, the stranger it sounds!

For a start, Litvinenko's actual relationship with his "Italian Connection" was nowhere near as tenuously anonymous as the Sunday Times' version of the story is making it sound...


Poisoned: spy who quit Russia for Britain
David Leppard

SCOTLAND YARD is investigating a suspected plot to assassinate a former Russian spy in Britain by poisoning him with thallium, the deadly metal.
Aleksander Litvinenko, who defected to Britain six years ago, is fighting for his life in a London hospital. A toxicology test at Guy's hospital last Thursday confirmed the presence of the odourless, tasteless poison.
(...)
In an interview last week at his bedside in the cancer ward of Barnet hospital, where he was being treated under a different name, Litvinenko said he believed it was a murder plot to avenge his defection.

"They probably thought I would be dead from heart failure by the third day," he said. "I do feel very bad. I've never felt like this before -- like my life is hanging on the ropes."

Litvinenko claimed political asylum in 2000 and was granted British citizenship last month. One of the highest profile defectors from the FSB, he is on the wanted list in Moscow where he has made powerful enemies with his criticism of President Vladimir Putin.

Last month Litvinenko received an unexpected e-mail from a man he knew as Mario, an acquaintance he had made in Italy. The Italian said he wanted to meet him in London because he had some important information about the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian investigative journalist who was killed in the lift of her Moscow apartment block.

Litvinenko was a friend of Politkovskaya, one of the Kremlin's most powerful critics, particularly over the war in Chechnya.

"We met at Piccadilly Circus," said Litvinenko. "Mario said he wanted to sit down to talk to me, so I suggested we go to a Japanese restaurant nearby.

"I ordered lunch but he ate nothing. He appeared to be very nervous. He handed me a four-page document which he said he wanted me to read right away. It contained a list of names of people, including FSB officers, who were purported to be connected with the journalist's murder.

"The document was an e-mail but it was not an official document. I couldn't understand why he had to come all the way to London to give it to me. He could have e-mailed it to me."

After the meeting the Italian had simply "disappeared", although Litvinenko emphasised that he was not in a position to accuse him of involvement in his poisoning.

(...)

So according to the Sunday Times, Litvinenko knew his "Italian connection" simply as Mario, right?  Doesn't really know any more than that about him - to Litvinenko, according to the  Sunday Times,  "Mario" is just some mysterious, archetypically-sinister Italian spook who creeps out of the woodwork with secret docs in one hand, poison in another - kinda like a cross between SISMI hanger-on Rocco Martino in the Niger Yellowcake forgeries story and Lucrezia Borgia?

In the Independent's version of the story, however, "Mario" grows a surname - and he's also somehow acquired a reputation as a Russian secret services agent:


The defector's lunch companion was an Italian information-peddler called Mario Scaramella, who is alleged to have links with Russian intelligence. He is said to have given Mr Litvinenko documents purporting to show that Russian agents were implicated in the murder of the Russian investigative reporter, Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in Moscow last month.(...)

... which seems to be based on these reports, all of which place the blame for the poisoning squarely on ..."Mario"


Intelligencer close to FSB vice-chief poisoned former Russian security officer at London restaurant

(...) According to Litvinenko, he was contacted by a person, who offered to have a meeting at a restaurant and wanted to hand him over some materials, particularly, on Anna Politkovskaya's murder. After the meeting Litvinenko turned out to be in hospital. Meanwhile, he said he would definitely pass the documents he received from the intelligencer to Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya worked, as soon as he would be released from hospital, Ekho Moskvy says.
The known dissident and human rights activist, Russian defector Litvinenko, was invited to a London restaurant by an Italian citizen, Mario Scaramella, who claimed he had some important information about a recent murder of Politkovskaya, NEWSru.com writes. According to the intelligence, Mario Scaramella is a close associate of the FSB deputy chief Viktor Komogorov and visited the FSB headquarters in Moscow several times. (...)

However - at least according to KavkazCenter (...with apologies for using such unsavoury sources...) which likewise accuses Mario Scaramella of being an FSB agent:


The Moscow newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets ("Moscow Young Communist League Member"), that is said to have most close ties with the Russian secret police FSB among all Russian state-controlled media, says in its Wednesday issue that Mr Litvinenko could have been poisoned by the CIA (sic!).
(...)  
According to a report published in the newspaper (...)Mr Litvinenko is a double agent and recently visited Moscow giving testimonies to Russian police about the murder of an American female journalist of jewish origin in Russia. Menwhile, the FSB is unofficially reported to have killed the woman.

