Aug 30 2007
Note, this turned into a really long post full of details once I found the transcript of the interview Kovtun and Lugovoi gave to the British media. All I can say is there are lots and lots of holes now appearing in the UK theories.
I suspected we might get more information on some of the details and some are showing up. But it also appears the news media is doing a bang up job of ignoring critical discrepencies in favor of publicizing irrelevent BS – which is a sad commentary on their objectivity. I have two previous posts below which point to critical assumptions in the Po-210 trail and timeline. One of these details is the fact that original reports had Berezovsky claiming it was Litvinenko who contaminated his office after he met Scaramella (and their were reports of Po-210 on the copier he supposedly used). The problem is that would put Litvinenko’s contamination PRIOR to meeting Lugovoi and Kovtun in the Pine Bar, busting the UK’s pet theory.
When it turned out this was a problem Berezovsky claimed (and I thought no one disputed) that it was Lugovoi who contaminated the office when he visited Berezovsky the day before Litvinenko fell ill. Now Lugovoi has come out and contradicted this timeline, saying he met Berezovsky on the 28th of October during his previous trip to meet Litvinenko. This is the trip without Dimitri Kovtun present, who flew to Hamburg from Russia on the 28th and left the Po-210 trail there prior to returning to London on November 1 to meet Lugovoi and Litvinenko again (he met them on during the even early set of meetings around Oct 16th).
“Berezovsky’s testimony is a lie. I didn’t see him on October 31. I met him four days before that. And he never said why he called me. He continues to insist that he met with me to thank me for being his daughter’s bodyguard. And in reality the whole meeting was devoted to discussions of protecting Elena Tregubova. And I hadn’t had contact with him in seven years. He suddenly called me when he found out I was in London – that was a surprise. So he asked me to provide security for Elena. He said he was worried the same thing that happened to Politkovskaya might happen to her,” Lugovoy stated.
Is this true? Who knows. (Note: update with collaborating evidence farther down). In a previous post I noted Zakayev commenting he saw Lugovoi at one of Berezovsky’s birthday parties, which probably was not seven years ago. And supposedly you would think Lugovoi would meet with Berezovsky IF he was providing security for Berezovsky’s daughter (Note: see update 2 below for the answer to this point). But it is assumed someone may have some collaborating evidence or testimony. The point is these conflicts are key to unraveling events and no reporter should dismiss them – that sets them up to be the jury and not the press.
The full transcript of the interview Lugovoi and Kovtun had with the British media (apparently the first one) as some interesting perspectives, and some wild claims. I will limit my comments to some of the interesting items – you all can read the full transcript at your leisure and draw your own conclusions. I found Lugovoi making an interesting point as to why he thinks British intelligence has been involved in this as a supporter of the Berezovsky-Litvinenko claims:
A three-month investigation by Russian law enforcement agencies show – with pictures and phonecall recordings – Litvinenko describing all the developments around me for a year, and they reveal the direct involvement of the UK secret service.
Well, Litvinenko and Lugovoi met 12-13 times over the year before Litvinenko’s poisoning, but if they can show he had more information than would be expected from regular business contacts that would be an interesting development. At least I understand now why he thinks there was some behind the scenes coordination.
They are using this provocatively, to undermine everything taking place in Russia. I definitely mean Mr. Berezovsky and his accomplices and some member of the UK establishment, Lord Bell in particular, who carries out most of the PR campaign against Russia, funded by Berezovsky.
This is an excellent point and one I noted early on. Bell’s PR group were brought in to take those photos of a dying Litvinenko we see all the time. Why would someone bring in a PR group to deal with a friend’s tragic death? The media machine (including Alex Goldfarb who has been the spokesman for Berezovsky all through this) gives this whole incident the air of a staged act. And Lugovoi makes another good point – he and Kovtun voluntarily provided information about his meetings with Litvinenko to authorities before he died and before the Po-210 was discovered:
I draw your attention to the fact that on November 20, three days prior to the death of Litvinenko, I, of my own free will, and being sane, together with Dmitry Kovtun and with my lawyers, went to the UK embassy and made a written statement and handed them over the documents of our meetings with Litvinenko. We left all our contact information â€“ addresses, phone numbers, phone numbers of relatives, e-mails – and definitively offered a meeting.
