Talk:Alexander Litvinenko assassination theories

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re: the “Other Responses” section of this article[edit]

Paragraph four of this section states, “British novelist and historian Rupert Allason said he would be most surprised if the FSB had tried to kill Mr Litvinenko because it would fly in the face of 65 years of Soviet or Russian practice, as "[n]either the FSB nor the KGB has ever killed a defector on foreign soil and their predecessors, even under Stalin, did so only once in the case of Walter Krivitsky in Washington in 1941."[31] Despite some reports that a recent Russian counter-terrorism law gives the President the right to order such actions,[32] in fact the law in question refers only to "terrorists and their bases" abroad.”

It must be noted whether the assassination of Soviet dissident and former Politburo member, Leon Trotsky, should be considered in this light. Trotsky was murdered by NKVD agent Ramón Mercader in Coyoacán, Mexico on August 20, 1940. On this basis, the statement, attributed above to Rupert Alison, appears to be false or at least misleading. The only argument that the statement is not false depends on whatever the specific definition of the term “defector” is intended. As the circumstances of Trotsky’s death are well known to history (and described on the Trotsky Wikipedia page), this should be referenced in the text of the paragraph to question the accuracy of the aforementioned statement.


Why Polonium210[edit]

This article does not adequately address the issue why Mr. Litvinenko was poisoned specifically through the use of the agent Polonium210. I recall journalistic coverage stating that the cost of the amount of Polonium210 believed to have been used to Poison Litvinenko as having a cost in excess of three million dollars! It seems that the assassin of Litvinenko, whoever (s)he was, could have efficiently disposed of his/her target with a much more reasonably priced dose of hydrogen cyanide or, indeed, commercially available drain cleaner. In addition to the cost effectiveness of such more common toxins, the assassin would not have incriminated him/herself by leaving a radioactive trail around London. From this, the conclusion seems apparent that the assassin wanted it to be specifically known that Litvinenko was the victim of poisoning by a rare and expensive radioactive isotope. This suggests that the assassin was intending to send some kind of message, not just by the assassination, but by the specific means of assassination, to other parties still living. The hypothesis is that the message so intended was to other dissidents and/or critics of the Russian regime which is not only “we can/will kill you, as well,” but to clearly identify themselves by the implicit statement, “we are people with access to three million dollars worth of Polonium210”. As the article does state, “They also say that only a ‘state’ institution would have access to polonium-210.”

Unfortunately, I don’t have the identities of the sources who put forward this hypothesis, so, on this basis, I cannot enter this discussion into the article itself. I do think, however, that the hypothesis is an important one, so I suggest that anyone who is aware of this line of reasoning and who can site referable sources as per the Wikipedia guidelines amend the article to include this analysis in a properly sourced manner. Thanks.

