Alexander Litvinenko

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For the suspected assassination, see Alexander Litvinenko poisoning.
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Alexander Litvinenko, May 2002 Associated press:Alistair Fuller</sub>

Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko (Russian: Александр Вальтерович Литвиненко) (December 4 1962<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> or August 30 1962<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> – November 23 2006) was a lieutenant-colonel in the FSB (Russia's security service) and later a Russian dissident.

After working for the KGB and its successor, the FSB, Litvinenko publicly accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky. He was arrested by Russian authorities, released and later fled to the UK, where he was granted political asylum and citizenship.

Litvinenko published books in the UK, where he described Vladimir Putin's rise to power as a coup d'état organized by the FSB. He stated a key element of FSB's strategy was to frighten Russians by bombing apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities. He alleged the bombings were organized by FSB and blamed on Chechen terrorists to legitimise reprisals using military force in Chechnya.

On November 1 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later, becoming the first known victim of deliberate, lethal polonium-210 radiation poisoning. The fact that Litvinenko's revelations about FSB misdeeds was followed by his poisoning — and his public accusations that the Russian government was behind his malady — resulted in worldwide media coverage.


[edit] Early life

Alexander Litvinenko was born the son of Walter Litvinenko<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> in the Russian city of Voronezh. He graduated from secondary school in 1980 in Nalchik and was then drafted into the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. After a year of service, he matriculated from the Kirov Higher Command School in Vladikavkaz. After graduation in 1985, Litvinenko became a platoon commander in an Internal Troops regiment that guarded valuables in transit.

[edit] Career in Russian security services

Litvinenko became a KGB agent in 1986. In 1988, he was officially transferred to the Third Chief Directorate of the KGB (Military Counter Intelligence). In 1989, after studying for a year at the Novosibirsk Military Counter Intelligence School, he became an operational officer and served in KGB military counterintelligence until 1991.<ref>(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref>

In 1991, he was promoted to the Central Staff of the MB-FSK-FSB of Russia, specialising in counter-terrorist activities and infiltration of organized crime. He was awarded the title of "MUR veteran" for operations conducted with the Moscow criminal investigation department (MUR). Litvinenko also saw active military service in many of the so-called "hot spots" of the former USSR and Russia. In 1997, he was again promoted, this time to the Department for the Analysis of Criminal Organizations of the FSB, with the title of senior operational officer and deputy head of the Seventh Section. He was in charge of the protection of Boris Berezovsky, when Berezovsky held a government position. Contrary to many news reports, Litvinenko was never a 'spy' and did not deal with secrets beyond information on operations against organized criminal groups.<ref>(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Dissidence

On November 17 1998, during the period that Vladimir Putin was the head of the FSB, five officers of FSB's Directorate for the Analysis of Criminal Organizations appeared at a press conference in the Russian news agency Interfax. Five officers (including the director of the Seventh Department, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Gusyk, three senior operative officers — Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, Major Andrey Ponkin, and Colonel V. V. Shebalin, Lieutenant Constanyin Latyshonok, and German Scheglov accused the director of the Directorate for the Analysis of Criminal Organizations major-general Eugeny Hoholkhov and his deputy, 1st Rank Captain Alexander Kamishnikov of ordering them in November 1997 to assassinate Boris Berezovsky, a Russian businessman who then held the high government post of Secretary of the Security Council and was close to President Boris Yeltsin; Berezovsky later fled to the UK to avoid criminal charges. They claimed they were also ordered to kill Mikhail Trepashkin and to kidnap a brother of the businessman Umar Dzhabrailov. Mikhail Trepashikin was present as a victim of the planned assassination. Several other FSB officers were also present to support the claims.<ref name="cp1-12">(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=" Дело Литвиненко">(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref> The leader of the Democratic Russia party and proponent of lustration, Galina Starovoitova was murdered just three days later.<ref name="Galina">Template:Cite web</ref> Litvinenko was dismissed from the FSB, and then arrested twice on charges which were dropped after he had spent time in Moscow prisons. In 1999, he was arrested on charges of abusing duties during the anti-terrorist campaign in Kostroma. He was released a month later after signing a written undertaking not to leave the country.

[edit] Flight

Litvinenko fled to Turkey from Ukraine with a fake passport, as his real passport was revoked by the authorities after criminal charges were filed against him. Litvinenko's wife Marina and five-year-old son Anatoly entered Turkey legally. With the help of Alexander Goldfarb, Litvinenko bought air tickets for the flight Istanbul-London-Moscow<ref>(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref> and asked for political asylum at Heathrow airport during the transit stop on November 1, 2000.<ref>(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref> Political asylum was granted on May 14, 2001<ref>(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref> and in October 2006 he became a naturalised British citizen.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Allegations against the Russian Government

In the book Blowing up Russia: Terror from Within, published in 2002 with the financial support of Berezovsky, Litvinenko alleged that agents from the FSB co-ordinated the 1999 Russian apartment bombings that killed more than 300 people. Russian officials blamed the explosions on Chechen separatists. This version of events was suggested earlier by journalist David Satter <ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and Sergei Yushenkov, vice chairman of the Sergei Kovalev commission created by the Russian Parliament to investigate the bombings. However, Litvinenko provided many new factual details in his book. In December 2003 Russian authorities confiscated over 4000 copies of the book en route to Moscow from the publisher in Latvia.<ref>Russian editor questioned over seizure of controversial book</ref> In the book Gang from Lubyanka (Лубянская преступная группировка), Litvinenko alleged that Vladimir Putin during his time at FSB was personally involved in organized crime.

