Aug 18 2007
Updates below link new sites to Litvinenko – not Lugovoi – and point to Litvinenko as source of Po-210 contamination.
From my first post on the Litvinenko story I had serious doubts about the planned PR nature of the Litvinenko death and the idea an assassin would use such an unstable, slow acting and detectable substance. Since that post I have noted huge discrepencies between the assassination theory placed in the media by a PR firm hired by Litvinenko’s one time financial sugar daddy – Boris Berezovsky. The Polonium-210 (Po-210) timeline and trail are key to the mystery of how the Po-210 was entering London and contaminating people. The top three contaminated people are Alexander Litvinenko, Andre Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun. Both Litvinenko and Lugovoi have long time ties to exiled Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky – whose office is one of the prime contamination sites.
Just in the last few days much more information has been added to the trail, sadly without the benefit if putting the locations on the over all time line. The Daily Mail has an updated map of the contaminated sites:
The new sites include a “Gentlemen’s Club”, another restaurant, a taxi and – very interestingly – Litvinenko’s Mercede’s. The cars are of course not shown. But what is really interesting the details mentioned in another story:
In the â€œgentlemenâ€™s nightclubâ€ Hey Jo, traces of polonium were found on seating, cushions and cubicle doors. These were then cleaned to reduce the levels of the substance.
Two items in the Moroccan restaurant that displayed high levels of contamination – a fabric shisha pipe handle and a cushion cover – were removed. Mr Litvinenkoâ€™s car had high levels of contamination and a large bag of waste was removed from the Lambeth taxi to reduce polonium traces to safe levels.
It is quite clear from these details the material was transmitted via hands or clothing. The “cubicle doors” at the club hint it was Polonium on the hands while the cushions in the club and the Moroccan restaurant indicate the Polonium was also on the clothes.
But as I said, the real kicker is Litvinenko’s car with ‘high levels of contamination’. From reporting and and his wife Marina’s own comments we know that Alexander Litvinenko did not drive his car on or after November 1st – when he was lethally contaminated. So for his car to have a large amount of contamination is suspect. Note that Marina and her son have very low contamination from Po-210 – so it is hard to see how Po-210 could have contaminated her less than the car she may have driven. We know Litvinenko did not drive the car after noon on November 1 because Litvinenko took a cab into London to meet some businessmen at noon (the cab was supposedly clear of contamination) and he was picked up by Chechen Rebel leader in exile (and neighbor) Ahmed Zakayev and taken home that evening were he began to feel ill.
Without time frames for the cab and restaurant and club it is hard to see where this all fits. But I think it is highly unlikely the Hey Jo club was contaminated by Lugovoi during the media’s prime weekend of Oct 31st to November 1st. One of my older posts on this story as a link to one of the best time lines available to date:
They are also expected to question a number of people who have protested their innocence in the Russian media and expressed their eagerness to meet officers from the Yard – one is Andrei Lugovoi, another former intelligence officer, who runs a chain of firms.
He saw Mr Litvinenko in London 12 or 13 times this year to discuss business proposals. Mr Lugovoi says they met on October 16, and the next day [Oct 17]talked at Itsu, the sushi bar where Mr Litvinenko met Mr Scaramella two weeks later, and where traces of polonium-210 were detected.
After going to Moscow the following day [Oct 18]>, on a flight by Transaero, a Russian airline, Mr Lugovoi says he returned to London on a BA flight on October 25. He again met Mr Litvinenko at the Sheraton Park Lane hotel. He returned to Moscow on October 28, and flew to London three days later Oct 31 with his wife and son to watch the Arsenal-CSKA Moscow match on November 1. They stayed at the Millennium Hotel, opposite the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, and met Mr Litvinenko there again on November 1. They returned to Moscow along with several Russian acquaintances on November 3.
I have put dates in brackets so people can note the key periods in the timeline. It is highly unlikely Lugovoi spent his first night in London with his wife and kids at a gentlemen’s club. Possible – but unlikely. So this contamination probably happened on an earlier trip.
What do we know about the timing of the plots in the map above? We know Dimitre Kovtun was with Lugovoi during the Oct 16-18th, flying back to Moscow with Lugovoi. When Lugovoi left for Moscow on the 28th, Kovtun was flying to Hamburg – where the Po-210 trail was detected around his movements there . Kovtun left Hamburg on Nov 1 to meet up with Lugovoi and Litvinenko the day Litvinenko got his fatal dose (and I do believe Litvinenko got his last fatal dose on Oct 31 or Nov 1 – but it was not his first dose).