Recall that Lugovoi was communicating with Berezovsky and Litvinenko up to this point – they were in contact. And also note Berezovsky would not name Lugovoi as a suspect for a long time. Why not try and help Litvinenko and provide his story to authorities? Lugovoi makes another claim the UK media should be able to check out, which does make one wonder what is going on in the UK?
I draw your attention to the fact that our statement to the UK embassy had not been transferred to the police and the Crown Prosecution.. That was a decisive moment for me, which could have solved everything.
Evidence was not transferred to the investigators? Statements on their meetings did not become part of the investigation? This sounds as bizarre as the UK arresting a supposed Russian assassin, then just letting him go back to Russia – and not once mentioning the incident or lodging a complaint to the Russian government! And we get a lot more about some of the vague claims made about Litvinenko’s travels and associations with the most extreme of the Chechen rebels:
Dmitry Kovtun: I want to ask several questions for you to think about. Zakayev [Akhmed Zakayev, Chechen envoy living in exile in Britain and wanted in Russia] claims that Litvinenko has never been to Pankisi Gorge in Georgia. But a week before the book by Goldfarb and Litvinenko’s widow was published, we claimed that Litvinenko was there on the orders of Zakayev. Goldfarb writes in his book that in 2002 Felshtinsky together with Litvinenko were in Georgia. Litvinenko went under the name of Edward Carter and was wearing dark glasses. Check it out, carry out an investigation, who’s lying and what’s the purpose of it?
I have written before about the Georgia angle since it has been a location rife for nuclear smuggling out of Russia (see here). More damning is Berezovsky’s ties to this region as the place where his coup will originate from – and will happen before 2008 (see here). So why was Litvinenko in Georgia under a fake name and passport? We all know the UK gave Berezovsky a fake name and passport for travel. Why are these angles not being investigated – let alone reported? As always I see too many coincidences regarding Russians, Geogia and nuclear materials. Here is one story where weapons grade uranium was trying to be smuggled in January 2006 – making the smuggling of the Po-210 in October a good time to bring in this last, time limited component. And here is a story of a nuclear smuggling ring to Iran being uncovered in the UK. All coincidence?
Is it so hard to concieve of UK authorities trying to cover up the fact their country has been a conduit for uranium and polonium? But I digress. Back to the interview (and the collaborating evidence I mentioned above):
Berezovsky claims that Lugovoy was in his office in October 31. Check it, it’s easy. Lugovoy flew to London on October 31 on the last plane and was in his hotel at roughly 20.30, has a supper with his family and goes to bed. What’s the purpose of Berezovsky’s claims?
If true the theory being peddled by the UK authorities is destroyed. If Lugovoi did not see Berezovsky on the 31st then Litvinenko and Berezovsky’s office were contaminated BEFORE Litvinenko met with Lugovoi and Kovtun in the Pine Bar on Nov 1 around 4:30 PM. I would think the UK authorities would know what flight Lugovoi came in on. And I am sure Berezovsky’s office would have records of when he left for the day. My guess is this will bust the conventional wisdom about this case. But I am not holding out hope the pliant UK media will get off their arses and find out for sure.
One other thought about the timeline. I believe the flight Lugovoi took from London to Moscow on the 28th showed signs of Po-210. If that is the day Lugovoi met with Berezovsky (and there are multiple contamination sites in his office supposedly) it is possible Lugovoi was contaminated at Berezovsky’s office – the opposite of what was proposed up until now.
If Litvinenko was poisoned before he went to the Pine Bar then he too, having visited Berezovsky’s office that day, been contaminated at the same office. It could be that the trail does not lead to Berezovsky’s office, it eminates from it. Food for thought.
The reason I bring this up is I still think this is a smuggling effort gone bad and Litvinenko KNEW he had been exposed to Po-210. This would make the Putin PR stunt (the claim only came out after Litvinenko failed to survive – not while he was still alive) a cover story to hide the smuggling ring. And Lugovoi points to what could have been an unforced error in this cover tale Berezovsky tried to weave through his surrogates:
Eight months after the beginning of this story, Mr. Felshtinsky claims that he saw Lugovoy in London on October 12, that Lugovoy stayed there illegally and that he has firm evidence that Lugovoy is guilty. Let him show it. Whom are they covering with these claims about October 12 and October 31.?
