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September 16, 2007

Litvinenko murder suspect running for MP

Litvinenko murder suspect running for MP

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Andrei Lugovoi, one of the main suspects in the murder case of Russian intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko, is to run as a MP in the Russian elections on 2 December. If he is elected, Lugovoi will be immune from prosecution. This is worrying for the British government, who want to arrest Lugovoi.

Lugovoi is to be a candidate for the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The LDPR currently has 35 of the 446 in the Duma, the lower house in the Russian parliament. The leader of the LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said, “I head the list (for the December 2 parliamentary elections), the fraction’s leader will be third… Our second will be Andrei Lugovoi – he has suffered, been targeted by British special services.”

Lugovoi is wanted by the British, as he is the main suspect in the Litvinenko case. A critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Litvinenko had taken refuge in Britain and was murdered after he was fed the radioactive substance polonium-210. Lugovoi, a former KGB agent, met Litvinenko on November 1, 2006. The British want Lugovoi extradited but the Russians refuse, denying Lugovoi has had anything to do with murdering Litvinenko.



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September 6, 2007

UK jets shadow Russian bombers

UK jets shadow Russian bombers – Wikinews, the free news source

UK jets shadow Russian bombers

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

F-16 fighter jet
Image: Joshua Davis.

Four F3 Tornado fighter jets were launched by the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force to intercept Russian military planes. The eight Russian jets were flying in airspace patrolled by Nato, officials from the UK claimed. The long-range bombers were initially followed by Norwegian F16 jets, after Russia’s recent decision to reinstate Cold War-style long-range patrols.

14 strategic bombers were flying on long-range patrol, according to Russia’s Defence Ministry. They also confirmed that none had approached a foreign state and had been shadowed by aircraft from Nato countries.

The Ministry of Defence in the United Kingdom released a statement that the Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear aircraft, flying in four loosed pairs, were tracked by Norwegian aircraft before entering Nato airspace on Thursday morning. The UK currently holds responsibility for the Nato airspace, and launched four F3 Tornados from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, UK, to identify the bombers. The bombers eventually left the Nato zone, under tracking by UK aircraft and RAF radar in Northumberland.

An MoD spokesman confirmed that Russia was entitled to its long-range patrols, adding ‘The motivation behind any Russian military activity is a matter for the Russian government.’ Lt Col John Inge Oegland, spokesman for the Norwegian armed forces, said there had been several similar incidents in recent months, but that the Russian flights were not causing alarm in Norway.

Relations between Britain and Russia have worsened recently, particularly after Russia’s refusal to allow the extradition of a former KGB bodyguard suspected of murdering emigre Alexander Litvinenko in London last year. Relations with Russia would “continue as normal outside the unresolved extradition request”, a UK Foreign Office spokesman said.



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July 19, 2007

Russia expels four UK diplomats

Russia expels four UK diplomats – Wikinews, the free news source

Russia expels four UK diplomats

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

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UK Foreign Secretary David Milliband.
Image: Alan Heckman.

Russia has today expelled four UK diplomats in the ever escalating row over the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, the chief suspect in the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned with Polonium 210 in London, November 2006.

This move comes three days after the UK expelled four Russian diplomats. Russia says that the UK officials must leave within ten days and that they will review all visa applications for UK officials.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was “disappointed” by the “completely unjustified move”. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he thought both countries could settle the “mini-crisis”.

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  • “United Kingdom expels four Russian diplomats” — Wikinews, July 16, 2007

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May 31, 2007

Alexander Litvinenko was British spy, claims alleged killer

Alexander Litvinenko was British spy, claims alleged killer

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The conveyor style of food delivery at an Itsu restaurant like the one Litvinenko ate at the day he was poisoned.
Image: Justin (flickr).

Andrei Lugovoi, the man who British authorities say poisoned and killed a ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with polonium-210, a radioactive isotope, says that the British government tried to recruit him to be a spy and that Litvinenko was working as a spy for British intelligence. He also claims that the British government is connected with the murder of Litvinenko and that he “has evidence” to prove his claims, but did not state what the evidence might be.