Airline contamination is a big deal in this story. And we have some interesting details on that as well. First from he last article linked:
Subsequent tests have shown that the Transaero aircraft was not contaminated by polonium-210, and nor was the hotel where Mr Lugovoi stayed on his first visit.
Traces have been found on two BA 767s which flew Mr Lugovoi back to London on the 25th and 31st, and at the Sheraton Park Lane and Millennium hotels, where he stayed on his two final visits. Significant quantities are thought to have been found at the Sheraton. Mr Lugovoi stayed there a week before November 1, believed to be the date Mr Litvinenko was poisoned.
Much of the eighth floor was sealed off last week by police who warned anyone approaching that their health could be at risk.Last night the hotel said polonium-210 had been found in five guest rooms, but not in any public area.
The BBC is now reporting 8 airline flights have shown contamination:
In addition to the four there have been 23 further positive tests including those carried out at Mr Litvinenko’s home, the hospitals where he was treated and on eight aircraft.
I am still wondering if Lugovoi and Kovtun were working WITH Litvinenko in smuggling Po-210 or were unwitting victims. Either way, there are more flights contaminated than possibly available over the three visits from Kovtun and Lugovoi. When were the 8 flights contaminated and by who? We supposedly have two flights from Moscow, on the 25th and 31st of October, to London for Lugovoi showing contamination. But not his return flight on the 18th. (Note: there is a lot of conflicting reporting on which flights in which direction were contaminated). That leaves six flights. I have not seen firm reporing on Kovtun’s flight out of Moscow to Hamburg on the 28th, but this posting of mine on a Washington Post story indicates that Kovtun’s flight from Hamburg to London on November 1 did not show signs of Po-210. So even if we assume the Moscow to Hamburg flight showed contamination, where did the other 5 flights come from?
A side note, there as been confused and shifting reporting on how many trips surrounding Lugovoi’s meetings with Litvinenko in London showed Po-210 contamination. The story above came out before indications Po-210 was showing up during the Oct 16-18th meeting. At last count from this previous post there were four hotels contaminated covering all three trips to London where Litvinenko and Lugovoi met (Oct 16-18, Oct 25-28, Oct 31-Nov1). So we can include travel surrounding this trip as well. I can only assume Lugovoi and Kovtun travelled together on the 16-18th, so maybe these are two of the five contaminated flights left to be accounted for?
And there was reporting in this post at least one flight (10/18, 10/28, or 11/3?) Lugovoi took from London to Moscow showed contamination. So we can safely assume at least one more flight is known to be linked to Lugovoi. This could have been the 11/3 trip back to Moscow as wel. OK, that leaves us 2-4 contaminated flight unaccounted for – but all of Kovtun’s and Lugovoi’s travels in fairly well covered. So who was contaminating these remaining flights? Can all 8 flights really be tied to Lugovoi and Kovtun? Or was there some other flights to other cities at other times? Given the Po-210 trail centers around London and Litvinenko – did he travel and leave some of the trail?
Some other points to make – or make again. Boris Berezovsky is in the thick of the Po-210 trail. He met with Lugovoi in his office on 10/31 and Litvinenko on 11/1, and his PR machine has blamed (alternatively) both visits as the reason why Po-210 showed up in his office (shown as Down St contamination on map above). See this post for a review of the shifting claims and stories. The fact is Berezovsky knew both men long and very well. Something that keeps bothering me with the assasination theory – since Berezovsky would make sense as a target of a political assassination out of the Kremlin. Litvinenko was a joke passing off wild conspiracty theories. He was also being dumped financially by Berezovsky. The possibility Litvinenko was moon-lighting with dangerous contraband has never been fullyu addressed. It would make sense, especially if he and Berezovsky had some relationship with MI6 in the UK. Litvinenko could see himself as sheltered from suspicion, enough to make some money and fame moving dangerous nuclear material useful in dirty bombs.