What has Scotland Yard come close to finding out that Berezovsky decides to let Felshtinsky make such statements? Polonium traces could date back to October 12. Think about that? Ask yourself?
Good question. When I heard this strange claim the first time I suspected we had four shipments of Po-210, not the three we think happened (Oct 16-18, 25-18, 31-Nov 1). It definitely does not help the assassination claim to have four runs of Po-210 into London when an amount required to kill Litvinenko is the size of a grain of dust. And there is an even more damning question about the Po-210 trail, which doesn’t seem to follow Lugovoi, just intersects with his movements on occassion:
I ask you why there are polonium traces at locations I didn’t visit, and there are no such traces at places that I did? Why has Scotland Yard asked us about the places we never visited but where polonium traces were found? Why are there no traces of polonium on the plane I flew from Moscow? We flew on a Transaero plane on October 16, where no traces of polonium were found. But three hours after our arrival at the Erius company HQ at 25 Grosvenor St, if I’m not mistaken, large amounts of polonium were discovered. And after all that you claim that the traces are from Moscow.
BTW, that is a new company name for me. And Kovtun makes a pretty startling claim:
Dmitry Kovtun: Check the planes which flew on October 12. Felshtinsky appeared on purpose.
Were there traces of Po-210 on planes on October 12th? And if folks do not know this by now, I read things and post in parallel, so I find things later that answer items I write early on in the post. Given the length of this post and my time constraints I will be adding adding updates in line. We have the answer to why Lugovoi did not meet Berezosvky when he provided her security (update 2):
He claims he met me to thank me for providing security for his daughter. Firstly, he knew nothing about it by then because Lisa contacted me independently and other people paid for her. We discussed providing security for Elena Tregubova. Seven years had passed since our last meeting and we never discussed business in the meantime.
Well, seems Lugovoi is fairly believable – he backs up his claims. Two other interesting points. One on the handling of evidence:
And the British evidence is the traces of polonium that were found after a month. I may sometimes sound cynical, but there is nothing else to say. Everything was found after a month, but are you sure that during that time nobody could have been to these place after me. I am not.
It is a very valid point. I have said many times the teapot and cup found at the Millenium hotel a month later were too hot, too contaminated to have given the fatal dose to Litvinenko. His insides would have melted. If there was a smuggling ring, and they held onto their contraband, it is not beyond reason they tried to lay clues out. And it is also not beyond reason they mishandled the planting of the evidence. We have not seen numbers yet, but the claim there was discoloration of porcelain and melting of tea leaves into a goo are perposterous. Litvinenko died from 10 millionths of a gram. If you read the Zakayev testimony about the tea it was supposedly already poured and Litvinenko supposedly downed it in three gulps. There is no way a concentration of ten millionths of a gram in 6 ounces of tea would do anything to biological material or porcelain. What we need to see is a scientific review of the material to see if it is, as I suspect, way too toxic to be what killed Litvinenko. And if it is way too toxic, then it was planted evidence.
The final item is the fact Litvinenko may have been dripping Po-210 for some months prior to his death:
Why donâ€™t the British Prosecutors send their material here? Iâ€™ll tell you, because the evidence of me NOT being involved in Litvinenkoâ€™s death, that I presented to Russian prosecutors, is very strong. The absence of polonium traces in the Transaero plane, the things that Livinenko gave me long before October 2006 which have polonium on them.
If he has proof of this, and it might show up as a different batch of Po-210 which has experienced much more decay than the batch that got Litvinenko (contains more lead), then it will add to all the evidence that is just destroying the UK’s case.
Finally, when I read the vague and vacuous news reports regarding this interview I was highly suspicious and critical of Lugovoi. But I realize now that was due to nearly criminally negligent way the UK media is treating this story. There are conflicting statements between Lugovoi and Berezovsky’s cadre, damning ones if Lugovoi is being truthful. The media is not trying to report this story honestly, and given the deadly implications of this issue – dealing with nuclear material that is optimal for a dirty bomb or nuclear trigger – they media is committing a serious misjustice here. Even if Lugovoi is not truthful, since we do not know yet these contradictions cannot be dismissed until we find the truth.