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Litvinenko killing 'had state involvement'

Mark Urban | 16:51 UK time, Monday, 7 July 2008

lit203.jpgThe murder of Alexander Litvinenko was carried out with the backing of the Russian state, according to Whitehall sources. A senior British security official has told Newsnight "we very strongly believe the Litvinenko case to have had some state involvement; there are very strong indications that it was a state action".
Furthermore officers at MI5 believe they thwarted an attempt last June to kill Boris Berezovsky, the London based critic of then president Vladimir Putin.

A Russian citizen, called 'Mr A' in the report but whose identity is known to Newsnight was arrested on 21 June 2007 and deported four days later. Speaking on Newsnight, Mr Berezovsky said that plain clothes officers came to his office soon after the suspected hitman arrived in London on 16 June and urged the businessman to leave the UK immediately. Mr Berezovsky speculates that Mr A was not put on trial because British intelligence did not want to reveal the source who had warned them that Mr A was travelling to London.

According to the senior security source, the Berezovsky incident of June 2007 showed "continued FSB willingness to consider operations against people in the West". MI5 believes that the FSB, Russia's internal security organisation, operated under President Putin with far more autonomy than the organisations usually entrusted with foreign espionage operations (the SVR and GRU). The senior security source feels that the targeting of Russian government critics in the UK has serious diplomatic repercussions: "[it] messes up the relationship big time".

In recent months the Director General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans, has expressed concern about the high level of espionage operations by Russian spies under diplomatic cover. The service believes there are about 30 operating from Russian diplomatic missions in the UK. However the evidence of FSB involvement in the Litvinenko and Berezovsky cases has taken tensions between the two countries to a new level.

Check out Newsnight's previous reports on Litvinenko case:

Litvinenko dossier uncovered

Litvinenko 'a traitor' claim

Following the polonium trail

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    this sounds like a wasted newsnight, returning to the Litvienko case when there are other more pressing matters like the Glasgow east by-election, the summit, and the knife murders in London are more worthy of our attention...surely. Do we really care about the shady dealings of the Kremlin and their foreign policy? Who are we to lecture anybody about the rule of law after dodgy dossiers, 45 minute warnings a government deliberately falsifying evidence to make a case for an illigitimate illegal war, we are the last people on earth to shout foul over what the Kremilin gets up to. This return to cold war diplomacy suits nobody certainly not us with meagre gas supplies and reliant on Russia for commodities. It may suit the Col. Blimps at the FO but when did they ever have to worry about the price of a gallon of petrol?

  • Comment number 2.

    Mark,

    Mr. Litvinenko's family are entitled to justice and Mr. Berezovsky is entitled to protection for as long as he enjoys British hospitality.

    It does not follow that Mr. Medvedev is not sincere about normalising relations. It is really time to face the fact that neither Lugovoy nor anyone else for that matter is going to be extradited to the UK for the Litvineko killing. Neither will Berezovsky be sent back for answer financial irregularities charges.

    The fact remains that life has been made difficult for among others, BP and the British Council by the ongoing friction. To not at least listen to Medvedev before writing him off as Putin's poodle is not only very bad manners but may prove to be a missed opportunity of some importance.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think the assassination of Litvinienko was a disaster for Russia-UK relations and sadly showed that Putin was not as enlightened as we all hoped. Perhaps Medvedev will take a longer term approach.

    I do think Boris Berezovsky pushed what you can legitimately say in a democracy about a foreign government to the very limits. I think he was encouraging armed insurrection if I recall correctly.I hope the "men in grey suits" threw cold water over that approach.

    What happened to the 120 Kilos of FSB documents? I am probably being simplistic but that did seem to be a motivating factor.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have now seen the piece on Newsnight to which this blog refers.

    I simply do not believe that this emerging on the very day Brown and Medvedev meet personally for the first time is coincidental. Whether someone at MI5 has a separate agenda or the government have tacitly approved this, I am not in a position to say. I note that the FCO is being very tight lipped while the Russians are saying nothing.

    It will be interesting to see whether this is an exercise in setting the ground rules in advance for a new understanding or cynically undermining it before it gets off the ground.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mark:

    I had to take that as a guess when Mr. Litvinenko was suddenly having all of the medical problems he had in London.

    That someone else had some involvement.

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear Mark,
    I would like to ask you (and I think it's important for public so I do it publicly) is it correct for journalist to be briefed by MI5 exactly in the manner described by Nick Davies in his book Flat Earth News (chapter Propaganda Puzzle) and just to publish it?
    I see only two options to publish such a statement: first, if MI5 has provided new facts on case and journalist has checked them, second, it was official statement but in this case we need to know the name - who said it. Because the name means responsibility and ability to ask this person another questions. As example - why didn't you include your claims in official accusation of Lugovoi, why didn't you openly accuse Russian state in this murder?
    But in this case I do not see neither the first, nor the second.
    Just imagine if I, as Russian journalist, will publish the story with claims that "according to my anonymous FSB sources Litvinenko was poisoned as result of MI6 plot". What will be your reaction?
    And I was told many times by FSB exactly this stuff and I've never published it just because there is no fact to confirm this conspiracy theory.
    I think checking the facts it's very essential when we deal with information provided by secret services - no matter it is a CIA, MI5, FSB or Mossad.
    Regards,
    Andrei Soldatov
    Observer of Novaya Gazeta

  • Comment number 7.

    Congratulations Andrei Soldatov on posting a very accurate comment from Novaya Gazeta. Standards of British journalism are generally poor reflecting a lack of research rigour and a general failure to resist the temptation to sensationalise news and dumb it down to meet the low critical appreciation levels of the target audience. Not good news for Britian generally, and for the BBC in particular.

    Concerning the BBC's reporting of the Litvinenko case, it is remarkable how little attention has been paid to detail. Some of the questions that need answering:
    - why is an awkward laughing-stock and loose cannon like Litvinenko considered by the BBC to be a serious threat to the Russian government?
    - why does the BBC insist on calling the ex-oligarch and fugitive from justice Berezovsky a 'dissident', he is nothing of the kind, he has no political mission whatsoever except to protect himself and his ill-gotten wealth and slander his opponents - ugh!
    - if Litvinenko and Berezovsky are 'critics of the Putin and Russia', what was it that they are supposed to have said, what is the validity of their criticism and what is its impact - for example I know very well that Litvinenko and Berezovsky are considered to be traitors by the Russian people, so why on earth would Putin risk his international standing by killing them, it doesn't make any sense.

    Sorry Mark and others at the Newsnight and the BBC, you are going to have to raise your game a lot in order to meet international standards of journalism and recapture your lost credibility.

    David Randall

  • Comment number 8.

    Mark,

    Mr. Soldatov makes a valid point but I fear David Randall has over-reacted.

    In your defense (if I may), this is an important story. If someone else had broken it and it turned out that Newsnight had it all the time, you would have stood accused suppressing it. Sometimes you just can't win.

    Where M. Randall seems to me to be wrong is that the culture of 'off the record briefings' and 'unattributable comments' is the hallmark of this government's publicity machine. The journalist makes the decision as to whether the received information is credible or not. That is not the medias' fault - it is an inherent weakness in governments approach to it. Blaming the media is an exercise in shooting the messenger.

    That is where my cynicism trips in. Timing is everything and I repeat that this is just too neat to be purely coincidental. As to your sources and their motives, I can only guess but there is more than the faint smell of manipulation about this.

  • Comment number 9.

    There is a larger issue: the attitudes of government toward goverment-sponsored political murder.

    Basically, governments can get away with it but individuals can't.

    Think of the great fiasco when Israeli murder squads went to a resort town in Norway and killed the wrong man-

    When the French blew up a Greenpeace ship in a New Zealand harbour and killed.

    The murderers got away without paying the price that non-government operators would.

    It is now the legal policy of the Russian government to kill traitors,

    and Israeli law justifies assassinations in all countries to respond to the killing of a Jew.

  • Comment number 10.

    Speculation doesn't determine fact, as this one-sided article reflects. But enough of that.

    Does the British government actually believe that a foreign government will ever hand over an intelligence agent for foreign prosecution? Would Britain ever permit an MI5 agent to be sent to Russia under similar circumstances? Or would the CIA ever permit an agent to be sent to Russia? Not likely, in a hundred life times.

    Did the British government actually believe that the Russian parliament would "ammend" its constititution to open the door to extradition?

    Get real!

  • Comment number 11.

    Andrei
    why do you assume I didn't check whatever facts I may have received from official sources ? How can you make assumptions about my journalism when you have no idea who I spoke to (except for yourself !) prior to publishing this story ?
    You know that it is a journalistic principle that we do not reveal our sources, even on pain of legal action. You can however be assured that I spoke to multiple sources in checking and building up this story.
    You ask what our reaction might be if you wrote a story saying Mr Litvinenko had been killed by British intelligence. But Russian sources advanced precisely this story after the accusations were levelled against Andrei Lugovoi and the BBC did report it.
    As it stands, in our interview, you expressed some scepticism about whether the FSB might have acted in the way MI5 believes they did in the Litvinenko and Berezovsky cases. We included your expression of scepticism in our report, and added my analysis that an accusation against the FSB was not necessarily one against the political leadership of the Russian government. I can't see that you have any cause for complaint.
    Out of interest - hypothetically of course - would you regard information received from MI5 and the FSB as carrying the same basic level of credibility ? Naturally both of us would check. But would you be more sceptical of one than the other ?
    regards
    Mark

  • Comment number 12.

    #9 - Xie_Ming.

    I do not understand the distinction.

    When people travel abroad for any reason, they become subject to the laws of the country they are visiting. It does not matter a fig whether they are working for FBS, Mosad or anybody else. If they kill someone while in the UK, for instance, they are guilty of murder contrary to common law. Why they do it or who is paying them is peripheral.

    Changes to Russian or Israeli law to 'legalise' assassinations overseas have no bearing on the criminality of the act itself. As to the events in Norway or New Zealand, that is a question for the prosecuting authorities in those countries.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mark,
    thank you for your response. I don’t think you have not correctly presented the MI5 point of view. But it was opinion, not facts.
    Regarding your last question: as for me I believe I have to check information provided by any secret service no matter - FSB or MI5, because all of them have I/Ops units, Strategic Communications departments (in FSB it called operatcii programm sodeistvia), so they all are trying to manipulate the media.
    Some of them prefer more intelligent methods, some not. Just a month ago I was interrogated for 4 hours by FSB in Lefortovo because of my interview with SVR defector Tretyakov, so please don’t make me FSB’s defendant.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mark,
    thank you for your response. I don’t think you have not correctly presented the MI5 point of view. But it was opinion, not facts.
    Regarding your last question: as for me I believe I have to check information provided by any secret service no matter - FSB or MI5, because all of them have I/Ops units, Strategic Communications departments (in FSB it called operatcii programm sodeistvia), so they all are trying to manipulate the media.
    Some of them prefer more intelligent methods, some not. Just a month ago I was interrogated for 4 hours by FSB in Lefortovo because of my interview with SVR defector Tretyakov, so please don’t make me FSB’s defendant.
    Andrei Soldatov

  • Comment number 15.

    williambrian wrote:
    "Does the British government actually believe that a foreign government will ever hand over an intelligence agent for foreign prosecution? Would Britain ever permit an MI5 agent to be sent to Russia under similar circumstances? "

    It is unlikely a secret service agent (MI5), who deal with domestic intelligence, would have committed a crime in Russia.

    Overseas intelligence operations are the purview of the SIS (popularly known as MI6).

  • Comment number 16.