According to the FSB report published today in Moskovsky Komsomolets, Mr Litvinenko was poisoned in a London restaurant by a CIA agent,  Mario Scaramella, on November 1, 2006, purportedly in connection with his role as a double agent, the role invented by the FSB in this story to descredit Mr Litvinenko.

As earlier reported by the Chechepress news agency,  Mario Scaramella is a FSB agent in Italy and a close friend and business partner of the FSB deputy chief Kolmogorov. The Italian visited several time the FSB headquarters in Moscow.

So apart from being accused on the one hand of being an FSB agent and on the other of working for the CIA, who - in a more mundane sense - is this mysterious figure called Mario Scaramella, and how well did Litvinenko know him?

Well, let's say they were certainly matey enough last April  to be working on a joint attempt to finger Italy's current PM Romano Prodi as a former KGB agent!!!

This tidbit is from the site of the  UK Independence Party:

Gerard Batten MEP - 60 second speech to the European Parliament - "Romano Prodi" - Strasbourg 3.4.06 03-04-2006

One of my constituents, Alexander Litvinenko, was formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the Russian Federation's FSB, the successor to the KGB. Mr Litvinenko's exposure of illegal FSB activities forced him to seek political asylum abroad.

Before deciding on a place of refuge he consulted his friend, General Anatoly Trofimov, a former Deputy Chief of the FSB. General Trofimov reportedly said to Mr Litvinenko, "Don't go to Italy, there are many KGB agents among the politicians: Romano Prodi is our man there."

In February 2006 Mr Litvinenko reported this information to Mario Scaramella of the Guzzanti Commission investigating KGB penetration of Italian politics.

So apart from the "Litvinenko and Scaramella claim Romano Prodi was a KGB agent" story - in which Scaramella seems to have been less an "information pedlar" than an "information pedlar's client", what exactly is this "Guzzanti Commission" thingy, and is Mario Scaramella really a member of it?

I checked it out: according to Wikipedia, the "Guzzanti Commission" is another name for the "Mitrokhin Commission":

The "Mitrokhin commission", as it was known, was opened up after KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin's 1992 defection to the West, and was led by Senator Paolo Guzzanti, a member of Berlusconi's Forza Italia.

...and yes indeed, Mario Scaramella - whom according to Italian press sources  is a professor at the University of Naples, and also heads an official-type outfit called the Environmental Crime Prevention Programme - ECPP for short (as Sec. Gen. of which he officially pontificated at various OSCE and Italian Space Agency get-togethers in 2001 - at least one of which was also attended by SISMI agent Marco Mancini of Abu Omar kidnapping fame) -  is a prominent Guzzanti-appointed consultant for it.  

In fact I think he could be described as its pet consultant on luridly nuclear Soviet misdeeds?  - Just look at some of the "info" - in addition of course to "Romano Prodi was a KGB agent" - he's  been instrumental in providing:


Uranium to make atom bomb sold to four Italians

BBC International Monitoring/Corriere della Sera
June 12, 2005/June 11, 2005

Rome: "During the month of September 2004 I was approached by an Ukrainian national, whom I know by the name of Sasha, who wanted to sell me a briefcase containing radioactive material, and, more precisely, uranium for military use." Involved is a briefcase containing five kilos of highly enriched uranium, half of which would be enough to build an atomic device, which remained for months in a Rimini garage. A briefcase, however, which eluded investigators, and which managed to get back into the hands of the Ukrainian national, who perhaps is still in Italy. Together with another briefcase having a similar content, and a third believed to conceal a tracking system. The entire kit geared to the assembly of a small tactical atomic bomb.

A mystery story fuelled by information supplied the Rimini police department by a consultant of the Mitrokhin committee, Mario Scaramella, who, acting on behalf of the agency presided over by Paolo Guzzanti, was trying to track illegal funds from the former USSR that had transited through [the Republic of ] San Marino.
(...)


Soviet navy `left 20 nuclear warheads in Bay of Naples'
Independent, The (London), Mar 19, 2005

ITALY HAS an unwanted legacy from the Cold War in the form of 20 nuclear warheads on the seabed in the Bay of Naples, left there by the Soviet navy 25 years ago, it has been claimed.

An expert on Soviet-era intelligence, Mario Scaramella, sent a memo confirming the existence of the missiles to Guido Bertolaso, the head of Protezione Civile, Italy's civil defence agency.
"On 10 January 1970," the memo read, "a submarine of the November class detached itself from the Fifth Squadron (Mediterranean) of the Soviet navy with orders ... to place an imprecise number of tactical atomic torpedoes in the Bay of Naples. The submarine was armed with 24 nuclear torpedoes of two different types, for anti-aircraft carrier and anti-submarine use. They were used to mine the area used by the American Seventh Fleet."
(...)

