On Nov. 22 in London, a former Russian spy who had been investigating the October 2006 killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering her death fell victim himself to radiation poisoning, British authorities indicated Friday. -- Forty-three years old when he died, Alexander Litvinenko was a former agent of the FSB (Federal'naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti), Russia's domestic security service. -- In 2002, he co-authored a book entitled Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within, alleging that FSB agents had coordinated bombings in Russia in 1999 that killed more than 300 people while putting the blame on Chechen rebels. -- On Friday, a few hours after Alexander Litvinenko's death, the Financial Times published the text of his posthumous statement, which directly blamed Russian President Vladmir Putin as responsible for his murder. -- Reporting on his death a few hours earlier, Stephen Fidler of the Financial Times wrote: "He died at University College Hospital, London, to which he had been admitted a week ago. Scotland Yard, having earlier described the case as one of a 'suspected deliberate poisoning,' said the case was being investigated as an 'unexplained death.' -- Friends of Mr. Litvinenko said they were convinced he was killed on orders of the Kremlin. The Kremlin dismissed the claims as 'sheer nonsense' and the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service, took the unusual step of denying it was involved, saying it was not worth the damage to relations with Britain." -- Putin appeared at a news conference in Helsinki Friday, where he displayed an unwonted "discomfort," according to Daniel Dombey of the Financial Times. -- Hours earlier, the Financial Times reported that Britain's Health Protective Agency said "Large quantities of the radioactive isotope polonium 210 have been found in the urine of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko following his death on Thursday night." -- Prof. Dudley Goodhead of the Medical Research Council & Genome Stability Unit told Reuters that quantities of polonium necessary to poison someone would have to be made in a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator. -- (NOTE: Polonium 210 is effective as a poison because the isotope is an alpha emitter 5,000 times as powerful as radium. -- When emitters of alpha particles are incorporated in a human body, they damage surrounding biomolecules, but outside the body alpha irradiation is almost harmless, since alpha particles are completely absorbed by non-living cells of the epidermis.) -- AP reported that Litvinenko's friend, Andrei Nekrasov, said the dying man had told him: The bastards got me, but they wont get everybody. -- "The only logic is revenge," said Nekrasov. "They consider him an enemy — every week he was in Putins face, he was a tireless critic of Putins regime. He had a mission to uncover what he felt were crimes his former colleagues had committed." ...
ALEXANDER LITVINENKO'S POSTHUMOUS STATEMENT
** Text of statement by Alexander Litvinenko released after his death **
Financial Times (UK)
November 24, 2006
I would like to thank many people. My doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are doing all they can for me; the British Police who are pursuing my case with vigor and professionalism and are watching over me and my family. I would like to thank the British Government for taking me under their care. I am honored to be a British citizen.
I would like to thank the British public for their messages of support and for the interest they have shown in my plight.
I thank my wife, Marina, who has stood by me. My love for her and our son knows no bounds.
But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death. I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like. I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.
You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.
You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty, or any civilized value.
You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women.
You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.
'POISONED' FORMER RUSSIAN SPY DIES IN LONDON
By Stephen Fidler
Financial Times (UK)
November 24, 2006
Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer whose suspected poisoning in London was blamed by friends on the Kremlin died in hospital on Wednesday night.
Alexander Litvinenko's condition deteriorated sharply on Wednesday night, when he had suffered heart failure and he had been placed on a ventilator. He died at University College Hospital, London, to which he had been admitted a week ago.
Scotland Yard, having earlier described the case as one of a "suspected deliberate poisoning," said the case was being investigated as an "unexplained death."
Friends of Mr. Litvinenko said they were convinced he was killed on orders of the Kremlin. The Kremlin dismissed the claims as "sheer nonsense" and the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service, took the unusual step of denying it was involved, saying it was not worth the damage to relations with Britain.
Whoever is responsible, his death underlines that Russian-style assassinations have been imported into Britain along with London's sizeable Russian exile community.
The cause of Mr. Litvinenko's death remains a mystery. Doctors said yesterday they were still not sure why his health had suffered such a drastic deterioration.
Early reports suggested he had ingested thallium, a substance used in rat poison, but subsequently said the level of the substance in his bloodstream was not high enough for this to be the cause. It was also suggested he had taken a dose of radioactive thallium, a substance used in KGB assassination attempts in the past.
Mr. Litvinenko, 43, was a former officer in the FSB, Russia's domestic security service. He gained political asylum in Britain in 2000 after claiming the FSB had tried to assassinate Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch exiled in London.
Mr. Litvinenko fell ill after two meetings this month in central London: first with two Russians and second with an Italian academic, Mario Scaramella, who has denied involvement in his death. He said he gave Mr. Litvinenko information about the murder in October of the Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
Mr. Litvinenko had been vocal in accusing Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, of ordering Ms. Politkovskaya's death.
