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The Litvinenko Russian Spy Killing

I've not written about the death of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko by presumed polonium-210 radiation poisoning but the story has had me gripped since it first came to light.

One of the things that has amazed me - apart from all the cloak-and-dagger conspiracy theories and what they could really mean for the future of European/World politics - is the fact that it's been headline news here in the UK for weeks now. Not a day has gone past without one of the top three stories - if not 'the' top story - being about Litvinenko, his death and now the investigation into it.

I see tonight that they have found traces of the radiation on three BA aircraft. Apart from BA now having to alert 33,000 people and 3,000 staff to possibly go and have themselves checked-up it has also resulted in what seems to be a clear date - October 25th - and flight in which the radiation first surfaced on a Moscow to Heathrow flight.

So we now know the source of the poisoning definetly came from Russia (although whether it was State or Underworld is still unknown). What's more is that polonium-210 has such a limited range that the authorities almost certainly know the seat number the carrier sat in and thus have a name and passport number to work with. Thus they'll have a picture of the person responsible unless the passport was a forgery (which is quite possible).

It also makes already slightly strained relationships between the UK/Europe and Russia more strained as difficult questions are now going to have to be asked and the Russian governments responses will be very interesting to see. The story hasn't been big news in Russia - indeed one of the papers claimed that Litvinenko's death was caused by seafood poisoning. With the State having a very tight grip on the news agencies again these days and censorship once again being common place I'm guessing the story won't be getting massive attention over there either (although saying that some papers have been debating it but in slightly more of a 'the west are using this as a political battering ram to damage our image' vein). Even if the State isn't behind Litvineko's death the fact of a defectors - and vocal opponent of President Putin - death is hardly going to be wanted on the front page - especially as it could cause alot more conspiracy theories internally too - especially in the wake of the recent assassination of journalist and vocal Putin-critic Anna Politkovskaya.

Russia has pretty much been written off in the last 15 years as a really dominant global power. The Cold War ended and so, many thought, did Russia's real strength. Well, considering Russia will provide Western Europe with almost 80% of it's energy needs within the next few decades I'd say that Russia was very much becoming that powerhouse again and one that this time round Western Europe will have to keep on the right side of.

It'll be interesting to see how this developes.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 29th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC)
Its reassuring to know that while all that dangerous hair gel and baby milk has been stopped that terrorists are only left with all that useless radioactive crap that couldn't possibly be of any use...

Nov. 30th, 2006 07:55 am (UTC)
Although in one of the UK newspapers' coverage of the Russian press coverage, they did point out that one Russian newspaper made what seemed to me a reasonably pertinent point - that it would be very strange for the Russian government to move to poison someone who had defected and already given up all their secrets a number of years ago.
Nov. 30th, 2006 08:59 am (UTC)
Reposted from a reply I made elsewhere

I have a simpler question.

Why goto all the trouble, expense and difficulty of obtaining nuclear material when a bullet in the back of the head works just as well, is faster, and probably costs you about 10c.

It also generates a lot less news coverage than "Nuclear Material leaking into Central London"

So, given that, why would they use a radioactive substance to kill an ex-spy, thereby giving more publicity to the fact that HE was investigating the murder of a Russian journalist. If you were Putin and you wanted things to die down, the LAST thing you would do is issue an order for one of your ex-spies to end up as a green glowing piece of radiation with his story spread across every newspaper on the planet.

My personal opinion would be to look for a country who is looking to discredit Putin? Now, let me think.....how many of THOSE are there? Anything ending in ????istan for a start. Maybe even Americas secret spy organisations. This is of course mere speculation....

I would also put money on Isreal too!!..See below

Nov. 30th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC)
The 'discredit Putin' stream of thought is the most popular of the stories circling a fair amount of Russian news outlets at present.

I tend to agree that it's a lot of trouble and publicity for something that could have been dealt with alot more subtly.

Just adds another layer of interest to the whole thing for me.
Nov. 30th, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
It was the americans, Litvinenko didn't bring over enough secrets and they were recouping their losses...

For removing people, few things work better than a car accident, especially for someone high profile (Thus Princess Di), you've just got to handle the clean up better than they did that time...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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