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If indeed, as the conventional wisdom has it, Litvinenko had no contact with polonium until the dastardly Lugovoi slipped it into his tea in the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in the late afternoon of 1 November 2006, one would have expected the story of his poisoning to be broken quite differently.  One would not expect to see Litvinenko framing Scaramella

I don't follow here. Wasn't the sequence of events on 1 November 2006 that (1) Litvinenko met Lugovoi and Kovtun, (2) Litvinenko met Scaramella who handed over some document on Politovskaya, (3) Litvinenko returned home and immediately felt ill?

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

by DoDo on Tue Dec 11th, 2012 at 10:47:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The sequence changed.

At the outset - 11-19 November - the finger of suspicion was pointed at the meeting with Scaramella at the Itsu.  This was still the case when the story broke in the MSM on 19 November - as in the Sunday Times report by David Leppard with which `eternalcityblues' led off the initial diary.

On 20-21 November, Gordievsky and Goldfarb shift the focus of suspicion onto Lugovoi.  However, the meeting at which Litvinenko is supposed to have been poisoned is unequivocally placed before the meeting at the Itsu, and according to Goldfarb involves Lugovoi and a mysterious Russian, unknown to Litvinenko, called `Vladimir'.

On 24 November, Lugovoi appears, and says, yes I did meet Litvinenko on 1 November, but I was accompanied by Kovtun, who is called Dmitri and whom Litvinenko already knew.  This is covered at the end of the initial ET thread - but the crucial fact that the meeting Lugovoi described, in the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel, occurred after the meeting at the Itsu is not mentioned.

What then happens is like something of 1984.  Key associates of Litvinenko - including Goldfarb, but not Gordievsky, change their story, so that they are now claiming that the dead man pointed the finger at the Pine Bar meeting. And this is the version the police adopt. At the same time, claims about the evidence of the radiation trail are adjusted, in an effort to sustain the unsustainable claim that Litvinenko had no contact with polonium prior to the Pine Bar meeting.

There are really only two possible interpretations of what I call the `Orwellian transformations' in the claims made both about what Litvinenko said and about the radiation trail.  One is that none of his associates knew anything about the Pine Bar meeting - the other, that some at least knew, but both wanted to hide what had happened there, and thought Lugovoi would too.  Neither interpretation meshes easily with the conventional wisdom about how Litvinenko died.

by djhabakkuk (david daught habakkuk at o two daught co daught uk) on Tue Dec 11th, 2012 at 11:12:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently (1) and (2) happened in the opposite order. I was relying on what Gordievsky told (quoted in a comment to the 2006 diary), but Gordievsky possibly referred to the meeting two weeks earlier:

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Panorama | How to poison a spy: Transcript

Parkes Hotel - Knightsbridge

Two weeks before, on October the 16th, staying at the Parks Hotel in Knightsbridge, Andrei Lugovoi, once a KGB officer, now a millionaire, and his friend Dimitri Kovtun, also ex-KGB. Two rooms at the hotel are later tested for Polonium. The result? Contaminated. The Polonium trail begins.

ITSU - Piccadilly

During this earlier trip Lugovoi and Kovtun meet Litvinenko for lunch in his usual place, the Itsu sushi bar in Piccadilly. The restaurant, contaminated, but not at the same seats which Scaramella and Litvinenko would use two weeks later. Could this have been the first attempt to kill him?

The Park Lane Hotel - Mayfair

October the 25th, Lugovoi returns to London and checks in at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel. He meets Litvinenko two or three times during this trip. One hotel room at the hotel is left a radioactive mess. Today not just one room, but a whole section of the 8th floor corridor are still boarded up. Was this a second botched attempt? On October 28th Lugovoi flies back to Russia on British Airways flight GBNWX. And you've guessed it, at least one seat on the plane, contaminated. On the same day Kovtun arrives in Hamburg and sees his children, a toddler and a baby who live with his ex-wife. And they are contaminated. Lugovoi and Kovtun next meet with Litvinenko on the day he's poisoned, November the 1st.

Millennium Hotel - Mayfair

4:30 pm and the Pine Bar, the Millennium Hotel, just an hour after the sushi bar. This is when the Polonium trail gets really hot. Lugovoi and Kovtun are drinking with a third Russian, Vyacheslav Sokolenko. Business was done for the day, and they were relaxing ahead of the game. Litvinenko doesn't touch alcohol, but he'll always have a cuppa.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 11th, 2012 at 11:15:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Completing the radiological trail:

Radiation Scientist
If he was contaminated in this way then when he drank it all around his lips and mouth would have been contaminated with radioactivity. There would also be a lot of it left in the cup. So he might have wiped his mouth with his hand like this, which people do. Then this becomes heavily contaminated. He could then put the hand back onto the table, so that you start a contamination trail.

SWEENEY: And the contamination trail at the Pine Bar is astounding. The cup that contained the tea, contaminated. The seven bar staff at the hotel who took the cup away, washed it, wiped it, set it out for other guests, contaminated. The Pine Bar itself, contaminated and still closed two and a half months on. The contamination itself isn't lethal, but long term risks are not known. Lugovoi and Kovtun go to the match. Seats at the Arsenal, contaminated.