Don't really know what to make of all this - way way out of my depth, at this point I'm dizzy.. all this spystuff is spinning round so fast I'm feeling positively "overspun"! -  and what is worse, with absolutely no idea what role, if any, Scaramella may have played in the introduction of Thallium into the bloodstream of Boris Berezovsky's favorite ex-KGB agent! However, in the light of Prof. Scaramella's Italian career I somehow doubt whether "Mario" should really be classed as a "Russian" agent? A high-profile, right-of-centre "university professor"/"security expert" (choose one) and prolific Mitrokhin-commission consultant on the more lurid zones of alleged KGB/Soviet misdeeds... on excellent terms with Senator Paolo Guzzanti of Berlusconi's Forza Italia party... does seem a somewhat improbable figure to get pinned with the role of Putin's latest undercover hitman?

Display:
Update: already thick plot gets even thicker and lumpier!

Exile's contact in hiding after 'being made a scapegoat'

Mario Scaramella, the self-described "security consultant" who was with Alexander Litvinenko when he was allegedly poisoned in a sushi bar in London, is a shadowy figure with possible links to both Italian and Russian Intelligence. Yesterday he was reported to be in hiding, fearing for his life.
A close friend of Mr Scaramella, who did not want to give his name, said yesterday: "Mario is worried that the Russians and the Chechens are after him."
(...)
"Mario was very good at finding and gathering information in Russia and has very good connections there. The last time I spoke to him he felt very worried and threatened. He was very concerned because he feels he has been set up.

"Mario was the last man to see Litvinenko before the attempt on his life so there is going to be some suggestion that he was involved, but he is adamant he had nothing to do with it."

Mr Scaramella uses the title of "Professor", claiming that he is a lecturer and researcher on "security issues" at universities in Colombia and in California. He is best known in Italy, however, as a consultant to the Mitrokhin Commission, set up by the Italian Parliament to investigate the infiltration of Italy by KGB spies and informers during the Cold War.

Mr Litvinenko's evidence to the Mitrokhin Commission, chaired by Paolo Guzzanti, a centre-right senator, was arranged through Mr Scaramella. It focused on alleged links between the extreme left-wing Red Brigades and Moscow in the 1970s. "I thought at first Litvinenko had been poisoned by fish," Mr Guzzanti said yesterday. "But it was clearly a murder attempt." He insisted, however , that Mr Scaramella was not involved.

Italian reports said that Mr Scaramella had made regular visits to the FSB in Moscow and was a close associate of Viktor Kolmogorov, deputy head of the FSB.

Mr Scaramella claims that his Moscow visits were connected to his work for the Mitrokhin Commission, and that far from working for the FSB he is as much a potential target as Mr Litvinenko.

Two years ago Mr Scaramella was fired at by gunmen while helping police to oversee the demolition of an illegally built villa near Herculaneum, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, owned by a Mafia boss.

Mr Scaramella later suggested the motive for the attempt was his work for the Mitrokhin Commission in exposing KGB agents in Italy, which had "placed my life in danger".




"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sun Nov 19th, 2006 at 10:27:13 PM EST
The shoot out in March 2004 had hilarious developments for Guzzanti's ridiculous Mitrokhin commission. Scaramella, a self-styled "professor" later claimed that he was actually checking out an antenna which he alleged was to be used by the evil Ruskies to contaminate the Bay of Naples by setting off a dozen atomic weapons (apparently without a nuclear explosion) that had been dumped there by a Russian submarine. Supposedly this event would be blamed on the NATO. The Russians thought the accusations were a bad joke.

The four camorra members involved in the shoot out were actually involved in transporting weapons. They did not shoot at Scaramella to take him out but apparently shot at the two penitentiary cops who were there to meet Scaramella for reasons as yet unknown. One of the members of the camorra was wounded and quickly arrested. The arms were sequestered.

As far as the Mitrokhin Commission goes, what can I say. You can download the audiences on the parliament's site and sit back for riotous laughing. Guzzanti is best known for having sired the two comics and political satirists, Sabina and Paolo. He does his best to compete with them but is basically a hallucinated psychotic with a strong tendency to go into fits of obscenity. It's no wonder he's a senator for Berlusconi's personal political entity.

As for Scaramella, he is along the lines of Rocco Martino (Niger forgeries) and Igor Marini (Telekom Serbija), con artists that work around the secret services. He has a track record of putting together unsubstantiated claims of Russian nuclear weapons traffic. Thanks to Guzzanti his claims end up in the papers as the usual scare tactics.

