Spymania: Was Litvinenko poisoned twice?

posted at 3:36 pm on January 7, 2007 by Allahpundit

Actually, this makes sense. Sort of.

Investigators initially believed Mr Litvinenko was first poisoned at the Itsu sushi bar in Piccadilly, central London, when he met Mario Scaramella, an Italian espionage expert, for lunch on 1 November. The Japanese restaurant was the first place that traces of polonium were detected.

But detectives are understood to be investigating whether Mr Litvinenko was poisoned several days earlier. They are examining his movements and meetings, particularly with Russian contacts, in the previous days.

Toxicology results from Mr Litvinenko’s post-mortem examination revealed two “spikes” of radiation poisoning, suggesting he received two separate doses. The second attack is almost certain to have taken place at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair. Eight hotel staff have tested positive for polonium-210. So has a tea cup.

Investigators already suspected that he might have been poisoned in mid-October, when he first met Lugovoy and Kovtun. The three of them visited the offices of Risc Management at the time; traces of polonium were found there later. But how could he have absorbed such a massive dose — ten times the amount needed to kill a man, according to UK cops — and remained in good health for another 18 days? Answer: he didn’t. They probably gave him a small dose on the first attempt in hopes that medical examiners wouldn’t be able to detect it. Trouble was, it ended up being too small to kill him. So they met him again on November 1 at the bar and gave him a massive dose to make sure it would do the job. And it did, but too well.

This would also settle the question of whether he met Scaramella at the sushi place before or after he met Lugovoy and Kovtun at the bar. It must have been after; the massive dose was probably so massive that the stray particles on his clothes or skin were enough to contaminate his table at lunch.

It was also, in all likelihood, ordered by the Russian government. Otherwise, why would they refuse to extradite suspects or let British cops reinterview them?

60 Minutes is doing a story tonight that will showcase the theory that Litvinenko was targeted for threatening to blackmail an unnamed Russian businessman. Seems unlikely to me unless that businessman is pals with Putin, but oh well. Meanwhile, one nagging question remains: If the first poisoning failed, why would Lugovoy and Kovtun have tried another dose of polonium — worth millions of dollars — instead of just shooting him?

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A J Strata is still making a good case for accidental poisoning in the course of smuggling Polonium. For now I have to side with him.

bdfaith on January 7, 2007 at 4:00 PM

Although I admire their thoroughness, all I can say is WTF? This whole plan was so overly difficult and screwy it brings to mind something Dr. Evil would do.

Scott Evil: I have a gun in my room, you give me five seconds, I’ll get it, I’ll come back down here, BOOM, I’ll blow their brains out!

Dr. Evil: Scott, you just don’t get it, do ya? You don’t.

Squid Vicious on January 7, 2007 at 4:02 PM

It was also, in all likelihood, ordered by the Russian government.

You’re a funny guy Allah. Keep on dreaming.

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 4:04 PM

The involvement of the criminal fugitive Leonid Nevzlin is very possible. He is currently hiding away in Israel.

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 4:07 PM

Well, this sorta leaves no doubt as to who he thought was responsible for his death.

THeDRiFTeR on January 7, 2007 at 4:14 PM

Well, this sorta leaves no doubt as to who he thought was responsible for his death.

Who he thought, or who he wanted us to believe it was? Litvinenko was a shady character, he was no hero at all.

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 4:18 PM

Who he thought, or who he wanted us to believe it was?

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 4:18 PM

I would have to say that you’re right, and I honestly couldn’t say which. But why would he have us believe it was Putin? Why not say, Saddam, or Tony Blair? What did he have against Putin, as a smuggler?

THeDRiFTeR on January 7, 2007 at 4:33 PM

This story is as bone dry as Grandma’s britches.

Mark V. on January 7, 2007 at 4:33 PM

But why would he have us believe it was Putin? Why not say, Saddam, or Tony Blair? What did he have against Putin, as a smuggler?

Litivinenko is an enemy of Russia. He despises Putin for reviving Russia’s fortunes. He was a good friend with the criminal oligarch Berezovsky (who defrauded the Russian people along with the now-jailed Khodorkovsky) who is a fugitive in London.