According to Lugovoi, who spoke to reporters during a press conference in Moscow, the British government wanted him to collect personal information that related to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

“[I was] openly recruited as the British security service agent. They asked me to collect any…compromising information about [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and the members of his family,” said Lugovoi.

Lugovoi also stated that Litvinenko and a Russian tycoon named Boris Berezovsky were also working for the British government saying “Litvinenko became an agent who left the control of (British) special services and was killed. In the words of Sasha himself, first he was recruited and afterwards, on his advice, Boris Abramovich gave to the British some security council documents [from Russia] and also became an MI6 agent.”

Lugovoi also told the press that he had no motive to commit the murder and that Litvinenko was not an enemy of his.

“Sacha [Litvinenko] was not my enemy. I didn’t feel cold or hot from whatever he was doing, from the books that he was writing. I’ve been in business for a long time and I was not really interested. [Litvinenko was killed] If not by the British intelligence services themselves, then under their control or with their connivance,” added Lugovoi.

So far, British officials denied to comment on the claims saying that the incident is a matter for the criminal system.

“This is a criminal matter and not an issue about intelligence. A request for extradition for Mr. Lugovoi to face trial in a UK court has been handed over. We await the formal Russian response,” said the Foreign Office of the U.K..

Litvinenko died on November 23, 2006, due to complications from his Polonium-210 poisoning.

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  • “Murder charge to be brought in Litvinenko death” — Wikinews, May 22, 2007

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May 22, 2007

Murder charge to be brought in Litvinenko death

Murder charge to be brought in Litvinenko death

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The United Kingdom Crown Prosecution Service has announced that it has sufficient evidence that a former FSB (formerly KGB) officer should be charged with the murder last year of Alexander Litvinenko.

Andrey Lugovoy is charged with the murder of Mr Litvinenko, by the administration of the highly radioactive Polonium-210 in a hotel in Mayfair, London, on 1st November 2006. Mr Litvinenko, 43, died of radiation sickness in University College Hospital on 23rd November. The case received considerable publicity at the time, with pictures of Litvinenko in hospital and showing the effects of the radiation poisoning.

Litvinenko was himself a former Russian FSB agent and was a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He had tried to publish a book in Russia describing Putin’s rise to power as having been organised by the KGB. He was forced to flee from Russia and had lived for some time in London, being granted British Citizenship in October 2006.

He continued his dissent throughout the remainder of his life, culminating in a posthumous statement published on 24th November 2006 alleging that Putin was responsible for his death.

Investigation and charge

Cquote1.svg I have today concluded that the evidence sent to us by the police is sufficient to charge Andrey Lugovoy with the murder of Mr Litvinenko by deliberate poisoning Cquote2.svg

—Sir Ken Macdonald, CPS

Litvinenko’s murder led to a lengthy investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service and additional specialist police forces following a trail of sites which had been contaminated with radiation, leading eventually to Moscow. A file of evidence was sent in January 2007 to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration as to whether any criminal charges might be brought.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, in announcing the decision to prosecute, said: “Prosecutors from CPS Counter Terrorism Division have carefully considered the material contained in that police file. They have also asked the police to carry out further inquiries, which are now complete. And, finally, they have consulted with me.”

“I have today concluded that the evidence sent to us by the police is sufficient to charge Andrey Lugovoy with the murder of Mr Litvinenko by deliberate poisoning. I have further concluded that a prosecution of this case would clearly be in the public interest.”

“In those circumstances, I have instructed CPS lawyers to take immediate steps to seek the early extradition of Andrey Lugovoy from Russia to the United Kingdom, so that he may be charged with murder – and be brought swiftly before a court in London to be prosecuted for this extraordinarily grave crime.”

Extradition unlikely

The announcement followed the summoning of the Russian Ambassador to London to the Foreign Office to be told by Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett that she expected that the Russian authorities would co-operate fully with Britain to arrange the extradition of Mr Lugovoi to stand trial in London. However there are indications from Moscow that the extradition of Lugovoi, who denies any involvement in the murder, is unlikely to happen. Marina Gridneva, spokeswoman for the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office said that “under Russian law, a citizen of the Russian Federation cannot be handed over to a foreign country”.

