Aug 29 2007
The truth about what happened to Alexander Litvinenko has become clear as mud. The joint, timed media shows that Berezovsky and the UK authorities were performing (i.e., the mysterious Russian assassin the UK detected, detained, and then released back to Russia and never told Russia about) have now moved to Russia. Recently the Russian authorities announced arrests in the Politkovskaya murder, only to be followed by a ridiculous media show by the UK’s prime suspect Andre Lugovoi. The storyline gets more ridiculous as do the claims (e.g., Putin is a pedophile leader who assassinates people with Polonium), so what is going on with this reality TV B-Movie? First, some of the more ridiculous claims by Lugovoi – who is as poor an actor as Berezovsky:
There is no evidence, there is no proof. Everything that the Crown Prosecution Service says is a lie, inspired by the British top leadership together with the special services,” Lugovoi told British journalists via a video link with Moscow.
He said there is not even any proof that Litvinenko in fact died of radioactive poisoning, adding that the cause of death is still unknown.
Lugovoi said that fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky was involved in the crime, as well as in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
“It was a thoroughly planned provocation. I believe there was to have been the chain ‘Politkovskaya – Litvinenko – Tregubova [journalist Yelena Tregubova],” Lugovoi told journalists.
Lugovoi also said he had not traveled to Britain for questioning because the country’s authorities never invited him.
“I am not going and will not go to Britain, because nobody invited me there,” he said.
There is little doubt what killed Litvinenko and made Lugovoi and Kovtun very ill. It must be a Russian thing to say something way over-the-top and think everyone will take them seriously. OK, so that is silly, but parrotting the Russian line about the linking of the deaths without evidence is too much. As is, of course, the expectation Lugovoi was going to get a quaint invitation from Scotland Yard. Too much of a staged show as have been the media bursts in the UK.
But there are some statements which are not so out of the realm of reality:
The head of the investigating committee at the General Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday Russia has not yet received any evidence from Britain on Lugovoi.
“We have not received any evidence from London of Lugovoi’s guilt, and those documents we have are full of blank spaces and contradictions,” Alexander Bastrykin said in an interview with a government daily, Rossiskaya Gazeta, which was published Wednesday.
I think it is true the UK has held back there evidence – possibly because it would tip off their case and get leaked to the media. But the fact is there is a battle of propaganda and media manipulation raging between the UK-Berezovsky camp and the Russian-Lugovoi camp. And the real question is why would these nominal allies line up against each other? We know Polonium-210 was being smuggled through London. But we don’t know why and why so much being moved when an amount equal to a grain of sand could kill many Litvinenkos.
The Po-210 trail is still the key. I find it strange that Mario Scaramella has dropped off the radar – and we don’t even know if he was exposed to Po-210 or not. It is important because Scaramell met Litvinenko at 3:00 PM on November 1, and 90-120 minutes before meeting up with Lugovoi and Kovtun at the Millenium Hotel’s Pine Bar. If Po-210 is traced to that meeting then Litvinenko was exposed before the Pine Bar.
The other question mark is how adn when Berezovsky’s office was contaminated. Early on Berezvosky was admitting Litvinenko was in his office prior to the Pine Bar meeting. His claims at the time were that Litvinenko was the source of the contamination. This can be seen here in this early post of mine where traces of Polonium were found on a copier he used:
The documents passed between Scaramella and Litvinenko at Itsu also appear to have been contaminated.
After the meal, the Russian hurried to Berezovskyâ€™s nearby office where he appeared, according to a well-informed source, in an â€œagitatedâ€ state.
He showed the documents to Berezovsky, who skimmed through them and passed them to a colleague. Litvinenko then photocopied them. Tests later found traces of radiation on the photocopying machine.
But this conflicts with another line of thinking: (see here).
A further mystery arises because of conflicting evidence about Berezovskyâ€™s Mayfair office, which is near the Sheraton. One source last week claimed that Lugovoi had visited the office during his trip to London between October 25 and 28. But another well-informed source said that Lugovoi had visited it on October 31 or November 1.
The timing is important, because whenever Lugovoi did visit the office he appears to have been strongly radioactive â€” traces have been found there.
He and Berezovsky greeted each other with a hug and Lugovoi sat on a sofa while they drank white wine. The source said: â€œWhen investigators later tested for radioactivity, the maximum activity was on the cream-coloured sofa where Lugovoi was sitting while he drank wine.â€
Finally, one other piece of the puzzle is how many people in the office building were actually contaminated (see here):
They are among 116 people â€“ mostly hotel staff, visitors and guests and office workers â€“ who have tested positive for polonium-210.
How many of those 116 (and this number could have grown since this early story) were in Berezovsky’s office? How bad was the contamination? The timeline can go either way and has lots of possibilities. One reasonable scenario is Berezovsky was the source of contamination. What bothers me is we don’t know and are trusting in this media facade going on between the UK and Russia to get to the bottom of this. What has been happening instead is the media circus has been distracting to the essence of this story. Why was Po-210 being transported through London? The assasination theory is only one possible angle and all other options need to be eliminated before it can hold water. So far it appears the optional scenarios are simply being ignored.