Dec 28 2006
It is interesting how the media swarm on the Litvinenko incident as died way down. I keep wondering what in the world caused the about face (besides competing stories on the modern Ripper). But some interesting new clues are slowly coming out, and I think everyone has decided to take a deep breath and stop jumping to wild conclusions and assassination theories. Well some are at least. I begin with a Boston Globe article which starts out with the implausible concept that Litvinenko was poisoned in the Millenium Bar, at the end of a 3 week long Polonium Trail that follows Litvinenko and Lugovoi to three hotels and numerous rooms at each hotel, to the offices of two UK security firms wanting to do business in Russia (named Erinys and RISC), to the Ishu sushi bar and a meeting with Scaramella, and to the offices of Boris Berezovsky. In between are trails left on planes between Moscow and London, and follow a third man through Hamburg Germany – Dmitri Kovtun. None of this extensive, earlier Polonium 210 trail is explained in the reporting by the Boston Globe:
With its warm oak paneling and imposing grand piano, the Pine Bar, tucked inside the Millennium Hotel in fashionable Mayfair, is a good place for a late-afternoon drink.
But it was here, in one of the most convivial corners of London, that police believe Alexander Litvinenko , a former Russian spy, was poisoned. Police believe that while Litvinenko met with some other Russians on Nov. 1, someone slipped him a radioactive substance, possibly into his cup of tea. Twenty-three days later, he was dead.
If police seem to know where Litvinenko was poisoned, they are still puzzled over why, and by whom.
The Boston Globe, or its sources, are woefully behind the reporting on this story. Which just underlines the fact that what is being reported as fact is actually very shakey when viewed in the whole context of information out there on the Polonium trail. But I did not want to dwell on more abysmal reporting by the mainstream media (no news there), but the real news that is being overlooked because the media’s baised preconceptions:
In a series of interviews, British police and intelligence officers explained the difficulties they are facing as they try to determine who poisoned Litvinenko and why. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, they expressed frustration at trying to sort out criminal, political, and business interests in Russia.
Perhaps just as Litvinenko’s killers hoped, British authorities suspect the use of such an exotic poison seems almost too obvious, meant to steer investigators in a particular direction.
As one police official put it, “Why not just shoot him in the head?”
But British authorities don’t accept that only those in the Russian intelligence services would have access to polonium-210, or the willingness to kill someone in such a chilling fashion. Indeed, the Kafkaesque confluence of spooks, both former and present, organized crime, and big business in Russia presents British officials with their biggest challenge.
Authorities are clearly not wedded to the assassination theory. It has many, many problems that cannot be easily knitted into a reasonably strong case. The admission that Polonium-210 is accessible to a broad range of suspects, not just the state, is a huge change in the dynamic of this case. The media is too wedded to their assassination theories to accurately reflect this sea change, but the actual quotes by authorities (ignoring the Globe’s editorializing in between quotes) is showing a big change of view.
What is coming to the fore is the under reported role of all these UK and Russian security firms. Firms that provide security for people and property that is travelling – many times across borders. The best cover for a smuggling operation that involves small quantities of valuable materials would be a security firm. And now the security firms are showing up in spades in a lot of reporting:
A former US Marine now working for an international security firm said Litvinenko was on the payrolls of at least two security firms. The former Marine, speaking on the condition he was not identified, said Litvinenko and other former KGB and FSB officers sell themselves as consultants able to guide legitimate companies through the Byzantine business world in Russia where the legitimate and illegitimate merge.
Larisa Alexandrovna did some fine reporting on which security companies Litvinenko worked for, and one of them was Erinys which is also a site of Polonium-210 contamination:
Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-FSB officer who was recently murdered in London, was working for a British security firm at the time of his death, two well placed British sources who wish to remain unidentified tell RAW STORY.
One of the 12 to 24 polonium contamination sites in the Piccadilly area of London identified by British authorities was the office of the security and risk management company Erinys International Ltd.
Two separate British sources who, given the security risk, asked to not be identified in any specific way, have confirmed that Litvinenko was working on contract for Erinys
These sources further explained that the reason Litvinenko was meeting at Erinys’ offices around the time of his contamination was to broker a deal of some sort with a Russian security startup being created by two former FSB agents, Andrei Lugovoi and his business partner Dmitry Kovtun.
Larisa goes on to present a list of activities that involved Erinys, Litvinenko, Lugovoi and Kovtun. The fact Erinys is a location on the Polonium 210 trail cannot be dismissed, since it either happened on November 1st after Litvinenko met with Lugovoi and Kovtun as reported early on, or it was contaminated 2 weeks earlier around Oct 16th and a distinctly different portion of the Polonium path. In fact, Larisa reports on why the Polonium path is so important, and why a smuggling activity is probably the underlying reason for the Polonium trail:
“The ongoing investigation into the death of Mr. Litvinenko precludes providing background details about his activities and location prior to his death,” said Johnson. “To do so might seriously compromise the police investigation and any criminal prosecution which might be undertaken.”
What most authorities in Britain and elsewhere have told RAW STORY is that Litvinenko’s assassination involves an overlay of several possible criminal activities, making the waters quite muddy. What those activities are and who they involve is not elaborated on, nor are details provided.