Keep in mind that the Litvinenko- Batten- Scaramella accusation against Prodi was given maximum press between April 3 and 6, 2006, just on the eve of the Italian general elections, and was object of a parliamentary interrogation by Fascist Democrat (AN) deputy, Ignazio La Russa. Litvinenko had made his revelations to Batten in February.

Evidently it was too early to influence the elections. Better just days before.

Of course this does not resolve the case of Litvinenko's poisoning- a fact that occurred on November 1st but was only reported by Checheny news on the 13th- and yesterday by the WP.

And of course it does raise questions on who Gerard Batten could be other than yet another ex-Telecom employee.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 04:27:06 AM EST
I'm tending to the hypothesis of self-assassination...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 07:26:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who needs spy novels when you can just read the news?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 07:29:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Novel hell - I'm gonna option the movie rights!

I'm thinking maybe Johnnie Depp...

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 02:22:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mistakenly named Senator Paolo Guzzanti's son "Paolo." His real name is Corrado. Corrado presently has a film out called "Fascists on Mars." My apologies to Corrado for the lapsus.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:40:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for all the extra input, De Gondi - I'd read at least some of all that but could never have summed it up so neatly! Also glad to see I'm not the only one here who finds Italy's latest-generation spy-antics hilarious, in a black-comedy slapstick kind of way.

....

Ah - now for the latest-latest!

... Seeing as how the "Mario-did-it" version has already produced such very aggrieved screeches both in public from "our Mario" himself and from Forza Italia's Senator Guzzanti, and - I assume - even more loudly from behind the closed doors of the boys over at SISMI, long-time M16 double agent Oleg Gordievski (see below) has now jumped into the breach - in what sounds to me suspiciously like damage-control mode(???) - with a brand-new mysterious trail for us all to follow with bated breath - this time featuring a nameless Russian whose identity Gordievski declares he "doesn't know" while nonetheless providing a quick rundown of the purported poisoner's life-story and bank-balance :


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2462023,00.html

Oleg Gordievsky, the most senior KGB agent to defect to Britain, said that the attempt to kill Mr Litvinenko had been state-sponsored.

It was carried out by a Russian friend and former colleague who had been recruited secretly in prison by the FSB, the successor to the KGB. The Italian who allegedly put poison in Mr Litvinenko's sushi "had nothing to do with it".

(...)

Mr Gordievsky, a former KGB station head in London, who still refers to the FSB by its former name, insisted that he did not know the identity of the Russian would-be killer.

But he assumed that the man was a former associate of Boris Berezovsky, the former oligarch and Yeltsin confidant, who has been granted political asylum in Britain.

"He used to be in Mr Berezovsky's entourage and was imprisoned in Moscow. Then suddenly he was released, and soon after that he became a businessman and a millionaire. It is all very suspicious. But the KGB has recruited agents in prisons and camps since the 1930s. That is how they work."

The man came to London, posing as a businessman and a friend. He met Mr Litvinenko at a hotel and put poison in his tea. That was before Mr Litvinenko had lunch at a Japanese restaurant with the Italian he knew as Mario, who had arranged to meet him because he said he had information about the murder of Ms Politkovskaya, a close friend.

"Why should this Italian do it? I know him. He is a solid, respectable man. And Sasha was already feeling unwell before the lunch. He was poisoned before he met the Italian."

Mario Scaramella, a consultant for a commission investigating FSB activities in Italy, was last night reported to be in protective custody "terrified for his life".

"Solid" and "respectable" aren't quite the words I'd have chosen for Scaramella myself..? Ah well...

So it's byebye "Italian-connection", I guess? Must admit I'm somewhat relieved to see "our Mario" scoot back into the shadows - Italy's national reputation for cloaks-daggers-and-venom was quite bad enough already.

---------


Oleg Gordievsky:
Former deputy head of the KGB at the Soviet Embassy in London and a highly successful double agent for MI6. He joined the KGB in 1963 and was posted to Copenhagen, where he became disenchanted -- a fact noticed by MI6, which recruited him. He was the KGB's Resident-designate in London in 1982, but he was suddenly ordered back to Moscow and arrested in 1985. Although suspected and interrogated he was allowed to go home and contacted MI6, which managed to smuggle him out

(Source: Times - same link)



"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 05:04:44 AM EST
Thanks very much and keep up the good work. I must rush to work, so will be off line most of the day.

I have just posted that Pollari has been substituted as head of the Sismi. Finally! I'll try to diary that later on this evening.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 05:14:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr Gordievsky, a former KGB station head in London, who still refers to the FSB by its former name, insisted that he did not know the identity of the Russian would-be killer.

