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The BBC has further damaged its reputation by omitting key facts about the interview, such as Litvinenko's pay-off of € 600 for "expenses" by Mario Scaramella, as well as a further € 200 to Litvinenko's brother for "translations".

Just a small point, but those are vanishingly small ammounts in the world of modern media (incl. BBC.)  £400 will get you a night in a hotel, your meals, and your taxi fares for the next day.  I know one could do things cheaper, but I don't think this is a Bed & Breakfast type of scenario. £140 is three or four hours work (or less?) for a good translator.  Again, it seems to small a sum for anyone to worry over (esp. those who are in it "for the money"...?)

Well, that's my take, but I really don't know anything about the money habits and needs of any of these characters.  It was just a thought as I read through.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 07:38:11 AM EST
I'll just remove an "m" and add an "o" back there.

Amount
Amount
Amount
Ammount -- NO!  WRONG!

Sorry.

Amount
Amount
Amount
Amount

(I'll get it right sooner or later.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 07:44:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
does any one believe the bbc to be entirely agenda-less?

in a relative world, their bias is less obvious than the rest.

maybe al jazeera's growing presence will goose them to better reporting.

they are attached to being seen as objective, but i wish that were even more the case.

'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 Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 10:05:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
does any one believe the bbc to be entirely agenda-less?

More to the point, does anyone think we could get de Gondi to hammer out a script?  I think the script writers were working from the shallow information pool and simply thought:

"Wow!  This is a real life spy story!  We simply must (money money!) make a docu-drama out of it.  Imagine what they could have produced if, with the same motivation, they'd dived in the deep end?

Or maybe there are libel laws about that.

What I don't understand is: how come it isn't as simple as e-mailing relevant journalists with the contrary info?  Their job would be to package the narrative for their readers...and there's plenty enough intrigue, big names, sex, lies, and corruption aplenty (I'm guessing on the sex...but assuming it'll be there somewhere)...so why go with a not-accurate-to-the-facts version?  Laziness?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 11:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's one o dem days.

Should read:

"Wow!  This is a real life spy story!  We simply must (money money!) make a docu-drama out of it."

Imagine what they could have produced if...

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 11:19:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no such animal as 'The BBC' any more. It's really more of a patchwork of competing and only notionally inter-related fiefdoms, with an even wider network of freelance outsiders, with a variety of viewpoints.

While there's some pressure on editorial policy, what gets made and shown depends on what commissioning editors can get away with, with half an eye on how sensitive the subject is (which in practice means the likelihood of Gilligan-style fall-out that could damage the chances of a licence hike in future.)

'Show me the money' is increasingly a motivation for many program makers, and I think it's just as likely that this was poor journalism - hardly a rare thing at the Beeb - as evidence of a dastardly Establishment plot designed to paint Putin and Prodi in a bad light.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 09:47:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great reporting - I share de Gondi's indignation.

Re the smallness of the amount - seem to remember that in an interview with La Repubblica (I think) recorded before the poisoning but published afterwards, Litvinenko had said that when Scaramella proffered the amount in question he had reacted very coldly - recalling the event he said it was insulting, Scaramella was treating him like "a beggar".  Dunno whether he then actually pocketed the sum or not, far as I recall the interview didn't make that aspect crystal-clear - also don't know whether Litvinenko had felt "insulted" because he had been offered payment at all, or because the payment was so paltry.

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

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 03:55:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, welcome back!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 04:22:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the passage you refer to, published November 26th, 2006 by la Repubblica. The actual interview had been conducted on March 3rd, 2005. Litvinenko expressly underwrote the contents of the interview.

La Repubblica apparently sat on the interview until Guzzanti and Scaramella made their first move.


«Quando finì il mio lavoro a Napoli, Mario mi mise in mano 600 o 800 euro in contanti. Mi sentii umiliato. Gli dissi che non vendevo informazioni e che avevo accettato l´incarico perché collaborare con l´Italia era per me un´occasione irripetibile di far sapere all´occidente cosa è stato il Kgb, chi è Putin e quanto sia corrotto il suo regime. Aggiunsi che era giusto che fossi retribuito come un consulente professionista, con parcelle regolarmente accreditate sul mio conto dalla Commissione. E soprattutto in modo trasparente, perché l´Fsb non sospettasse che mi ero intascato in nero milioni di dollari per le mie informazioni. Era una questione di trasparenza e di sicurezza. Mario non mi accreditò nessun denaro. Continuò a dirmi di non preoccuparmi. Che sarei diventato famoso e avrei testimoniato di fronte al Parlamento italiano. Che avrei potuto portare la mia famiglia in vacanza in Italia. Mi aveva preso per un pezzente». When I finished my work in Naples, Mario put 600 or 800 euros cash in my hand. I felt humiliated. I told him that I don't sell information but that I had accepted the job because the possibility to collaborate with Italy was a once in a lifetime opportunity to let the West know what the KGB was, who Putin is, and how corrupt his regime is. I added that it was correct that I be remunerated as a professional consultant, with a fee regularly accredited to my account with the Commission. And above all in a transparent way so that the FSB would not suspect that I had pocketed millions of dollars covertly. It was a matter of transparency and security. Mario never accredited me a cent. He continuously told me not to worry. That I would be famous and testify before the Italian Parliament. That I could someday bring my family on vacation in Italy. He treated me like a beggar.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 04:47:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Can the pro tempore host here reduce the damned font size above, please? Thanks!)
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 04:51:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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