More curious is all the ties these people have to Alex Goldfarb, and by extension to Boris Berezovsky. Goldfarb is now trying to deflect interest from Leonid Nevzlin, just as he did with Scaramella and Lugovoi:
Alex Goldfarb, a friend of Litvinenko’s active in London’s community of Russian expatriates and Kremlin critics, called the charges against Nevzlin a “clumsy effort” by Moscow to shift blame from itself.
“This is sheer nonsense,” he told the AP. “Everybody knows that all evidence points to Russia. The way the Russian government, the Russian prosecutors are handling it is only adding to that suspicion that it is the Russian government behind this.”
The “clumsy efforts” seems to be those by Goldfarb/Berezovsky to divert attention from their comrades in arms. Is there something to the Nevslin connection? Apparently there may be. What is arising is a Mercury trail that overlays the Polonium trail – and may lead right to Litvinenko:
Prosecutor General’s Office announced yesterday that it is investigating a possibility that former co-owner of YUKOS Leonid Nevzlin might be involved in the poisoning of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko with polonium-210, and an assassination attempt against his business partner Dmitry Kovtun in London. The Office claims that investigators established connection between this crime and a certain attempt at poisoning by means of mercury. The Office says that mercury vapors â€œwere found in cars, apartments, country houses, and offices both in Moscow and in Londonâ€.
It is not accidental that mercury vapors appeared in the case. Former head of MENATEP bankâ€™s investment management Alexei Golubovich, arrested in Italy this spring, gave testimony that there was an attempt to poison him and his family with mercury which was left in his offices, home, and car. Golubovich said that Nevzlin might be interested in poisoning him, because YUKOS shareholders and CEOs were then arguing over who would control foreign property and funds of the company. Some time later, London witnessed a scandal when a Scotland Yard officer handed over information on extradition to Russia of London-based Russian citizens to British security agency ISC Global. The agency was part of MENATEP, and Nevzlin, among others, used its services. Polonium trace was discovered in November in the office of former ISC Global, which is now called RISC Management. According to Scotland Yard, Litvinenko and his business partners, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, visited the office.
So now we have a Mercury trail and a Polonium and the nexus is one of these security firms which Litvinenko and/or Lugovoi visited. It should also be noted that RISC Management, a contaminated site, is apparently not located near any of the previously known areas, but is at Cavedish Place in Oxford Circle about a 12 minute walk from Picadilly Circus. And where would we be without the ubiquitous Goldfarb to respond to the possible connections in the Kommersant article:
Lugovoi said yesterday that he does not know anything about Nevzlinâ€™s connection to Litvinenkoâ€™s death. Litvinenkoâ€™s friend, political emigrant Boris Berezovsky thinks that such suspicions are â€œgroundlessâ€. Head of the Foundation for Civil Rights Alex Goldfarb believes that anti-Nevzlin accusations is an attempt to â€œshuffle off the blame for Litvinenkoâ€™s murder from those guilty on to those who are notâ€: â€œWe all know it was done by Russian special service agents who brought polonium from Moscowâ€.
Well there is possibly much more to the RISC Management company than the fact Nevzlin used the company and it had access to documents on Russian exiles. It is clearly possible that Nezvlin owned RISC Management:
Kommersant reported investigators connection between Nevslin and Litvinenko was a British security firm that previously belonged to the Yukos concern.
Shortly before his fatal poisoning, Litvinenko met with the security firm’s managers, Russian businessmen Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun.
Scotland Yard had detected traces of radioactive polonium 210 in the rooms of the business.
This last reporting is unique in its claims of ties between all these players. Nevzlin was number 2 at Yukos, which apparently owned RISC Management. Is this accurate? Who knows. Could be bad reporting or my misintrepretation. But it is clear that as this plot unravels, every single player seems to have ties to Berezovsky and has PR mouthpiece Goldfarb – at least initially. Lugovoi’s support from Goldfarb disappeared when it became evident Lugovoi and Kovtun may have worked out a plea agreement with Russian prosecutors.
And I should note another site that has surfaced with regards to Litvinenko, Polonium and consulting. Laris Alexandrovna linked to this earlier Financial Times Article (at bottom of this link) which mentions 3rd company whose offices had been closed down due Polonium contamination (better link here):
In its turn the Financial Times has learnt that Litvinenko was paid as a consultant for information on Russian businesses, by Titon International, a London-based business intelligence company. Titonâ€™s website says it â€œprovides a wide range of bespoke security and intelligence services to the commercial worldâ€. A senior executive with Titon International told The Financial Times that Litvinenko had worked for the company and that its offices in London had been closed by police after traces of polonium-210 radiation had been found. There is no suggestion that Litvinenko was poisoned in the building, paper adds.
The Mayfair building near the Millennium Hotel contains a business intelligence company, Titon International Ltd. – whose CEO was a former U.K. Special Services director, and Erinys UK Ltd., an international security and risk management company.
Erinys confirmed that Litvinenko had visited the office “on a matter totally unrelated to issues now being investigated by the police,” but declined to elaborate. None of the staff who had contact with him have reported any ill effects, the statement said.
Whatever the actual case may be, I think the key to all of this is the security firms. We have at least three in the UK (Erinys, RISC Management and Titon International) with contamination and we have two Russians who represent Russian security firms (Lugovoi and Kovtun) contaminated. The only common denominator in all of these contaminations is Litvinenko, and Berezosvsky to some extent. How did all these elements fit together into a smuggling ring and/or assassination plot. Given the Polonium trail and the financial benefit it would seem this is too broad a group to be dealing with assassination.