The rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper – and the bunnies are radioactive and have deadly ninja skills.
What the hell am I talking about? Well, while you people have been watching James Bond fornicate, I have been obsessed with a real life spy story: The budding story of Alexander Litvinenko, a former agent of the KGB – the Soviet Union’s equivalent to the CIA – and later a member of the FSB, the new Russian equivalent to the CIA. A spook . A spy. A real life James Bond. No, I didn’t see the movie.
In 1991, the Chechen Republic announced its independence following the fall of the Soviet Union. Following two Chechen wars and many thousands of deaths, Russia reasserted control over Chechnya. The situation remains complicated. This could be an entire article and still not get to the meat of the Chechen issues. Suffice to say that the Russian government has a vested interest in keeping control over Chechnya: If one state breaks away, the entire new Russian Republic could collapse. Anna Politkovskaya, despite having between 15 and 50 consonants in her name, was an American-born journalist of Russian heritage who reported for a liberal Russian newspaper from Chechnya. She was a critic of Vladmir Putin’s administration and a staunch supporter of human rights. She was found dead, on Oct. 7, 2006 – the day she was to submit and publish an article on torture. Not Abu Ghraib, mind you. She was investigating the torture committed against Chechens by Kadyrovites, the “Security Service” militia of the pro-Moscow prime minister of Chechnya, which is a puppet government controlled by Putin. She was found in an elevator, shot four times, once in the head. The murder had every sign of being a contract killing and she is widely believed to have been killed because of her work as an investigative journalist. The day after her murder the police seized her hard disk and research.
Fast forward to Nov. 1 when Alexander Litvinenko and Mario Scaramella meet at Itsu Sushi in London. They discuss an FSB hit list that was leaked to Scaramella, containing both their names. They also discuss the assassination of Politkovskaya, which Litvinenko was investigating. Litvinenko also meets with Andrei Logovoi, a former KGB agent, and Dmitry Kovtun, another Russian, in the Millenium Hotel to discuss “business.” Later in the day, Litvinenko falls ill. When he is checked into a hospital, he tests positive for polonium-210, a form of radiation made only in advanced nuclear laboratories. Litvinenko died eight days ago of severe radiation poisoning. While he may be dead, investigations are just now coming to life and the intrigue is snowballing.
Litvinenko avowed on his deathbed that Putin was behind the assassination, but still, no one is certain. Putin was a former KGB agent and head of the FSB. Nikolay Kovalev, another former FSB chieftain, accused billionaire Boris Berezovsky, a liberal Russian expatriate living in London and friend of Litvinenko. This is an interesting accusation as Litvinenko was once ordered to assassinate the billionaire, but, refusing to kill his friend, he left Russia to live as an expatriate in Britain.
The case is still open and more and more is uncovered each day. Polonium-210 is an isotope rarely found in nature. The substance Litvinenko was poisoned with had to have been inhaled, ingested, or injected, and it had to have come from a government nuclear laboratory. Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism unit is expanding investigations as we speak to try and track the trail of radioactivity to a source. If a government didn’t commit the assassination, then we are looking at civilians getting a hold of nuclear materials from a government laboratory.
Now, time for my typical sharp left turn. If it is worth looking at Russia, it is also worth looking at American and Israeli intelligence. Intelligence is part of foreign policy. And after all, the U.S. has its very own Putin. His name is George H. W. Bush. He’s got a son you may have heard of. For those bad, granola-smoking hippies that are interested, Wikipedia this: Zapata Corporation.
Daily Nexus columnist Eric Hedlund always makes sure his drinks are shaken and not stirred.