Affaire Litvinenko: Back in the USSR

Chirac decorates Putin
It was sadistic, slow murder. It was perpetrated by somebody incredibly cruel, incredibly heartless. Andrei Nekrasov
This is what it takes to prove one has been telling the truth. Alexander Litvinenko

Comme au bon vieux temps de l’URSS de Staline, lui aussi apparemment victime de la mort-aux-rats, il semble que les réglements de compte aient repris de plus belle dans le pays du dernier chevalier de la Légion d’honneur de Chirak, un certain Vladimir Poutine

Après la tentative d’empoisonnement en 2004 du président ukrainien Viktor Yushchenko, le meurtre le mois dernier de la journaliste Anna Politkovskaïa, voilà le tour d’Alexandre Litvinenko, décédé la nuit dernière à Londres.

Il faut dire que l’ex-lieutenant colonel du FSB (ex-KGB), réfugié à Londres depuis cinq ans et toujours recherché par les autorités russes suite à une condamnation par contumace en 2002 à trois ans et demi de prison, n’y avait pas été avec le dos de la cuillère.

Accusant l’ex-maitre du KGB (beaucoup d’ex dans cette histoire!), devenu depuis maitre du Kremlin (non, il n’a pas empoisonné Eltsine à la vodka), du tout récent meurtre d’une journaliste un peu trop curieuse mais aussi de la tentative d’assassinat de son ex-ami et milliardaire Boris Berezovski (également exilé à Londres), il allait jusqu’à l’accuser d’avoir provoqué les attentats qui en 1999 (près de 300 victimes dans des immeubles d’habitation de Moscou) le propulsèrent, 2e guerre de Tchéchénie aidant, au sommet de l’État.

Spies with history as poison experts
Michael Evan The Times
November 24, 2006

Old habits die hard. Even if the hand of the FSB (KGB) is never proven in the case of Alexander Litvinenko, Russian intelligence services retain an unhealthy interest in developing obscure drugs and chemicals that can kill without trace.

The euphemistic-sounding Operational and Technical Directorate succeeded Kamera (the Russian for chamber), the Cold War poison factory created by Stalin, but it still has a laboratory devoted to finding new ways of killing people.

It supplies the lethal products for Department 12 of Directorate S of the SVR (the Russian foreign intelligence service), which deals with biological warfare.

Oleg Kalugin, who spent 32 years in the KGB and now lives in the West, revealed in his exposé of Russian espionage, Spymaster, that the laboratory invented poisons that agents could slip into drinks, and jellies they could rub on a person to induce a heart attack.

He said that several options were discussed when plans were made to liquidate the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978: using poison jelly, poisoning his food or shooting him with a poison pellet. One plan was to rub poison jelly on to the handle of Markov’s car door, but this was rejected because the wrong person might have opened the door and Markov would have been warned off.

Then it was discovered that Markov was planning a holiday at a seaside resort in Italy and a plot was devised to bump into him and smear him with poison jelly on the beach. But that plan was also scrapped because the weather was cold and Markov never went swimming. So the KGB resorted to the third option: a ricin pellet shot into his leg while Markov was walking across Waterloo Bridge.

The history of Kamera, or Laboratory 12, is peppered with cases where the KGB has turned to the most mysterious and most undetectable poisons. Nikolai Khokhlov, a defector from the KGB, had radioactive thallium slipped into a cup of coffee while he was at a public reception in Germany in 1955. He survived.

Friends who had waited by Mr Litvinenko’s bedside feared that his attackers had developed a new drug to poison him. They said that experts had run through every toxin they knew of, but the doctors had never encountered such a case.

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