    Andrei,
    I am not suggesting you are the FSB's defender. Writing on intelligence matters for your paper, given everything that has happened in recent years in Russia requires real courage. It is my respect for your analysis that meant I included some remarks questioning the version our other sources were giving.
    As for 'facts', there is, as you know a distinction between 'evidence' in the legal sense, and 'intelligence', being the information such agencies have gathered secretly. It is not unusual for an intelligence agency to have information that makes it confident in its analysis but would not be revealed in court.
    all the best
    M

  • Comment number 17.

    We won the Colw War.

    Why are we trying to start a new one?

    I strongly believe that if "dissidents" flee here for sanctuary, they should keep out of politics altogether, and particularly politics concerning their homeland. It should be made a condition of being allowed to stay here.

    As another poster has pointed out, the Israeli secret service murdered an innocent man in Norway and the French secret service murdered a photographer in New Zealand when they blew up Greenpeace when it was in harbour. The New Zealanders caught those responsible but France used their political muscle to secure their release - a case of bullying a small nation. In neither case did we pick a quarrel with Israel or France where the evidence of their involvement in the murder of totally innocent men was beyond any doubt.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re #9.

    You speak of law, but the facts speak of reality.

    Perhaps, one day, we can approach a supra-national application of law.

    Re # 17

    The MOSSAD stumblebums in Norway were led by a general and most were caught, but let off.

  • Comment number 19.

    No, busby2 (#17), we didn't win the Cold War - at least not in the sense you mean.

    The people won the Cold War. The shipyard workers of Gdansk, the tens of thousands who took to the streets of Berlin and Leipzig, Prague and Bucharest telling the world and its leaders that they were not going to take any more. The Hungarians did not tear down the Iron Curtain with Austria or the East Germans send the tanks to knock down the Berlin Wall because of the CIA or MI6 or some grand scheme hatched in western corridors of power. They did it because the likes Krenz and Kadar realised that the game was up. Those who didn't like Ceausescu paid dearly for it. Certainly the west were useful as allies and facilitators and communication technologies beyond the control even of the state security services also played their part.

    Try telling a Czech who waited patiently for 20 years after the Prague Spring or the Hungarian who bid his time and waited 32 years for his moment that they did not win the Cold War. So let the French, the Israelis, the FBS, SIS and CIA play their games. They keep us in bogey men but they are really only shadow boxing. We are on the same side now.

    We all won the Cold War and the devil has long since departed for greener pastures but he is no less dangerous for that and the sooner the agencies stop quarreling among themselves and focus on the real enemy, the safer we will all be.

  • Comment number 20.

    threnodio

    Okay, we all won the Cold War but it needed far more than demonstrations in the eastern block to achieve victory.

    We all won the Cold War because the soviet model could not compete with the west economically. A larger and larger proportion of the Soviet Union's GDP was required each year to maintian their status as a world power. That proved unsustainable in the long run. The "star wars" proposal of President Reagan for example was way beyond their means, and things just began to unravel. Gorbachev was unable to stop the rot with his policies of glasnost and perestroika but the catalyst that caused the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union was the last ditch attempt by the hardliners to stage a coup that failed. This caused the entire collapse of the eastern block communist system which had been creaking under the pressure.

    BTW, who do you see as the real enemy now?

  • Comment number 21.

    The Litvinenko killing was an FSB sting meant to discredit MI6 that went disastrously wrong - everyone in spook world knows that.

    The BBC can quote me and even run a story on it if they like (you may refer to me as a usually reliable source in the usual way) BUT ONLY ON CONDITIONS OF ABSOLUTE ANONYMITY.

  • Comment number 22.

    The timeliness on this article in no coincidence. It is a deliberate attempt to embarrass the leadership of Russia at an international summit, in this case the G 8. It is nothing short of a revisitation of Boris Berezovsky's preposterous allegations of a state sponsored assassination of Alexander Litvinenko promulgated by members of his entourage of former KGB FSB disinformation specialists, high priced public relation firms and media consultants.

    I collaborated with the CTCU (MI6) throughout their investigation into the alleged murder of Litvinenko. I also collaborated with Catherine Belton, then a staff writer with the Moscow Times, during the initial phase of the CTCU's investigation on "real time" emails I received from one of Berezovsky's former KGB disinformation specialist who was interviewed by BBC's own Tom Mangold. BBC's Richard Watson proposed a collaboration with Belton and me on my involvement with the CTCU on the Litvinenko case. As Mangold and Watson were, and still are, well aware, Belton withheld the crucial timelines on those "real time" emails that resulted in the dismissal of Berezovsky's disinformation specialist as key witness.

    Following Belton's publication of an article in the Moscow Times on 23 December 2006 entitled Mangold and Watson were copied on emails from Belton apologizing for that she alleged were edits forced on her by her editor at the Moscow Times. In spite of numerous pledges to revisit the crucial timelines, Belton has not done so to this day. Those timelines comported with the timelines Belton received from Akhmed Zakaev. Up until 21 November 2006 the only suspect identified by Litvinenko was Mario Scaramella.

    Berezovsky's disinformation specialist 1) did not know Andrei Lugovoy's name until after it was published in the Times on 21 November; 2) he did not know Lugovoy met with Litvinenko in the very public Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel in the bustling Mayfair District of downtown London; 3) he did not Kovtun attended the meeting with Lugovoy and Litvinenko; 4) he did not know plans had been made between Lugovoy and Litvinenko to travel to Spain together; 5) he did not know Lugovoy had telephoned Litvinenko during his hospitalization; 6) he did not know Lugovoy flew from London to Moscow on 2 November 2006 where he connected with a flight to Tbilisi, Georgia for meetings with Berezovsky's business partner Badri Patarkatsishvili'. What he did profess to know was that Lugovoy was missing and presumed dead.

    Yet he testified, in support of Berezovsky's testimony and public statements, that Litvinenko informed him on or about 5 November 2006 that Lugovoy had poisoned him. He also offered testimony in support of Lenoid Nevzlin's testimony and public statements that Litvinenko informed him he had given Lugovoy a copy of a Yukos Oil dossier that Lugovoy is alleged to have walked into a Kremlin kingpin that triggered the state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko, a patently false allegation in that he admitted he had edited and embellished the Yukos Oil dossier he alleged Litvinenko he entrusted to Litvinenko to deliver to Nevzlin. Indeed, Litvinenko did deliver the Yukos Oil dossier to Nevzlin in Tel Aviv one day after Litvinenko's 16 October 2006 meeting with Lugovoy and Kovtun in London where trances of polonium 210 were found at their hotel, and just two weeks prior to Litvinenko's meeting with them at the Pine Bar.

    After Berezovsky's disinformation specialist was dismissed as a key witness based on those "real time" emails of what he knew when, Berezovsky informed MI6 that he was unaware of an a professional affiliation between his disinformation specialist and Litvinenko. Not surprising, Nevzlin would also change the date of Litvinenko's unannounced visit to him in Tel Aviv from on or about 15 October 2006 to mid-September 2006.

    The CTCU, no less then mainstream media, hung on every word of Berezovsky's high priced public relation specialists, media consultants and KGB FSB disinformation specialists, one of whom was recruited by Berezovsky from the KGB's elite First Chief Directorate Office precisely because of the tradecraft skills he developed when he served undercover as a journalist during his tour of duty in Washington, DC for ITAR TASS. He was a regular at the International Press Club where he befriended Tom Mangold (BBC) and Mansur Mirivalev (AP) among other mainstream media journalists. Belton was also befriended by him. He was Berezovsky's editor, publisher all rolled into one on Berezovsky's Ukraine website dubbing and editing the now infamous Kuchma tapes.

    Perhaps, one of these days Belton, Mangold and Watson will have the courage, and the professional integrity, it takes to revisit their complicity in promulgating the conspiracy theories that are the oxygen feed so reminiscent of Sleaze Wars Berezovsky orchestrated against his political opponents and business rivals during the mid-1990s, as so well documented by Paul Klebnikov in his seminal work: Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia. No one since young Paul Klebnikov's brutal murder outside his Forbes Moscow Bureau office has dared to revisit Berezovsky's history, whilst it is being replayed on the streets of London and in mainstream media.

  • Comment number 23.

    #20 - busby2

    I will meet you half way. There were other factors which influenced the timing of these events and the inability of the Soviet economy to finance an ongoing arms race is high on the list. In that sense, nobody won the Cold War. The Soviets simply capitulated. My reasoning is probably a bit long-winded for this column but, if you are interested (Mark permitting) I will post a link here tomorrow.

    Suffice it to say that it was people power which pushed communism to the centre of the agenda in the early part of the last century and ultimately, it was people power which saw it off.

    As to the real enemy now, I think there are two. There is the obvious one which is the fundamentalist tendency. I am reluctant to specify Islamic fundamentalism because it may be the the most high profile and potent at present but far from being the only one.

    The other comes from within. When organisations attack our way of life, they seek to undermine our basic freedoms. Every time those freedoms are curtailed in the name of national security, our attackers win. Routine scrutiny of emails, monitoring of phone calls, often for reasons totally unconnected with national security, 42 day detention - these are knee jerk reactions to perceived threats and potentially far more dangerous than the terrorism threat itself.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think Threnodio (19) is right to take Busby2 to task over 'winning' the Cold War.

    Threnodio called it 'people power' but what it actually was was simply enlightenment in my view, a process that began way before in the mid '50s with Nikita Kruschev's famous 20th Party Congress denunciation of Josef Stalin (see for example https://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/25/newsid_2703000/2703581.stm%29

    Indeed I suspect that such a process of enlightenment is the only way that entrenched political systems such as existed in Soviet Russia do ever get overturned, but it's not quite people power necessarily I fancy: there were no candle-lit vigils in Red Square attended by thousands in the run-up to the dissolution of that empire.

    Enlightenment would have done a better job in Iraq then US military adventurism did and I for one hope it's allowed to get on with the job by itself in Iran.

  • Comment number 25.

    #22 - timelythoughts

    "It is a deliberate attempt to embarrass the leadership of Russia at an international summit, in this case the G 8."

    By whom and why?

    What can the British government possibly have to gain by willfully undermining a constructive dialogue before it even gets off the ground.

    I ask because the only alternative is distinctly unpleasant. That someone in the security service is pursuing their own agenda. You might even say out of control.

  • Comment number 26.

    So Timelythoughts No.22, are you saying Berezovsky killed Litvinenko? Why?

    Mark, can I press you to say why Berezovsky and Litvinenko get such positive treatment in the British press? The Godfather in the Kremlin (Berezovsky) is not a very nice man to put it mildly, and using the word 'dissident' the BBC puts him in the same category with the likes of Andrei Sakharov. Sakharov would turn in his grave at the thought.

    As for Litvinenko, this man is classic 'patsy' material, he reminds me of Lee Harvey Oswald, all mixed up and dillusional. I'm suprised that this train of thought is not taken up.

  • Comment number 27.

    Mrs Litvinenko, who lives in a house owned by Berezovsky and relies on an income from Berezovsky, repeated the unsubstantiated allegations we heard from Berezovsky the night before. The allegations are no more believable coming from her than from him.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is a very interesting blog.

    I still, on balance, believe that given the polonium the Kremlin was responsible, directly or indirectly.

    I would like to know more about what Berezovsky is getting up to over here and whether his prescence is desirable.


    #22 timelythoughts made some interesting points but I still don't see the polonium trail explained. Where did it come from?

    We assume it be from a highly secure Russian source.

    Were the FSB upset about the 120 kilos of documents that Berezovsky had obtained from them via Litvinenko I believe? Anything exciting in them? Was it a motive? I cannot see that the Brits would want to cut off that source even if they allegedly had never had sight of the documents.

    #21 sounds interesting if the Beeb know the source to be genuine.

  • Comment number 29.

    Not being privileged to the the information that some of your correspondents clearly have, may I be clear that I have understood correctly.

