Writing for that beacon of Russophile propaganda Russia Profile, Russophile slug Vladimir Frolov, director of the “National Laboratory for Foreign Policy”, a Moscow-based think tank, and a former diplomatic employee of the Kremlin, dredges up all the ridiculous Russophilic lies about Alexander Litvinenko. Let’s make him look like the nasty little clown he is, shall we? We’d publish a picture of ridiculous face but it turns out he’s such a bigshot that we can’t find a single image of him on Google images.
LR: Note well, dear reader, that Judge Frolov has already found Russia innocent before the trial has begun, even as he harshly attacks others for finding Russia guilty before the trial has begun. Neo-soviet hypocrisy knows no bounds.
British prosecutors announced in May that they had sufficient evidence to charge Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoi with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian security agent who died Nov. 23 after being poisoned by the radioactive substance polonium-210. The British government called for Lugovoi’s extradition to the UK to face charges and a likely trial. Lugovoi called the decision to charge him politically motivated, and Russian prosecutors said they would not extradite him to Britain on the legal grounds that the Russian Constitution does not allow for extraditing Russian nationals to foreign countries, and requires them instead to be tried in Russia.
LR: He ignores the fact that the Russian Constitution contains no such restriction. Note, however, how he carefully avoids stating that the Kremlin is right.
On the eve of the G8 summit in Germany, President Vladimir Putin called the British charges against Lugovoi unsubstantiated and the whole affair ridiculous. Lugovoi himself convened a press conference in which he accused the British intelligence service of setting him up in the poisoning of Litvinenko’s poisoning because, according to Lugovoi, British agents tried to recruit him to gather compromising material on the Russian leadership, including President Putin himself.
LR: Putin says the charges against Berezovsky are serious but the charges against Lugovoi are ridiculous. Isn’t that interesting?
Russia would be wrong to dismiss the British charges against Lugovoi out of hand. The matter is extremely serious and the potential long term implications for Russia and its international reputation are grave. The Lugovoi case should be thoroughly investigated on its own merits, and Russia has a direct interest in establishing the truth about Litvinenko’s murder. There is one serious reason why Russian prosecutors need to move as fast and as vigorously as possible in investigating the British charges against Lugovoi: The need to clear the Russian secret services, and by implication the Russian government, and even President Putin himself, of any involvement in Litvinenko’s murder. As long as the Russian prosecutors avoid assessing seriously the charges against Lugovoi and he continues to play the part of a national hero, wrongfully accused by an unfriendly foreign power, the implicit impression in the world would be that the Russian government is protecting Lugovoi because he acted on its orders.
LR: Note well that he does not say “investigate the secret services” he says “clear them.” He suggests that we allow the Russian government to decide whether its own secret services are guilty of political murder and then accept the results on faith. In other words, he’s stark raving neo-Soviet mad.
Treating Lugovoi now as a kind of hero is against Russia’s national interests. It creates a serious presumption of the Russian government’s involvement in Litvinenko’s murder and makes credible the outlandish charges in the Western media that Putin might have either directly ordered or implicitly encouraged Litvinenko’s killing. These charges, of course, are patently absurd. A targeted assassination is a high-risk intelligence operation that puts valuable intelligence sources at risk and jeopardizes the country’s foreign policy interests. This practice exists even in “mature democracies” like the United States where it is established by law and secret presidential directives.
LR: Hmm . . . we thought it was Putin who said the charges were silly. Now suddenly Frolov says so too, before the trial. Is Frolov speaking for Putin? Is this a propaganda tract? Vladimir Putin has a secret resume that Frolov knows nothing about, and spent his whole life in the KGB. What’s so strange about the possibility that he could order the killing of an enemy of the state? Many Russians would condemn him if he failed to do so.
The value of the assassination target should be extremely high to justify such a risky action – Osama Bin Laden, Shamil Basayev or former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who was blown up in his car by Russian agents in Qatar, clearly qualify. Litvinenko did not. He was essentially – nothing; he was a failure masquerading as a freedom fighter who had not come across anybody or anything he was not willing to betray for a price.
LR: Do you believe this? Is this man really saying that if something doesn’t make sense, RUSSIA wouldn’t do it? Did it make “sense” for Nikita Krushchev to take off his shoe at the UN? Did it make “sense” for Stalin to make a deal with Hitler and murder 20 million of his own citizens? Is it “sensible” to elect a proud KGB spy after the KGB destroyed the USSR? Is it “sensible” to give 70% approval to a president who is presiding over the loss of 1 million people from the population each year? Exactly this kind of “sense” explains the destruction of the USSR at the hands of people just like Mr. Frolov.
