Daily Archives: October 27, 2007

Litvinenko’s Widow Speaks out Against the Kremlin

Marina Litvinenko, Alexander’s widow (pictured), writing in the International Herald Tribune:

Today leaders from around Europe will gather in Lisbon to meet with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, for the EU-Russia summit. I can only imagine there is much to discuss, from the state of democracy in Russia to energy matters, to Kosovo to Iran. But there is one more glaring issue, which simply cannot be ignored at the meeting – the murder last year in London of my husband, Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive Polonium 210. He was murdered by the most cruel method imaginable.

Horrendous though it was, this was not even just the murder of one man – it was an act of nuclear terrorism on Europen soil. A mass radioactive poisoning took place in the center of London. Hundreds of others were exposed. Restaurants, hotels, aeroplanes and offices were contaminated. Several people including myself have an increased risk of developing cancer due to the exposure that we received.

In the eleven months since my husband’s death, there has been a real and full investigation by British police. This was finished in January and the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was enough evidence to charge Andrei Lugovoy with my husband’s murder. The British Government then requested Mr Lugovoy’s extradition from Russia. Russia has refused to extradite him. In retaliation, Britain has tightened the visa regime for Russian officials and expelled four diplomats believed to be Russian intelligence officers in London. I am assured by British officials that they will continue to press Russia to give up the suspected murderer who must stand trial in Britain.

In the meantime Mr Putin has taken a defiant position. He spoke on national television in rejection of the British request using the most rude and uncivilized language. He advised “the British to get a brain change.” He dismissed the Scotland Yard’s evidence as insufficient. Effectively he has given Mr Lugovoy his personal endorsement in the eyes of the Russian people and the world. His propaganda machine went on to turn Mr Lugovoy into a kind of national hero. So, the accused murderer is now running for the Russian Parliament. Mr Putin’s standing up for Mr Lugovoy adds credence to the allegations that Russia has something to hide. Indeed, Mr Lugovoy had no motive for killing my husband and only the highest level of the Russian government could authorize access to Polinium-210, one of the most toxic substances in the world.

Perhaps the real reason why Mr Lugovoy cannot be allowed to stand trial is that he would name those who provided him with Polonium and sent him on his mission to London? Where does this leave me and my son? We need to see justice. I owe it to my husband to demand that justice is done. I also owe it to the good people of Britain, the London police and the British government, who all stood by me, to do my utmost that our common quest for justice is not ignored by the outside world. That is why I will be in Lisbon as the EU-Russia summit begins. I have a direct message for President Putin: this will not go away as long as I live.

I will also have a serious message for EU leaders: it should be impossible for you to sit around a table with Mr Putin without demanding that he co-operate with Britain. I know that the EU has made statements on the Litvinenko case before, but we have now moved beyond words. The EU needs to take action and move from statements to sanctions in solidarity with Britain.

Annals of Cold War II: More Bomber Outrage

The Times of London reports:

OSLO. Two Russian bombers yesterday flew close to the Netherlands where Nato defence ministers were meeting, the Norwegian military said. The Tupolev 160 strategic bombers stayed in international airspace. Two Russian Tupolev 95 bombers had earlier flown close to Norwegian airspace, prompting Norway to send F16 fighters to intercept them. In recent months, Russia has flown bombers close to other countries in an apparent demonstration of its military might.

RIA Novosti has more details:

Two Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers will practice on Friday launches of cruise missiles at a testing site in southern Russia, an Air Force spokesman said. Russian strategic bombers began on October 16 a series of long-range training flights over the Arctic region, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and the Black Sea with simulated bomber raids and missile launches missiles at testing grounds in northern and southern Russia. The exercises will continue until October 30 Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky also said up to 10 Tu-95MS bombers and two Il-78 aerial tankers flew scheduled flight patrols on Thursday in neutral airspace, and were accompanied for at least five hours by NATO F-16 and Tornado fighters. Russia has stepped up practice runs of its strategic bombers ever since President Vladimir Putin announced the resumption of strategic patrol flights on August 17. The president said at the time that although the country halted long-distance strategic flights to remote regions in 1992, other nations had continued the practice, compromising Russian national security. Although NATO countries expressed concern over possible violations of their airspace and scramble their fighters as a “routine response” when Russian bombers fly close to their borders, Moscow says all the latest flights are within air patrolling corridors permitted by international regulations.

David Essel writes:

The Russians are sending their old war toys out to harass, but look at what they’ve got.

They send this old Lada, entered service 1956:

to play against this, introduced 1997:

David & Goliath is a good Bible story but real life does not usually play out that way, thankfully.

Facts and pix courtesy Wikipedia

Annals of the Neo-Soviet Crackdown: So Much for Open Government

ITAR-TASS reports:

Beginning from October 18 sessions of the Russian government will no longer be broadcast to journalists live, Chief of the Protocol department of the government press and information service Alexander Zharov said on Thursday. Taking into account the character of information that if often secret the government will find it more convenient and productive to work in a closed regime, Zharov said. Journalists will be able to watch live the prime minister making an opening speech, while ministers who deliver the main reports will meet journalists upon completion of the Cabinet meetings, Zharov said.

Gosh. It really does seem like Mr. Putin has something to hide, doesn’t it?

Putin, Gone Amok, Equates Euro Missiles With Cuban Crisis

Vladimir Putin, in the best case scenario for Russia, is a pathological liar who believes the West is comprised of clueless stooges. In the worst case, he actually thinks he’s telling the truth, hence being completely deranged. The Guardian reports:

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said that the situation surrounding proposed US missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe has similarities to the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s. “Such a threat is being set up on our borders,” Putin said at a news conference at the conclusion of an EU-Russian summit in Portugal. But Putin suggested the tension was much lower than during the Cuban crisis when America confronted Russia over Soviet missiles secretly installed on the island a short distance from the US mainland. Mr Putin said relations between Russia and the US have moved on since the Cold War. He said he feels the US is listening to Moscow’s concerns about its missile plans. Mr Putin added that his relationship with President Bush, whom he called a friend, helped iron out problems.

Ummm . . Mister Vladimir, sir? You do know, right, that the missiles the USSR put in Cuba were OFFENSIVE missiles, people killers, while the missiles that US wants to put in Eastern Europe are DEFENSIVE missiles, missile killers, right? Just wondering . . .