Jan 24

The grave of murdered ex-KGB agent Aleksandr Litvinenko is seen at Highgate Cemetery in London, Britain, January 21, 2016

Britain had more motivation to kill Aleksandr Litvinenko than Russia, brother claims:

The brother of Aleksandr Litvinenko says the UK government had more motivation to kill him than Russia did, despite a British public inquiry which concluded that President Putin “probably” approved the assassination.

Maksim Litvinenko, Aleksandr’s younger brother who lives in Rimini, Italy, responded to the Thursday report by saying it was “ridiculous” to blame the Kremlin for the murder of his brother, stating that he believes British security services had more of a motive to carry out the assassination.

“My father and I are sure that the Russian authorities are not involved. It’s all a set-up to put pressure on the Russian government,” Litvinenko told the Mirror, adding that such reasoning is the only explanation as to why the inquiry was launched 10 years after his brother’s death.

He called the British report a “smear” on Putin, and stressed that rumors claiming his brother was an enemy of the state are false. He added that Aleksandr had planned to return to Russia, and had even told friends about the move.

Litvinenko went on to downplay his brother’s alleged role as a spy, working for either Russia or MI6, adding that the Western media is to blame for such characterization.

“The Russians had no reason to want Alexander dead,” he said. “My brother was not a spy, he was more like a policeman…he was in the FSB [Russian Federal Security Service] but he worked against organized crime, murders, arms trafficking, stuff like that.”

Litvinenko was murdered in London in 2006, when assassins allegedly slipped radioactive polonium 21 into his cup of tea at a hotel. But his brother Maksim cast doubt on whether that was actually the poison used, saying he believes it could have been planted to frame the Russians.

“I believe he could have been killed by another poison, maybe thallium, which killed him slowly, and the polonium was planted afterwards,” he said. He added that requests to have his brother’s body exhumed, in order to verify the presence of polonium, have been ignored by Britain.

“Now after 10 years any trace [of polonium] would have disappeared anyway, so we will never know,” he said, adding that British authorities had not collaborated with Russian investigators on the case.

“This case became a big PR campaign against the Russian government and its president in particular,” Maksim Litvinenko told RT in an interview in 2014. “The West is pressuring Russia very hard now. The MH-17 crash, Crimea, the war in Ukraine, sanctions against Moscow and now this inquiry – I’m not buying that this is a coincidence.”

When asked why Aleksandr Litvinenko’s widow Marina continues to maintain that the Kremlin is responsible for the murder, he said: “She lives in London, to survive she has to play the game and take this point of view. She can’t say anything else.”

Back in 2012, Litvinenko’s father backtracked on his claims that Vladimir Putin was responsible for his son’s death, and asked the Russian president for forgiveness. Walter Litvinenko told RT that his anger had made him say what the Western media wanted to hear.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has also dismissed the British report, blaming London for politicizing the “purely criminal” case of Litvinenko’s death.

Russia’s UK ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, told RT that the inquiry’s conclusion was “not justified,” and that the investigation was “very politicized” and “biased.”

“In order to prove something, you have to present the facts. As soon as the British side proves…their conclusions, we will be ready to consider [them],” the ambassador said, adding that the Russian side “did not even have a chance to study the documents [of the investigation].”

Until Today, I Assumed Putin’s Russia Killed Litvinenko … Then I Looked for Myself:

I’ve always assumed that Putin’s KGB (now called the FSB) killed Alexander Litvinenko.

But today’s announcement by the British that Putin “probably” approved Litvinenko’s murder made me curious enough to take a look for myself.

Initially, Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium as he sipped tea in an upscale London hotel. The report makes it sound like only Russia had access to polonium, but it’s actually available online to anyone.

Antiwar notes:

If the Russians wanted to off Litvinenko, why would they poison him with a substance that left a radioactive trail traceable from Germany to Heathrow airport – and, in the process, contaminating scores of hotel rooms, offices, planes, restaurants, and homes?  Why not just put a bullet through his head? It makes no sense.

But then conspiracy theories don’t have to make sense: they just have to take certain assumptions all the way to their implausible conclusions. If one starts with the premise that Putin and the Russians are a Satanic force capable of anything, and incompetent to boot, then it’s all perfectly “logical” – in the Bizarro World, at any rate.

The idea that Litvinenko was a dangerous opponent of the Russian government who had to be killed because he posed a credible threat to the existence of the regime is laughable: practically no one inside Russia knew anything about him, and as for his crackpot “truther” theories about how Putin was behind every terrorist attack ever carried out within Russia’s borders – to assert that they had any credence outside of the Western media echo chamber is a joke.

***

The meat of the matter – the real “evidence” – is hidden behind a veil of secrecy. Lord Owen’s inquiry was for the most part conducted in secret closed  hearings, with testimony given by anonymous witnesses, and this is central to the “evidence” that is supposed to convict Kovtun, Lugovoy, and the Russian government. Lord Owen, explains it this way:

“Put very shortly, the closed evidence consists of evidence that is relevant to the Inquiry, but which has been assessed as being too sensitive to put into the public domain. The assessment that the material is sufficiently sensitive to warrant being treated as closed evidence in these proceedings has been made not by me, but by the Home Secretary. She has given effect to this decision by issuing a number of Restriction Notices, which is a procedure specified in section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005. The Restriction Notices themselves, although not, of course, the sensitive documents appended to them, are public documents. They have been published on the Inquiry website and are also to be found at Appendix 7 to this Report.”

In other words, the “evidence” is not for us ordinary mortals to see. We just have to take His Lordship’s word for it that the Russian government embarked on an improbable assassination mission against a marginal figure that reads like something Ian Fleming might have written under a pseudonym.

So who killed Litvinenko ?

Well, Mario Scaramella met with Litvinenko during the meal when Litvinenko was poisoned. Scaramella didn’t eat or drink a thing during the lunch, and then himself came down with a mild case of polonium poisoning.

La Republica (one of Italy’s largest newspapers)  wrote in 2006 (English translation) that Scaramella was a bad guy who may have worked with the CIA:

Mario Scaramella is suspected of arms trafficking. Earlier this year, the public prosecutor of Naples has written for this offense to the docket and, soon after, had to stop the investigation. [He was convicted in Italy for selling arms (original Italian).]

***

Sources found to be very credible by the prosecutor recalled that investigators suspected that Scaramella was actually in close relationship, if not actually working for, the CIA and that his ECPP could be a front company of the agency’s Langley.

Antiwar notes:

As I pointed out here:

“Litvinenko was an employee of exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky – whose ill-gotten empire included a Russian syndicate of car-dealerships that had more than a nodding acquaintance with the Chechen Mafia – but was being slowly cut out of the money pipeline. Big-hearted Boris, who had initially put him on the payroll as anti-Putin propagandist, was evidently getting sick of him, and the out-of-work “dissident” was reportedly desperate for money. Litvinenko had several “ business meetings ” with Lugovoi in the months prior to his death, and, according to this report , he hatched a blackmail scheme targeting several well-known Russian tycoons and government officials.”

Indeed, Litvinenko, in the months before his death, had targeted several well-known members of the Russian Mafia with his blackmail scheme. That they would take umbrage at this is hardly shocking.

Alternatively, Litvinenko may actually have accidentally poisoned himself.  Antiwar again:

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