Although Lugovoy has insisted that the meeting with himself, Kovtun and Sokolenko and Litvinenko occurred after Litvinenko’s rendevous with Scaramella at Itsu, it seems the timeline is being fixed by the media despite Scotland Yard not having released an “official timeline.”
“Investigations in Britain have focused on the Pine Bar at Londonâ€™s Millennium Hotel, where Litvinenko held a morning meeting over tea and gin with three fellow Russians on Nov. 1 â€” the day he fell ill.
Britainâ€™s Daily Telegraph newspaper said police were testing a teacup and dishwasher at the hotel for signs of radiation.
Andrei Lugovoi, also an ex-Soviet agent, Kovtun and Vyacheslav Sokolenko, the head of a private Russian security firm, joined the meeting in the hotelâ€™s intimate, blond oak-paneled bar.”
Regardless whether the Millenium Hotel meeting preceded Itsu or otherwise, according to the Times, Litvinenko *still* went straight to Berezovsky’s office after Itsu.
“The documents passed between Scaramella and Litvinenko at Itsu also appear to have been contaminated.
After the meal, the Russian hurried to Berezovskyâ€™s nearby office where he appeared, according to a well-informed source, in an â€œagitatedâ€ state.
He showed the documents to Berezovsky, who skimmed through them and passed them to a colleague. Litvinenko then photocopied them. Tests later found traces of radiation on the photocopying machine.”
Why wasn’t Berezovsky contaminated? Everyone else who was associated with Litvinenko that day became contaminated including 7 staff at the Millenium Hotel, yet Berezovsky is apparently clean despite supposedly “skimming through” the contaminated documents.
Luguvoy has also worked for Berezovsky.
“Both men served in the KGB but did not know each other at the time. They met in 1996, by which time Mr Lugovoi was working as head of security for ORT, a television channel owned by the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Mr Litvinenko was also employed by the billionaire.”
There’s been skulduggery in the past at ORT:
“Georgian tycoon, close associate of Boris Berezovskii. Cf. Klebnikov, Godfather of the Kremlin, 262: “Often Berezovskii acted in Chechnya through Badri Patarkatsishvili, the Logovaz partner who, according to the Russian security services, had long served as the company’s primary intermediary with organized crime groups.” Klebnikov reports (161, cf. 331) that Moscow police heard in early 1995 from a gangster that “he had been approached by Berezovsky’s aide, Badri, with a contract for Listyev’s assassination.” (In February 1995 Listyev, the director of Russia’s most important TV network ORT, was shot dead in his apartment building.)”
Did Luguvoy know too much? was he involved in the above assassination or does he have critical information about it?
Additionally, as evidenced in this 2005 article, Berezovsky has plenty of motive for discrediting Putin.
“Having an Israeli citizen at the highest levels of the Russian government is ideal, from Israel’s point of view. In Berezovsky they had such a man. The Jerusalem Post article mentioned above is revealing. It describes Berezovsky as “the Godfather of the Oligarchs’ and Kingmaker of Russia’s Politics'” and reports Berezovsky’s statement that “Putin’s Russia is dangerous for Israel.”
COMMENTS FROM OLD HC BLOG:
Was Litvinenko poisoned more than once? If the source of contamination was the document which Scaramella gave him, possibly not. Litvinenko would however have been poisoned each time he read/touched the document. Still don’t know whether Litvinenko was a smoker though.
“The battle to besmirch or lionise the memory of Mr Litvinenko came as Scotland Yard detectives were investigating whether the former KGB lieutenant-colonel was the victim of multiple attacks on 1 November Â the day he fell ill. The Independent has learnt that toxicology tests have revealed two separate “spikes” of polonium-210 contamination, indicating that he was attacked twice.
Detectives believe that Mr Litvinenko could have been targeted at the Itsu sushi restaurant, where he met the Italian academic Mario Scaramella, and the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, where he met two Russian business contacts Â Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun. Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun have also been contaminated with polonium-210 and are suffering from radiation sickness in a Moscow hospital.”
