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where Litvinenko knowingly took part in manipulating polonium (or in manipulating anything at all which he knew to be radioactive) would seem, to me, to suffer from a fatal weakness.

(Sorry if this is a naïve line of inquiry, I've come late to the party)

He was hospitalised, and misdiagnosed with thallium poisoning. The radioactivity and/or polonium was only detected a couple of days before his death.

I don't know whether an earlier diagnosis could have saved him. But (and whatever he might have been trying to conceal, at risk to his own life) I find it implausible that he wouldn't have put the doctors on the trail of radioactivity, if he had had reason to suspect it.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 05:31:43 AM EST
A central implication of the `accident or suicide' claim is that, if it is true, the conventional wisdom according to which polonium was only identified immediately prior to Litvinenko's death is a charade:  that MI6 must have known that polonium was the likely toxin from the time they first learnt about his being taken ill.  

This may be false, but could be true.  It is difficult to continue simply dismissing such suggestions from Lugovoi, given that his claim that Litvinenko worked for MI6 was contemptuously repudiated for years, before being abruptly conceded by his widow in October 2011.  

In this connection, a cable from the U.S. Paris Embassy disclosed by WikiLeaks, which reports a conversation between the Russian special presidential representative Anatoliy Safonov and U.S. ambassador-at-large Henry Crumpton on 7 December 2006, is of interest.

The Guardian report opens:

Russia was tracking the assassins of dissident spy Alexander Litvinenko before he was poisoned but was warned off by Britain, which said the situation was "under control", according to claims made in a leaked US diplomatic cable.

What the cable actually said was:

Safonov claimed that Russian authorities in London had known about and followed individuals moving radioactive substances into the city but were told by the British that they were under control before the poisoning took place.

This illustrates my point about the problems of Manichean perspectives.  The Guardian simply assumes that the only reason why polonium could have been being smuggled into London is to assassinate Litvinenko, and accordingly sees fit to attribute to Safonov an assertion he never made - which it then goes on to dismiss as ridiculous.

All we know is that Safonov claimed that the Russian authorities in London knew about a nuclear smuggling operation and told the British.  Again, this may be false, but it could be true.  The claim would, obviously, fit in very well with the possible scenarios for how the polonium came to be smuggled into London which arise out of the evidence from Italy.  What Safonov suggests happened is what one might well expect, if either the Russians had got wind of an operation designed to frame them as nuclear smugglers, or had staged an operation designed to frame Litvinenko and his Chechen associates.

by djhabakkuk (david daught habakkuk at o two daught co daught uk) on Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 08:15:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, people are smuggling radioactive material through London, and are being tracked by both the FSB and MI6?

One of the parties is perhaps selling it to the other... this would surely be Lugovi to Litvinenko, rather than the other way round : polonium, with its short half-life, has to be fresh to be of much use.

What would it be for? Not for triggering a home-made thermonuclear bomb, that really doesn't seem too probable technologically. If it's for a dirty bomb, or some sort of terrorist contamination stunt, that's more plausible, but who would want it, and why would Litvinenko be working with them? At some stage, some sort of motive is needed to build a plausible narrative.

So the frame idea is the most plausible one. And both sides are bluffing and trying to draw out the other party in order to trap them. Lugovi and his pal are, in one scenario, working for the FSB and are offering to supply Litvinenko with polonium to pass on to his Chechen friends. The idea is that it's a sting operation, once he's bought the package then they tip off the British authorities, and Litvinenko is busted and destroyed as an irritant. What's Litvinenko's game? Unless he's barking mad, he has no use for the polonium, but perhaps wants to trap the guys and hand them over to the British authorities, with whom he has a working relationship.

And these guys are clowning around with polonium. If the hypothesis is that they unscrew the lid to prove that it's the real shit -- look, it glows -- one has to believe that they know next to nothing about its dangers. One is reminded of a Woody Allen film where someone shows him a kilo of cocaine, look it's worth X thousand dollars, and Woody sneezes and blows it all over the room.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 10:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A further element one needs to add in is that while no credible evidence has been presented in the British media whatsoever that Lugovoi was an FSB agent, his close relationship with Berezovsky's long-term business partner Arkadi `Badri' Patarkatsishvili has been ignored.  The comments on this at the beginning and end of the press conference in which Lugovoi responded to the CPS request for his extradition are likely to be critical to understanding what happened.

At the end of the initial European Tribune discussion, a commenter pointed to the link between Lugovoi and Patarkatsishvili - and also to the latter's role in the `Rose Revolution' in his native Georgia.  But by late 2006, while Berezovsky was still very actively championing `colour revolutions', that in Georgia had blown up in Patarkatsishvili's face, as his relations with Saakashvili had collapsed.  

We also know that Putin had attempted to split the partners when he and Berezovsky fell out.  It may well be the attempt was renewed, exploiting the tensions between Patarkatsishvili and Saakashvili, and Lugovoi was an intermediary.  It is of some moment that Lugovoi is ethnic Russian, and would have been likely to have become vitriolically hostile to the `Rose Revolution' when it emerged that Saakashvili was determined on an all-out challenge to Moscow.