Arsenal Stadium - North London

Everything points to not one, but multiple attempts to kill Litvinenko. No-one's been arrested, but the Polonium trail has made Lugovoi and Kovtun prime suspects. After Litvinenko fell sick they flew to Moscow. After Litvinenko died so did Scotland Yard. Safe and sound in Moscow Lugovoi and Kovtun protested their innocence.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 11th, 2012 at 11:25:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Epstein article adds this starting point to the radiological trail:

The Specter That Haunts the Death of Litvinenko - The New York Sun

When Mr. Lugovoi flew from Moscow to London on October 15 on Transaero Airlines, no radiation traces were found on his plane. It was only after he had met with Litvinenko at Erinys International on October 16 that traces were found on the British Airways planes on which he later flew, suggesting to the Russian investigators that the trail began in London and then went to Moscow. They also found that in London the trail was inexplicably erratic, with traces that were found, as they noted, "in a place where a person stayed for a few minutes, but were absent in the place where he was staying for several hours, although these events follow one after another."

It's possible though that there was no Polonium trail before because there was no improper handling of the Polonium container before that meeting. But whatever happened on 16 October, the eventual lethal dose and the teacup cleaning staff and the other contamination at the Pine Bar on 1 October seem to support a second contamination event that day.

However, a crucial difference between the Epstein and Panorama timelines I see is the place of the 16 October meeting: Epstein places it at Erinys International, Panorama at the ITSU. It's possible that there have been two meetings that day, but neither source mentions both. Can this be cleared up from any third source?

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

by DoDo on Tue Dec 11th, 2012 at 12:29:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It can be.  One crucial report appeared in the Sunday Times on 3 December 2006, and another in the same paper on 10 December.

In the first, Lugovoi gives his timeline for 16 October:  after flying in to Heathrow on a plane operated by the Russian carrier Transaero, he and Kovtun went with Litvinenko to Erinys.  After the meeting, they ate at the Itsu.  Nobody to my knowledge has queried the claim that the meeting at the Itsu came after the meeting at Erinys.

What is however left out of the 3 December Sunday Times story is the critical fact that on 30 November a Transaero plane flew into Heathrow, was inspected, and declared free of contamination.  It would appear far more likely that this is the plane which brought Lugovoi and Kovtun in to London on 16 October, rather than the plane which took the pair back to Moscow on 18 October, which was also operated by Transaero.  But this is a matter the inquest can easily check.

Nobody has ever suggested that Lugovoi and Kovtun visited Erinys except on 16 October.  If then the British evidence turns out to support the claim they and the Russian investigators have made that they were clear of contamination when they arrived in London, it would seem probable that one of two things must be true.  Either the contamination at Erinys does,as Lugovoi has repeatedly claimed, derive from some incident at the 16 October meeting - or someone else left the contamination there.  Both possibilities create major problems for the conventionally accepted version of how Litvinenko died.

Another feature of the 3 December report which is critical is that it is suggested that Litvinenko visited Berezovsky's office to copy the famous e-mails from Scaramella immediately following the meeting at the Itsu, and left contamination on the photocopier.

The 10 December report, which followed the discovery of extensive contamination in the Pine Bar, shows the focus of suspicion being moved from the supposed meeting involving Lugovoi and Kovtun before the meeting at the Itsu, to the meeting with Lugovoi and Kovtun after it.

It also shows the beginning of the adjustment of the claims about the radiation trail.  So the claims about contamination on Scaramella are revised.  However, both the contamination at the Itsu, and the contamination on the photocopier in Berezovsky's office, were incompatible with the claim Litvinenko was first contaminated in the Pine Bar:  a fact none of the highly-paid Sunday Times journalists were professional enough to point out.

It was only subsequently that it was claimed that the contamination at the Itsu dated from the 16 October visit by Lugovoi, Kovtun and Litvinenko.  And even then the contamination on the photocopier remained as an unexplained anomaly.  If in fact Litvinenko was not leaving contamination at the Itsu on 1 November, but was leaving contamination on the photocopier in Berezovsky's office immediately afterwards, then the finger of suspicion should have been directed at Berezovsky.

In Sixsmith's study, there is a flat-out contradiction, with Litvinenko's use of the photocopier being placed before the Pine Bar meeting on one page, and after it on another.  The timeline was not finally `sorted out' until Alan Cowell's August 2008 book The Terminal Spy, when the use of the photocopier was placed after the meeting in the Pine Bar.  In fact, given the problems with the claims about the e-mails, which you discuss, the more likely explanation is that the whole notion of Litvinenko copying the e-mails is a fabrication.

The problem with the claims made by the Russian investigators to Epstein, as you rightly point out, is that it is not clear that a single incident is going to be able to explain all the radiation traces associated with events on 1 November.  Notice however a very interesting fact.  In the 10 December report, there is mention of contamination in a teacup - but no mention of a teapot.  This is also the case with the Panorama programme, broadcast on 22 January 2007.

In the May 2008, in which a good deal of this ground was covered, it was noted that the report of contamination in a teapot only appears in an ABC report on 26 January, when it is suggested that the teapot had been identified in the second week of December.  However, in the Sixsmith study, it was suggested that the teapot had been identified at the outset, along with the teacup.

A teapot is an enclosed space.  A teacup is not.

by djhabakkuk (david daught habakkuk at o two daught co daught uk) on Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 07:26:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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