“Evidence that a PR counter-attack was under way came in lengthy tape recordings broadcast by Channel One of conversations between Mr Litvinenko and Boris Berezovsky, the exiled oligarch who was the former spy’s ally and financial sponsor. The recordings sought to suggest that Mr Litvinenko was inventing allegations that would help his patron in return for “a fee” . The programme, The Person and The Law, alleged that Mr Berezovsky had cut his monthly allowance to the former agent from Â£5,000 to Â£1,500 and he had money problems.”
“Mr Lugovoi, who had previously shied away from all publicity, went so far as to hold a televised press conference to issue his denial of any involvement in Mr Litvinenko’s murder and promptly took his family off to be tested for exposure to the radioactive isotope.
He said afterwards: “Traces were found even on my children and on my wife. To think that I would handle the stuff and put them at risk is simply ludicrous.””
“For the next three years, Mr Lugovoi became a vital part of Mr Berezovsky’s empire, recruiting to his security operation former KGB colleagues such as Vyacheslav Sokolenko, who was also among those who travelled to London.
When Mr Berezovsky suddenly fell out of favour and fled to Britain in 2000, Mr Lugovoi was caught in the backlash. In 2002, he was jailed for 14 months on charges related to unproven fraud allegations against his former employer.
The perception that Mr Lugovoi has “done time” for Mr Berezovsky has been highlighted as one reason why his involvement in the murder of Mr Litvinenko, a close ally of the oligarch, is unlikely.
But the Yard is understood to be looking closely at the theory that Mr Lugovoi, whether with his knowledge or not, was used as a cover by Mr Litvinenko’s assassins.
The two men met 13 times in London this year to discuss various business ventures and swap intelligence, including at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair on 1 November, the date when Mr Litvinenko fell ill.
The traces of polonium-210 found in Mr Lugovoi and at various locations such as Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, where Mr Lugovoi and his partner, Dmitry Kovtun, watched a match with CSKA Moscow on 1 November, could emanate from contact with Mr Litvinenko on that day.
But there is also evidence the polonium was in London for at least a week before 1 November and could have been brought into Britain by a member of Mr Lugovoi’s party on a previous trip. A British Airways flight and five rooms in a hotel, the Sheraton Park Lane, used by Mr Lugovoi and his party on 25 October have tested positive for polonium-210.
Mr Lugovoi has said: “Someone is trying to set me up.””
” By 1994, Berezovsky had moved beyond dependence on mobster protection. He had forged a more potent alliance by paying for the publication of Boris Yeltsin’s memoirs, thus gaining entree to the inner circle around the grateful author/president. This court was populated with strange figures, such as the “hippie journalist” Valentin Yumashev, through whom Berezovsky obtained his entree; Yeltsin’s tennis coach, who ran a large criminal empire of his own from a Kremlin office; not to mention Alexander Korzhakov, for a while the powerful chief of Yeltsin’s Praetorian guard who later reported that Berezovsky had asked him to kill a business rival. Korzhakov performed great services to history by his assiduous bugging of everyone’s phones, leaking the tapes when it seemed useful, and by his forthcoming reminiscences once he had fallen from his master’s graces.
Once inside “the family,” Berezovsky masterfully parlayed political connections into cash. Key to his modus operandi was the realization (shared by many of his peers in the rising business oligarchy) that it was not necessary to control a business, simply its cash flow. In a remarkably candid 1996 interview with Klebnikov he termed this approach the “privatization of profit” A fascinating chapter lays out in detail, complete with the transcripts of bugged phone Calls, how this method was successfully applied to the looting of Aeroflot, the formerly profitable state airline. Thanks in part to the appointment of Yeltsin’s son-in-law as the company’s head, Berezovsky was able to siphon off huge chunks of Aeroflot’s considerable hard currency earnings through a series of shell companies in Switzerland.
