In the Hall of Mirrors world of espionage it always pays to be wary whenever someone is trying frantically to get your attention. When they say ” Hey look over here!” Look everywhere but “here.”
In the case of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy who was apparently poisoned with Polonium 210, I’m wary of jumping to the conclusion that Vladimir Putin and his Russian FSB were behind the deed, if only because it is so obvious.
The whole case reeks of intrigue that goes far beyond what appears on the surface. First of all, who would benefit from seeing the Russians, and Putin in particular, embarrassed on the world stage and smeared as a murderer of dissidents? It’s hard to imagine that the Russians would be that clumsy or stupid. Of course, maybe I’m giving them too much credit. It is also possible that rogue elements within the FSB took it upon themselves to silence someone that is widely seen as a traitor within the FSB.
But here’s another thing, Polonium is hard to come by. It is hard to make and what’s more, the people who did this have to be well connected to government resources since that matter would be made in government labs or government funded contractors. From this there are 2 conclusions:
1: The resources of some government is behind the death of Litvinenko.
2: The people who did this WANTED everyone to know this fact.
Why? Killing someone with radioactive Polonium is a pretty dramatic gesture. While it was hard to diagnose, if only becuase Litvinenko’s condition was so rare, the murderers could hardly have expected the cause of death to go unsolved. Unlike an organic poison, a radioactive substance like Polonium isn’t going to break down and disappear. It is an alpha emitter with a half life of 139 days. The murderers had to know that once an autopsy was performed the Polonium would have been discovered. Thus the conclusion can only be that they WANTED what happened to Litvinenko to be known.
So, someone wanted it known that Litvinenko was killed by a government. Would the Russians, currently applying for membership to the WTO, do something like that? I doubt it.
Who would benefit from embarrassing the Russkies? Well, Putin has run off or imprisoned quite a few of the “oligarchs.” These gangsters robbed the Russians blind after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are leaders of the Russian Mafia and are sorely pissed at Putin. Those who escaped (to London and Israel) would love nothing more than to lay something like this in Putin’s lap. They have the means, the motive and plenty of opportunity. If I was a betting man, that’s where I’d place my chips.
Putin strikes me as a genuinly tough guy. A hard guy who probably wouldn’t be averse to waxing someone if the need arose, but he’s not stupid, and for him to be behind the death of Litvinenko, would be uncharacteristic stupidity on his part.