There is no bilateral extradition treaty between Russia and the UK. Legislation passed by Russia to deal with individual requests from countries in Europe rules out the extradition of its citizens, even to the extent that when in 1966 it became a signatory to the European convention on extradition, it granted itself an exemption from such a course.

However it has been reported that such a ban on extradition would not necessarily prevent Lugovoi being tried in Russia using evidence from the UK.

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December 30, 2006

Putin\’s critic dismisses Kremlin\’s accusations in Litvinenko\’s case as \’science fiction\’

Putin’s critic dismisses Kremlin’s accusations in Litvinenko’s case as ‘science fiction’

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

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Exiled Russian businessman and President Putin’s critic Boris Berezovsky dismissed the latest accusations by Moscow in the Litvinenko poisoning case as moving beyond absurd into the realm of science fiction.

Mr. Berezovsky was reacting to the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office announcement on Wednesday that it suspected Israel-based former Russian oil billionaire Leonid Nevzlin might be involved in the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who died in a London hospital on November 23 from exposure to the highly toxic radioactive substance polonium-210.

Mr. Nevzlin dismissed allegations by Moscow and said he had co-operated with the British authorities investigating the London murder of the dissident Russian ex-spy. The Russian government has unsuccessfully sought Mr. Nevzlin’s and Mr. Berezovsky’s extradition on charges of fraud. The Russian authorities have also accused Mr. Nevzlin of involvement in contract killings. Both men dismissed these accusations as politically motivated. Mr. Nevzlin, who lives in Israel, is now believed to be on a visit to the United States. Mr. Berezovsky received political asylum in Great Britain.

In the Voice of America interview, Mr. Berezovsky said that the US government would not have allowed Mr. Nevzlin into the country if Washington gave the slightest credence to Moscow’s accusations. “I know him personally, and these accusations have absolutely no basis in fact,” Mr. Berezovsky told VOA.

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Reasons for Litvinenko\’s conversion to Islam revealed

Reasons for Litvinenko’s conversion to Islam revealed

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

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Exiled Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev revealed that although dissident Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko had converted to Islam on his deathbed, he had been considering such a move for a long time. FreeMediaOnline.org reported that Mr. Zakayev comments on Mr. Litvinenko’s conversion to Islam were made in an interview for the Voice of America (VOA) Russian program which aired Friday.

Mr. Zakayev said that Mr. Litvinenko grew up in the North Caucasus among Muslims and was always interested in their religion. According to Mr. Zakayev, Mr. Litvineko was ashamed of Russia’s actions in the Chechen war and this also influenced his conversion. Mr. Zakayev told VOA that Mr. Litvinenko wanted to show that not all Russians behave the same way as those responsible for atrocities in Chechnya.

Mr. Zakayev was granted political asylum in Great Britain and the British government has refused Moscow’s requests for his extradition. The Russian authorities accuse Mr. Zakayev of foreknowledge of terrorist attacks and other crimes involving hundreds of killings and captures of Russian servicemen during the separatist wars in Chechnya. He has denied these accusations.

Alexander Litvinkenko died in 2006 after a three-week struggle with effects of radiation poisoning. Before his death, Litvinenko accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of ordering his death. Since then, British and Russian investigators have found numerous traces of a rare radioactive element that caused Litvinenko’s death, although no connection to Putin has been found.

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December 10, 2006

Russia considering libel suits over reporting on Litvinenko

Russia considering libel suits over reporting on Litvinenko

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Russia Today TV, Moscow’s English-language satellite television channel, reported that Russian government officials are considering filing libel suits against international journalists over their reporting on the poisoning death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was a strong critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and shortly before he died in London from radiation poisoning in late November, Litvinenko accused Putin of ordering his assassination. Putin and other Russian officials strongly denied any prior knowledge of a plot to kill Litvinenko.

According to a report posted late Friday on the Russia Today TV web site, the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Media is gathering publications worldwide to be studied for libelous and offenisve comments against Russia in their coverage of the Litvinenko’s case. Russia Today TV reported that the Russian government intends to file law suits for libel against international media if there is evidence of journalistic misconduct.