From aviation, Berezovsky moved on to the really big money in Russia–oil. His entry into the oil business was facilitated by the most egregious of all the great ripoffs that have charactarized post-Soviet Russia, the “loans for shares” scheme by which our hero and his fellow oligarchs helped themselves to priceless chunks of the country’s resources, for pennies on the dollar, in return for financing Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996. Following that free, but hardly fair, election, the godfathers increased his political profile, taking various high-level government posts (without of course ceasing his business operations for a second). It was at this time that his interest in Chechen matters re-emerged, in the form of lavish ransom payments to kidnappers in Chechnya for the retrieval of their victims. Klebnikov points out that this flow of money to the gangs in the devastated territory effectively made it impossible for the elected Chechen leader to stabilize his country. The consequent anarchy, culminating in the invasion of Dagestan in the summer of 1999 by fundamentalist Islamist Chechens, provided the backdrop for the second Chechen war and the rise to power of Vladimir Putin. Klebnikov suspends judgment as to whether any of the leadership in Moscow had a hand in the terrorist bombings in the capital that provided the final pretext for the invasion of Chechnya last year, although George Soros has been less demure, heavily hinting in an article in the New York Review of Books that Berezovsky deliberately fomented the war in furtherance of his political intrigues.”
“Last Sunday, The Observer carried an allegation by a Russian woman named Julia Svetlichnaya that Mr Litvinenko was a blackmailer. She went on television yesterday to repeat her claim that he had planned to blackmail an unnamed Russian oligarch.
Ms Svetlichnaya is believed to have been employed as communications manager for Russian Investors, a state-owned agency in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Her name was removed from the company website on Sunday.
Mr Zakayev hit back at the newspaper allegation and said: “I can unequivocally state that Alexander Litvinenko has never, under any circumstances, tried to blackmail anyone. Everything that he knew, all the information that he had, he published in the two books that he wrote, in the press or on the internet.” ”
Very suss and a possible black mark on Putin.
A new story just come out with some Russian commentary.
“Experts have said that as little as three millicuries (a microscopic dose) of polonium-210 is enough to kill, and the cost of producing such a dose is about one million dollars. Mr Litvinenkoâ€™s autopsy is said to have revealed that the dose he ingested would have cost closer to $40 million to produce.
Before his fateful meeting at the Pine Bar, Mr Litvinenko also met with Italian security consultant Mario Scaramella for lunch at the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly. Mr Scaramella had arranged the meeting to warn Mr Litvinenko that his life was in danger, based on information he had received via email. Mr Scaramella later suffered a brief illness and was admitted to hospital, where he was found to have ingested “significant amounts” of polonium-210. His condition improved and he has been released. Meanwhile, no traces of the substance have been detected in either the Itsu restaurantâ€™s staff or premises.
Vladimir Simonov, a political commentator for the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti has questioned the murder/assassination theory in the Litvinenko poisoning. He argues that $40 million is high for any professional hit, and that Mr Litvinenko posed no real threat to the Russian government. Moreover, polonium-210 leaves an easily detectable radioactive trail that leads back to operatives and the original source.
Mr Simonov believes Mr Litvinenko may have been smuggling polonium-210 because he â€œbadly needed moneyâ€, â€œmade a bit on the side by smuggling toxic isotopesâ€, and â€œwanted to earn from the transactionâ€. Mr Simonov also states that on the day of his poisoning, Mr Litvinenko visited Boris Berezovsky, an exiled Russian businessman and â€œkey wheeler and dealer of the Yeltsin eraâ€, and left traces of the radioactive isotope in Mr Berezovskyâ€™s office.
Apart from accidental self-contamination, Mr Simonov further suggests that Mr Litvinenko may have been murdered by Mr Berezovsky because he â€œknew too muchâ€ about fraud charges pending in Russia and â€œposed a threat to the exiled oligarchâ€. He said a memorandum of cooperation between Russiaâ€™s Deputy Prosecutor General and Scotland Yard does not bode well for Mr Berezovsky, who may have figured that â€œa dead acquaintance is better than a living friend who talks too muchâ€.
In an alternative scenario, Mr Simonov cites a recent television broadcast in Russia in which Mr Litvinenko was linked with â€œan underground London laboratory where a dirty nuclear bomb was being made for Chechen terroristsâ€. He also states that: (1) â€œOne of LitvinenkoÂ´s close friends was Akhmed Zakayev, the former commander of Chechen fighters, whom Russian prosecutors want to see in Moscow in connection with cases of murder and torture in Chechnyaâ€; and (2) â€œAbout two years ago, Berezovsky told the world that Chechen separatists had acquired a portable nuclear bomb and lacked only one minor detail. That “minor detail” could be polonium-210.â€”