It's amazing how eager the Western media is to blame Kremlin for every evil thing that happens in the world. If this "hypothesis" is mentioned, then the other one - the more plausibel one - has to be as well. Why would the Kremlin had wanted to kill Litvinenko? His death hurt the Russian goverment's imago much more than the conspiracy theories he told - the lies that Berezovsky paid him to tell - ever did.[1] Litvinenko was just a crazy, exiled, unemployed man who had lost his job, a poor man who made his living by writing stories, smuggling and blackmailing. The Western media frankly didn't even pay too much attention to him before his death. No, the Kremlin would have had no real motive. Killing him would have been nothing but pure stupidity because of the catastrophical PR consequences it brought. Yes, the killer must indeed have been someone with lots of money, someone obsessed with an agenda[2], someone whose behaviour is "always marked with audacity and cunning."[1] There is one man who is all of that, one who has the money, one whose agenda - to discredit the Russian government, to have his revenge, to get power himself - would be optimally supported by Litvinenko's murder: that man is no one else but Berezovsky himself. For years, after getting "betrayed" by Putin and going into opposition, Berezovsky has spent his millions in an extraordinary campaign to disdain the Russian government. He has even sworn to "bring it down." He has financed Litvinenko's books and published all kinds of conspiracy theory material, and made sure the claims are picked up and spread further by anglophone journalists for maximum coverage. Offliner (talk) 03:54, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
You give the rationality--and CREDIBILITY--of the Kremlin too much credit. What in the history of the Kremlin has given you such notions? Is it rational for the Kremlin to try to clean up the image of Stalin and start denying that he was involved in murdering millions in the Ukraine (even Kruschev admitted this)? Is it rational to pretend Russia has never treated the Baltic/East European countries badly, when all Russia has to do is put all the blame on the commies (who harmed them too), thus completely saving face? Is it rational to move away from the friendly cooperation with the West/US Russia was heading in with Yeltsin and, instead, pursue provocative relationships with thug states like Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela? Did it make sense for Russia to alienate itself with the West for the sake of sticking up for Serbia's right to commit genocide? Did it make sense when Russia restarted strategic bomber flyovers into US/Norweigan/Canadian/British airspace, in the absence of the US making such flights, thus increasing the risk of an incident that could lead to nuclear war? Does it make sense for Russia to take all the flak it has for the sake of attacking a teeny country like Georgia--what have they gained from this act of genius? Did it make sense for Russia to make such a big deal about the gas crisis with the Ukraine, thus leading all the EU to think Russia was completely unreliable and, therefore, they should start looking for oil elsewhere? Talk about DUMB! Russia has a long history of doing inexplicable, stupid things. You forget here that Litvinenko's polonium poisoning was NOT found initially (as was probably the plan). Perhaps, Putin is a bit Tony Montana, and when somebody ticks him off he, like many people corrupted with power, does not think rationally.68.164.0.155 (talk) 23:16, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
"It's amazing how eager the Western media is to blame Kremlin for every evil thing that happens in the world."
Hmmm, I wonder why....~


To answer the original question, the poison used doesn't emit gamma rays, which most radiation detectors look for. This means an airport scanner, and the usual detectors would not reveal anything unusual. Additionally, the alpha rays it does emit, while radiation, are blocked by the thinest of materials, including the cells of the human body. Therefore, it would be difficult to detect the cause of the problem, and it would be chalked up to an unknown death. If Russia did this (which I think is most likely) they may not have realized that the polonium would be detected, as the usual investigations of radiation exposure would not reveal it. This being the only death in history that is known, it is conceivable they would not have thought it to be discovered, which initially it wasn't. So the killer could escape, the victim would not be diagnosed correctly, and the whole thing would be nothing more than another russian dissident or journalist who dies under unnatural circumstances. Too bad they screwed up, the guy kept talking, and are now in the embarasing position of refusing to extradict the suspect or allow questioning of witnesses. Sources for these facts are available, and can be found if you wish to add it to the article (minus my opinion).--24.29.235.58 (talk) 01:05, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

Russian State owned media unreliable[edit]

Would we let OJ Simpson edit his article ????????? —Preceding unsigned comment added by N8Riley (talkcontribs) 23:08, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

LEAKED CABLE[edit]

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAMBURG 000085

SIPDIS SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 12/19/2016 TAGS KCRM, PTER, EAIR, PINR, PINS, KNNP, RS, GM, UK SUBJECT: HAMBURG POLICE TRACK POLONIUM TRAIL

HAMBURG 00000085 001.2 OF 002

CLASSIFIED BY: Duane Butcher, Consul General, Consulate General Hamburg, State. REASON: 1.4 (b)

¶1. (SBU) Summary: Hamburg State Police (LKA) confirmed December 14 that Dmitry Kovtun had left positive traces of polonium 210 in Hamburg prior to his departure from Hamburg for London on November 1. A senior official in the Federal Interior Ministry in Berlin also confirmed the reports and noted the ongoing investigation. Hamburg police continue to examine where Kovtun was and what he did while in Germany, but are not yet able to confirm if Kovtun was transporting polonium or if he had been contaminated through contact with the substance prior to his arrival in Hamburg on October 28. End Summary.