But he assumed that the man was a former associate of Boris Berezovsky, the former oligarch and Yeltsin confidant, who has been granted political asylum in Britain.

"He used to be in Mr Berezovsky's entourage and was imprisoned in Moscow. Then suddenly he was released, and soon after that he became a businessman and a millionaire. It is all very suspicious. But the KGB has recruited agents in prisons and camps since the 1930s. That is how they work."

Hmmm, Berezovsky?  Berezovsky was mentioned twice here on ET in connection with the murder of Politkovskaya, whom we are told was an associate of Litvinenko.
As for cuo bono, theories seem to be, in order of significance:
  • Kadyrov (last Politkovskaya's investigation was into where Chechnya reconstruction money are going);
  • enemies of Kadyrov (as he is the one most likely to benefit);
  • Nevzlyn or Berezovsky (provocation and misguided attempt to create Gongadze-II);
  • "concerned" citizen (Politkovskaya was not an exactly popular journalist);
Putin does not come up, primarily because he personally is not threatened at all by Politkovskaya.
And also
The political theory has it that Politkovskaya's murder was ordered from abroad. We were the first to draw attention to this theory. A similar assumption was expressed by President Putin at a press conference in Dresden on October 10. Developments of this theory have mentioned the names of Boris Berezovsky and Leonid Nevzlin - the most prominent of the individuals Russia is trying to extradite. Both Berezovsky and Nevzlin will probably face extradition attempts for a long time to come, having to prove in foreign courts why they should not be returned to Russia. One of their primary objectives is to portray Russia as a state where people can get shot in the head for their pro-democracy convictions.


Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 05:26:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin does not come up, primarily because he personally is not threatened at all by Politkovskaya.

I did monitor carefully the Russian news the days after the assassination, I wanted to know how long it would take Putin to react. It took him a few days, until he just couldn't ignore it any more.

Why doesn't he just go get whomever is involved ? Wouldn't he have a lot to gain from appearing as restoring order and a semblance of justice in Russia ? Why does he never brings those thugs to justice ?

So I wouldn't bet he is a white knight there. He just has too tight a control on things there to be totally ignorant of what went on.

by balbuz on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 10:12:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]


He just has too tight a control on things there to be totally ignorant of what went on.

Popular meme, but unfortunately, not supported by the facts. Russia is governed by the consensus of elites trying not to piss off the population much. Murder of an American journalist (sorry) troubles neither.

by blackhawk on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 08:41:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also glad to see I'm not the only one here who finds Italy's latest-generation spy-antics hilarious, in a black-comedy slapstick kind of way.

Hilarious, but also dangerous. Here on ET we're all hooked up on elements of the Pollari saga and otherdark episodes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 08:03:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wow, ecb, you are GOOD!

the oddest thing...the pasta factory in salerno owned by my grandmother's family, then bombed. was pasta scaramella.

i wonder if he's a relative.

of course my mum did have more than 250 second cousins, all living between napoli and salerno!

with you and degondi, my dreams of good italian coverage here at et have come true!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 08:20:52 AM EST
A lot of Scaramellas around, it seems to be quite a common surname... a google-search showed there are lots of 'em in the US too.  

The name Scaramella has a rather comical sound in Italian - not quite as outrageously ridiculous as "Pio Pompa" (Pious Pump!!)- but it nonetheless has an antiheroic Commedia dell'Arte tang to it... along the same lines as Sganarello, but somehow plumper-sounding...?  

And thanks to the google I've discovered that "Scaramella" is in fact the burlesque hero of a famous 15th century madrigal by Josquin des Prez:

Scaramella is a commedia-type character who is supposedly off to war with sword and buckler but in fact is more interested in impressing the ladies:

...

Scaramella va alla guerra
colla lancia et la rotella
La zombero boro borombetta,
La boro borombo

Scaramella fa la gala
colla scharpa et la stivala
La zombero boro borombetta,
La zombero boro borombo

Lol!  

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 09:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
character who is supposedly off to war with sword and buckler but in fact is more interested in impressing the ladies

I.e. a swashbuckler.

Swashbuckler is a term that came about in the 16th century and was applied to rough, noisy and boastful swordsmen. It came about due to the popularity of the fighting style using a side-sword with a buckler in the off-hand, which was filled with much "swashing and making a noise on the buckler" (see dictionary.com reference, below)


Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 09:27:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Rough noisy and boastful" = standard-brutish "miles gloriosus" type - whereas Scaramella reveals an innate trace of caramel.  

