Sep 01 2007
I have been reviewing the latest media comments by Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi (see here for a long post on his comments) the latter of which is the UK’s prime suspect in Alexander Litvinenko’s death. I also reviewed the testimony of Ahmed Zakayev, the Chechen rebel leader in exile who was working with Litvineno during his last days and who is also his neighbor (see here). Finally I have been reviewing the testimony of Boris Berezovsky, the oligarch in exile who used to support Litvinenko and who is the one person tied to all three of these people (Litvinenko, Lugovoi and Zakayev) (see here – I used Yahoo’s Babel Fish to translate it).
I have been focused on the trail of Po-210 and the timeline for the contamination because this is key to the UK authorities’ case, and key to whether the poisoning of Litvinenko was a political assassination, an accidental poisoning in relation to a smuggling ring with an attempt at a media-PR cover up, or some other bizarre plot not yet discovered.
In reviewing these three differing accounts of the days leading up to Litvinenko becoming ill I have discovered some critical disconnects. The credibility of these disconnects is tentative since I only have the press reports to go on and the shakey information they contain. But these disonnects should be easy for authorities to resolve if they want to bolster their theory of how and why Litvinenko died. The first of these disconnects is the apparent Po-210 levels required to discolor a porcelain teapot and turn tea leaves into a gooey muck, versus the microscopic levels that killed Litvinenko (obviously porcelain can stand up to more energy emmission (thermal, radioactive, etc) than human tissue). I discussed this disconnect a previous post and will save folks repeating the post.
But another disconnect has surfaced in my review. Actually, it would be more accurate to say this is a disconnect that has been around since this story broke. From day on the issue has been when did the offices of Berezovsky become contaminated and by whom? One of the most important details to come out of the Lugovoi briefing (which the UK press, in their fit of mob journalism, totally missed) was this claim his travel schedule on Oct 31, 2006 makes it highly unlikely that some of the contamination in Berezovsky’s office was from Lugovoi. Here is what Kovtun said about the theory Lugovoi met with Berezovsky on Oct 31, 2006 – the day before Litvinenko was fatally poisoned.
Berezovsky claims that Lugovoy was in his office in October 31. Check it, itâ€™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. Whatâ€™s the purpose of Berezovskyâ€™s claims?
There are witnesses to this – Lugovoi’s family. But where are Berezovsky’s witnesses? Where is the evidence Lugovoi met Berezvosky on Oct 31? Why is this important? Here is Berezovsky’s account, from his testimony, of how PO-210 ended up in his office:
B.: On good will or it did not consciously for me be necessary to work or to encounter with the radioactive materials. But it happened so that in my office after visit its Mr. lugov on 31 October of past year discovered the traces of polonium -210. It is more precise, they were found on those armchairs, on which it [he] sat by Mr. lugov. I again want to emphasize – on 31 October. But also they were discovered in a considerably smaller quantity in those places, where in my office there was Mr. Litvinenko on 1 November. This only from the cases of my contact with the radioactive materials known to me.
The translation is rough since it is by a SW program, but the essence of this is Berezovsky is claiming BOTH Litvinenko and Lugovoi visited his office and trailed Po-210. But what if Kovtun and Lugovoi prove to be correct? Then the only person to trail Po-210 into Berezovsky’s office was Litvinenko – who could have also sat in the same armchair as probably many of Berezovsky’s visitors do. This would really demolish the UK theory – and if so we have a big story on our hands. One other thing to note. Lugovoi admits he did meet with Berezovsky on Oct 28th before he left London – and I believe there was some Po-210 discovered on the plane he took back to Moscow that day (from the Lugovoi/Kovtun presser).
â€œBerezovskyâ€™s testimony is a lie. I didnâ€™t see him on October 31. I met him four days before that.
Was the Po-210 coming into our out of Berezovsky’s office? Authorities need to be sure. I did find one other interesting surprise in the Berezvosky testimony and it revolves around how Lugovoi acquired the football game tickets he used the night of Nov 1 (which was why he was in town with his friends and family). In this part of the translation “Lugovoi” has been transposed with ‘meadow’ or ‘the meadow’, I guess due to some similarity in the name used and the translation SW. I have added some changes in brackets to fix these translation errors:
B.: I again want to say that 4 I remember no encounters with Kovtun. But I remember well encounter with the meadow [Lugovoi]. To me it was memorized, that this encounter was on 31 October, 2006, when meadow [Lugovoi] arrived to London. 4 it it [he] wanted to thank for the fact that it [he] ensured the protection of my daughter. It [He] arrived into the office, and we with it [he] met in my room. This was on 31 October, 2006, as I remember. And we with it [he] even saw the bottle of dry wine, and that that 4 already he [I] spoke earlier – the armchair, on which sat meadow [Lugovoi] and in my room, and into resepshn, it contained enormous track population polonium. And only these armchairs were iz”yaty Health Protection Agency, after referring to the fact that they cannot be cleaned of it was trace polonium. 4 personally with the meadow [Lugovoi] it [he] were not encountered after this.
K.: What you did discuss during the encounter?
