WIKILEAKS


Cablegate:

ex KGB spy death begins to unravel

by New York Times:

Alexander Litvinenko, former KGB spy, photographed in May 2002.

Shortly after the radiation poisoning in London of a former K.G.B. officer, Alexander V. Litvinenko, a senior Russian official asserted that Moscow had been tailing his killers before he died but had been waved off by Britain’s security services.

Mr. Litvinenko’s activities as a visceral public enemy of Mr. Putin and as a whistle-blower on Russian organized crime. Mr. Litvinenko fled Russia in 2000 and sought asylum in Britain, where he acquired British citizenship shortly before his death.

The Russian assertion, denied by British officials, seemed to revive a theory that the British intelligence services played a murky role in the killing — a notion voiced at the time by some in Moscow to deflect allegations of the Kremlin’s involvement in the murder.

The cable, dated Dec. 26, 2006, and marked “secret,” was one of several in the WikiLeaks trove that tried to examine the still unanswered question of who exactly ordered the use of a rare radioactive isotope, polonium 210, to poison Mr. Litvinenko, leading to his death on Nov. 23, 2006.Russia produces polonium commercially, but the process is closely guarded and British investigators have concluded that the isotope could not have been easily diverted without high-level intervention.

A separate cable from Paris suggested that at least one senior American official, Daniel Fried, seemed skeptical of statements by Vladimir V. Putin — then Russia’s president and now prime minister — that he was unaware of the events leading to the killing, which Britain has blamed on another former K.G.B. officer, Andrei K. Lugovoi who is now a member of the Russian Parliament.

Alexander V. Litvinenko at University College Hospital in London, days before his death in 2006 from radiation poisoning.

“Safonov claimed that Russian authorities in London had known about and followed individuals moving radioactive substances into the city, but were told by the British that they were under control before the poisoning took place.”

Another cable, from the American Embassy in Madrid, marked “confidential” and dated Aug. 31, 2009, cited an article in the newspaper El País. The article said that Mr. Litvinenko had tipped off Spanish security officials about Russian organized crime figures in Spain and had provided information about four suspected gangsters at a previously unrecorded meeting with Spanish officials in May 2006.

Andrei Lugovoi, at the radio station Ekho Moskvy in 2009.

According to a confidential cable from the American consulate in Hamburg, dated Dec. 19, 2006 — about a month after Mr. Litvinenko’s death — a senior German counterterrorism official, Gerhard Schindler, “said Kovtun left polonium traces on everything he touched” in Hamburg. That much had been publicly reported.

That suggested that the exposure took place during an earlier visit to London by Mr. Lugovoi and Mr. Kovtun in October 2006, during which they had met Mr. Litvinenko; they claimed later that they themselves had been victims of a poisoning attempt. Mr. Litvinenko’s supporters and British investigators, however, have long described the earlier visit as a part of the conspiracy against Mr.Litvinenko.

The cable from Hamburg said no traces of polonium were found on the Germanwings plane Mr. Kovtun took to London, and German authorities had been preparing to ground the Aeroflot plane that took him to Hamburg from Moscow to test it for traces of the isotope. “Schindler said Russian authorities must have found out about German plans because ‘at the last minute’ Aeroflot swapped planes,” the cable said. “Schindler said he did not expect Aeroflot to fly the other plane to Germany any time soon.”

New York Times

So Russian business leaders who are also involved into the Russian organized crime scene which closely associates itself with the Russian government.

In the absence of democracy, corruption becomes contagious.