Later on (18th cent.) - "caramella" came to mean lorgnette:  

Which gives us Scaramella the quintessentially phony "miles gloriosus" conman-spy... who'd run a mile from a real battle, vastly prefers snooping around in fine kid boots and lace ruffles, especially at gala evenings where he can oogle the ladies through his eyeglass/spyglass?

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2006 at 09:53:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surreal.

There are a couple of names in there that I cannot trace, but nevermind, keep telling.

And I wonder why I am so suspicious of news?  This is true of DC and any capital I can think of, even if they don´t get caught, or they cover up better.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 04:06:00 PM EST
A lot more I'd like to add here, both on the Litvinenko story itself as developing and on various side-aspects ...   still thinking plus comments here have triggering off further lines of thought I'd like to throw into the mix, widen it out... but I've been kept way too busy today and by now I'm too tired to think straight ...so back tomorrow! ;-)

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 05:28:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One big question for me over the "poisonings"-thingies in general is why should any national secret service, and in particular, that of a large and militarily-scientifically advanced nation such as Russia (which could if so inclined presumably draw on highly-efficient personnel and methods - that is, if it should decide that certain adversaries were becoming a serious threat to vital national and/or internal-political interests) use such picturesque but extremely/suspiciously inefficient, blatant and adverse-publicity-generating "hit methods"?????

Writing from Italy with an eye to our not-so-distant past but also with a beady eye to more recent international goings-on including some US/UK "mysteries", the classic secret-service hit-methods both at home and abroad would seem to be far more discrete and effective - the commonest being of course faked car-accidents, faked suicides and mysterious "disappearances"... all quick and simple enough to execute, I'd say if carefully prepared they'd take no more than a 4-man hit-team plus a small logistics support-team?

So why on earth - if it really felt it had become necessary to physically eliminate a minor Berezovski-gang conman - or even an "orange" Ukrainian politician - should Russia now favour such Conan-Doyle-style weirdities rather than more efficient, less backfire-prone "standard issue" covert-op hit-techniques??

...

Other big question is of course "why now?" - and the timing-factor, at least to me, seems likewise to weigh AGAINST against the poisoning being ascribable to the Russian government, as it occurs in a geopolitical context of agitated US/UK attempts to isolate Russia from Europe and prevent political/economic convergences of interests... and in particular, it was simultaneous with the Polish attempt to block the new EU strategic agreement with Russia on energy ties etc.

So it came at a time when Russia itself could be presumed to have an interest in avoiding spectacular adverse publicity in Europe... and its "anglosphere" opponents seem to have a no less marked interest in stirring up anti-Russian opinion-waves?

Which of course doesn't mean I'm accusing the CIA, MI6 or other western services of being involved either directly or indirectly in the poisoning, as the Berezovski-entourage certainly keeps strange enough company of its own, of a kind prone to settling scores in... call 'em "ethically-challenged" ways? ... but it could at least partly explain some of the odder aspects of the MSM coverage?
..........

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 12:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really enjoy your way of thinking and questioning.  It makes me come up with even more questions and theories, but I´ll just wait for the real thing.

Are the twins involved....?  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 01:34:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haven't the faintest idea! Deciding that a story - as told - "smells fishy" is one thing, getting anywhere near identifying the "real fish behind the fishy-smell" is quite another. Italian experience is that sometimes (but by no means always) some kind of truth - or at least a reasonably credible approximation - may come out years and years later thanks to stubborn, truly dedicated judicial and/or journalistic investigations... that's probably the best one can hope for.

...

I'd been kinda-hoping the "Italian connection" aspect was kaputt, letting our national reputation (or what's left of it) off the easy way - but no such luck! The "latest-latest" is that Scaramella has dramatically changed his story, says that the email he travelled to London to show Litvinenko wasn't a list of "Russian secret services agents" likely to have been responsible for Politkovskaya's death - but was instead about  death-threats against Scaramella himself, which he now says were from "organised criminals in St. Petersburg",sent through a source he says Litvinenko had introduced him to! 8O  


ROME, Nov 21 (Reuters) - A contact who met Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian ex-spy whose poisoning has sparked accusations of a Kremlin assassination plot, said he showed him an organised crime hit-list earing his name on the day he fell ill.

Mario Scaramella, who has helped Italy's parliament investigate Cold War-era Soviet espionage, said he met Litvinenko at a London sushi bar to show him emails from a mutual source warning their lives may be in danger.

The threat came from organised criminals based in St. Petersburg, possibly acting on behalf of Russia's government, Scaramella told Reuters. His source suspected the same criminals killed a Russian journalist last month.