Most traces of polonium can be removed by careful washing and showering.  While one cannot make confident statements until there is more evidence about the radiation trail, it appears eminently likely that the radiation traces that Lugovoi left establish that he was unaware of the properties of polonium.  The British Embassy apparently claimed to Luke Harding of the Guardian that when he visited there on 23 November the chair he sat on was heavily contaminated - although the fact that in one report Harding suggested it had been burned, and in another locked in a room in the Embassy, means that one cannot take this as hard fact.  The inability of British reporters even to remember what they claimed a few months before, let alone what other people have, commonly beggars belief.

If in fact Lugovoi was unaware of the properties of polonium, and there had been the kind of it would not be at all surprising, if indeed there had been the kind of incident or incidents the `suicide or accident' claim implies, to find him ending up genuinely baffled by the question of what Litvinenko might or might not have known.  Another element here is that his repeated suggestion that he and Kovtun were deliberately contaminated to make it possible to incriminate them and the Russian authorities may not actually simply be disinformation.  If in fact Patarkatsishvili was playing a complex double game, which seems at least possible, then Litvinenko might well have regarded Lugovoi as a traitor.

Evidence on these matters is circumstantial, but there is a good deal of it.  There would be a great deal more if journalists in the MSM had bothered to report what Lugovoi said, and follow up the leads he gave.

A preliminary attempt to look at the complexities of the relationship between Patarkatsishvili and Berezovsky, and how Lugovoi might have fitted into the picture, was made in diaries put up in June and July 2009.  These drew very heavily on information from Karon von Gerhke, who was responsible for introducing us to this whole critical - but acutely complex - aspect of the Litvinenko mystery.

by djhabakkuk (david daught habakkuk at o two daught co daught uk) on Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 12:30:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is difficult to continue simply dismissing such suggestions from Lugovoi, given that his claim that Litvinenko worked for MI6 was contemptuously repudiated for years, before being abruptly conceded by his widow in October 2011.  
Evening Standard: Alexander Litvinenko was 'paid M16 agent' as files say Russia 'has case to answer on poisoning' (13 December 2012)
Murdered ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko worked as a paid agent for the British security service MI6, it was sensationally claimed today.

He was also employed by Spanish intelligence investigating links between the  Kremlin and Russian organised crime, a pre-inquest hearing was told.

The claims were made as a lawyer for the inquest declared that the Russian state had a case to answer over the dissident's death at a London hospital in 2006.



I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 14th, 2012 at 04:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As we said, the claim is old music, therefore not sensational. Nor are the claims concerning Spain new.

We will certainly discuss Marina Litvinenko's submission that are the source of this "sensational" claim. The submission was discussed during the hearings yesterday. Off hand, Marina Litvinenko supports the unsubstantiated claims made by her husband -- and many ex-Soviet bloc exiles in London --that Russia is a mafia state that actively uses organized crime to further its supposed aims.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 14th, 2012 at 06:04:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the written submissions from Berezhovsky, Lugovoy and Marina Litvinenko (or rather, from their respective lawyers), concerning which scenarii should be examined by the inquest.

  • Shorter Berezhovsky : he affirms that the only evidence or allegations implicating him in Litvinenko's death come from Lugovoy. He affirms that Lugovoy is a criminal on the run; and that legal precedent indicates that testimony from a criminal on the run is not admissible, therefore the judge must throw out the Berezhovsky scenario. A self-evident crock of shit.

  • Shorter Marina : she favours the investigation of the "Putin did it" and "Russian mafia did it" scenarios, arguing that the two are indistinguishable; she argues against the pursuit of the Berezhovsky scenario; she argues against the "MI6 did it" scenario, but concedes that it must be considered, if another interested party (i.e. Lugovoy) insists on it, and that consideration of this, or of any liability of the British state for failing to protect her husband (as an MI6 agent) would require a "Article 2 Middleton inquest" (enhanced inquest?).

  • Shorter Lugovoy : "Raison d'état" (judicial restraint) can not be invoked to refuse to examine any scenario; the judge may not rule out any scenario based on "non-disclosed material", i.e. any evidence (implicitly, MI6 investigations) which the judge wants to use to exclude any line of inquiry, i.e. British scenario, would need to be communicated to interested parties. Unsurprisingly, he is in favour of investigating the Berezhovsky scenario; he doesn't want the "Spanish Mafia" (surprising characterisation) scenario ruled out; he is in favour of investigating the British and Russian scenarii, and wants to see the evidence.

On balance, this is going to be fun.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Dec 14th, 2012 at 09:46:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the Counsel to the Inquest's submission, there is a discussion of whether a jury is required for the inquest. Although the council argues against a jury, it seems to me that one is required, on the grounds of a work-related "accident, poisoning or disease".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Dec 14th, 2012 at 10:34:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
informs the judge that he shouldn't listen to anyone else, if he wants to exclude any particular line of inquiry (hint hint British scenario) he should just go right ahead and do it, because he's the boss.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Dec 14th, 2012 at 11:25:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A central implication of the `accident or suicide' claim is that, if it is true, the conventional wisdom according to which polonium was only identified immediately prior to Litvinenko's death is a charade:  that MI6 must have known that polonium was the likely toxin from the time they first learnt about his being taken ill.

There may have been a mistake of the identity of the substance. Both polonium and radioactive thallium can be produced in nuclear reactors. If they are made in the same plant it may not be too hard for someone with access to facility but limited knowledge to steal the wrong radioactive substance.

For examply a metal trader got a large dose of radiation by buing something highly radioactive as osmium and keeping it his pocket.

by Jute on Tue Dec 18th, 2012 at 06:56:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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