¶2. (SBU) Pol/Econ Off and FSN Investigator met Hamburg LKA Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Officer and director of this special investigation Thomas Menzel December 14. Menzel, who is also Director of the Hamburg LKA Organized Crime Unit, explained that the Hamburg investigation started because officers on his team drawing from press reports recognized a connection between the Litvinenko case and the flight from Hamburg to London and began to investigate whether Kovtun or Andrei Lugovoi had been in Hamburg. They discovered that Kovtun was a registered resident at the multi-family building at Erzberger Strasse 4 in Hamburg’s Ottensen neighborhood and that he had flown to Hamburg on October 28 on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow. Menzel reported Hamburg authorities are working closely with the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) and is receiving assistance from the Federal Central Support Unit and the Federal Office of Radiation Protection. Menzel stated that Stuart Goodwin from Scotland Yard has been in Hamburg since December 12 and that cooperation between the British and Hamburg police has been excellent. While the BKA and various German agencies are involved in the investigation, Menzel confirmed that Hamburg is leading the inquiry.

¶3. (SBU) The investigation’s main focus is to uncover Kovtun’s whereabouts between October 28 and November 1 and to discover any polonium-contaminated sites in the Hamburg region. Menzel reported that the investigation has revealed:

  • Kovtun arrived in Hamburg October 28 on the Aeroflot flight from Moscow and was picked up from the airport in a BMW. He spent that night at the apartment of Marina Wall, his Russian/German ex-wife, at Erzberger Strasse 4. Kovtun has two apartments in the Erzberger Strasse building, his ex-wife’s residence and another apartment. Neighbors told police that he had not used the second apartment for years and it has been rented to other tenants. Wall’s apartment has tested positive for polonium.
  • On October 29, Kovtun spent the night at a house in Haselau outside of Hamburg, which is where police found the BMW. Both the Haselau residence and the BMW are contaminated with polonium.
  • On October 30, Kovtun kept an appointment with the Office of Foreigner Registration in Hamburg-Altona, where he signed a document. His signature has tested positive for radiation. After visiting several locations in Hamburg, including a restaurant and gambling hall, Kovtun spent the night at the home of an Italian acquaintance on Kieler Strasse in Hamburg. None of these locations have tested positive for polonium.
  • Kovtun again spent the night of October 31 at Wall’s apartment on Erzberger Strasse. He departed by taxi for the airport early on November 1 and flew to London on the 6:40 am GermanWings flight.

¶4. (SBU) Menzel said the investigation is looking into several unanswered questions. Hamburg police are trying to discover whether Kovtun visited Hamburg prior to October 28 and where he was between November 1 and the date he arrived in Moscow. They are also looking into whether Lugovoi or any of the other individuals involved in the Litvinenko case have been to Hamburg in the recent past and have requested airlines to review their passenger lists. Other remaining questions concern whether there are any further contaminated locations in Hamburg or other parts of Germany. Investigators hope to find out more about Kovtun as an individual - what he did for a living, what his personal background was, and whether he had worked at the Russian Consulate in Hamburg in the past. Finally, Menzel was curious about a possible Italian connection to the Litvinenko HAMBURG 00000085 002.2 OF 002 case and noted that Kovtun had met with an Italian national in Hamburg and that Italians played a role in the London investigation as well.

¶5. (C) Federal Interior Minister Deputy DG for Counterterrorism Gerhard Schindler discussed the status of the German investigation during a meeting on other topics with EMIN December 14. Schindler explained German officials retraced Kovtun’s steps to and from his ex-wife’s home in Hamburg. Schindler said Kovtun left polonium traces on everything he touched - vehicles, objects, clothes, and furniture. German investigators concluded Kovtun did not have polonium traces on his skin or clothes; Schindler said the polonium was coming out of his body, for example through his pores. German authorities had tested the German Wings airplane that had taken Kovtun from Hamburg to London; no traces of polonium were found. Germany had wanted to test the Aeroflot plane that flew Kovtun to Germany, and had prepared to ground it upon its next arrival in Germany. Schindler said Russian authorities must have found out about German plans because “at the last minute” Aeroflot swapped planes; Schindler said he did not expect Aeroflot to fly the other plane to Germany any time soon.