    We know that Messrs. Litvinenko and Beresovsky are vocal opponents of Putin and both London based. Mr. Litvinenko dies somewhat publicly from an overdose of a radioactive substance pointing strongly to the possibility that he was, to use the jargon 'unlawfully killed by a person or persons unknown. Mr. Litvinenko, apparently unbeknown to Beresovsky, has been in contact with one Andrei Lugovoy who is known to be an ally of Mr. Putin. Why they are in touch is not clear. At this point Mr. Litvinenko meets his untimely end. Beresovky learns of Lugovoy's involvement in the columns of The Times and concocts with Mrs.Lugavoy a conspiracy theory under which Mr. Lugovoy has been dispatched from Moscow with the specific purpose of killing Mr. Litveneko using a slow acting substance which gives the victim time to go on the record with the same conspiracy allegation. True or not, the security service and the media fall for this hook, line and sinker. Am I right so far?

    Enter Mr.A. We are now led to understand that 'someone in Moscow' is displeased that silencing Mr. Litvinenko has backfired and the answer is to kill Berezovsky. Apparently the authorities are all too willing to believe this. It does not seem to have crossed anyone's mind that Berezovsky's conspiracy theory is beginning to wear a bit thin and a mysterious Mr.A is exactly what is needed to breathe life into it.

    Armed with this intelligence, Mr.Brown jets of to Japan hell bent on giving Medvedev a hard time for something that did not happen under his watch. He did, however, make an apparently sincere offer to embark on a bridge building exercise which someone, for reasons best known to themselves, has comprehensively scuppered.

    Still nobody will address the question of motive. What does anyone in Moscow or London have to gain from the ongoing animosity? Where is the private agenda?

  • Comment number 30.

    #22 timelythoughts
    Are you saying Nevzlin is the person who was "one of Berezovsky's former KGB disinformation specialist"s.

    I am being a little ponderous about the "real-time" email significance. Could you elaborate? You are just saying Nevzlin was lying?

    Do the Russians believe the polonium 210 was a "Russian isotope" and had to come from a Russian establishment? You would have to be a "heavy hitter" to get it and I would think even Berezovsky with his money would have struggled.

    Would professionals advise Berezovsky that killing Litvinenko would achieve anything for him? Although the UK has protested there is no political ramification domestically for the Russians and little internationally if we are being frank.

    As above I can't see the British having a motive as there appeared to be a potential intelligence source available to them.

    Mark Urban I assume that the Polonium would have been smuggled in separately and that Lugavoi is not thought to have just had it in his suitcase?

    Do the logistics say anything. It would have had to have been planned well in advance? Apologies if that information is already out there.

  • Comment number 31.


    A few of you have questioned whether we should have dealings with Boris Berezovsky. As a journalist, if you have a story that MI5 thinks the Russian state tried to kill Boris Berezovksy in London, then you HAVE to talk to Mr Berezovsky. How could you ignore him ?

    Naturally, I flagged up in our story his record of opposition to President Putin and of making extraordinary allegations. I have interviewed Mr Berezovksy several times before. A couple of years ago I did it in response to his claim that he had new 'revelations' about the FSB's alleged mis-deeds in Russia. On that occasion, I was not convinced, so we simply shelved the interview, we did not run it.
    so....
    'timelythoughts'
    on this occasion we went to Mr Berezovsky (not vice-versa) because of information we had first established about MI5's beliefs.
    Our investigations began some weeks ago, and we were not considering the G8 meeting when we started.

    'DavidCHRandall'
    I'm not sure I have called Mr Berezovsky a 'dissident' ? Go on, put me out of my misery and tell me if you've spotted me using that word. Certainly, I would agree that he is not in the same category as an Andrei Sakharov. Why do we regard him as credible ? Well, for us in this story the starting point was receiving information, which we then got additional sourcing on, that Mr B had been the target of a state backed assassination attempt. I think at that point it is right to hear his version of what happened. During our interview he expressed many political views too, which we did not use.
    David, this story reminds me of that corny aphorism, "just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me"...

  • Comment number 32.

    # 30 thegangofone

    No, I am neither alleging that Nevzlin was Berezovsky's disinformation specialist (DS) nor that he is lying. After Berezovsky's DS was disqualified as a key witness, Nevzlin changed the date of his meeting with Litvinenko in Tel Aviv, he did not deny the meeting with him or the purpose of his meeting with him.

    Nevzlin's change in the date the meeting between Litvinenko and him occurred was two fold: 1) to distance himself from the allegations of Berezovsky's DS and 2) to distance him from the proximity of the timing the meeting occurred from Litvinenko's meeting with Lugovoy and Kovtun on 16 October 2006.

    Nevzlin is entitled to his opinion that the Yukos Oil dossier, initially compiled by Litvinenko and Dmitry Limarev that was subsequently edited and embellished by Berezovsky's DS, was responsible for triggering the state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko. Nevzlin's allegations were made to give added weight that the arrest, conviction and imprisonment his former business partner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was orchestrated by Igor Sechin, the Kremlin kingpin Nevzlin alleged was responsible for the state seizure of Yukos Oil Company and who was alleged by Nevzlin and Berezovsky's DS to have ordered the FSB assassination of Litvinenko. (For a background report on the Yukos Oil dossier that CTCU acknowledged was one and same with added embellishments by Berezovsky's DS submitted into evidence by Nevzlin see Lucy Komisar's Komisar Scoop: https://thekomisarscoop.com/2006/12/27/poisoned-russian-linked-to-investigation-of-possible-bribes-by-ex-yukos-official/

    You can find the identity of Berezovsky's DS on BBC's Tom Mangold's website. He was interviewed by him on 16 December 2006. He was an associate of mine, whom I introduced to senior officials in the US intelligence community and beyond to senior foreign policy staff members on Vice President Richard Cheney's staff. 'Tis the reason US government officials in the Bush administration have not supported, nor will they support, allegations of a state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko.

  • Comment number 33.

    No, I am neither alleging that Nevzlin was Berezovsky's disinformation specialist (DS) nor that he is lying. After Berezovsky's DS was disqualified as a key witness, Nevzlin changed the date of his meeting with Litvinenko in Tel Aviv, he did not deny the meeting with him or the purpose of his meeting with him.

    Nevzlin's change in the date the meeting between Litvinenko and him occurred was two fold: 1) to distance himself from the allegations of Berezovsky's DS and 2) to distance him from the proximity of the timing the meeting occurred from Litvinenko's meeting with Lugovoy and Kovtun on 16 October 2006.

    Nevzlin is entitled to his opinion that the Yukos Oil dossier, initially compiled by Litvinenko and Dmitry Limarev that was subsequently edited and embellished by Berezovsky's DS, was responsible for triggering the state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko. Nevzlin's allegations were made to give added weight that the arrest, conviction and imprisonment his former business partner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was orchestrated by Igor Sechin, the Kremlin kingpin Nevzlin alleged was responsible for the state seizure of Yukos Oil Company and who was alleged by Nevzlin and Berezovsky's DS to have ordered the FSB assassination of Litvinenko. (For a background report on the Yukos Oil dossier that CTCU acknowledged was one and same with added embellishments by Berezovsky's DS submitted into evidence by Nevzlin see Lucy Komisar's Komisar Scoop: https://thekomisarscoop.com/2006/12/27/poisoned-russian-linked-to-investigation-of-possible-bribes-by-ex-yukos-official/

    You can find the identity of Berezovsky's DS on BBC's Tom Mangold's website. He was interviewed by him on 16 December 2006. He was an associate of mine, whom I introduced to senior officials in the US intelligence community and beyond to senior foreign policy staff members on Vice President Richard Cheney's staff. 'Tis the reason US government officials in the Bush administration have not supported, nor will they support, allegations of a state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko.

  • Comment number 34.

    All this Litvinenko conspiracy stuff is pretty fantastic and if I may say so rather naive.

    I've already hinted at what really happened in an earlier post and which was really pretty well as much as I felt I could safely reveal at that juncture in time but plainly I'm going to have to spell it all out in detail if there's going to be some question of international repurcussions so long as it's completely understood THAT ALL THIS IS TO GO NO FURTHER THAN THE NEWSNIGHT BLOG (attributed to me anyway).

    What actually happened was that the FSB got very pissed off with all the MI6 stings designed to uncover evidence of black market weapons' grade plutonium smuggling which was definitely queering their pitch in the market and so they devised a counter-sting involving supplying the Chechen terrorist community in London with polonium, the isotope of choice for 'dirty' bombs.

    Litvinenko was to be the middle man between Lugavoy (hope I spelt that right) and the terrorists and of course the aim was to bust the transaction at the last moment and finger MI6 for it - thus killing loads of birds all with one stone. Really neat.

    What exactly went wrong is not absolutely 100% clear but it seems that that an informal soirée (really hope I spelt that right too) at the Berezovsky (ditto) residence in which a great of deal of vodka was consumed in the traditional Russian manner there was a mixup involving two banned substances to wit 1. cocaine 2. polonium - easy enough mistake to make when you're completely out of it let's face it - and the rest is history as they say but do PLEASE let's not exactly start a world war over it if only because there's still an outside chance they Russians might actually win it given what they're like when it comes to war i.e. extremely serious and not all in the Olympic spirit like the Chinese incidentally and which is also something we will all eventually have to come to terms with too I expect .

    My source for this is a very senior internet webmaster indeed with direct access to the higher echelons of YouTube and the Church of Scientology but more than that I'm not at liberty to reveal at this moment of time though that said it doesn't necessarily mean I'm not open to lucrative offers all the same.

    What I do find so extraordinary about the FCO line is that they really apparently believe that the Russians are stupid enough to go to all the trouble of using polonium and leaving a trail of radioactive evidence all round Europe not to mention places like Harrods' for heaven's sake when traditionally they've used simple implements like ice-picks just as effectively and at a pinch could always have used Litvinenko's glasses like they did in Godfather 3 (at least I think it was 3).

    Part of the FCO canteen culture about Russia I fancy ('like Argentina only with bombs").

    Well they've still got them and they still work so there.

  • Comment number 35.

    You guys are taking a while to moderate timelythoughts #33 and #33.

    Is this a go slow because of the executive pay?

  • Comment number 36.

    #32 timelythoughts
    Thanks I will read the article.

    The point you make:
    "'Tis the reason US government officials in the Bush administration have not supported, nor will they support, allegations of a state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko." is very interesting and I don't think I have heard that before.

    But what of the polonium? I still can't see people breezing into a nuclear establishment and coming out with a pile of polonium 210.

  • Comment number 37.

    Mark at 31

    "- on this occasion we went to Mr Berezovsky (not vice-versa) because of information we had first established about MI5's beliefs."

    M15 is by definition - and very properly - a secretive organisation. It must therefore follow they are not necessarily briefing about 'M15's beliefs' at all. They could equally be briefing on what they would like us to think are their beliefs. Assuming that verification is nigh on impossible, I guess you have to either take their word for it or not run the story. But to assume that a briefing is gospel seems to me a trifle naive.

  • Comment number 38.

    BORIS LIKES LONDON

    Boris B. appears to prefer political asylum in the UK to spending 20 years in a Russian prison. He doesn't appear to like the new Russian, oligarch-hostile (ipso facto 'evil') regime which doesn't take kindly to his calls for a revolution. So long as he can make the case that his life is in danger, he gets to stay, I guess.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1548683/Berezovsky%27s-call-to-arms-deemed-legal.html
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1548890/Russia-in-new-call-for-Berezovsky-extradition.html

  • Comment number 39.

    Excellent commentary as usual Mark. Perhaps if some of your colleagues were as balanced and factual in their reporting they would also be given access to this sort of insider insight.

    I would be interested to see more coverage on the relevance of our refusals to extradite...how many Russians wanted for trial for serious matters are we refusing to extradite to Russia? I hear 16, some connected with the Bezlan school massacre, but is that true?