B.: We discussed two questions. 4 he already said that 4 it [he] thanked for help of my daughter. And the second, he to me said that he now has a very successful business in Russia, that the revolutions of this business – tens of millions of dollars, and that it is very glad of this turn of events in its [his] life. 4 I do not recollect so that we would discuss some other problems. This was simply general conversation. Well and also he said that it [he] is going then to go to the football, which exactly takes place on 1 November. And how I remember, the tickets, which are here necessary were necessary to this match, it [he] obtained in my office. But it seems to me that this already occurred next day. But 4 I do not remember accurately.
This is where it get’s interesting. Because, if Lugovoi is found to not have visited Berezovsky then the Po-210 trail in Berezovsky’s office revolves around Litvinenko alone, and would pre-date Litvinenko’s visit with Lugovoi and Kovtun in the Pine Bar. If Litvinenko is contaminated prior to this meeting then he was NOT poisoned in the Pine Bar. And that means the poisoned tea story is a ruse and the teapot may be planted evidence meant to back up the ruse. On the other hand, if Lugovoi is proved to be in Berezovsky’s office on the 31st then Lugovoi is lying and the UK theory is heavily bolstered.
As I said, the football tickets are an interesting twist – but because of who purchased them for Lugovoi. They were provided by Berezovsky’s son-in-law, the husband of the daughter Lugovoi protected back in Russia. These tickets were at Berezovsky’s office. But note Berezovsky cannot recall when the tickets were picked up, Oct 31 or Nov 1. And he thinks they were picked up by Lugovoi. But how can he not be sure which day these were picked up if Lugovoi was there on Oct 31? Why not get the tickets then? My guess is the tickets weren’t there on Oct 31st (something easily checked). We also find Berezovsky attended the game – and then immediately left the country for a few days:
B.: I became known about the encounters post factum, when I returned to London – as 4 already he said, I flew away from London on 1 November. Also after football match.
Interestingly quick departure. Lugovoi has an alibi for the day on Nov 1 since he was with his family. So I still wonder why Berezovsky cannot place when the tickets were provided to Lugovoi and by whom. Especially if he was going to the game himself – where they could have simply met to hand over the tickets outside the gates. But let’s get back to who obtained the tickets for the Lugovois:
K.: In you is a relative on the name Yegor Schuppe?
B.: Yes, I know it [him]. Schuppe – this is the husband of my daughter. I.e., for me this my to zyat’
K.: Yegor Schuppe is familiar with the meadow [Lugovoi] and Kovtun?
B.: I consider that yes. At least, I know that precisely Yegor helped meadow [Lugovoi] with the acquisition of tickets to this football match. With other side, neither meadow [Lugovoi] nor Yegor they spoke never me that they are personally familiar. But I assume that this is actual so, because meadow [Lugovoi] also achieved protection of my daughter of Katya and her family. As 4 already he said, Yegor – husband of my daughter of Katya.
K.: The following question concerns football. Yegor Schuppe bought tickets to meadow [for Lugovoi] to the match “the Arsenal”- TscSka (Central Sports Club of the Army)?.
B.: How I understand, yes, on the request of meadow [Lugovoi] Yegor at least ordered these tickets. To me it is not known, who paid these tickets. But to me it is known that it [he] took away the tickets of meadow [Lugovoi] in my office.
K.: Who and as did transmit tickets to meadow [Lugovoi]?
B.: As far as to me it is known, meadow [Lugovoi] obtained tickets in my office. As rest was there – 4 I do not know.
Is Berezovsky now saying his son-in-law took the tickets from his office, where before he indcated it was Lugovoi who took the tickets? He is sounds as if he is not sure if Lugovoi picked up the tickets when he visited on OCT 31 – why not? Again, this is an important detail which Berezovsky appears to be having trouble trying to fit into his timeline. Or it could just be the poor translation SW? Why would Lugovoi not get the tickets from Berezovsky when he visited Berezovsky on the 31st? No one seems to ask, but it is strange that Berezovsky’s son-in-law is instrumental in getting the tickets to the game for Lugovoi, has them sent to Berezovsky’s office, and Lugovoi doesn’t pick them up on the 31st, nor does he meet Berezovsky at the game to get them. Very strange indeed. Was this a way to entice Lugovoi to London early?
This opens up all those bizarre theories outside the assassination and smuggling scenarios. I will let others speculate on why Berezovsky might entice Lugovoi to London with football tickets and then, all of a sudden, Po-210 traces show up everywhere and Litvinenko suddenly ends up dead. Could this have been an assassination attempt that backfired? Who knows.
If the UK has evidence as to when Lugovoi and Litvinenko visited Berezovsky’s offices I for one would like to see it. This information will not be critical to any court case now that these statements are out in the media. But it is critical to what the underlying motives and activities were. Po-210 traces in Berezovsky’s office left by Litvinenko alone prior to 4:30 PM on November 1 (the date/time of the infamous Pine Bar meeting) destroys the theory that the Pine Bar was the murder site. We need to know if Lugovio can be placed at Berezovsky’s the night of Oct 31, 2006. If he did eat with his family once they reached the hotel (and I would bet their are reciepts that support this) then that meeting would have to have taken place well after 8:30 PM. If Lugovoi did not go to Berezovsky’s, then the Pine Bar location falls apart as the the site of the murder – as does the teapot theory.
And none of these key elements are that hard to prove one way or the other.