PRIMA: Evil that rules in the Kremlin (M.Litvinenko)
Evil that rules in the Kremlin
I have asked my lawyers to petition HM Coroner to hold a full inquest
into the murder of my husband, Alexander Litvinenko. Only a review of
the evidence in an open, independent court in Britain will get to the
truth about who poisoned his tea with radioactive polonium-210 on
November 1, 2006, as well as how and why.
I do this against the wishes of the Scotland Yard and David Miliband,
the Foreign Secretary, who both told me that making the evidence public
would prejudice a criminal trial of the chief suspect, Andrei Lugovoy,
whom the UK is trying to extradite from Russia. But after waiting for 15
months I have come to the conclusion that Mr Lugovoy, a former KGB
agent, will never be extradited. So I respectfully reject their
argument. I cannot wait for another ten years for a slim chance that
their approach would bear fruit.
I should emphasise that I hold no grudge against the police or the
British Government; I am eternally grateful to them for identifying and
naming the suspect, and then slapping Russia with an extradition
request, which, even though it has not been successful, has squarely put
the blame for Alexander's death at the Kremlin's door. However, this is
not good enough for me. If I cannot get justice, then at least I need
the full truth.
While the British authorities are constrained by due process and could
do nothing more than repeat futile extradition pleas, the Kremlin has
embarked on a propaganda campaign designed to divert the blame from
itself. It wants to destroy the reputation of Alexander, a former
member-turned-critic of the FSB, Russia's security service, and to
discredit the allegations he made that the Kremlin was behind the
assassination of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya and a series of
apartment bombings in 1999 that was blamed on Chechen separatists.
Officials at the highest levels at the Kremlin have insinuated that my
husband's friends in London killed him "in order to smear Russia". In a
scam worthy of the old KGB, a fringe American journalist was invited to
Moscow for an interview with Russian prosecutors, who showed him the
British extradition papers - the ones that I am not allowed to see. His
"conclusion" - that my husband poisoned himself while smuggling
radioactive material for terrorists - was published in a third-rate New
York newspaper and then trumpeted in Russia as an American-sourced
report. I have to protect my husband's good name from such dirty tricks.
A full inquest would put an end to these kind of smear campaigns.
I fully trust the British police when they say that they have an
ironclad case against Mr Lugovoy. But I am not the one who needs
convincing. It is the Russian people who need to know. Mr Lugovoy
professes his innocence, and none other than President Putin has cast
him as a victim of "British colonialism" on national TV. Millions of
Russians believed these claims, and now Mr Lugovoy has been elected to
the Russian Parliament for an ultra-nationalist party that slavishly
supports the Putin line. In the meantime, the evidence against him
remains sealed in London. I cannot afford for it to remain there for
ever. I need a full inquest to show both men for what they are: a
murderer and his patron.
I am frustrated by the fact that Mr Lugovoy is the sole focus of the
British indictment. With all the evidence against him, he did not have a
motive or access to polonium-210. Somebody sent him and gave him the
poison, which must have been produced, dosed, tested and packaged by
someone else. Experts say that the Avangard nuclear plant in Russia is
the only place where they make polonium-210, and that security there is
so tight that it could not have been taken away without an official
order. They also say that "nuclear forensic analysis" must have
established the origin and the production date of the batch that killed
my husband. I want the polonium report to be read in the coroner's
court. Then perhaps Russia would have to explain how the material
produced in its most secure facility ended up in Mr Lugovoy's suitcase
in a London hotel room.
People tell me that disclosure of the whole truth would further damage
British relations with Russia. Even a hint of Russian official
complicity would put the British Government into an awkward position;
after all, killing a British citizen in London with a radiological
weapon is an act of war or of state-sponsored terrorism or both. What
should the UK then do? How would Russia retaliate? Tens of billions of
pounds of investments are at stake. Geopolitical balance is, too. Don't
make yourself into a problem, I am told.
To this I answer: I am not the problem. The problem is the people who
sent Mr Lugovoy to London with a weapon of mass destruction in a
suitcase. If they went to such lengths to get rid of my husband, imagine
what they would do if their larger interests are at stake. Denying this
would not make the problem go away; it would only make it worse.
Russia will soon have a new president. Dmitri Medvedev is not tainted by
the crimes of the previous regime. He says that he wants to bring the
rule of law to Russia. He has the power to cleanse Russia of the people
who killed my husband, but I am not sure that he has the will. If he
dares not, he will become their hostage. But if he dares, he will need
evidence, which is sealed in the Scotland Yard files. An inquest in
London holds a huge promise for Russia; it might just tip the balance
between the bright and the bleak outcome.
But the most important reason for wanting this inquest to take place is
that I owe it to my husband. Many years ago in Moscow, just before his
first arrest, he told me: "Marina, if something happens to me, you would
go around the world and tell people what happened and why."
I did not believe him then. He repeated it on his deathbed in London. He
wanted me to go out and alert the people to the evil that rules in the
Kremlin. I am doing this for him.