    I don't think the UK government can claim the moral high ground if they are harbouring Russian fugitives.

  • Comment number 40.

    #39 - jon112uk

    I am on shaky ground here but I believe I am right in saying that the decision as to whether or not to extradite is a political one because there is no extradition treaty in place. This was certainly the argument used by the Russians when the British wanted to extradite Lugavoy for involvement in this case.

    If I am right, it is quite astonishing, given that Russian hit men are reputedly hired for gangland killings and nobody seems unduly worried about extraditing them. It seems that the ability to pick and choose who is extradited takes precedence over any justice related issues and the phrase 'moral high ground' is redundant in this context.

  • Comment number 41.

    Yawn. Didn't BBC try to make a big deal about this some years ago? Really are we running out of issues? I got one - who killed JFK, and his brother? Where ARE those WMD after all? Who killed D. Kelly? Who Killed Khlebnikov - was it Berezovsky?

    Why didn't BBC mention that this guy Litvinenko was in touch with Chechen terrorists, a millionaire crime boss Berezovsky, and of course the very ethical MI5 and MI6?
    Old news.

    Are we just running out of issues to use to scare our population with - it seems to be working better in USA. Mr. Urban, we are still waiting for one ounce of evidence or at least some reasoned and cool-headed conjectures that it was not Berezovsky, Chechen terrorists, or CIA, or MI, or Litvinenko himself - by accident or on purpose, or the Russian service, or Scaramella - who was tried in Italy for fraud and blackmail.

    I think that it is SVR, not FSB, that mostly deals with things abroad. If in fact it was the Russian services that killed him - well, then I can see why MI5/MI6 are so frustrated, they can no loger guarantee safety to - what shall we call these types of folks? How would the British people call their own Litvinenko? So now after failing to protect this guy - if that is really what happened, MI5 looks like some sort of a PR joint. Is that its job, really?

    UK blames Russia for difficulties with fighitng terrorism? I guess British and US intelligence services suspended their operations during terrorism in Russia in the 1990s and up to today.

    To the chagrin of UK authorities this isssue is nowhere near as controversial and damaging as the lies about Iraq. What was the number of UK citizens that marched accross the country in 2003? Millions.

  • Comment number 42.

    # 36 thegangofone

    The amount of polonium 210 that is alleged to have been smuggled into London varies in quantity according to whose report is read. The report of a "large spill" in the hotel room by MI6, where Litvinenko is alleged to have met with Lugovoy and Kovtun following their meeting in the Pine Bar, would suggest a large quantity. But according to Jay Epstein, an investigative journalist who was permitted access to some of the Russian Prosecutor General's files on the Litvinenko case, the amount of polonium 210 that was ingested by Litvinenko is believed to have been less than the tip of a common pin. Two spikes of 210, approximately two weeks apart, were alleged to have been ingested by Litvinenko. But since the autopsy report has yet to be released, however, the amount of polonium 210 ingested is anyone's best guess, save for the coroner, the Crown Prosecution Service and a restricted number of CTCU (MI6) investigators.

    For a period of twelve months, I collaborated with both MI6 and MI5. Jurisdictional issues cropped up between them frequently. Tensions were high. It was my understanding that MI5's role in the investigation was limited, however. Indeed, I tended to rely on MI6 over MI5 because I my knowledge and involvement related to Berezovsky's disinformation specialist's involvements with Litvinenko on foreign business projects and associations. Berezovsky assigned Litvinenko to conduct business intelligence reports on Russian businesses, their ties to Russian organized crime, Russian officials and senior intelligence agents. Litvinenko frequently worked through other FSB KGB agents in Berezovsky's employment who had access to active duty FSB SVR officials in the Kremlin, some of whom were alleged to have been confidants of Putin, which put them on both sides--pro Putin and pro Berezovsky.

    Such was the case with Berezovsky's disinformation specialist ("DS"). He was responsible for bringing in a Kremlin initiative that was walked Vice President Cheney's office on a US government quid pro quo with the Kremlin FSB SVR involving the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky--a cease and desist on allegations of a politically motivated arrest of Khodorkovsky, violations of rules of law and calls from Russia's expulsion from the G 8 in exchange for favorable posturing of U.S. oil companies on Gazprom's Shtokman project and intelligence on weapon sales during the Yeltsin era to Iraq, Iran and Syria, all documented in reports I submitted to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and MI6.

    Berezovsky's DS could not be on both sides on that isle. His Kremlin FSB SVR sources had been vetted by the CIA and by the National Security Council. They proved to be as represented. As we would later learn, however, he was on Berezovsky's payroll at same time. The FSB SVR general he was coordinating the Kremlin initiative through was S. R. Subbotin, the same FSB SVR general who was investigating Berezovsky's money laundering operations in Switzerland during the same timeframe. His FSB SVR sources surrounding Putin were higher than any Lugovoy could have ever hoped to affiliate with.

    R. James Woolsey (former CIA DCI), Marshall Miller (former law partner of the late CIA DCI William Colby), who I coordinated the Kremlin initiative through that Berezovsky's DS had brought in were shocked to learn that he was affiliated with Berezovsky and Litvinenko. He was in Berezovsky's inner circle and engaged in vetting Russian business with Litvinenko. He operated Berezovsky's Ukraine website, editing and dubbing the now infamous Kuchma tapes throughout the lead up to the elections in the Ukraine. Berezovsky contributed $41 million to Viktor Yushchenko's campaign, which he used in an attempt to force Yushchenko to reunite with Julia Tymoschenko. It failed but would succeed later after Berezovsky orchestrated a public relations initiative through Alan Goldfarb in the U.S. on behalf of Tymoschenko.

    Berezovsky ever Paul Klebnikov's Godfather of the Kremlin, financing color revolutions orchestrating coups in the former Soviet Republics, dictating foreign policy in opposition to Russia, all part and parcel of his get-Putin agenda. Litvinenko was dispatched to the Ukraine to work with Berezovsky's DS on the Kuchma tapes. Major Melnichenko, whom Berezovsky had purchased a copy of the Kuchma tapes from but who had retained the originals copies, alleged Berezovsky's DS had edited them. Litvinenko was dispatched of Kiev to offer his testimony that Melnichenko was a fraud, paid by the FSB to discredit Berezovsky through allegations that the Kuchma tapes had been doctored by Berezovsky's DS.

    Berezovsky's DS was an inexplicable link between the Kremlin based FSB SVR surrounding Putin on the Kremlin initiative and between Berezovsky and Litvinenko. He was every bit the prime suspect that he accused Lugovoy of being. While he was dismissed as a key witness, who had testified in support of Berezovsky's testimony that Lugovoy had been identified by Litvinenko as his prime suspect, for reasons unknown to me, Berezovsky's DS appears to have been removed as a prime suspect, who was at one time on a par with Lugovoy.

    As stated in my earlier comments, Catherine Belton alleged she was forced by her then editor at the Moscow Times to omit the crucial timelines in emails from Berezovsky's DS that could have changed the course of history on the Litvinenko affair, and, indeed, it is an affair more than the intrigue it has been made out to be by mainstream media. Not even Belton, an otherwise reputable journalist, was allowed to publish what she deemed critical in the public interest. To her credit, she resigned from the Moscow Times over those forced edits, errors and omissions. But even at the highly reputable Finance Times she cannot revisit those errors, omissions and forced edits that could have changed the course of history. (See Belton's article at https://www.slate.com/id/2155274/%29.

    Litvinenko was engaged in smuggling nuclear materials with Mario Scaramella in Italy. (See Alexandre Stille at https://www.slate.com/id/2155274/%29 If Litvinenko had survived his ingestion of polonium 210, he would have been prosecuted and imprisoned along with Scaramella, the latter of whom Berezovsky dispatched to the U.S. through his DS who attempted unsuccessfully to lure me into a meeting he had arranged at Berezovsky's request by and between Scaramella and General Oleg Kalugin, the details of which are too mind boggling for this Mr. Urban's blog. Whether the polonium 210 smuggled into London was smuggled by Lugovoy and Kovtun in association with Litvinenko and Scaramella may never be known.

    Berezovsky has won a victory in the UK. The spin is in, locked in place, bought lock stock and barrel, from 10 Downing Street to the Foreign Ministry to the Home Office to the Crown Prosecution Service to MI6 and MI5 to every major televised and print media in the UK, there is no reversing it. A Faustian bargain if there every was one.

    God spare your Queen.

  • Comment number 43.

    #42 timelythoughts

    Many thanks. The polonium factor is crucial to my understanding of things so that was particularly appreciated.

    There is so much here I will have to re-read this several times.

    By the way I am for a Republic but I appreciate your latter point. I am sure she probably does too!

    Thanks again.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    Mark,

    Thanks for your reponse to my question at 31. I do appreciate it as I know you are incredibly busy. And I agree this is a very interesting blog.

    You asked me to point out where the BBC elevated Berezovsky to the status of 'dissident'. It is in the page hosting the video clip from Newsnight at https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7494142.stm

    Quote: 'Newsnight has also learned that officers at MI5 believe they thwarted an attempt last summer to kill another Russian dissident, Boris Berezovsky.' Unquote.

    There, I claim my £5 and I hope that puts you out of your misery! Or if you just tick off your colleague in the web content dept. that will do just as well.

    My the way, does Dermott Mernaghan (sp.?) have a blog too? I have a question for him about Bill Clinton and Mena Airprort.

    David R

  • Comment number 46.

    #42 timelythoughts
    Not sure if you are still taking questions. I hope so I think I am persuaded by the cogent points you make.

    The thing that clicks is that if the Russians used the polonium its a gilt edged calling card. But then they say they had nothing to do with it.

    If Litvinenko accidentally absorbed the nuclear material then Berezovsky had people in his pay who could exploit it.

    Also if Russia was going after people abroad then that would include the US. They don't seem too worried. Nobody else seems to be having too much trouble.

    By the way I am a declared non-fan of the security services and the BBC regard me as a nutter I think - but I can't see that that undermines your case.

    Mark Urban said British intelligence may not have wanted to reveal a source who warned them of the Berezovsky plot.

    Could the Mr.A mentioned by Mark Urban in fact have been somebody directly or indirectly in the pay of Berezovsky? It could also have been an unrelated matter as he clearly has plenty of enemies?

    You did say "The spin is in, locked in place, bought lock stock and barrel, from 10 Downing Street to the Foreign Ministry to the Home Office to the Crown Prosecution Service to MI6 and MI5 to every major televised and print media in the UK, there is no reversing it".

    I am not sure about that.

    You are clearly pretty brave to put yourself into a position of conflict with Berezovsky. I am sure with your connections you are protected to a large degree though.

    But surely when the scale of the issue is this big it is in the interests of the US to make sure that the facts come out. If the UK has taken two and two and made five then they will acknowledge that and then there will be a backlash.

    Where would Berezovsky go? Italy?

  • Comment number 47.

    43. thegangofone wrote:

    "By the way I am for a Republic - "

    Since HM seems about the only person who is not either up to her neck in skulduggery or thrashing around helplessly in the dark, I would be inclined to stick with her and leave the Republic for another day.

  • Comment number 48.

    #42 timelythoughts

    By the way I am no expert and you are probably already aware of it.

    But there is some "background" to the Mosely court case thats on the BBC website at the moment.

    That may relate to the timing of the release of this information and not the G8.

  • Comment number 49.

    #47 threnodio

    I do actually admire her and I was very impressed by Harry going to Afghanistan.

    But you are either for a classless society or you are not. Its not personal.

    The majority of people agree with you - I would have emigrated if I could have.

    Don't worry, be happy!

  • Comment number 50.

    #49 - thegangofone

    Not worried, am happy, did emigrate.

    Thanks for the thought!

    (But still British - before I get lambasted for getting involved as an ex-pat).