Speaking to journalists in October, he said: "A person of her standing could not be touched without the sanction of the president himself."
AN UNCOMFORTABLE DAY IN HELSINKI
By Daniel Dombey
Financial Times (UK)
November 24, 2006
The face of Vladimir Putin said it all. Normally, Russia's president is one of the most accomplished media performers on the world stage, dominating summits with his informed and acerbic press conferences. On Friday, however, his discomfort was there for all to see.
Sharing a podium with the European Union's top officials and a clutch of Nordic prime ministers, Mr. Putin grimaced and cast his eyes to the ceiling. Advisers said he had a cold.
But the Russian president was also contending with the accusation that he was responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy -- a charge made by the dead man himself.
As such, it was a public appearance by Mr. Putin unlike any other. Steely-eyed, he expressed his regret for the "tragedy" of the death, cast doubt on whether the former spy had really authored the statement in his name, and rejected talk of poisoning as provocative "speculation."
It was the supremely uncomfortable climax of a supremely uncomfortable summit between the EU and its most powerful neighbour. For if Mr. Putin was ill at ease, so were his interlocutors.
All week, the EU had sought to reach a common position on opening talks on a wide-ranging deal with Russia, the step that was supposed to be the showpiece of the summit. All week, the EU had failed, because of a dispute between most EU countries and Poland, which distrusts Moscow most.
And within the meeting itself, the Russian president allowed neither his state of health nor any dismay at Mr. Litvinenko's death to deter him from his usual onslaught on the EU's officials. Mr. Putin noted that the EU was seeking to boost its energy ties with countries such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, a step the bloc believes will help diversify supplies at a time when it is increasingly dependent on Russian gas. But he added that the EU should base its policies "on fact, not fiction," and that there was no substantial alternative to big suppliers, such as Russia, Iran, and perhaps Qatar.
The strong implication was that Moscow retained a measure of influence and control over supplies from former Soviet states.
Asked about the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the campaigning journalist, Mr. Putin said European countries had failed to solve mafia-style crimes for years on end. It was a bravura performance. But it was still a terrible day -- for both Mr. Putin and the EU.
LITVINENKO 'POISONED' WITH RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPE
By Stephen Fidler and Daniel Dombey
Financial Times (UK)
November 23, 2006 (updated Nov. 24)
HELSINKI -- Large quantities of the radioactive isotope polonium 210 have been found in the urine of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko following his death on Thursday night.
The Health Protection Agency said that a significant quantity of the element had been found in Mr. Litvinenkos body.
The chief executive of the HPA, Professor Pat Troop, said the fact that deliberate radiation poisoning had apparently occurred was an unprecedented event in Britain.
Someone has apparently been deliberately poisoned by a type of radiation, she said. This man had a high dose of radiation.
Scotland Yard, having earlier described the case as one of a suspected deliberate poisoning, said the case was being investigated as an unexplained death.
Friends of Mr. Litvinenko said they were convinced he was killed on orders of the Kremlin. The Kremlin dismissed the claims as sheer nonsense and the SVR, Russias foreign intelligence service, took the unusual step of denying it was involved, saying it was not worth the damage to relations with Britain.
At a press conference at a Russian-EU summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Mr. Litvinenkos death a tragedy but argued that it was not the first unexplained death to have happened in Europe.
He told a press conference: There is no ground for speculation of this kind . . . the issue should not evolve into a scandal.
On Friday Mr. Litvinenko accused President Putin of killing him in a posthumous statement read out by his family in which he condemned Mr. Putin for what he had done to beloved Russia and its people.
Whoever is responsible, his death underlines that Russian-style assassinations have been imported into Britain along with Londons sizeable Russian exile community.
Mr. Litvinenko fell ill after two meetings this month in central London: first with two Russians and second with an Italian academic, Mario Scaramella, who has denied involvement in his death. He said he gave Mr Litvinenko information about the murder in October of the Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
His condition deteriorated sharply on Wednesday night when he had suffered heart failure; he had been placed on a ventilator.
He died at University College Hospital, London on Thursday evening.
Early reports suggested he had ingested thallium, a substance used in rat poison, but subsequently said the level of the substance in his bloodstream was not high enough for this to be the cause.
Professor Dudley Goodhead, of the Medical Research Council & Genome Stability Unit, told Reuters that polonium occurs naturally but that quantities of it necessary to poison someone would have to be made in a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator.
The HPA said a list of people who had contact with Mr. Litvinenko was being drawn up, as there was a very small risk that they could be harmed by the alpha radiation emitted by polonium 210.
Mr. Litvinenko, 43, was a former officer in the FSB, Russias domestic security service. He gained political asylum in Britain in 2000 after claiming the FSB had tried to assassinate Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch exiled in London.
Mr. Litvinenko had been vocal in accusing Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, of ordering Anna Politkovskayas death.