In a Voice of America interview shortly before he was poisoned by a radioactive substance polonium-210, former Russian spy Litvinenko had accused Putin of ordering the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya to silence her and intimidate other independent journalists. She had been killed by an unknown assailant in Moscow in early October.

Several senior Russian politicians have said that the deaths of Politkovskaya and Litvinenko were playing into the hands of Russia’s enemies and, therefore, could not have been authorized by Moscow.

The Russian government’s warnings aimed at international journalists follow Putin’s largely successful efforts to bring major media outlets in Russia under government control and to limit media criticism of his policies. Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based nongovernmental organization, has called Putin one of the world’s top “Predators of Press Freedom.”

FreeMediaOnline.org, a California-based nonprofit organization which monitors media and supports press freedom worldwide, said that the latest warnings issued by the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Media would prove a major embarrassment for Putin and for Russia if they were carried out. An article on the FreeMediaOnline.org web site claims that even if there is no direct link between the two assassinations and the Kremlin, Putin is ultimately responsible for the climate of lawlessness and suppression of free media that may have contributed to these murders.

FreeMediaOnline.org also noted that uncovering the truth about the murders of Politkovskaya and Litvinenko would be difficult because independent journalists in Russia have been either silenced or intimidated by President Putin’s media advisors, government regulators, and security services.

Putin insists he is a strong supporter of democracy and press freedom. In a speech to Russian television broadcasters in late November 2006, Putin said that the development of Russian state and society would be unthinkable without independent media, without the possibility of listening to different points of view, and without television.

Putin’s critics point out that he has successfully placed under the Kremlin’s control all major nationwide television channels. According to FreeMediaOnline.org, journalists working for these channels no longer dare to offer any significant criticism of Mr. Putin’s policies. The organization warned that restrictions on media freedom in Russia have emboldened criminal elements to engage in illegal activities.

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December 9, 2006

Radiation that killed ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko found in Germany

Radiation that killed ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko found in Germany

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

Polonium 210, a radioactive substance that killed ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, has been found inside two buildings located in Hamburg, Germany.

The radiation was found in the home of Dmitry Kovtun’s ex-wife. Litvinenko and Kovtun met together at a London, England pub on November 1, 2006. Kovtun is now being treated at a hospital in Germany for radiation exposure, but his condition is not known. No radiation was found at Kovtun’s apartment.

The second location in Germany to test positive for radiation is an apartment belonging to the ex-mother in law of Kovtun. Her home is located in Pinneberg, Germany.

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November 29, 2006

Polonium 210 traces found on three British Airways aircraft

Polonium 210 traces found on three British Airways aircraft

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Library picture of BA Boeing 767

Traces of the radioactive substance, Polonium-210 have been found on two British Airways planes. The airline was alerted late Tuesday evening by the UK government that three of its planes were of interest in the investigation into the death of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko from radiation poisoning.

Two planes are located at the Heathrow Airport in the UK, and one at the Russian Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow.

The two Heathrow planes were forensically examined Wednesday and the presence of traces of a radioactive substance were confirmed. A British team consisting of what are thought to be police experts is leaving for Russia to test the third plane, according to the BBC.

The public health risk that passengers on the planes under investigation have been poisoned is very low. Up to 33,000 passengers are being urged to contact BA, NHS or their doctor if they have travelled on the 221 European flights which travelled all over Europe, including Russia as far back as “the end of October”. Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA, said: “I am advised that the health risk is actually very low.” 3,000 staff will also be checked out.

The Home Secretary John Reid is expected to make a statement to Parliament concerning the ongoing investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko on Thursday.

All three planes are Boeing 767s used for short haul flight which were taken out of service when the government contacted BA on Tuesday night.

Traces of Polonium-210 have been found at other places that Mr Litvinenko visited in London, Britain.

Pat Troop, chief executive of Health Protection Agency, said: “What we have heard is that it’s either traces or very low levels and what we have learnt so far in our investigation… is that where we have got these areas of low level radiation it doesn’t seem to pose a significant health threat.”

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