And one other timeline comment, going back to the very top of this post, is that Lugovoi met Litvinenko 3 times in October/November – which is only three times out of 12-13 times they met last year. There were plenty of opportunities for more Polonium smuggling, contamination, assassination.. As Lugovoi pointed out, he was at Litvinenko’s home during the summer of 2006 – a trip Boris Berezovsky was not made awar of:
Moreover, we met in his home in summer, when his wife Marina was away. By the way, Berezovsky didnâ€™t know of that meeting. It was almost the ideal place for a poisoning. However, when conditions were ideal, it didnâ€™t happen. But in a bar with a lot of people, when he could have failed to turn up, in the presence of dozens of witnesses, it happened. This means that someone wanted us to be seen together in the Millennium Bar.
Lugovoi makes a good point. They were supposedly not scheduled to meet with Litvinenko on Nov 1 – Litvinenko set up the meeting at the last moment. Either due to his noon meeting with people yet to be identified, or due to his meeting at 3:00 PM with Scaramella, or his meeting with Berezovsky (time not known publically). Supposedly the emergency request was due to his meeting with Scaramelle. Lugovoi and Kovtun and Litvinenko had scheduled meetings for 11/2 (which is why the Russians had return flights scheduled for 11/3). It is not credible to think Lugovoi would try some wildly uncontrollable susbtance in a public place and with his family nearby when there were numerous, more quiet and controlled opportunities available.
It is hard to match up the amounts of contamination at each site with the dates in a sequence that makes sense. How did Litvinenko’s car get so much contamination when he never drove it from November 1 on? How is it there was so much contamination in The Sheraton and Millenium Hotels, but so little at the Arsenal Stadium right after the bar incident that supposedly contaminated Litvinenko? Where did the trash from the cab come from – it was also highly contaminated. Levels of contamination need to make sense in a proper sequence. You cannot have low levels, then high levels, then low levels without some key event happening. Look at the top contamination sites:
Several premises were closed for months, including the Pine Bar in the Millennium Hotel, which closed on November 26 and did not reopen until April 18, and the Itsu restaurant, which closed on November 24 and reopened on February 22.
The Sheraton was another place closed for months, as was Litvinenko’s home. But the claim is now that Litvinenko’s contamination on November 1 is NOT tied to the Sushi bar that is so contaminated and which he visited BEFORE the Pine Bar meeting. The claim now is the contamination at the Sushi bar was from Oct 16-18! How is this known? There is a claim the seats are not in the same place, but the only way to know is if we are dealing with two batches of Po-210.
And if we are dealing with two batches, why? The amount that killed Litvinenko is literally smaller than a grain of salt. Once you bring in 200 hundred grains of salt (tiny amount) then you have two hundred shots at Litvinenko. Remember, for this to be an assassination attempt you would not want large amounts of Po-210 if you hope to hide the source of death from detection during autopsy. At least that is what the assassination theorists claim.
Update: As I write this extremely long post more news is coming out. Now we KNOW it was Litvinenko who was at the Hey Jo club:
Dave West, owner of Hey Jo, said in an interview that Litvinenko “came in one night with about two or three men, all Russian. I said hello, shook their hands, like I do to many customers.” West said that the club was popular with Russian businessmen and that he had met Litvinenko on several occasions.
He said that investigators were slow in locating his club; they arrived there about seven weeks after Litvinenko died, after tracing his credit card receipts.
This is very important and at odds with the common theme of the Lugovoi headed assassination. As I said above it is highly unlikely Lugovoi, the first night in town (Oct 31) with his wife and kids, would go out to a Gentlemen’s Club with Litvinenko. In addition, all reporting to date indicates there was NO contact between Litvinenko and Lugovoi prior to November 1, 4:00 PM in the Pine Bar. Now who do we square this? We know Lugovoi did meet with Berezovsky on Oct 31st – but we also know he did went to a major Russia-UK soccer game on Nov 1. Did he go to the Hey Jo? Only Lugovoi can answer. But if Litvinenko was trailing Po-210 before his meeting with Lugovoi then the current theory collapses completely. It does make Litvinenko the probable vector (carrier) of the Po-210 contamination. Here is the rub: Litvinenko was interviewed by police on his death bed and supposedly highlighted all his pertinet travels during the two days in question. So why did it take a review of receipts to discover this meeting with key Russians? And if Lugovoi or Kovtun were there, then did they metion this meeting in their interviews in Moscow? Why would Litvinenko and Berezovsky ignore this meeting if it involved Lugovoi or Kovtun in their discussions with Police? It should not have taken receipts to learn of this meeting. Is this the November noon meeting Litvinenko had prior to meeting Scaramella?