Litvinenko stated in a June 2003 interview, with the Australian SBS television program Dateline, that two of the Chechen terrorists involved in the 2002 Moscow theatre hostage crisis — whom he named as "Abdul the Bloody" and "Abu Bakar" — were working for the FSB, and that the agency manipulated the rebels into staging the attack.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Litvinenko said: "[w]hen they tried to find [Abdul the Bloody and Abu Bakar] among the dead terrorists, they weren't there. The FSB got its agents out. So the FSB agents among Chechens organised the whole thing on FSB orders, and those agents were released." The story about FSB connections with the hostage takers was confirmed by Mikhail Trepashkin.<ref name="cp1-12"/>

In a July 2005 interview with the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Litvinenko alleged that Ayman al-Zawahiri, along with other al-Qaeda members, was trained by the FSB in Dagestan (a republic neighbouring Chechnya) in 1998.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> With regard to 2005 bombings in London, Litvinenko said that KGB and FSB are main promoters of the terrorism worldwide.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

In July 2006 Litvinenko alleged in an article that Putin was a pedophile.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> He compared Putin to rapist and serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. He wrote that among people who knew about Putin's pedophilia were Anatoly Trofimov and the editor of the Russian newspaper "Top Secret", Artyom Borovik, who died in a plane crash under suspicious circumstances just a week after trying to publish a paper about this subject.<ref>(Russian)Template:Cite web</ref> Former FSB officer Mikhail Trepashkin now states he warned Litvinenko in 2002 about an FSB unit assigned to assassinate him.<ref>Template:Cite web </ref>

[edit] Allegations against Romano Prodi

In April 2006, a British Member of the European Parliament for London, Gerard Batten (United Kingdom Independence Party), cited allegations by Litvinenko that Romano Prodi, the Italian centre-left leader (the current Prime Minister of Italy) and former President of the European Commission, had been the KGB's "man in Italy". Batten demanded an inquiry into the allegations. He told the European Parliament that Litvinenko had been informed by FSB deputy chief, General Anatoly Trofimov (who was shot dead in Moscow in 2005,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>) that "Romano Prodi is our man (in Italy)". According to Brussels-based newspaper, the EU Reporter on 3 April 2006, "another high-level source, a former KGB operative in London, has confirmed the story".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

However, there is at least one possible contrasting view regarding Litvinenko's reported allegations against Prodi: an interview which, according to La Repubblica, one of the main Italian newspapers, Litvinenko had given to one of its reporters on March 3 2005. In this interview, published shortly after Litvinenko's death, it was revealed that in March 2004, he had been asked by Mario Scaramella (see below) if the tip that Prodi had passed on about the safe house where Aldo Moro was held after being kidnapped by the Red Brigades had its source in the KGB (and not in a séance, as Prodi had claimed); and if the KGB were behind Moro's kidnapping and the training of the Red Brigades. Litvinenko's reply, according to La Repubblica, was: "I said that I did not know any details about Moro's kidnapping and that I had never heard about Prodi. I just pointed out that, if they wanted to hear my opinion as an expert, it was hardly believable that Prodi had learned that piece of information during a séance and that surely the KGB had followed the kidnapping trying to acquire information. I did not have and I do not have any kind of evidence about Prodi."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

On 26 April 2006, Batten repeated his call for a parliamentary inquiry, revealing that "former, senior members of the KGB are willing to testify in such an investigation, under the right conditions". He added, "It is not acceptable that this situation is unresolved, given the importance of Russia's relations with the European Union".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Illness and poisoning

[edit] Death and last statement

On November 22, Litvinenko's medical staff at University College Hospital reported he had suffered a "major setback" due to either heart failure or an overnight heart attack; he died the following day. Scotland Yard reported that "[i]nquiries continue into the circumstances surrounding how Mr Litvinenko, 43 years, of North London, became unwell."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

On November 24, a posthumous statement was released. Litvinenko's friend Alex Goldfarb — who is also the chairman of Boris Berezovsky's Civil Liberties Fund and Berezovsky's lawyer — said Litvinenko had dictated it to him three days earlier:

Image:450 ap statement 061124.jpg
Litvinenko's deathbed statement. November, 2006. AP, family
I would like to thank many people. My doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are doing all they can for me, the British police who are pursuing my case with vigour and professionalism and are watching over me and my family. I would like to thank the British government for taking me under their care. I am honoured to be a British citizen.

I would like to thank the British public for their messages of support and for the interest they have shown in my plight.

I thank my wife Marina, who has stood by me. My love for her and our son knows no bounds.

But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death. I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like. I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.

You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.

You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value.

You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilised men and women.

You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.

Putin disputed the authenticity of this note while attending a Russia-EU summit in Helsinki:

It is a pity that tragic events like death have been used for political provocations. Those who did it [concocted the note] are not God, and Mr. Litvinenko is unfortunately not Lazarus.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Litvinenko's postmortem took place on December 1 and has been completed. It has been stated that three physicians attended, including one chosen by the family. The results will take several days to be announced.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

It has now been revealed that there is a possibility Litvinenko may have considered wanting to become or did try to become a Muslim according to his burial wishes. It is said that the Koran was read to him prior to his death.<ref name="Poisoned">Template:Cite web</ref> However, Walter Litvinenko could not confirm this, but he said he knew his son "respected Islam because he lived among Muslims for a long time."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Akhmed Zakayev, the leading Chechen dissident who lived next door to Mr Litvinenko, said: "He was read to from the Koran the day before he died and had told his wife and family that he wanted to be buried in accordance with Muslim tradition." <ref>Template:Cite web </ref>

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] Books by Litvinenko

  • Yuri Felshtinsky, Alexander Litvinenko, and Geoffrey Andrews. Blowing up Russia : Terror from within. 2002. ISBN 1-561-71938-2. Full book in English (2002 first edition and 2004 second enlarged edition) on Felshtinsky's website. [1]

[edit] External links

af:Alexander Litvinenko

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Alexander Litvinenko

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