Sunday, July 22, 2007

THE POISONING OF ALEXANDER LITVINENKO: A NEW DEVELOPMENT? (Repost of a June 2nd Piece)


MOSCOW, RUSSIA
--Vladimir Prybylovsky (Владимир Валерианович Прибыловский) is another journalist who writes critical-works on Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer and lieutenant to Boris Yeltsin.

At almost the same time that former FSB agent Andrei Lugovoi was denying his role in the assassination of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, Prybylovsky's apartment was raided, and computers containing...well, that's the question. We're being told it was his new book, and the primary information and documents that were his sources.

British prosecutors have named Andrei Lugovoi, a Moscow businessman and former FSB agent, as their chief suspect in Litvinenko's murder. The search of Pribylovsky's apartment took place the same day that Lugovoi held a news conference to protest his innocence, and to claim there was evidence the British secret services were involved in the slaying. (AP, 06.02.2007)
Prbylovsky was collaborating on a book with an exiled Russian historian and writer named Yuri Felshtinsky, who had collaborated on another book with Litvinenko titled "The Blowing Up of Russia," published in 2004--and promptly seized by FSB operatives in December of 2003 before it was to be distributed in Moscow.

The 4,500 copies were printed in Latvia, when they were intercepted and seized. According to Amazon.com, the book has only been widely-available in the United States since April 2nd of this year, and it's a best seller on their site.

"The Blowing Up Russia" is a blistering critique of the Chechen war--like Iraq, it's a conflict that's approaching genocide, forget the other allegations in the book--that alleges the 1999 multiple apartment block bombings in Moscow and elsewhere were coordinated by the FSB to justify further crackdowns and repression. As we know, that would never happen in the US.

The book goes further, stating that Putin wants to reinstate KGB-style repression and purges, a pretty lofty claim in-itself. It should be noted at this point that Felshtinsky has written several-books, some of them during the Cold War period. He defected to the United States in 1978, begging-the-question of whether he is himself a former-KGB operative. Is the whole event Western propaganda? Who knows? Andrei Lugovoi, Felshtinsky, and Mario Scaramella probably do.

The raid on journalist Vladimir Prybylovsky's apartment and the seizure of his computers can be seen in a different-light: it could have been Putin and the FSB trying to corroborate Lugovoi's allegations that he and Litvinenko were approached by British military intelligence--SIS, also known as MI6--for recruitment, a long-tradition of recruitment within Russian emigre circles in London.

Lugovi also alleges that exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky is in the employ of MI6, one that the tycoon denies. This is how Sidney Reilly (his real name may have been "Salomon Rosenblum") was recruited 100-years-ago, to report on sentiment within radical and Russian-nationalist circles, as well as the actual conditions in Russia.
Mr. Lugovoi claimed that British intelligence were at least aware of the murder plot and may have given it their blessing. “I cannot get away from the thought that Litvinenko was an agent who had gone out of control and they got rid of him,” he said. “The poisoning of Litvinenko couldn’t have taken place outside the control of Great Britain’s special services.” He went on to claim that British intelligence attempted to recruit him in a London flat in 2005. He said he was provided with a special mobile phone and claimed that Mr Litvinenko gave him a Russian novel that agents used to communicate in code. In London, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “This is a criminal matter and not an issue about intelligence.” (The Telegraph, 06.02.2007)
Since the FO handles most intelligence matters directly, calling this a "criminal matter," while pushing the international-side of it all raises some troubling questions. Limiting it to a criminal probe, yet making it an issue of national sovereignty (Litvinenko, a British subject, was murdered) doesn't give the British FO's claims much of a ring-of-truth. It's definitely having one certain effect--the souring of Anglo-Russian relations.
"Instead of a professional inquiry, we're seeing an attempt to turn the criminal case into some sort of a political campaign,'' Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters. "It's having an impact'' on bilateral ties, he said. The statement was in contrast to First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov's assessment last week that the case was having little effect on relations. (AP, 06.01.2007)
The FO seems to want things both-ways, making the event both domestic and international. That should be setting-off some alarms. It's possible that the FO ordered MI6 to recruit Litvineno in 2000-2001, and was successful. It's common for such operatives to work all-sides in this arrangement, an almost incidental component of being an intelligence operative.

What's also possible is the Western desire to isolate Russia diplomatically, reducing her influence on the U.N.'s Security Council--making Litvinenko a British subject just weeks before his murder raises many questions. But why do all of this--why create an international incident to isolate Russia?

That's easy:
the Caucasus oil fields, as well as natural gas fields, and pipeline-infrastructure throughout the region in break-away Republics that were once part of the Soviet Union. Russia's support and economic-ties with Tehran must also figure-in somewhere. As-it-stands, Russia is one of the votes blocking the Bush administration to act militarily against Iran. That's all the motivation you need if you're the Bush administration, the people who likely pressured the British government and her ministries into these intrigues--the question is, what were/are Washington's and London's roles in all of this besides the obvious?

The plan might have looked like this: we want to attack Iran, penetrating into Central Asia to control the oil and gas fields, but Russia is vetoing it on the Security Council. An international incident must be created that impairs the sovereignty and reputation of Russia, and limits her influence on the Council. This can be accomplished through the extraordinary elimination of a Russian-operative who has been "turned" and naturalized as a British subject. The appearance of guilt will be accomplished with the call for extradition.

Is this scenario possible? It certainly is in the intelligence, commercial, and diplomatic underworld (often, they're all the same thing). Here's the legal basis for Lugovi's extradition to the UK:
The fundamental legal basis for any possible extradition is the 1957 European Convention on Extradition. Russia signed up to this general treaty in 2001. Any request from the UK to Russia would be made under the 1957 convention. However, the convention allows nations which sign up to it to stipulate that they will not extradite their own citizens, as opposed to foreign national who may live in their country. Russia has stated that its citizens cannot be extradited. (Telegraph, 05.23.2007)
The timing of all of this is interesting, especially Russia's signatory-status that begins in 2001--shortly after Litvinenko entered the UK to work for exiled Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. It's likely that Andrei Lugovoi did aid in the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, but it's also likely that both Russians were working every side they could--or had to.

The raiding of Prybylovsky's apartment can be viewed as a fishing expedition, possibly for information pertaining to Litvinenko and Lugovoi, and much more. Regardless of their guilt or innocence, the Kremlin is correct in stating that Britain is "politicizing " the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. Lugovoi is probably being allowed freedom-of-movement by the Putin regime because he's useful as a double-agent. What a tangled-web we weave...Russia will never allow the extradition of Lugovi, which is probably what the British FO was expecting.