Did Putin Really Murder Litvinenko?

Vladimir Putin

In November 2006, Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko was murdered in London. The assassination of a then relatively unknown individual was nothing sensational, but this murder had echoes of the death of an earlier and quite bizarre murder of a former East European exile. On September 11, 1978, the Bulgarian novelist Georgi Markov died in a London hospital. Markov was working for the BBC World Service, and on his way to work four days before he died, he felt a sharp pain in his thigh, then saw a man with an umbrella who caught his eye. It was shortly revealed that Markov had been shot with a poisonous dart that had almost certainly been fired from an umbrella gun, a murder straight out of a James Bond film.

The death of Alexander Litvinenko was equally bizarre, because he was poisoned with polonium 210, which has a half-life of only 138 days. Contrast this with radium, which has a half-life of 1600 years, and you can imagine how dangerous even a microscopic quantity of this element must be. Clearly a murder of this nature could only have been carried out by someone who had authorised access to a nuclear facility. There can be little doubt that Litvinenko was murdered by a Russian agent, whether or not that agent was Andrei Lugovoi or Dmitri Kovtun, both, or neither.

Understandably, the murder of a British citizen by a foreign government on British soil has had enormous repercussions, and with the current situations in Syria and the Ukraine, this is the last thing either we or the Russians need. We are now being told that Mr Litvinenko’s murder was approved by Vladimir Putin personally. Could this be true? Sure it could, but ask yourself this, would David Cameron or Barack Obama have murdered one of their nationals like this? Uh oh, did somebody mention drone strikes? Seriously though, Putin may have wished Litvinenko dead, but the question must be asked, did he have the power to order it?

The answer to that question is almost certainly no, because although he is a strong man, an image in which he clearly revels, Vladimir Putin is not an absolute leader; like Barack Obama, he cannot do anything he wants. The reason he is having so much success is not because he has tyrannical powers but because his policies are popular. This may change in time, sooner rather than later even, but don’t let’s kid ourselves that he is in the same position as were Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi. That may be the bad news for him, but the good news is that he is unlikely to share their fate.

Furthermore, Alexander Litvinenko was said to have accused Putin of both carrying out a terrorist attack in Moscow and of having sex with boys! These are not the words of a dissident, they are the ravings of a lunatic, or at best the sort of nonsense spewed out by 9/11 Truthers: George Bush bombs the Twin Towers as a pretext for invading Iraq and turning America into a police state – Putin carries out the 1999 Moscow Apartment Bombings as a pretext for starting a local war. Litvinenko even co-authored a book to this effect which is currently available on Amazon. Why don’t George Bush, Bill Clinton, the Queen, Vladimir Putin, etc, sue for defamation? Because books like this are written by crazy people, or at best idiots who don’t understand such concepts as cause and effect or post hoc ergo propter hoc. And the claim that the Russian leader is a paedophile is every bit as insane as the claims that child abuse was carried out in the UK by an elite circle of powerful politicians who were protected by the establishment, including the police. Is this country really going to go to war with Russia over someone who spouted this kind of rubbish?

Having said that, someone has recently suggested a way out of this dilemma. If Russia refuses to extradite the two suspects, the UK could agree to a Lockerbie type trial, ie they could be delivered to a third nation where they would be tried by an independent tribunal. This sounds like a reasonable proposition in view of the apparent strength of the case against them. One question remains, who gave the killer(s) their orders? Although it is clear someone in the Russia Government was involved, a murder like this has the hallmark of fantasy. If the KGB proper had killed Litvinenko he would have been shot, blown up, or even poisoned, but not with polonium. Whoever ordered this assassination was someone who has seen one James Bond film too many, therefore we may assume – credible evidence to the contrary – that it was someone fairly low down the chain of command, and fortunately, people with those kind of grand ideas seldom attain true political power in the West, or in modern countries like Russia. Although Donald Trump may soon prove that statement wrong.


About the author

Alexander Baron