Speaking to journalists in October, he said: A person of her standing could not be touched without the sanction of the president himself.
RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCE IN EX-SPY'S BODY
By Jill Lawless
November 24, 2006
LONDON -- British authorities said Friday that a toxic radioactive substance had been found in the body of a former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic who blamed a barbaric and ruthless Russian President Vladimir Putin for having him poisoned. Putin denied the allegation and called it a provocation.
The Health Protection Agency said the radioactive element polonium-210 had been found in Alexander Litvinenkos urine.
The Health Protection Agency said the radioactive element polonium-210, which it said was extremely hard to detect, had been found in Litvinenkos urine.
The agencys chief executive, Pat Troop, said that the high level indicated Litvinenko would either have to have eaten it, inhaled it, or taken it in through a wound.
We know he had a major dose, she said.
Polonium-210 occurs naturally and is present in the environment at very low concentrations, but can represent a radiation hazard if ingested, officials said.
Only a very, very small amount of polonium would need to be ingested to be fatal, but that depends on how pure the polonium is, said Dr. Mike Keir, a radiation protection adviser at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Litvinenko, a vociferous critic of the Russian government, suffered heart failure after days in intensive care at Londons University College Hospital.
Litvinenko told police that he believed he had been poisoned on Nov. 1, while investigating the slaying of crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya, murdered earlier in a contract-style killing in Moscow.
His hair fell out, his throat became swollen, and his immune and nervous systems were severely damaged.
He was transferred from a north London hospital to University College Hospital on Nov. 17 when his condition deteriorated.
Doctors treating him acknowledged they could not explain his rapid decline. Earlier, they had discounted a theory that the 43-year-old father of three had been poisoned with the toxic metal thallium and also cast doubt on speculation of radioactive poisoning.
On Friday, the hospital said it could not comment further because the case was being investigated by police.
Londons Metropolitan Police said it was treating the case as an unexplained death -- but not yet a murder.
Litvinenkos rapid, and previously unexplained decline, was reminiscent of that of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who became ill with nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea after eating dinner in his compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Oct. 12, 2004. The symptoms continued for more than two weeks before he was evacuated to France where he died on Nov. 11.
Arafat supporters accused Israel of having poisoned their leader. Israel denied the allegation and no evidence of poison was ever found.
Ukraines current president, Viktor Yushchenko, was also an apparent victim of a poisoning in 2004 while an opposition leader in what he also described as an assassination attempt. In his case, doctors were able to confirm that he had received a nearly lethal amount of dioxin, which severely disfigured his face.
The Russian government has strongly denied involvement in Litvinenkos death. Putin, in his first public comment on the allegations, told reporters Friday at a European Union summit in Helsinki, Finland, that British medical documents did not show that it was a result of violence.
This is not a violent death, so there is no ground for speculations of this kind, Putin said.
A death of a man is always a tragedy and I deplore this, Putin said. But the fact that Litvinenkos statement was released only after his death showed it was a provocation, he said.
Putin added that Russia will offer all necessary help to the investigation.
In his statement, said to have been dictated before he lost consciousness on Tuesday and signed in the presence of his wife, Marina, Litvinenko took dead aim at Putin.
You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price, said the statement, read by his friend and spokesman Alex Goldfarb. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.
The former spy said the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life, adding that the Russian leader had no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value.
Litvinenko, who sought asylum in Britain in 2000, had been on a quest to uncover corruption in Russias Federal Security Service, or FSB, and unmask the killers of Politkovskaya, another trenchant critic of Putins government.
Goldfarb said the attack on Litvinenko bore all the hallmarks of a very professional, sophisticated, and specialist operation.
Another friend, Andrei Nekrasov, said Litvinenko had told him: The bastards got me, but they wont get everybody.
He said Litvinenko believed he had been targeted by the Kremlin because he had threatened to uncover embarrassing facts.
The only logic is revenge, they consider him an enemy -- every week he was in Putins face, he was a tireless critic of Putins regime. He had a mission to uncover what he felt were crimes his former colleagues had committed, Nekrasov said.
Litvinenko worked for the KGB and its successor, the FSB. In 1998, he publicly accused his superiors of ordering him to kill tycoon Boris Berezovsky and spent nine months in jail from 1999 on charges of abuse of office. He was later acquitted and in 2000 sought asylum in Britain, where Berezovsky now also lives in exile.
On the day he first felt ill, Litvinenko said he had two meetings, the first with an unnamed Russian and Andrei Lugovoy, an-KGB colleague and bodyguard to former Russian Prime Minster Yegor Gaidar.
Later, he dined with Italian security expert Mario Scaramella to discuss the October murder of Politkovskaya.
Scaramella said he showed Litvinenko an e-mail he received from a source naming Politkovskayas killers, and naming other targets including Litvinenko and himself.