  • Comment number 51.

    #50 threnodio

    $%%£^!!! I had the sponsorship for Australia but couldn't get a contract out there. Damn!

    Its probably irrelevant but there were "government" people at Heathrow who spoke to me as I was leaving to try and get a contract. Probably irrelevant to my failure to get work too. Though the same men did turn up at a leaving do. Unreal.

    Hence I am not exactly a fan of the security services being neither a criminal, terrorist and not even left or right wing.

    I can't prove anything so I can't sue.

    I try to be even handed but the implications of timelythoughts offerings above do ring true to me.

    Good luck wherever you are.

    If the Canadian High Commissioner is reading I will take Canada.


  • Comment number 52.

    #51 - thegangofone

    Are you sure they were 'government'? Only HMG outsources a lot of stuff these days (see Pestons Picks).

    Personally, I'd stick Berezovsky on the first plane to Buenos Airies, admit I can't pin anything on Lugavoy and go find me some terrorists - preferably before they read this - https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/29/polonium_available_online/

    Sweet Dreams!

  • Comment number 53.

    Mark Urban you know I have respect for you. But I really think there should be a Litvinenko report that shows that the US does not agree with our position as the public are unaware of that.

    It is relevant as they have a lot of expertise and knowledge and it is important on both sides of the Atlantic as well as for Russian-UK relationships.

  • Comment number 54.

    #52 threnodio

    I think they were "government" in the sense that thats how my boss described them. Too complicated to explain. They were also between passport and boarding pass at T3 Heathrow.

    So they were official. I do actually harbour suspicions that one of them was a "consultant" but I won't go there as there are defamation rules. I can't actually prove I have suffered financially is my problem or I would slap them into court in a heartbeat.

    Pestons Picks?

  • Comment number 55.

    #54 - thegangofone

    If you suspect someone is a consultant, tell them to produce a P.45. If they can't, it is likely that they are telling porkies and have actually got a job.

    Peston's Picks is here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/

  • Comment number 56.

    #55 threnodio

    To be frank if I see the "consultant" again I think the police will probably be charging me for ABH not long afterwards. Its been a while since I was hassled so maybe they got bored. I have had heart problems for the last year and hardly left the flat. I am OK now.

    They don't seem to be wildly motivated to produce any id. or to providing a lot of explanation. Its a one way street for them. But thanks.

    Thanks for the link.

  • Comment number 57.

    Christopher Bower. A diplomat and a former BBC reporter. The Russians are not happy are they? I wonder why.

  • Comment number 58.

    #58 threnodio

    My thoughts exactly.

  • Comment number 59.

    Anyone see London's response to this? They rejected the claim. Not cool BBC, not cool.

    https://russiatoday.ru/news/news/27354

  • Comment number 60.

    "In relation to the stories that appeared earlier this week, no intelligence or security officials were authorised to comment on the Litvinenko case. It is our long-running policy not to comment on intelligence issues. The police and the [state prosecutors] have identified one individual as the individual they believe should stand trial for this murder".

    So reads a Downing Street statement today as reported in the FT. So the 'off the record' briefing on which the Newsnight item was based was also an unauthorised briefing.

    It is entirely reasonable to state that the authorities want to place Mr. Lugavoy on trial for the murder of Mr. Litvinenko. They have said as much. It may not be unreasonable to infer orinply that the murder suited the purposes of key figures in the Russian administration. But whoever briefed that "we very strongly believe the Litvinenko case to have had some state involvement" was neither authorised to do so nor, it seems, giving voice the government's position.

    This coverage possibly caused considerable discomfort at the G8, probably undermined Mr. Medvedev's overtures to the UK and has certainly sparked a round of allegations and counter allegations which are unhelpful. Who is rattling whose cage is not for mere mortals to know but someone needs to go on the record before this deteriorates any further.

  • Comment number 61.

    #60 threnodio
    Well said. I think Pauline Neville Jones, a former BBC Governor, has also referred to state involvement. In fairness she was head of the JIC, I think, and is not now but...

    The elite may have mistakenly bought in to a "disinformation" project, as timelythoughts suggests, but they want to deny the plebs the facts.

    I still froth at the mouth that its only in the last twenty years that we are allowed to know the security services exist. The fact that there had been multiple KGB penetrations fifty years before never entered the debate. I don't see the US falling apart with greater openness and they also manage on 8 days detention without charge whereas we need 42 days. Some of the crazies believe their own arguments. Some people out there still believe Harold Wilson was a spy.

    We just blindly stumble along behind admiring the courage of our great leader at the G8.

    Or not...

    I still cannot believe the US, and I know they do have a lot on their plates at the moment, are not diplomatically blowing some air in to remove a few cobwebs in our thinking.

    If they could suggest radical changes to the intelligence services as well I would personally think that was peachy.

  • Comment number 62.

    In the light of what you say, I would like to revisit her Newsnight interview of Monday but it is not on the web site. As I recall, she was non-committal allowing for the possibility that the murder was state sponsored. It does seem to me, however, that timelythoughts has some considerable first hand insight from the US perspective and he appears to be saying not only that the British position is not shared by them but they (the Americans) have been warning the British services that they are wrong about this for some time.

    He also speaks of 'jurisdictional issues' and 'tensions running high' between MI5 and MI6. This is not surprising given their different briefs. There are other interests involved. In his interview, Berezovsky says that he was warned by 'police' of a possible attempt on his life. I take this to mean Special Branch, which has a different brief again. We are told that Mr.A, the would be assassin, was deported. Did the police not have enough to charge him, did the CPS decide the evidence was not strong enough to secure or conviction or did MI6 want to let him run to see where he led? And if so, why leak his existence to the media?

    Even the science is looking dodgy. We are told of a 'large spill' of Polonium at the hotel and detectable traces found in Harrods and on a BA plane. We are talking about a substance of which 1 microgram is fatal, for heaven's sake! And this chapter of the saga breaks while the Prime Minister, who has to go into the front line with this stuff, is in Siberia getting fuel and the chairman of JIC is in a coma in hospital.

    Why does all of this worry me? Because since this story broke, we have had a chain reaction of events leading the fiasco at the Security Council yesterday, because these same people want to monitor our emails, tap our phones and bang us up for 42 days and, to add insult to injury, they justify it with a conspiracy theory leaked by unattributable sources and rebutted before the ink is dry. It ought to worry all of us.

  • Comment number 63.

    46. At 1:01pm on 10 Jul 2008, thegangofone wrote:
    #42 timelythoughts
    Not sure if you are still taking questions. I hope so I think I am persuaded by the cogent points you make. And # 61 The elite may have mistakenly bought in to a "disinformation" project, as timelythoughts suggests, but they want to deny the plebs the facts.

    Gangofone: My email replies to the questions you raise are not being posted. I assume their reluctance to post them may be attributed to the detailed disclosures I have been providing or to their length. My responses have been longer than Urban's article.

    There is substance behind Russia's ambassador Yuri Fedotov's claim that "the British media is waging an organized anti-Moscow campaign." They have hung on every word of the disinformation specialists Berezovsky dispatched to London and to Washington. And there is a legitimate reason why they did so. Berezovsky and members of his entourage of disinformation specialists were the source the media could turn to for information on the Litvinenko case.

    It should come as no surprise to you to learn that, as with the British media, the CTCU (MI6 and MI5) also relied on Berezovsky and members of his entourage as their primary source. If I had not come forward with "real time" email exchanges between Berezovsky's U.S. based disinformation specialists, a former member of the KGB's elite First Chief Directorate who served under cover of a journalist for ITAR TASS, that proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had fabricated his testimony in the sworn affidavit he submitted to the CTCU and the FBI, he would have been among the CTCU's most credible witness. His testimony supported Berezovsky's sworn testimony and the sworn testimony of Lenoid Nevzlin.

    I pressed the CTCU to file perjury charges against Berezovsky and his disinformation specialist. Lying in a sworn affidavit to law enforcement agencies during a criminal investigation constitutes perjury. It is a felony crime in the UK. As is knowingly conspiring with a perjurer who submits a sworn affidavit in a criminal investigation. No charges have been filed to date. I am still waiting for those charges to be filed.

    The reason they have not been is clear: There would be no case against Lugovoy if not for Berezovsky and his entourage of disinformation specialists. As with the British media, the CTCU built their case against Lugovoy around Berezovsky and his entourage of KGB FSB disinformation specialists. In December 2006, the CTCU submitted the forensics on the polonium 210 trial that led to Lugovoy and Kovtun to the Crown Prosecution Service. MI6 thought the evidence on the polonium 210 was sufficient to obtain an indictment against them. The CPS rejected the forensics on the polonium 210 as lacking to show cause--motive or intent. It was back to the drawing board.

    I know of what I speak. When the CPS sent the case back to the CTCU in late December 2006, I was brought back into the investigation to focus of Russian oil, gas, and strategic metal and mineral contracts that Berezovsky's disinformation specialist may have been involved in with Litvinenko. I brought five witnesses in with me to corroborate those business contracts that Berezovsky's disinformation specialist was generating from his contacts in the Kremlin based FSB SVR. Among those five witnesses included a former director of the CIA, a former national security advisor, the general counsel of a major U.S. oil company and senior foreign policy advisors on Vice President Cheney's staff.

    Lest you doubt, perhaps Mr. Urban would be kind enough to corroborate my statement for his readers through his colleagues Tom Mangold and Richard Watson. Then again, it takes courage and integrity to reverse one's position once it has been made public.

    I will be truly surprised if this gets posted. Freedom of the press may be more alive in Russia then in the UK on this story.

  • Comment number 64.

    62. At 4:01pm on 12 Jul 2008, threnodio

    The UK, no less then the U.S., is paying dearly for our failed foreign policies with Russia, beginning in the late 1980s with Gorby's Perestroika through Yeltsin's mid 1990s loans for shares rigged privatization programs, the latter of which resulted in THIRTEEN oligarchs controlling NINETY SEVEN PERCENT of the national resource wealth of Russia. Foreign policies, I must add, that were borne of ignorance and arrogance, a messianic crusade promulgating our holier than thou brand of democracy, rules of law and free market enterprise, none of which existed in Russia then and none of which exists in Russia today.

    Our's was a transitional dictum we forced on Yeltsin that tied the privatization of state owned enterprises to foreign aid, IMF and World Bank loans. It was a policy based on the old Golden Rule: "He who owns the Gold, makes the Golden rules". It was a get the Gold out of the hands of the communist party at whatever costs.

    The Berezovsky's of Russia were created by us and empowered by us--the UK and the U.S. Property theft, tax evasion and money laundering did not constitute a crime in Russia in the 1990s. Russian scholars look askance at allegations of crime committed by the oligarchs in the 1990s. They argue that contrary to violating the law, property theft, certain forms of tax evasion and money laundering was in compliance with the law! There were no institutions to support Russia's transition from a command and control economy to a free market. Throughout his presidency, Yeltsin was unsuccessful in getting a constitutional amendment passed to criminalize property theft and money laundering. Go figure!

    The difference between the UK and the U.S. relative to the U.S. position on the Berezovsky's and the Mikhail Khodorkovsky's of Russia today, is that the U.S. closed the floodgates to our premier financial institutions to bring a halt to Russian money-laundering.

    When it comes to Russian corruption, contrary to the U.S., the UK has a don't ask, don't tell policy. One could argue that its no tax policy on foreign wealth not only encouraged but invited Russian corruption.

    Berezovsky is prohibited from entering the U.S. No amount of money can buy him an entry visa into the U.S., not even his stock ownership in President's George Bush's brother Neil Bush's Ignite, Inc. can buy him entry into the U.S. Save for the wayward son Neil, Berezovsky is an embarrassment to the Bush Family All!

