Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Can I have a little Polonium-210 on my spring roll, please?
Are you following this story? It is bizarre and freaky, scary and fascinating. Just like a SpySistah story in many ways. Here's the gist:

Central to this story is a Russian man named Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was a real-life ex-KGB spy. He became disenchanted with Putin and the Kremlin and the Russian Security Services, his former employer. Upon this disenchantment, Litvinenko sought asylum in Great Britain and only last month became a citizen.

He died, however, on November 23 from poisoning. He was apparently given a major dose of Polonium-210, a radioactive isotope that is artificially synthesized by "heavy duty nuclear physics." He fell ill sometime after a visit to a sushi bar where he met Professor Mario Scaramella, a nuclear expert educated in Moscow. At the time of his death, Litvinenko was investigating the death of an anti-Kremlin Russian journalist, one Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in the lobby of her apartment building.

This Polonium-210 stuff, being radioactive, leaves a trail behind. As such, traces of the Polonium-210 have been found in seven locations visited by Litvinenko on the day he fell ill. Ace has a link to this map and timeline that you might find handy.

Now, to muddy the waters even further, this radioactive trail leads to the home of fellow Russian exile and billionaire Kremlin-critic Boris Berezovsky. It seems that Berezovsky and Litvinenko fled Mother Russia together.

In 1998, Litvinenko, then a spy for the Russian FSB service, the successor to the KGB, announced at a news conference that his superiors had ordered him to kill Berezovsky, who at the time was one of Boris Yeltsin's top security officials. Both men fled to London.
This thing has more twists and turns than cold spaghetti!

In 2001, Litvinenko authored a book titled "Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within", in which he asserted that the Russian FSB (Security Services) were behind the 1999 apartment bombings that killed 300 people that were blamed on Chechen rebels in order to necessitate the following invasion of Chechnya.

Interestingly enough, Politkovskaya was also looking into events in Chechnya.

Politkovskaya's editors said the martyred reporter had been due to publish an investigative article about torture and kidnappings in Chechnya based on witness accounts and photos of tortured bodies.

None of which looks good if you happen to be Vladimir Putin, if-you-know-what-I-mean-and-I-think-you-do.

On his deathbed, Litvinenko laid the blame for his poisoning on Putin and his regime. Putin, for his part, says that this is absurd. He blames Berezovsky. The Metropolitan Police have no solid suspects, and don't even rule out the possibility that Litvinenko poisoned himself to frame Putin. Reports also suggest that Litvinenko may have also accused Scaramella, who "appeared nervous and ate nothing while they were at sushi bar Itsu."

Scaramella, however, has been assisting authorities with the investigation and is currently in protective custody. This may have something to do with it:

Scaramella said he showed Litvinenko e-mails from a confidential source identifying the possible killers of a Russian investigative journalist and listing other potential targets for assassination -- including himself and Litvinenko.

An email hit list. What a story!

Other possible suspects include the shadowy Russian figures that Litvinenko met with in a hotel that same day. Traces of the radioactive isotope have also been discovered at the hotel. Another suspect appears to be Anatoly Kirov, a former employee of the Russian Consulate in London, and the person Litvinenko believed was the manager of Russia's agent network.

Personally, I think it was murder. For one thing, it is not unusual for critics of the Kremlin to suddenly cock up their toes. For another thing, it is not an easy death, poisoning, and I can't imagine that somebody would choose that as their self-inflicted ticket off the planet, even if they were trying to frame someone else. Frankly, there are a lot less painful and flashier ways to go and you can still frame somebody else in doing things that way. Besides, this guy was a professional spy. He's used to looking around corners and dodging bullets. I'm guessing a murderer would have to go to exceptional lengths to finish the job.

You can bet that I'll be watching this story as it unfolds.


posted by Phoenix | 10:07 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home


Popular Posts:





fighting 101s