Both dismissed the four-page warning as unfounded, he said, adding they were both accustomed to hearing of possible threats.

"I said Alex, I received an alarm in the last few days from a source that you introduced to me," Scaramella said, speaking to reporters in Rome in English.

"He said: 'It's unbelievable. Don't worry about that'."
(...)

Scaramella, who describes himself as a consultant but is also an Italian judge [ huh???? ], refused to speculate who was behind the poisoning. But he said the email warned the threat was from the same criminals who killed Politkovskaya.

It included targets in Britain, Italy and elsewhere, and included the names of at least one Italian senator.[huh? - wanna bet he means his mate Guzzanti??]

"Stranger and stranger" - as Alice in Wonderland used to say. :?  

But I must admit this version sounds slightly more convincing than the previous one. Maybe the Italian detectives-or-whatever now said to be investigating on "our" side - who will have only-naturally asked to examine Scaramella's famous e-mail - have warned him to cut at least some of the crap??


"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 04:49:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Curiouser and curiouser.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:02:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To borrow a Copaco remark by both the right and the left after Pio Pompa's audition, I wouldn't believe Scaramella even when he says his name.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:37:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Organized crime never writes up hit lists. They just do the job, the less said the better.

Guzzanti is already under escort for alleged threats. Why anyone would ever remotely considering knocking off a crank who churns out preposterous conspiracy theories is curious. He's too good to be true. Comedy relief.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:53:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless he double-crossed the Camorra???

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 07:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fascinating unfolding story.
As Guardian today wrote in Leader:

What is not in dispute is that there is a readiness in the west to believe the worst about Vladimir Putin's government.

It seems Westerners remember only bad habits of losers in the Cold War, and forget that their hands were (and are) not so clean.

Mutual disillusionment is real, hypothetic crisis (as Guardian believes) inside Russia or in EU-Russia relations (even because of Polish thorns) is pure speculation.

Mr Litvinenko have lead highly controversial life of traitor, he lied about bomb explosions in Moscow and was said to be paid by Mr Berezovsky, one of the shameless sharks who robbed Russia in the 1990's. It is easy to imagine that such person may have many enemies, enemies with means at their disposal. I would not discard possibility of poisoning him by some rogue elements in Russian secret service, however frequency of contract killings (not always political or highly publicized) tells many things about current state of Russian society and its moral. Yeltsin era was time of lowering moral standards and many middle class people, businessmen (like Mr Khodorkovsky) developed highly violent habits. It is sad.
I hope that with time all people who breached human and moral laws and first of all Mr Yeltsin will be punished. And Mr Litvinenko will not be exclusion.

by FarEasterner on Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 08:54:05 PM EST
I don't know whether it was good idea but I posted analogous letter about Litvinenko deal on Guardian site:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1953136,00.html
One blogger Teacup replied to me and asked from where I am posting. But after few hours my letter and reply by Teacup were removed from Commentisfree deliberately. Is it not censorship in British press? What is the name of such practice?
I know that some ET members work in press - what do they think of such case?
by FarEasterner on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 01:52:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Teacup probably reported your comment as "offensive".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:43:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why Litvinenko is being called a "spy"? NPR today also used "spy". He was working as investigator in Organized Crime Division of FSB (same as FBI investigator in the US context) where he got via the prison guard service.

At some point he seemed to realize that his career in FSB was over, as, among other things, he was under Internal Affairs investigation for beating and torture of detainees, warrantless searches  and explosive trafficking allegations. That's when he participated  in political combination of Berezovsky, who at that time was one of the people effectively running the country. Berezovsky was concerned that some of the branches of the government were not enough under his control and manufactured a scandal that should have brought FSB in line.

Litvinenko and few of his fellow officers called the press conference alledging that his FSB management ordered a hit on Berezovsky. Since then courts recognized his allegations as false, but the end result was that after Berezovsky's talk with Yeltsin Organized Crime Division was disbanded and FSB got a new head (Putin, then little known).

Litvinenko got his 1 million $ for this press conference (as alledged by the officers who participated in this conference with him), was arrested following Internal Affairs investigation results and the moment he was released left for UK, where he got political (???) asylum. Courts eventually recognized him as guilty but free on probation, so at the moment he is not even wanted in Russia.

I really doubt that he was a "friend" of Politkovskaya, and contrary to NPR reporting, Goldfarb is also not a "friend", but a trobleshooter lawer for Berezovsky and also the source of this story and few of the stories below.

BTW, poison and conract hits, real or imagined, keeps poping up quite regulary around Berezovsky.