    If he enters the U.S., he will be deported to Russia under the Interpol arrest warrant Russia issued on him. Of this too, I know of what I speak. Berezovsky's U.S. based disinformation specialist placed an urgent telephone call to me requesting that I notify former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering that Berezovsky's planned arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport had been aborted after Berezovsky was informed if he landed at JFK he would be arrested and deported to Russia. I placed the telephone call to Pickering's secretary who alerted Pickering to turn his limo homeward bound; Berezovsky would be not arriving at JFK as planned.

    The Bush administration will not lend credibility to Berezovsky's preposterous allegations of a state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko. Nor, to my knowledge, do they, or will they, endorse allegations of an FSB involvement in the death of Litvinenko.

    Berezovsky is regarded by the National Security Counsel as a threat to U.S. Russia relations and to our long term energy security. On this issue, Mr. Urban might want to inquire of Berezovsky about his four hour meeting with Madam Visa, who met with him in London at her hotel to deliver the NSC's message to him that "Idi Amen of Uganda stood of better chance of being granted an entry visa into the U.S. than he did."

    Madam Visa's name is being withheld because she is dispatched by NSC to work despotic leaders, tyrants, dictators and their ilk on terms and conditions they are required to meet prior to being granted admission into the U.S., as a matter of diplomatic protocol.

    Do hope this satisfies your question.

  • Comment number 65.

    #64. At 8:56pm on 12 Jul 2008, timelythoughts

    Yes, thank you.

    Except maybe to wonder why the security services persist with a discredited myth and the BBC continues to fall for it.

  • Comment number 66.

    I can only speculate that the British security services have reason to believe that Lugovoy may know the source of the polonium 210. I assume they want him for what he may know. The forensics on the polonium 210 were real. Highly doubtful it was planted, given the results of the tests conducted on concentration levels over its lifespan that indicated Litvinenko had ingested two polonium 210 spikes at corresponding intervals with meetings with Lugovoy and Kovtun on 16 October and 1 November, respectively.

    That being said, it is a far cry from the state sponsored assassination and an FSB involvement in the DEATH v. MURDER of Litvinenko Berezovsky has promulgated.

    Up until 21 November 2006, the only suspect identified by Litvinenko was Mario Scaramella. If Litvinenko had survived his ingestion of polonium 210, he would have been prosecuted and convicted right along with Scaramella for smuggling nuclear materials into Italy. Again, mere speculation, but Lugovoy may have been the source or have knowledge of the source of the polonium 210.

    Catherine Belton, a staff writer with the Moscow Times corroborated that Scaramella was the only witness known to Akhmed Zakhar and to Berezovsky's disinformation specialist. She was forced to withhold the crucial timeline on what they knew when from Litvinenko by her then editor of the Moscow Times. Would not have faired well for Berezovsky to have those critical in-the-public-interest timelines published.

  • Comment number 67.

    #63 timelythoughts

    Thank you again timelythoughts!

    Sorry I thought this page had petered out and did not check it.

    I have expressed elsewhere that I am staggered that the BBC has not followed up your contributions. I don't know what hasn't made the page but in fairness they are giving you a shout.

    I have to say that I am persuaded and it does also blow some of my perceptions out of the water, forget Mark Urban. One being that if US intelligence told British intelligence to jump they would without hesitation. I am taking it for granted that the US don't want to see this confrontation escalate much more.

    I still can't grasp why the US is not gently leaning on the UK with some strong signals. This is massively important - we don't want to cave to Russia if they have sponsored state assassinations, equally to damage a major relationship due to a corrupt oligarch is idiotic.

    On the "case" again the "timelines" information seems like a "killer-fact".

    As I see it Mark Urban can only know so much and he has to be guided by MI5. If they believe they have a source who warned them of Mr. A - and I assume that if you tried to answer this this is what may have got pulled - then they would have solid grounds for their background beliefs if he confirmed various details.

    I surmise that any source would be known to US intelligence, if US intelligence is not convinced - possibly because that source is connected to Berezovsky - then their position would remain constant. Possibly they are not convinced by the "handler", if that terminology is correct, if they are connected to the very rich Berezovsky.

    "Psychological possession" is causing our people to be blind to the facts.

    I will have to watch it myself as I visited the Tom Mangold website and then bought and read "Cold Warrior" on Angleton. Perhaps your pals should send a copy to CTCU/MI6?

    Could Tom Mangold not run something individually or is this really getting the Big Brother deal? It is absurd.

  • Comment number 68.

    #62 threnodio
    On Pauline Neville-Jones I could be incorrect, in that event I am sorry. But that is my genuine recollection, that she was positive. I certainly did not hear her reflect that others, like the US, with access to the same facts reached very different conclusions.

    Perhaps that shows that the JIC/Select Committee etc mechanism that I presume briefs the major parties on such issues is a tad limited.

    Well done by the way.

    Its insane that there are two of us, and you emigrated, trying to keep this alive.

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum!

  • Comment number 69.

    #63 timelythoughts

    I am not sure about the protocols, maybe its the "word is my bond" thing.

    But if Berezovsky would be arrested in the US on the interpol warrant how come Madame Visa (whose message really made me laugh) did not allow him to turn up?

    I am not sure if it will go anywhere but I emailed the Liberal Democrats, the third party here as you know, suggesting parliamentary questions be asked on the basis of your posts. Who knows?

  • Comment number 70.

    thegangofone

    At #67

    My main concern about the original piece apart from the diplomatic problems that have flowed from it, is the speed and decisiveness of No.10's denial. This can only mean that the original source was unauthorised and unreliable or that there was a damage limitation exercise so serious that HMG was willing to risk flatly contradicting itself. Both the BBC and HMG have been strangely silent ever since suggesting a blanket news blackout.

    # At 68

    I am happy to bow to your recollection. Lady Neville-Jones' position, however, must be difficult. As the opposition spokesperson, she has to rely on the what the government chooses to tell her notwithstanding that her personal knowledge from a previous incarnation must be far more detailed than she is able to let on. That cannot be easy.

    # At 69

    I was just about ready to throw the towel in when Mrs. Mastercard showed up but the bottom line is that I simply don't believe the government line on this.

    Just two other thoughts. If the CPS have rejected the evidence against Lugavoy, who is pushing for his extradition and why? Just another red herring maybe? And what the hell is CTCU? Even Google doesn't seem to know that one.

  • Comment number 71.

    #70 threnodio
    I love the Beeb but they are pretty docile in these situations - Hutton effect maybe.

    Maybe they were trying to blag their way into a position where they could find out about the polonium 210. But then better relations with Russia and a joint effort would have seemed to be the answer.

    Maybe they have actually realised that they were wrong and are going to row back discreetly.

    Can't see that as timelythoughts sounds as though (s)/he has the kind of connections where that would be known. I seriously think that if things are as we think Jonathan Evans will have to resign for his "Russia is assassinating targets abroad" leak. I am not sure about Brown. To raise this at a G8 and be wrong is unthinkable. Outstanding stupidity.

    On P.N-J it must be REALLY difficult having been on the JIC. But thats one reason why I personally don't like the idea of ex-spooks or special forces being in Parliament. I don't like the blurred lines. But then Ashdown (who was special forces as you know) has contributed a lot, I even stuck up for David Davis over 42 days so perhaps thats too far.

    On CTCU it takes an American to tell us Brits! I should have asked as well but assume its a post 9/11 counter-terrorist central unit to create a one stop shop. I didn't want to flag it in case the moderators jumped in. Try googling D-Notice! We are actually still very authoritarian as a society in my world. I personally don't see that as a good thing. But I am prejudiced.

    On the CPS dunno. I think timelythoughts mught just shade me on that one!

    I am guessing that its a BAE inquiry situation in reverse - where politics is very much to the fore. Possibly wallets too, but that is wild unbridled speculation.

    After this I have to say I am a convert to blogs. To get this sort of detail pretty much from the horses mouth is great. Provided Berezovsky's henchmen aren't going to get me!!

  • Comment number 72.

    Damn I think I "mis-spoke" as Jonathan Evans does not seem to have mentioned "state sponsored" hits directly after all.

  • Comment number 73.

    I have said before and say again that I am not an expert in this field. I certainly cannot bring insights to bear that timelythoughts and thegangofone do. However, I have done some research a little lateral thinking. This has become so complicated that I wanted to remove some of the irrelevancies.

    I have come to the conclusion that the BBC was right to run with what it was given and that the source, though possibly unauthorised, was authoritative. I do, however, think that this is part of a smokescreen and that the briefing was badly timed hence the Downing Street rebuttal.

    I also conclude that Litvenenko has become the focus of this almost by accident and is actually peripheral. He appears to have been little more than a disaffected go-between in a much bigger power game. His idea of blackmailing people in high places was motivated by financial necessity when Bereskovsky cut his allowance but actually did not pose a significant threat. That he had made enemies is unsurprising and that they might include Mr. Putin cannot have been helped by a piece attributed to Litvinenko concerning Putin's personal life. The list of those who simply wanted to shut Litvinenko up is actually quite long and includes Bersovsky and possibly even some elements in western security services.

    My second conclusion is that nobody is under any illusions about the activities of Beresovky and, while there are wider issues of the UK giving refuge to people the Russian authorities would like to 'speak to', in Bersovsky's case, it may simply be a question of being able to keep an eye on him.

    My calculation is that no one is too worried that Litveneko was killed or why. I suggest that the issue is how. Forensics show that Mr. Lugavoy was exposed to Polonium 210. The trail follows him from Russia, all round the West End and back again. His family tested positive. There is no secret about this. What the authorities want to know is where precisely it came from. They will not get a straight answer to that in Moscow under the watchful eye of his state minders.

    They need to know where it came from and how it came to be in the UK because, to misuse an old saying, 'when two or more substances are gathered together . .'

    I would have thought that London and Moscow would have a shared interest in figuring that one out. Perhaps a less aggressive line with Lugavoy?

  • Comment number 74.

    #73 threnodio
    I am no spy or expert. I have had some contacts with people who I can't even prove are spies. I would be written off in minutes as a fantasist, unfairly I would say of course.

    I tend to think Kalaris who took over from Angleton had a very fair point that too long in that line of work and you go crazy. If you step off the reality train you make bad decisions. Its not an indictment of the people its an occupational hazard.

    I think we nearly agree on the polonium. Timelythoughts has hinted we may never know where it came from. If Lugavoy helped smuggle it he is not going to say. I would have thought that the Russians would want to pressure him on that. Perhaps if the Brits jumped too early then the nationalistic elements obscured the trail. We would be talking of very small amounts probably bound for Italy.

    As timelythoughts said "Up until 21 November 2006 the only suspect identified by Litvinenko was Mario Scaramella. ".

    That actually says a lot.

    I think its an understatement to say that we should change tack with Russia. It may be too early for an apology but I think cooperation may be the order of the day.



  • Comment number 75.

    #63. At 5:50pm on 12 Jul 2008, timelythoughts

    timelythoughts you said "Gangofone: My email replies to the questions you raise are not being posted. I assume their reluctance to post them may be attributed to.."

    OK I am not an expert. I do work in IT but I am not a security guru.

    Given the nature of your work I thought I should note that most posts that are thrown out by the moderator have a number and id just the same. You don't have any I think.

    If you have a life and other duties than this webpage I understand. I may be a little hurt but I'll get over it.

    But maybe you have had an attack on your PC. Even top agencies in the US have suffered these. Given the nature of your work I thought I should highlight the possibility.


  • Comment number 76.

    #73 threnodio

    Ah I have it. Once this is all over :

    "Boris Berezovsky - Our part in his downfall!" By threnodio and thegangofone.

    Perhaps a foreword by Mangold and Watson.

    timelythoughts if we get to the stage of arrests and people can be there can I book a place?

  • Comment number 77.

