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Litvinenko Likely Poisoned on Kremlin Order
[Analysis] Source of polonium was nuclear reactor in Moscow
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-22 08:21 (KST)   
Former KGB colonel Alexander Litvinenko died on Nov. 23 in a London Hospital. He is the first person known to have been intentionally poisoned with a rare nuclear isotope: polonium 210.

Litvinenko had been hired as a consultant by a British company to write reports on 5 Russian individuals. The security company had offered him $100,000 for the job. The purpose of these reports was to assess the risk involved in investment deals in Russia and former countries of the Soviet Union.

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Litvinenko asked Yuri Shvets, a former KGB major, to help him draft the dossier on one individual who has not been named in the media but only described as a very highly placed member of Putin's administration.

Shvets now lives in the U.S. and advises businesses on corruption and security in the former Soviet Union.

The Kremlin individual may well be Igor Sechin, the deputy chief of staff of the Presidential Executive Office.

Shevts passed the information to Litvinenko on Sept. 20. Two weeks later, Litvinenko passed the dossier to Andrei Lugovoy to show him how Western companies want the information to be compiled and presented.

Lugovoy is a former KGB/FSB agent. Litvinenko and Lugovoy have known each other for more than 10 years. Lugovoy has several professional activities. Upon closer look, it appears however very likely that he never quit the FSB. His arrest by Russian authorities is widely perceived as part of his legend.

British investigators are said to consider him as the prime suspect. And so does Shvets. "I believe the dossier was the trigger for the assassination," he said.

The eight-page document contained damaging personal details on the high-ranking official. Reportedly, it cost him several million dollars, as the British company canceled the deal.

It is now suspected that as soon as he got hold of the dossier, Lugovoy tipped off the Kremlin about it. The dossier not only contains damaging information but it also demonstrates that Litvineko could get access to classified information related to events that occurred after his departure from the FSB.

On Nov. 1, Litvinenko met with Lugovoy and an associate, Dmitry Kovtun, at the Millennium Hotel in London. The evidence strongly suggests that Litvinenko was poisoned during that meeting.

While no trace of polonium was found on a metro ticket that Litvinenko bought to attend his meeting on Nov. 1, an administrative document filled out by Kovtun on Oct. 30 tested positive for radiation.

Kovtun flew from Moscow to Hamburg on Oct. 28. His ex-wife, Marina, picked him up at the airport with her BMW station wagon. Traces of polonium have been found in her vehicle. They do not seem to have been left by the passenger's body. Marina's partner used his own credit card to buy Kovtun's plane ticket to London.

The Observer has learnt from a business associate of Shvets that Litvinenko's dossier exposed details concerning the role of the top Kremlin official in the infamous affair of Yukos oil company.

Leonid Nevzlin, a Yukos shareholder who fled Russia to seek refuge in Israel, confirmed that Litvinenko's dossier covers the activities of Yukos. The business associate of Shvets, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Observer that Shvets had made the file on Yukos.

In June 2003, Igor Sechin arranged for the leak of a sensitive dossier warning that a political coup by Russian oligarchs was imminent. The document alleged that Mikhail Khodorkovski, the head of Yukos, was the leader of the conspiracy.

Khodorkovski was arrested a few months later, judged and jailed. Meanwhile, his company was sold in a most bizarre auction. Rosneft, a state-owned company, made the single bet and acquired the most important part of Yukos at less than half the price it had been estimated. The chairman of Rosneft was Igor Sechin.

U.S. intelligence estimates agree that the polonium used to kill Litvinenko originated from Russia and that the use of such a sophisticated weapon points to the involvement of elements inside the government as the quantity used to poison Litvinenko require access to a nuclear reactor.

According to rumors, the IAEA had already identified the source of the polonium as a nuclear reactor from Moscow. On Monday, the deputy director of the Kurtchatov nuclear research institute announced the shutdown of 6 nuclear reactors in the Moscow area.

Earlier this year, the Russian Parliament voted on a law that gave the FSB the right to eliminate, in Russia and abroad, all individuals identified by the Kremlin as terrorists. Obviously, such a decree requires the existence of people capable of carrying out their president's orders.

These assassinations are believed to be conducted by a secret unit named Department V, also known as Vympel.

"Department V is well financed ... largely because of our president who knows the unit well and pays much attention to it," declared Vladimir Kozlov, a former deputy head of the Federal Press Agency, at a recent press conference while accompanied by former senior members of Vympel.

Vympel's other function is to act as a rapid reaction group to nuclear theft. They have some training in nuclear physics. They have access to polonium as they run operations at nuclear facilities.

In Moscow and St. Petersburg, the BBC Russian Service FM broadcasts have been shut down for the first time ever due to unexplained technical difficulties. In St Petersburg, transmissions stopped from Nov. 13 to Dec. 1. In Moscow, the transmission went off air on Nov. 24, the day following the death of Mr Litvinenko.

"The promise that President Putin brought to Russia when he came to power has been clouded by what has happened since, including some extremely murky murders," said Peter Hain, Blair's Northern Ireland secretary, insinuating that the Kremlin is involved.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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