Allegation of imminent poisoning of Berezovsky by (you guessed it) FSB was one of reasons UK courts decided not to extradite Berezovsky to Russia in 2003; "Evidence" was provided by Litvinenko. I'm wondering how dependant Berezovsky's de-facto immunity from prosecution on what Litvinenko done or knows.

In the same 2003 Berezovsky and Litvinenko "stopped" contract hit on Putin. Alledged would be killers were conviniently some of the same officers that participated with Litvinenko in that press conference back in Russia. They were arrested by UK law enforcement, refused (as I understand, regular in such cases in UK) political asylum and went back to Russia.

Politkovskaya was "poisoned" in 2004, too;

Yushenko was poisoned when Berezovsky became interested  in his campaign. 2 years later and Yushenko being the president, the crime (?) still not solved.

Anyone remembers story of presidential run by Ivan Rybkin? The guy was scared to hell, and did not look like it was due to FSB or Putin.

by blackhawk on Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:34:00 AM EST
UPDATES - Litvinenko's death and deathbed testament cast a dark pall over what at first seemed a "picturesque" cold-war thriller -

BBC TV: Litvinenko's last statement read out by Goldfarb:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/nolavconsole/ifs_news/hi/nb_rm_fs.stm?


Radiation hunt after spy's death

Police probing the death of the Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko have called in experts to search for radioactive material, the Home Office has said.
Mr Litvinenko's death, in a London hospital on Thursday, is believed to be linked to the presence of a radioactive substance in his body, it said.

The Metropolitan Police are said to be looking for any residual material at a number of locations.

The Kremlin has denied Mr Litvinenko's claims that it was involved.

A further statement will be made at 1500 GMT when the Health Protection Agency holds a news conference.

(...)

????  

Investigators have been examining two meetings [Litvinenko] had on 1 November - one at a London hotel with a former KGB agent and another man, and a later rendezvous with Italian security consultant Mario Scaramella, at a sushi restaurant in London's West End.

In an interview with Friday's Telegraph newspaper, former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi said he had met Mr Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel in Grosvenor Square but vigorously denied any involvement in the poisoning.
(...)

Justin Raimondo has this to say about Andrei Lugovoi:

The plot thickens - or, rather, coagulates - when we get to another meeting Litvinenko had on Nov. 1: with Andrei Lugovoi and some character known only as "Vladimir." According to an article posted on the Jamestown Foundation's Web site, before falling into Berezovsky's orbit, Lugovoi, a former FSB major, was a bodyguard to several Kremlin big shots, including Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar. He really made his mark, however, in connection with the escape from custody of former Aeroflot chairman Nikolai Glushkov, a Berezovsky protégé, jailed on charges of money-laundering. Glushkov and several others were charged with stashing over $252 million of Aeroflot's cash in Swiss accounts controlled by Berezovsky. Lugovoi was the warden of the prison Glushkov escaped from, and was compromised by certain phone calls overheard by the FSB. He was arrested and subsequently released under somewhat mysterious circumstances, although other accounts report he was "acquitted." Whatever.

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=10049

.....

P.S. apologies for inelegant links due to hasty posting - I'm slow and messy at html, don't have time to write out all the proper tags just now

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 09:13:54 AM EST
The plot thickens - or, rather, coagulates - when we get to another meeting Litvinenko had on Nov. 1: with Andrei Lugovoi and some character known only as "Vladimir."

According to Lugovoi's interview to the liberal radio station Echo of Moscow, it was his friend Dmitry Kovtun, not "Vladimir."  See Lugovoi and Kovtun's photo atken during this interview at
http://www.kommersant.ru/photo-gallery.html?id=724841&isid=10324&pics_id=93906&keepgalle ry=2529  

by snowback on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since the possibility of the CIA and MI5 bconnection was mentioned in this discussion the following can be relevant.

  1. Lugovoi is reported to be a security man for Badri Patarkatsishvili, Georgian oligarch and long time associate of Berezovsky.  Badri's "advisor" Audrius Butkevicius, former  Lithunian minister of defense and convictedfelon, was reported to organize the "revolution of the roses" in Georgia in close contact with KBR Halliburton...

  2. According to Goldfarb's own account of his rescue of Litvinenko from Turkey, Goldfarb has links to the CIA and the State Department.  This is confirmed by the Russian investigative journalist Oleg Sultanov, who a couple of years ago penetrated Berezovsky's cabal by letting himself be "recruited" by Berezovsky's people and moved to France.  In Sultanov's words, it is Goldfarb, specialist in organic chemistry, rather than Berezovsky who is the prime mover of this group.  
by snowback on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:01:39 PM EST
Welcome to ET!

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:05:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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