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 4:40 PM

Litivinenko is an enemy of Russia. He despises Putin for reviving Russia’s fortunes. He was a good friend with the criminal oligarch Berezovsky (who defrauded the Russian people along with the now-jailed Khodorkovsky) who is a fugitive in London.

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 4:40 PM

Oh. Ok, thanks for that.

THeDRiFTeR on January 7, 2007 at 4:43 PM

What did he have against Putin, as a smuggler?

He was a Chechen sympathizer, ex-KGB agent. That alone puts him seriously at odds with Putin. Smuggling may or may not have anything more to do with it.

Pablo on January 7, 2007 at 4:47 PM

Here is an interesting article about Leonid Nevzlin, who is wanted for numerous murders and could be implicated in the Litvikenko case.

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 4:54 PM

So why was he killed anyway?

Was he going rogue islamofascist? Did the ruskies off him before he used his spy skill set against innocents in his own country? Or… is this a non-explosive dirty bomb technique intended to kill Englanders that went awry?

Myself, I haven’t a clue.

Mojave Mark on January 7, 2007 at 6:12 PM

Could be simply a case of two assassination teams working the same target.
Not so unusual, I should think.
Given the uncertainty of dosing (radiological poisoning wouldn’t quite so obvious, like a bullet hole in the head)two teams makes even more sense.

Speakup on January 7, 2007 at 6:15 PM

Why is this such a big deal? So the Ruskies offed a Ruskie, with radioactive material. Big whoop, other than the Dr. Evil angle of using a rare/expensive radioactive material to kill someone. Of course the Ruskies (Commies) have always had a penchant for odd-ball assassinations such as the poison pellet umbrella.

Neo on January 7, 2007 at 6:41 PM

Why is this such a big deal?

Beats me too. Not newsworthy.

MoonbatMedia on January 7, 2007 at 6:53 PM

What did he have against Putin, as a smuggler?

Litvinenko was imprisoned in Russia and most likely he blamed Putin (perhaps rightly so) for that also.

Speakup on January 7, 2007 at 7:16 PM

The Russian government may be assassinating their enemies on British soil, that is newsworthy. Putin seems to be adopting a Cold War posture. A Russian spy just got deported from Canada recently.

aengus on January 7, 2007 at 7:19 PM

why would Lugovoy and Kovtun have tried another dose of polonium — worth millions of dollars — instead of just shooting him?

My guess? They had the stuff lying around, they couldn’t make money from it easily, and it didn’t come off of their department’s budget.

jic on January 7, 2007 at 8:20 PM

PLEASE USE A DIFFERENT LITVINENKO PICTURE

I am so sick of that same picture.

Mazztek on January 7, 2007 at 8:37 PM

I’m sticking with the Woody Allen, Annie Hall scenario. I believe Litvinenko was involved in a deal to sell or transport polonium as a terrorist weapon, and he opened the container on two occasions to inspect it. On the first occasion, Litvinenko was exposed to a minor, micoscopice dose. But on the second, he either spilled a little or (my favorite) sneezed into the container (ala Annie Hall and the cocaine scene), resulting in the expensive, fatal dose.

I know it sounds stupid, but we live in a pretty stupid world.

stonemeister on January 7, 2007 at 9:18 PM

If the first poisoning failed, why would Lugovoy and Kovtun have tried another dose of polonium — worth millions of dollars — instead of just shooting him?

Because organizations tend to stick with what they know. And poisoning was a preferred assassination tactic at the KGB for many decades.

SWLiP on January 7, 2007 at 10:26 PM

“Never attribute to conspiracy that which can be more easily attributed to incompetence.”

stonemeister on January 7, 2007 at 10:47 PM

Litivinenko is an enemy of Russia. He despises Putin for reviving Russia’s fortunes. He was a good friend with the criminal oligarch Berezovsky (who defrauded the Russian people along with the now-jailed Khodorkovsky) who is a fugitive in London.

I can’t believe we have a Putin apologist here on the Hot Air comments.

kaltes on January 8, 2007 at 12:52 AM

“Never attribute to conspiracy malice that which can be more easily attributed to incompetence adequately explained by stupidity.”

stonemeister on January 7, 2007 at 10:47 PM

Hanlons Razor.

THeDRiFTeR on January 8, 2007 at 3:11 PM