¶6. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin. BUTCHER —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.192.18.99 (talk) 16:38, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

I took the action of correcting the formatting for the above cable. This cable was released on Dec. 1 at Wikileaks[3]. It basically removes any doubt that Kovtun poisoned Litvinenko, IMO. -- Kevin Saff (talk) 17:43, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Strata-Spere Reference is Rambling Incoherent Mess[edit]

The reference in the 'Polonium smuggling and careless handling theory' section should be removed. It adds nothing to the article since it reference is very poorly written, is incoherent and lacks clarity, uses extremely imprecise terms (e.g. grains of substance instead of mass), contains flaws in its description of basic chemistry (e.g. salt dissolution requiring an acid), and is entirely based around a series of unjustified assumptions. This reference should therefore be removed. (217.43.143.220 (talk) 22:37, 22 August 2011 (UTC))

He's not dead[edit]

I believe the news of his death is false. This was simply a British operation to place Litvinenko in hiding. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.248.161.109 (talk) 02:26, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Synthesis, original research, lack of sources[edit]

Please indicate here which sources discuss "Litvinenko assassination theories"? I am not referring to sources which mention such theories, but a source(s) which cover the discussion of such theories as a whole.

Otherwise this whole article is just original research and a POV fork of the Alexander Litvinenko article and should be merged/redirected.Volunteer Marek (talk) 01:55, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

@Marek. I guess you mean this is a POV-fork of Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko? Actually, I would support merge, providing that all important content from here was moved to main article. @Ilgiz. What do you think? There is no need for AfD if contributors agree to simply merge the content. My very best wishes (talk) 03:47, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Po-210 freely available[edit]

I've found that the source in the article for the statement that Polonium is freely available in the US at any quantity is gone. The Wayback snapshot[4] exhibits a paywall. So, I've looked at polonium, and there I've found the same statement, with these two working US government links given: [5] and [6]. Po-210, in units of 500 micro-grams, is listed specifically as available for order here at 2 (i) and 2(ii): [7] Could be that any of these links could be used to replace the one that's gone.

What's also interesting, also regarding Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko#Po-210 concentration in the body of Litvinenko, is that this other WP article holds the statement that it would be "probably" impossible to kill anybody with amounts freely available. However, the lethal dosage even just for skin contact (which wasn't the case here), also given at that article, is half that of the ones sold at the above US link per item, and there's no limit on how many items can be purchased. All you need to order is a valid US license (or a foreign license for "byproduct materials", available from as low as $400 here: [8]). A little math: While you may need 250 micro-grams to kill anybody at skin contact, you only require 50 nano-grams when it's ingested (both figures from the article on his poisoning), as was most likely the case here. Thus, one unit available from the links above holds 10,000 times the lethal dosage when ingested. The amount found in Litvinenko's body were 10 micro-grams, which is but 1/50th of the amount in a single unit sold up there. Which makes the statement in the poisoning article that "you can't kill anybody" with the amounts you can buy in the US rather dubious, no matter how many sources you add to it.

I'm not saying that somebody did it that way, I'm just saying that the sources say you need 50 nano-grams, that he ingested 10 micro-grams, and claim that as much wouldn't be available, when in fact it is available (and easily to the quantities found in Litvinenko's body), as proven by the links above. --2003:71:4E3F:3379:79D7:6279:95A6:3AA3 (talk) 03:31, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

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  1. ^ [[Richard Sakwa|Sakwa, Richard]] (2008). Putin, Russia's choice (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-415-40765-6.  Check |author-link1= value (help)