The Russian intelligence has demonstrated its ability to find more effective ways to bring traitors to justice – in 2001, Alexander Zaporozhsky who betrayed FBI agent Robert Hansen, was lured back to Russia, arrested and sentenced to 18 years in prison. The Russian intelligence service would never use polonium-210 as its weapon of choice in a targeted assassination. The stuff, although lethal, works slowly and is highly traceable. A bullet from an unknown gun would be much more effective and much more circumspect. Litvinenko’s death was slow and theatrical and, once the source of poisoning was established, it took some straightforward forensic work to zero in on a suspect.
LR: Who says that Russian intelligence wanted their acts to be secret? Who says they didn’t want to send a clear message to all those who might “betray” Russia as to the horrible consequences of doing so? Is this maniac really suggesting, on the other hand, that Russians can’t make stupid mistakes? Is he that drunk on oil fumes? If the Russian government has so many “other means” why doesn’t it use them to get Berezovksy? Why does it need to beg the British government for help? It’s clear that Mr. Frolov’s “brain” is the product of a warped neo-Soviet education.
What makes the charges against Lugovoi so serious is that he left so many traces of polonium-210 everywhere he went. He claims to be a victim of polonium poisoning himself. Perhaps, but the evidence indicates it is also likely that he himself was in possession of a certain amount of polonium-210.
LR: Do you note how he makes absolutely no reference to any such specific “evidence” or its source? Pure propaganda. Those who have dared to associate themselves with Russia Profile should be called to answer for this outrage.
If so, the crucial questions that need to be answered by the Russian prosecutors are: What did he intend to do with it? Where did he get it? And did he know he was dealing with polonium? There are basically two plausible answers to the first question: Lugovoi either planned to sell polonium to Litvinenko or wanted to kill him with it. Litvinenko was known to be desperately in need of money, sometimes working as a driver for former Chechen minister Akhmed Zakayev, whom Russia wants extradited from the UK. Venturing into an illegal trade in nuclear materials could have appealed to him as a relatively quick way to make serious money. Polonium makes an ideal dirty bomb – it is not traceable by gamma-ray detectors installed in airports and government facilities, it causes internal alpha-particle contamination and is highly lethal if inhaled or ingested.
LR: What he’s doing is telling the Kremlin how they can frame Litvinenko for his own murder. In other words, he’s a great neo-Soviet patriot (read: traitor to Russia’s future, more dangerous than any foreign foe).
Litvinenko was known to have ties with Chechen separatists. Perhaps he was trying to make a buck by providing terrorists with a murder weapon. That would have made Lugovoi at least an accomplice in terrorist activity – a gruesome crime – but it does not make him the murderer of Litvinenko. In this scenario, the whole affair becomes an accident, Litvinenko and Lugovoi simply did not know how to handle the toxic stuff safely (or Lugovoi might not have been aware of the nature of his cargo at all and handled it recklessly, which perhaps explains the contamination in the hotel room where he stayed with his family).
LR: Chechnya. Of course! What a surprise. Why, the next thing you know, he’ll blame the United States for Litvinenko’s killing . . .
Polonium is a commercial commodity used in film production. It is available online in the United States. It is true that Russia is the world’s principal manufacturer of commercial polonium. It also sells 99 percent of its production to the United States. But that alone does not make Russia the source of polonium that killed Litvinenko, as it is not that hard to get elsewhere.
It is the fact that the polonium trail left by Lugovoi in Britain originated at a flight from Moscow makes at least half the case for the material being of Russian origin. In Russia, polonium is produced at high-security government facilities and any loss of the toxic substance would be a very serious breach of the security system. An intense investigation at the government facilities producing polonium to check the possibility of a diversion is the minimum of what is required and is highly important for Russia’s credibility as a responsible nuclear supplier. A diversion would have been a violation of Russian international obligations. But again, the polonium (even if it were of Russian origin) might have been purchased in other countries and simply shipped to Russia. The question is: Who planned such a sophisticated operation?
LR: It’s a double smokescreen, you have to give this maniac credit. Who says it’s hard to get Russian polonium? Maybe it’s quite easy, after all Russia is a corrupt mess of chickens with their heads cut off. It’s quite convenient, of course, to kill two birds with one stone, and imply that Russia has such strong control that only a “sophisticated operation” could breach them. But what’s the factual basis for such a claim? He offers not one shred of it. Frankly, it might well be that the greatest horror to come out of the British trial of Lugovoi would be Russia’s total lack of control over its nukes, relegating it to third-world status and ejection from the G-8. That would be far worse than the Kremlin’s willingness to commit acts of political murder. No wonder he’s so worked up!
