[Marxism] Did murdered ex-spy Litvinenko work for British intelligence?

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 1 04:21:25 MDT 2007

from the November 01, 2007 edition - 
Did murdered ex-spy Litvinenko work for British intelligence?
A year after his death, a Daily Mail article last weekend said 
that the murdered ex-spy worked for Britain's MI6.
By Fred Weir | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

The case of Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a lethal dose
of radioactive polonium-210 in a London bar a year ago, just keeps
getting murkier.

Last weekend, the London-based Daily Mail, citing anonymous
intelligence and diplomatic sources, reported that the former KGB
agent was also an agent of Britain's MI6 spy agency who received a
monthly retainer of $4,000.

"It is understood that Sir John Scarlett, now the head of MI6 and
once based in Moscow, was involved in recruiting him to the Secret
Intelligence Service," the paper said. "The fact that the 43-year-old
ex-Russian spy was actually working for Britain when he died could
provide the key to his extraordinary killing."

His widow, Marina Litvinenko, has denied the allegation, insisting
that her husband "was not the kind of person who would be useful to
the British security services."

But in Russia, Andrei Lugovoi, the ex-KGB agent accused by the
British government of murdering Mr. Litvinenko, declared that he has
been vindicated.

"I hope the British public will demand after this publication in the
newspaper that their secret services shed light on the situation
surrounding Litvinenko's death," a jubilant Mr. Lugovoi, who is
currently running for parliament on the ultranationalist Liberal
Democratic Party ticket, told the official ITAR-Tass agency.

Lugovoi has claimed in the past that Litvinenko and his sponsor,
exiled anti-Kremlin tycoon Boris Berezovsky, were both agents of MI6.
He has hinted that Litvinenko was actually killed by British
intelligence as part of a dark plot to slander Putin and wreck
Russia's relations with the West. Lugovoi further claimed that Mr.
Berezovsky and Litvinenko had tried to recruit him for anti-Kremlin

"This new information [from the Daily Mail] confirms what Lugovoi has
been saying," says Lugovoi's lawyer, Andrei Romashov. "People [in the
West] have refused to believe him just because he's a Russian."

Litvinenko died two weeks after he took tea in a London bar with two
other ex-KGB agents last November. An autopsy linked his death to
exposure from polonium-210, a rare nuclear substance produced mainly
in Russia.

The other two men, Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, turned up in Moscow,
also showing signs of radiation poisoning, after spreading an
apparently inadvertent trail of polonium dust halfway around Europe.

Many in the West suspected that Russian secret services may have
murdered Litvinenko in revenge for his defection, perhaps with
Kremlin approval. The British government decried the act of "nuclear
terrorism" in the heart of London, and a diplomatic storm ensued.

Last May, Britain officially charged Lugovoi with the crime, and
demanded his extradition. Mr. Putin personally expressed Moscow's
refusal, but said Russia would conduct its own investigation. Last
week, Russia's chief prosecutor complained that his probe into the
affair was stalled due to "lack of cooperation" from Britain. In
July, Britain expelled four Russian diplomats to underscore its anger
over Moscow's refusal to turn over Lugovoi. Russia replied by kicking
out four British diplomats, and many experts predicted the affair
might quietly peter out. That seems unlikely now.

Some experts caution that the Daily Mail story may not be entirely

"We know that a lot of things appear in the British media that are
not solid information," says Masha Lipman, an expert with the
Carnegie Center in Moscow. "Who's working for a spy agency is not
something that can be easily confirmed."

But Lugovoi's vocal supporters, who are widespread in Russia's media
and political establishment, say his narrative has been borne out.

"Litvinenko's death was used as a pretext to begin a political
provocation against Russia, to damage Russia's image," says Viktor
Alksnis, a nationalist deputy of the State Duma. "The whole story
smells bad."

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