    The Lib Dems acknowledge the email and said:
    " I am forwarding it to the relevant Parliamentary office to be considered.".

    Fingers crossed.

    I would hope that they would show the independence of thought to ask questions. I am assuming that it is not unpatriotic for them to find their way to timelythoughts and get the full picture?

  • Comment number 78.

    #22 timelythoughts

    You mentioned "Those timelines comported with the timelines Belton received from Akhmed Zakaev."

    Are you able to say who Akhmed Zakaev is?

    at #66

    you say "Catherine Belton, a staff writer with the Moscow Times corroborated that Scaramella was the only witness known to Akhmed Zakhar and to Berezovsky's disinformation specialist."

    Do you mean Zakaev not Zakhar? Cyrillic spelling issues?

    I still believe you by the way I am just confused.


  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    75. At 12:45pm on 14 Jul 2008, thegangofone wrote: But maybe you have had an attack on your PC.

    gangofone: As coincidence would have it, I have had more than one attack on my computer.

    On 7 July and 12, 13 July to be precise.

    1) On 12, 13 July I lost a mail filing cabinet that contained 2,178 saved emails. Recovered through a young computer wiz with AOL Tech Support late evening last night.

    Maricar/AOLTechMMB
    Technical Support
    AOL LLC

    2) On 7 July, I had a virus that would not allow me access to this laptop COMPUTER. Thankfully, I have three all with different Internet accounts that enable a McAfee wiz kid remote access to this laptop to ferret out the virus.

    McAfee Customer Support

    Date: Monday, July 07, 2008
    --------------------------------------------------
    Platinum Virus Removal Phone Support : $89.95(USD)

    Total Price:$89.95
    --------------------------------------------------


    First ever attacks on my computers, I must add. I would attribute it more to coincidence, however, than a deliberate, focused attack. I do believe, however, that the censors at BBC opted not to posts my earlier comments, which they continue to this day to reject, because of the detail they contain.



    74. At 12:42pm on 14 Jul 2008, thegangofone wrote: I think we nearly agree on the polonium. Timelythoughts has hinted we may never know where it came from. If Lugavoy helped smuggle it he is not going to say. I would have thought that the Russians would want to pressure him on that. Perhaps if the Brits jumped too early then the nationalistic elements obscured the trail. We would be talking of very small amounts probably bound for Italy.'

    Your MI6 would not, in my opinion, deliberately obfuscate the facts on the polonium 210 trail. They have yet to issue a public statement identifying the facility that produced polonium 210. It is believed to be a Russian facitity but it is yet to be corroborated by them.

    What your MI6 failed to do, and again this is opinion based, not fact based, is to investigate Berezovsky's long standing ties to Alexei Kondaurov, Ret. General-Major of KGB/FSB. Kondaurov, for a long time, has been associated with Anton Surikov, Ret. Colonel of GRU. The GRU is the FSB's military arm., the SVR is the FSB's foreign intelligence arm.

    Both Konaurov and Surikov have long been involved in Russian weapon sales. Both have a long history of working with Russian nuclear weapons facilities. Not to imply, much less engage in speculation, that Berezovsky was in any way involved in the polonium 210 that was smuggled into London. But through his affiliation with members of the GRU involved in nuclear weapons sites and sales in Russia, it may have provided members of Berezovsky's entourage-- Litvinenko and or Lugovoy as both were in his employment at the time Litvinenko ingested the polonium 210-- with access to the GRU and to the nuclear weapon sites. Whether polonium 210 was, or is, produced at the facilities is, of course, an unknown.

    U.S. intelligence officials have long known of Berezovsky's affiliation with Konaurov and Surikov. He provided introductions to them as recently as 2004. The introductions were arranged through Berezovsky's Washington based disinformation specialist--the same disinformation specialitist who was disqualified as a key witness by the CTCU for submitting false testimony in support of Berezovsky's testimony that Lugovoy was identified by Litvinenko as his assassin-- visits to Russia's nuclear facilities were made by a former CIA director and a former director of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. See link to photograph of their visit at the nuclear weapons facility at: https://left.ru/2005/15/kurchatov.jpg

    It cannot be ruled out, however unintentional, that Berezovsky also arranged the same introductions for members of his entourage with Surikov and Kondaurov, who, in turn, provided them with access to the nuclear weapons facilities. This lead has not, to my knowledge, been pursued by the CTCU.
    (The CTCU is the Counterterrorism Command Unit, an umbrella of Scotland Yard, MI6 and MI5).

    I find it more than curious that there has been no connection made between the discovery of the polonium 210 at the sushi bar, where Litvinenko attended a meeting with Lugovoy and Kovtun as well his now infameous meeting he held at the same sushi bar with Scaramella.

    Curious too that not one British journalist attended or covered Scaramella's trial in Naples, Italy, after Litvinenko's death, where Scaramella was convicted of weapons smuggling, including smuggling nuclear materials, that he is alleged to have undertaken with Litvinenko.

    On another but not unrelated note on Berezovsky, Andrew MacKinlay, the most powerful member of the British House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee, was targeted by MI5 for meetings he held with Alexander Polyakov. Not without coincidence is that MacKinlay has raised questions with the Home Secretary as to 1) the reasons behind Berezovsky's grant of political asylum and 2) the deportation of the Russian who was suspected of plotting an assassination attempt against Berezovsky.

    The reference to MacKinlay's probe about Berezovsky with Home Office raised a flag with me. I have no doubt whatsoever that MI5 surveillance of MacKinlay was instigated by Berezovsky and/or the disinformation specialists he keeps on his payroll through their ongoing relationship with MI6 and MI5.

    My reason is that Polyakov is whom Berezovsky's Washington based disinformation specialist identified to MI6 as the most probable recipient of the polonium 210 that he would later alleged Lugovoy served to Litvinenko over high tea at the Pine Bar. I know without absolute certainty that Berezovsky's disinformation specialist signaled out Polyakov. He said he was the highest member of the SVR at the Russian Embassy in London. At that time, Berezovsky was trying to build the case that the polonium 210 had been smuggled in through a diplomatic pouch.

    Outrageous, preposturious as it is, the CTCU entertained it for a while. Whether they bought Polyakov as the source is an unknown to me but based on Berezovsky and his disinformation specialist's allegations on the diplomatic pouch they did not rule out the possibility of a Russian Embassy involvement in the polonium 210.

    Berezovsky's allegations of a state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko, authorized by Vladimir Putin, will live in infamy. Litvinenko's death will be recorded in the annals of history as the most notorious murder of the Twentieth Century, the oxygen of conspiracy theorists for time immemorial. It will also stigmatize Putin's legacy as among the most heinous crime committed by a leader of a sovereign nation throughout time immemorial. Allow it to stand and you will have enable Berezovsky to extract his revenge! But at what costs to the national security of the your Kingdom?











  • Comment number 81.

    #80 timelythoughts
    OK for the first time I am a bit worried about you. No disrespect to AOL or McAfee but I would have hoped some of your "pals" might have thought it worth looking for sophisticated, sleeping spyware (no pun intended) that will wake up again soon. I would really make sure all of the PC's were given a very thorough going over.

    OK more questions:
    "I know without absolute certainty that Berezovsky's disinformation specialist signaled out Polyakov." - I think you mean WITH absolute certainty?

    Does Andrew MacKinlay know he was targeted?

    By the way on my comment "..then the nationalistic elements obscured the trail." I was thinking of the Russian side. But now I have a different opinion having followed some of your links to other links. My #79 got boshed so I will try to express that view separately and with different wording.

    If you get a chance there is also my #78.

  • Comment number 82.

    81. At 5:26pm on 14 Jul 2008, thegangofone wrote: " I would really make sure all of the PC's were given a very thorough going over."

    All progams were checked for hackers by Internal Security at a USG agency. None were found. New spyware and software was required to rid the computers of the virus that corrupted my files.

    And, yes, you are correct, I did mean "with absolute certainty" versus "without absolutley" certainty.

    Articles were published in the Telegraph and Daily Mail on MI5's survelliance of Andrew MacKinlay. Here is the link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1025574/QUENTIN-LETTS-He-propelled-defiance-Fury-steamed-nostrils.html

  • Comment number 83.

    #80 timelythoughts

    Can you say when you think Berezovsky first started to get his finger into the British intelligence pie? Thats a personal question so if its sensitive I don't need the answer.

  • Comment number 84.

    #82 timelythoughts

    Damn! I thought I didn't miss much and I didn't even know about that. Thanks.

  • Comment number 85.

    threnodio I followed one of the links from timelythoughts to another link. If you choose to dig around its your choice. I don't think they will turn up with shooters and stuff.

    I suppose at some point in the past Lugavoi might have been an attractive proposition to the British.....

  • Comment number 86.

    #80 timelythoughts wrote:

    "I find it more than curious that there has been no connection made between the discovery of the polonium 210 at the sushi bar, where Litvinenko attended a meeting with Lugovoy and Kovtun as well his now infameous meeting he held at the same sushi bar with Scaramella."

    Do you think that what we over here refer to as "sofa politics" where the formal process is sacrificed to expedite decision-making could be a factor?

    For example Blair has/had a personal friendship with Berlusconi. The latter would have probably not wanted too much attention to Scaramella. if I understand the facts correctly he was associated to the attempt to smear Prodi. Alistair Campbell was not the Press Secretary to the PM by then but he had been "mates" with the intelligence services heads.

  • Comment number 87.

    83. At 5:44pm on 14 Jul 2008, thegangofone wrote:
    #80 timelythoughts "Can you say when you think Berezovsky first started to get his finger into the British intelligence pie?"

    No, I do not know. Nor would I assume he ever got "his finger into the British intelligence pie." Your MI6 and MI5 are the best in the world bar-done. Dedicated and above reproach.

    I know from my year long collaboration with MI6 and MI5 that his rat pack of former KGB FSB were constantly attempting to peddle intelligence to them, always for a price. They were repackaging the same intelligence they performed under contract with those business intelligence and business security firms you have dotting every corner in the Mayfair District of London. RICS Management, formerly known as ISC Global, for example, was established and owned by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Lenoid Nevzlin and Berezovsky. To give them credibility among their foreign clientele, their Russian owners erroneously allege that they are in the service of MI6--fronts, under contract, with MI6, if you will.

    After Stephen Curtis, Chairman of ISC, was mysterious killed in a helicopter crash, ISC was reincorporated as RISC Management to distance itself from his suspicious death. And rightly so. It is a Russian money-laundering front masquerading as a business intelligence and security firm. Lugovoy, Evgeny Limarev, Scaramella, Litvinenko and Berezovsky's Washington based disinformation specialist were all under contract with RISC Management. Here is link:: https://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/article.asp?ID=6227. Read it at your risks.

    If you Brit's knew what lurks in Mayfair behind those elaborate offices doors and in those stretch limos occupied by Russia's Most Wanted, I dare say you would never venture into Mayfair again. Throughout the 1980s into the early 1990s, I spent years visiting the Edward St. George family at their Claridges townhouse in London and at their Sefton Lodge in Newmarket. London and Newmarket were my home away from home. That is until Berezovsky and his ilk invaded it. I will never return until it is fumigated.

  • Comment number 88.

    #87. timelythoughts

    Thanks. But that means I probably misread it when you said:

    "The spin is in, locked in place, bought lock stock and barrel, from 10 Downing Street to the Foreign Ministry to the Home Office to the Crown Prosecution Service to MI6 and MI5 to every major televised and print media in the UK, there is no reversing it."

    That seems to imply that they bought the intelligence and Berezovsky was responsible?

    I can understand if you mean that generally they are very dedicated and professional but have lost the plot on this issue.

    I am perhaps tired as it is late here so I will re-read this tomorrow.

  • Comment number 89.

    By the way when I said "..finger into the British intelligence pie.." I did not mean financially. I was thinking of the DS (disinformation specialist) that you referred to.