If the intention was to kill who would have ordered the killing? The choice of the target and the choice of the weapon clearly indicate that it was someone who wanted desperately to embarrass and even compromise Russia as a state and Putin as Russia’s leader, someone who had an agenda to poison the relationship between Russia and the West. Boris Berezovsky and Leonid Nevzlin clearly qualify on this count. The British prosecutors never seriously looked into this lead, figuring it would be suicidal for Berezovsky to stage such a publicized murder in the country that granted him asylum. Perhaps, but Lugovoi’s long service as chief personal security to Berezovsky and their long-term relationship (Lugovoi was even jailed briefly in Russia in late 1990s for his work for Berezovsky) make the Berezovsky connection a relevant target for investigation for Russian prosecutors.
LR: So it’s impossible that a proud KGB spy would order Litvinenko, a KGB critic and defector, killed. But it’s quite possible an exiled oligarch who hated the KGB and befriended Litvinenko would do so, even though it would provide a basis for the oligarch to be extradited and executed (note above how Frolov has claimed it’s easy to catch the Polonium killer). Again, it’s exactly this kind of “thinking” that destroyed the USSR, telling its leaders they could compete with the USA and win. Did Berezovsky also kill Politkovskaya, and Yushenkov and Shchekochikhin and Girenko? If so, shouldn’t the Kremlin be condemned for utter incompetence for failing to apprehend him sooner?
Are there people in Russia willing to go to such extremes to embarrass President Putin and make him an international pariah? Some analysts suggested it might be in the interest of the “party of the third term” – a group of security officials who want to drag Putin into violating the Constitution and agreeing to stay on as president for a third term, or maybe even for life. Poisoning Putin’s relationship with the West would seem to them a cost-effective means for making Putin change his mind. It is difficult to imagine that such an operation could have been conducted in complete secrecy by the rogue elements in Russia’s security agencies. This would be Russia’s version of Iran-Contra, only worse – it would be an operation against the country’s interests and the country’s elected leader. It would have been a coup. The intelligence bureaucracy is the most risk-averse bureaucracy in the world, and it would have found the idea of going after Litvinenko a ridiculous folly. It would have leaked the info and Putin loyalists would have heard of it. Could a group of vigilante former intelligence officers, be behind this? Perhaps, but the motive is not clear and the choice of weapon looks exotic.
LR: He doesn’t have the courage to name one single person who might be part of such a conspiracy, and he himself says it is not credible, yet he spends a huge amount of words discussing it and spends no time at all looking the possibility that the KGB was ordered to kill its own defector.
Lugovoi’s public explanation of the affair does not look plausible either. The idea of recruiting Lugovoi as an intelligence asset is laughable. Why recruit a man who has already been in the crosshairs of the FSB for his ties to Boris Berezovsky? He is a walking target for a Russian counterintelligence operation and could be under constant surveillance, to say nothing of the fact that he has no access to government secrets. He would be a useless clandestine asset and a highly risky one at that. The MI6 are not a bunch of amateurs. The suggestion by Lugovoi that British intelligence was involved in poisoning Litvinenko with polonium is absurd. Even on a theoretical level, killing a British citizen on British soil would have required a direct authorization from the prime minister and a public scandal that would have brought down the entire British government. Lugovoi has not strengthened his case with this story.
LR: This is where the propagandist tries to make himself look credible by attacking the pro-Russia side for a bit. At the end, of course, for a second or two. Then back to the point.
A lot hangs on the Russian prosecutors’ ability and willingness to dig their teeth in the British charges against Andrei Lugovoi and their readiness to make a thorough investigation of all leads in this highly politicized case. It is extremely important to put to rest any speculation that Russia as a state had anything to do with Litvinenko’s murder. Their job is not to acquit Lugovoi, it is to clear Russia.
LR: Again, only to clear Russia, not to investigate the facts and indict Russia if necessary. That’s “digging in your teeth”? Hmmmm . . . No mention of the long string of murders starting with Galina Starovoitova that has shadowed Putin from his first steps into the Kremlin. No mention of his crackdown on the press, no mention of his abolition of local elections, not a single word about his background as a spy. This is what passes for truth and justice in the neo-Soviet Union, as Russia sinks slowly into an abyss from which there is no return.