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Russian Spy Poisoned with a Large Dose of Radioactive Polonium-210

And those he came into contact with could be in danger as well. From the AP:

A former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic who blamed a "barbaric and ruthless" Russian President Vladimir Putin for his fatal poisoning had a toxic radioactive substance in his body, the British government said Friday.


In the statement dictated from his deathbed, Alexander Litvinenko accused the Russian leader of having "no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value." In his first public response to the allegations, Putin said he deplored the former spy's death but called the statement a political provocation.

The Health Protection Agency said the radioactive element polonium-210 had been found in Litvinenko's urine.

The agency's chief executive, Pat Troop, said that the high level indicated Litvinenko "would either have to have eaten it, inhaled it or taken it in through a wound."

"We know he had a major dose," she said.

Earlier, Home Secretary John Reid said Litvinenko's death Thursday night was "linked to the presence of a radioactive substance in his body."

Litvinenko, a vociferous critic of the Russian government, suffered heart failure late Thursday after days in intensive care at London's University College Hospital battling a poison that had attacked his bone marrow and destroyed his immune system.

"You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed," Litvinenko said in the statement read by his friend and spokesman Alex Goldfarb. The former spy said "the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life."

Goldfarb said Litvinenko had dictated the statement before he lost consciousness on Tuesday, and signed it in the presence of his wife, Marina.

Litvinenko's father Walter said his son "fought this regime and this regime got him."

"It was an excruciating death and he was taking it as a real man," Walter Litvinenko said.

Putin's government strongly denied involvement.

Who else would benefit from Litvinenko's death? Russia returns to the cold-war style cloak and dagger tactics of its Soviet predecessors. And it's selling defense systems to Iran.

The Russian defense minister on Wednesday defended Moscow's deal to supply air defense missiles to Iran, saying they were purely defensive weapons with a limited range.


"I wish to underline that these systems cannot be used in offensive operations," Sergei Ivanov told Russia Today television in an interview broadcast early Wednesday. "Secondly, they have a limited use as they are capable of protecting a small part of the Iranian territory."

Moscow has refused to bow to Western pressure and cancel its US $700 million contract to sell 29 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran which was signed last December.

A Russian Defense Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that Moscow would fulfill the contract unless international sanctions against Iran make it illegal.

Russia and Iran, two peas in a pod.

Update: Ace writes that the Russian dissident reporter that Litvinenko was researching was also the victim of an attempted poisoning. He also comments on Russia's regression back to the Soviet method of dealing with dissidents and reminds us of the most famous KBG poison plot. Remember, too, that one of the big concerns when Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia was that he was a KGB man.

Update II: According to the Daily Mail, Polonium-210 is the "deadliest poison known to man" and a fatal amount can be spread through the body by saliva or sweat. Unfortunately, not only has Litvinenko died from this dose, but his wife and 10 year old son could also be contaminated. Others who came into close contact with him such as doctors and nurses are at risk as well.


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Comments (16)

Well this is certain to adv... (Below threshold)

Well this is certain to advance the cause of Free Speech in the former SSR, isn't it!

And no fingerprints either.

Putin is one scary motherf****.

It gives one pause to consi... (Below threshold)
robert:

It gives one pause to consider the true impact of a "dirty bomb".

And to remember that picture of the guy who was suspected of planning just such an attack on us.

Poisoning seems to be a fav... (Below threshold)

Poisoning seems to be a favorite M.O. in that part of the world. Don't forget Yushchenko's poisoning during the Ukraine's elections. He blamed Yanukovich operatives. And coincidentally enough, Putin opposed Yushchenko.

I would take the polonium-2... (Below threshold)
superdestroyer:

I would take the polonium-210 claim with a huge grain of salt. His hair falling out does not match the effects of ingestion or inhalation of polonium.

It would be difficult to get him to breath in enough polonium without a wide area of detectable contamination.

Remember they were wrong on tha thallium the first time.

Radiation will cause hair l... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Radiation will cause hair loss.

Why would Putin use a poiso... (Below threshold)
ptg:

Why would Putin use a poison to silence Litvinenko that leaves its victim alive and talking for days? So he can point his finger and accuse Putin? So he will look like a suffering martyr? I think not. While FSB or old KGB operatives may likely be involved, whoever did this murder wanted Putin to get the blame.

"Can we trust Russia... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

"Can we trust Russia? I'm not going to answer that. I could ask the very same question."

PRESIDENT BUSH: " I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue."

If Dubya, our worldly perceptive free world leader, is so convicnced on Putin's lack of guile, you better believe it must surely be a state -sponsored assassination plot authorized by Putin himself.

Those people do not mess ar... (Below threshold)
Jack:

Those people do not mess around.

remember that it is very di... (Below threshold)
garry:

remember that it is very difficult to detect. Do not think that waving a radiation detector will show its presence. Alpha radiation will not penetrate skin BUT when it being emmited from substances in the blood it is deadly. Only tiny amounts of Po are needed. It is remarkable that the substance was detected! Russia was caught with its trousers down.

MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO... (Below threshold)
FUHGEDDABOUTIT:

MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO

Watching that idiot President of ours smiling conspiratorially with Putin during his recent Asian spin made me sick. Everyone but Dubya knows that Putin had a hand in the assasination of Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko. Putin is getting away with hell and Bush is too much of a dhimwit to even express the proper body language. What a dolt! What a craven clown!

And now the Gemayel assassination...does anyone seriously doubt who is behind it? Does anyone seriously believe the murderers will be caught.

You want Bush to snub Putin... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

You want Bush to snub Putin because we think --- with little concrete proof --- that Putin was behind assassinations? Not a solid plan.

I think that Putin did it all. Can I prove it? Nope. Can't even come close.

And since Putin is ALREADY in bed with our enemies, we don't want to drive him towards them more than they already are.
-=Mike

"I think that Putin did it ... (Below threshold)
FUHGEDDABOUTIT:

"I think that Putin did it all."

Posted by: MikeSC

I think so too.

Does George "I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy" Bush?

Therein lies the problem.

Seeing as how those comment... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Seeing as how those comments came LONG before this incident happened, it's immaterial. If Bush's opinion has changed, he's not about to let anybody know outside of his innermost circle.

If you really expect Bush to say "Well, I think Putin killed that guy" publicly, you'll be horribly disappointed. We are ALSO pretty damned sure Chirac is neck-deep in corruption. You don't hear Bush calling him on the carpet, either.
-=Mike

Recently on the death of Le... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Recently on the death of Lebanonese Anti-Syrian front leader Pierre Gemayel Bush stopped short of specifically blaming Iran or Syria for the assassination, but the president called for a full investigation to identify "those people and those forces" behind it..Let's see Bush issue the same stern statement concerning Alexander Litvinenko.

or to echo what Cheney said... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

or to echo what Cheney said on November 17 'We have applied the Bush Doctrine -- that any person or government supporting, protecting, or harboring terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account."
President, it's time to look into Putin's soul again.

OK, Russia has nukes and no... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

OK, Russia has nukes and no real problem selling them to the highest bidder.

If you don't see why attacking them might not be a great idea, I'm not sure what to tell you.
-=Mike




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