    My #79 got boshed because of a web link in it nit because of the content by the looks.

  • Comment number 90.

    88. At 11:47pm on 14 Jul 2008, thegangofone wrote:
    That seems to imply that they bought the intelligence and Berezovsky was responsible?

    What the CTCU bought was Berezovsky's spin. It goes without saying Berezovsky and members of his entourage were their primary source on Litvinenko. Who else did they have to turn to to obtain information on Litvinenko but to Berezovsky and members of his entourage, those former KGB FSB has-been disinformation specialists and some, but not all, Russian dissidents, who were beneficiaries of Berezovsky's largess.

    I need to clarify, however, that I seriously doubt the CTCU purchased the intelligence generated by Litvinenko, Limarev, Scaramella and Berezovsky's Washington based disinformation specialist through their contracts with RISC Management. They attempted to peddle the same intelligence to U.S. intelligence agencies without success. In some cases to gutteral laughter at the absurdity of what they had generated. Scaramella and Litvinenko's intelligence on alleged FSB spies and assassination plots against Berlusconi among others were cases in point.

    Berezovsky is a Machiavellian mobster without equal. His undoing may well be his use of Litvinenko's painfully tragic death to serve yet another Machiavellian end. 'Tis the reason there is a movement afoot among members of British Parliament, beyond Andrew McKinley, who are determined to revisit his grant of political asylum. He has used and abused his refugee status to ferment revolutions and coups against his growing lists of nemeses and in the process had brought ill wrought on the United Kingdom but for whose good graces he would be sharing a much deserved prison cell in a remote Siberian penal colony with Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

  • Comment number 91.

    #90. timelythoughts



    I can completely see that Berezovsky is much worse than a loose cannon on the deck and has "murky" dealings.

    I am assuming that you have communicated with Andrew McKinley, or that he has all of these facts, and any good intentioned communications from me to relay what you are saying are not needed.

    There are still some things, where if security and probity allow, I would like clarification.

    You have identified areas where CTCU could have done better. You don't want to denigrate people that you worked with and admire. But there are important issues.

    1. In my simple world the US had access to the same information and did not reach the same conclusions. Something went wrong at CTCU. You have said
    "Up until 21 November 2006 the only suspect identified by Litvinenko was Mario Scaramella. ". Scaramella was into nuclear materials, Litvinenko had business dealings with him.

    The autopsy details were not given to the Russians. That suggests they knew they were on weak ground.

    "Two spikes of 210, approximately two weeks apart, were alleged to have been ingested by Litvinenko" - that undermines the idea of a coherent assassination plot. Why two?

    It would seem to an outsider that unless this was all completely and satisfactorily explained there would have to be a question mark over Lugavoi as the suspect.

    2. You have implied that Berezovskys disinformation specialists have been "hanging around" CTCU. I suppose thats an occupational hazard for them. The media probably have been influenced too.

    But Gordon Brown, in good faith, has gone off in pursuit of the the Lugavoi extradition at a G8. Nobody seems to have been bringing to his attention that the US held a very different opinion. Questions were not asked.

    I know that you aren't a diplomatic specialist and could not comment anyway but I am puzzled as to how the US executive did not try to throw cold water on the Lugavoi obsession. If they did and Number 10 rejected that help then there must be something really quite seriously wrong with the CTCU setup.




    One thing that still does not sit right is that if I have understood what you are saying correctly Lugavoi was quite likely involved in smuggling very small amounts of polonium 210.

    I would have thought that the Russians would not have been too happy about that to put it mildly. Perhaps they left him alone to see what he did. Perhaps he is the protege of somebody who could not afford to be associated with such a scandal. But the government have been reported as almost favourably inclined toward him.

  • Comment number 92.

    By the way timelythoughts, neither of are going to be on Boris Berezovsky's Xmas card list!

  • Comment number 93.

    JohnAMacDonald and others...

    there has been no 'denial' or rebuttal' of this story by Downing Street, I just checked with them and have done searches on all relevant media.
    So sorry John, citing a Russian website to say the story has been denied, and not checking that was actually the case is itself 'not cool'.
    Even if No10 actually did put out the statement on that website, it simply claims that no security or intelligence official was authorised to speak on the Litvinenko case. That is hardly a denial is it ?

    timely
    I'd be happy to admit I was wrong if I could understand what you say I have got wrong, and share your view. But your posts are very long...
    As for the notion that the US do not share the UK perspective about state involvement in these two operations I can't see how you would possibly know. Are you really suggesting you are one of the very small number of US offiials with a full view of UK Humint ?
    It seems to me you've just got a thing about Berezovsky. Some of what you say undoubtedly rings true with me, but not your general thesis.

    gangofone
    you may have started worrying about 'timely' when he talked about his computer being atacked. I started worrying when I saw the way he uses the term CTCU. It suggests to me somebody who is NOT familiar with the workings of British intellience agencies. The term is quite similar to CTU, of '24' fame though...

  • Comment number 94.

    #93 Mark Urban

    You mean I HAVE been had?

    There were discrepancies. It did seem odd that a very senior intelligence official was talking through a blog page.

    So IS the US position that there was no state sponsored assassination?




  • Comment number 95.

    By the way thanks Mark.

  • Comment number 96.

    threnodio - not sure if you are still reading.

    Sorry, everything I said was in good faith, I think I fell for the Mangold link - that seemed credible.

    I have to say my position had been modified by the Scaramella link to nuclear material and the two spikes of polonium. I am not sure now about the autopsy details as that could be disinformation too.

    But unless timelythoughts comes back with something very solid that means most of everything (s)/he said was official or unofficial disinformation. You don't need to do that if you have a good argument.

    No actions have been taken against Lugavoi in Russia who must have been guilty of at least involvement in smuggling polonium 210. He is celebrated I think.

    So much as I hate to admit it I have been "done" and it was probably quite obvious. I should have read Cold Warrior once more before continuing.

    Sorry that I probably dragged you along too.

  • Comment number 97.

    93. At 3:40pm on 15 Jul 2008, Mark_Urban

    Mr. Urban: I am not a U.S government official nor am not speaking on behalf of a U.S. government official. To do so would constitute a violation of U.S. law.

    Rather I am conveying my knowledge of what I was informed by members of the executive branch and senior intelligence officials relative to Berezovsky's allegations of a state sponsored assassination of Litvinenko. They did not support his allegations. They viewed them for what they are: maliciously, egregious, unfounded attacks against the leadership of a sovereign nation he is determine to overthrow in retaliation for their ousting him from power and for initiating investigations into his criminal past.

    You are most assuredly correct that I have a "thing", as you call it, against Berezovsky. Not without cause, I fear. I have known his Washington based disinformation specialist for ten plus years. We testified at the BoNY oversight hearings together. And before the BoNY scandal broke, he was a key witness in the political asylum case of Alexandre Konanykhine, who was a target of the CIA penetration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Menatep Bank money-laundering operation I penetrated.

    I provided introductions on his behalf to current and former members of the executive branch, to past and present senior government officials, to intelligence officers and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. We were not informed that he was in Berezovsky's employment. And as would prove to be the case, he was disseminating intelligence and information generated by Berezovsky and other members of his entourage that, beyond its falsehood, would prove dangerous to U.S. Russia relations. He was also obtaining intelligence and information on Berezovsky's behalf, which Berezovsky then used to further damage U.S. Russia relations.

    As a result of our discoveries of the extent of the damages incurred through his affiliation with Berezovsky, his application for U.S. citizenship was denied. His file remains classified and he is unable to obtain travel documents to leave the U.S. Time, and hopefully a trial, will determine his future in the U.S. As of this writing he is a man without a country.

    I never knew evil. It never touched my file until Berezovsky's disinformation specialist brought Berezovsky into it. I am not free to disclose the egregiously heinous acts that were promulgated by Berezovsky. Catherine Belton, formerly with the Moscow Times and currently a staff writer was a witness to some of those acts. Your own Richard Watson is knowledgeable of them as I believe is Tom Mangold. albeit Mangold on the periphery and after-the-fact. Received a follow-up email from Belton yesterday, in fact. Hopeful she will be permitted to cover the ever continuing Berezovsky saga from her position with the Financial Times. Takes courage and a whole lot of integrity to publish an article that runs counter to mainstream.

  • Comment number 98.

    #97 timelythoughts

    If you want to get something across you have got to keep it simple.

    I am giving up but I would note:

    "All progams were checked for hackers by Internal Security at a USG agency"

    you also say

    "Mr. Urban: I am not a U.S government official nor am not speaking on behalf of a U.S. government official. To do so would constitute a violation of U.S. law.

    You have not responded to Mark Urbans comment:
    "when I saw the way he uses the term CTCU. It suggests to me somebody who is NOT familiar with the workings of British intellience agencies."


    Bye bye.

  • Comment number 99.




    Andrei Lugovoy was adopted by Russia's Liberal Democrat leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. His membership in the LDP will not earn him celebrity status nor it is anything to celebrate. The LDP is fiercely anti West, pro communist. When weighed against his past life, his membership in the LDP is nothing short of punitive.

    The Putin administration has been extremely cooperative with the West on issues related to non nuclear proliferation and on disclosure on weapons proliferation. Assuming the polonium 210 was supplied to members of Berezovsky's entourage through Berezovsky's FSB GRU affiliations, it could prove as embarrassing to the Putin administration, who has justly taken considerable pride with their non nuclear cooperation with the West, as the allegations of a state sponsored assassination.

    As in the case of Lugovoy, who appears to have been furloughed into a hell on earth with Zhirinovsky, the Kremlin may have opted to deal internally with the suppliers of the polonium 210. Arguably, if it was tied to Berezovsky's FSB GRU affiliations, they may be even more apprehensive to disclose his access to them lest they risk giving the appearance of credibility to the intelligence reports generated by him or members of his entourage.

    Such has been my experience with the Clinton-Gore, Yeltsin-Chernomyrdin administration during politically untenable Ames-Cherkashin/Hannsen-Cherkashin espionage era. Unlike the U.S., where Ames and Hannsen were tried in a court of law, it is unlikely that the public trial will ever be held in Russia against high members of the FSB (SRV or GRU) in Putin's inner circle for acts of treason perpetuated on behalf of Berezovsky.

    They will be dealt with as Berezovsky dealt with Emanuel Zeltser, by orchestrating his arrest, imprisonment, torture, and possibly his death, in Belarus through Berezovsky's one remaining Soviet era ally, Alexandre Lukashenko. This is another Berezovsky saga being played out in the UK, U.S. courts and in Belarus that is yet to be covered by the British media involving the $12 billion estate of Berezovsky's former business partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili. It has not escaped the attention of your MPs, however, who are following it with a keen eye toward revisitation of his asylum status.

  • Comment number 100.

    #93 - Mark_Urban

    "there has been no 'denial' or rebuttal' of this story by Downing Street, I just checked with them and have done searches on all relevant media."

    "In relation to the stories that appeared earlier this week, no intelligence or security officials were authorised to comment on the Litvinenko case. It is our long-running policy not to comment on intelligence issues. The police and the [state prosecutors] have identified one individual as the individual they believe should stand trial for this murder". Not a Russian web site but, as I said at #60, Downing St. quoted verbatim in the FT. 'One individual' may not a rebuttal but it is light years away from 'some state involvement'.

    #96 - thegangofone

    I have not been dragged anywhere I would not have ended up anyway. The history of skulduggery has been interesting and quite persuasive. It actually changes nothing. The briefing giving rise to the original report injected the 'state involvement' element at the most sensitive possible time and, as such, must be seen as mischievous at best and, at worst, deliberately destabilising. 98 posts later, we are no closer to the truth, which is doubtless where we are supposed to be.

    Mushroom theory reigns supreme.







 

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