Skip to comments.BBC: 'Multiple attempts' on Litvinenko ~ attempt by Russia to silence him?
Posted on 01/22/2007 11:56:32 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_BeachEdited on 01/22/2007 11:58:02 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
There may have been multiple attempts to kill Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko before he died, BBC One's Panorama programme has discovered.
The first poison bid may have come two weeks before he met Mario Scaramella in a sushi bar on 1 November.
It may have been at the same restaurant, but when Mr Litvinenko met former KGB men Andrei Lugovoi and Dimitri Kovtun on 16 October.
Mr Litvinenko suffered a fatal overdose of radioactive isotope polonium-210.
Traces of the poison were discovered not where Mr Litvinenko and Mr Scaramella sat, but elsewhere in the restaurant, most likely where Mr Litvinenko met the Russians.
Several other sites, including a hotel visited by Mr Lugovi and Mr Kovtun, were also contaminated.
Mr Scaramella, an academic, said he had no idea how polonium reached the sushi bar and denied "absolutely" taking part in the poisoning.
"I know they closed it because they found the polonium, but seems it was not in the place where we seated. So lots of things must be clarified. Where we seated there is no polonium," he said.
It was widely reported that Mr Scaramella had tested positive for polonium.
But Panorama has discovered that his initial test results were inaccurate. Subsequent tests proved negative.
Mr Litvinenko had collaborated with Mr Scaramella on an Italian KGB mole-hunt.
"Some of this information was lethal information, shall we say. Other people have been killed for this kind of co-operation," Mr Scaramella said.
Mr Litvinenko's widow Marina said her husband's tea may have been spiked at another meeting with the two ex-KGB men on 1 November.
She said: "At the Millennium Hotel Sasha (Mr Litvinenko) told me he met Lugovoi and during this meeting he had drunk tea.
"He said it was tea already served, on the table, and he just took this cup of tea, and he didn't finish it at all, and how he later said tea wasn't very tasty, 'because it was cold'."
Panorama found Mikhail Trepashkin, a jailed former officer with the Russian secret service, who was ordered to monitor Mr Litvinenko in 2001.
The programme also visited Laboratory Number 12 in Moscow.
An anonymous ex-Soviet intelligence officer said: "It's the laboratory that every year gets its budget to work with radioactive poisons."
Prodi 'a KGB friend'
Panorama has also obtained a document classified "top secret" in Italy in which Mr Litvinenko accuses Italian prime minister Romano Prodi of being a friend of the KGB.
Mr Scaramella said: "Some qualified sources, including Litvinenko, told me that some officers in Moscow considered him as their man, KGB man."
Mr Litvinenko was warned off defecting to Italy "because there are some big friends of Russia in this country", he added.
Mr Prodi has always denied having KGB links.
Marina Litvinenko told Panorama the poisoning could not have been carried out without Russian President Vladimir Putin's knowledge, as he is "behind everything that happens in Russia".
Mr Putin's spokesman, Dimitry Peskov, responded: "I answer directly that Russia has not done it and it is absurd even to think about it.
"If she says that Russia has killed Sasha, she's a liar for these words."
Panorama: How to Poison a Spy will be shown on BBC One at 2030 GMT on Monday 22 January.
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Litvinenko was either the victim of an assassination or part of a smuggling effort that was moving Po-210 through Lonond. Investigators have discovered Po-210 at three hotels which were used by Andrei Lugovoi on three trips in October. But the Po-210 was not found in one room (as would be the case with an assassin), but in multiple rooms in each case. And at each visit and the surfacing of Po-210 at the scene Lugovoi met with Alexander Litvinenko.
Was he working on a dirty bomb?
No idea....lots of theories as to just what was going on.
Could've been a smuggling operation or someone wanted him dead....your guess is as good as anyone's.
AJStrata on his blog....linked above...makes a decent case for some smuggling....see comments there also.
How is it this assassination effort got more Po-210 on the rug of a hotel room than they ever got into Litvinenko after multiple tries? Forget the assassination theory. If the trail and the poisoned people are simply the debris from handling (and mishandling) the Po-210, then the big questions is what was the amount of Po-210 that was being smuggled that left this trail?
Posted by AJStrata on Sunday, January 21st, 2007 at 6:24 pm.
If it wasn't a hit (and using a $10 million to $25 million dollar weapon when a bullet fired from a really nice sniper rifle or a $30 dose of ricin would have done the job just as nicely doesn't sound like a hit), a dirty bomb, or worse seems likely:
Polonium-210 mixed with beryllium-9 produces a strong neutron source. Plutonium bombs, including 'suitcase nukes' need a neutron source as part of the trigger mechanism. It's the part that needs to be renewed to keep them in working order.
Given his Chechen connections and conversion to Islam, Litvinenko may well have been supporting a project to revive an old plutonium bomb some Islamist group had acquired.
The multiple contaminated sites, and multiple doses he seems to have received fit as well with Litvinenko carrying a container of Po-210, which, unknown to him had a leak, and managing to ingest some on a few occasions, as with multiple attempts to kill him using a bizarrely expensive means.