Video: British judge concludes “strong probability” that Putin ordered hit on Litvinenko

posted at 10:41 am on January 21, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Remember Alexander Litvinenko? The British certainly do. The former KGB operative-turned-Putin dissenter died of acute polonium poisoning, in what was not only an assassination but one meant to look like an assassination. His 2006 murder by way of a rare radioactive isotope has been described as the first nuclear attack on the UK. Litvinenko, who died relatively slowly and horribly, blamed Vladimir Putin for ordering his death, declaring “You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.”

Today, almost ten years later, a British inquiry agreed:

Russian President Vladimir Putin likely approved the fatal poisoning of a former KGB operative-turned-British intelligence agent at a post London hotel, according to a highly anticipated British inquiry released Thursday.

The findings — nearly a decade after Alexander Litvinenko succumbed to the effects of the radioactive polonium slipped into his cup of green tea at London’s Millennium Hotel — is sure to raise tensions between London and Moscow and possibly sharpen the focus on other suspicious deaths among Putin’s foes. …

The inquiry’s findings, set out over 328 pages, include that Putin had a personal motive for wanting Litvinenko dead, and that the president would likely have had to approve a high-stakes operation to assassinate the former KGB operative on British soil.

The assassination has been described by a British Parliamentary committee as “a miniature nuclear attack on the streets of London.”

At the time, I wrote about the parallels to the dioxin poisoning of Ukraine political dissenter Viktor Yushchenko, and the use of polonium as a deliberate signal of both origin and intent:

For those who recall the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, this may sound somewhat familiar. Viktor Yushchenko got a severe case of dioxin poisoning, narrowly avoiding death but suffering facial disfigurement. Yushchenko had promoted a pro-Western polity for Ukraine, wanting to de-emphasize Russian ties and separate the former Soviet republic from Moscow and Putin. He survived, but clearly he was not meant to do so. In Litvinenko’s case, his assassins made sure they did the job right.

The use of polonium strongly indicts the Russian government in this murder. One does not find polonium just laying around somewhere; it’s rather rare, and difficult to produce in any quantity. However, small quantities are all that are needed for poisoning someone, as the maximum safe ingested dose is 0.03 microcurie. It’s 25 billion times more poisonous than hydrocyanic acid. Anyone who attempted to deploy this as an assassin’s weapon has to have a lot of expertise in handling polonium — which again strongly indicates a government assassin at work. It practically convicts Putin by its use.

Litvinenko’s son emphasized this point today in an interview with Sky News:

The son of murdered spy Alexander Litvinenko has told Sky News he believes his father’s killers are being protected by the Russian state.

Anatoly Litvinenko spoke as the findings of a public inquiry into the murder nine years ago are set to be published.

“It was an extremely complex murder, using an extremely complex murder weapon,” he said.

“The killers were protected by the Russian state. It was always going to be a slow and difficult case.”

The case wasn’t difficult to crack. The difficulty comes in what follows this finding. Prime Minister David Cameron faces pressure to act against Putin, but it comes at a most sensitive juncture:

Moscow branded the process “politically motivated” and “absurd”, while the Government responded by summoning the Russian ambassador and announcing that the two men who allegedly carried out the killing – Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun – would have their assets frozen.

However, the barrister for the Litvinenko family warned it would be “craven” if the Prime Minister avoided substantial reprisals for “nuclear terrorism” due to diplomatic considerations over crises in Syria and Ukraine. …

In a statement to MPs, Home Secretary Theresa May said Mr Cameron would raise the issue with Mr Putin at the “first available opportunity”.

“This was a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenets of international law and civilised behaviour. But we have to accept that this doesn’t come as a surprise,” she said.

Unfortunately, Western dithering in Syria and Iraq has since made Putin a key player against ISIS. Putin is using that leverage to reshape Syria into Bashar al-Assad’s fiefdom, but Putin is also going after ISIS targets at a lower priority. The US and UK may not be able to afford to alienate Putin; clearly, they haven’t been able to stop him from empire-building in Ukraine and in the Caucasus, let alone the Middle East. Cameron may have to settle for personal sanctions that will save a little face but do next to nothing to Putin or his ambitions.

At least no one can say Litvinenko didn’t warn us. Too bad two successive British and American administrations didn’t listen.


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Comments

I’d rate the probability of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Her Royal Thighness, being involved in the murder of Vince Foster as being very high too.

ConstantineXI on January 21, 2016 at 10:45 AM

$20 oil is going to poison Putin.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 21, 2016 at 10:45 AM

Judges are never biased or wrong. John Roberts assured me of it.

Rix on January 21, 2016 at 10:46 AM

While it may or may not be true, taking the word of a British judge for anything is a fool’s errand.

Skip2014 on January 21, 2016 at 10:47 AM

I’m only surprised they didn’t drag the inquiry out indefinitely.

Fenris on January 21, 2016 at 10:47 AM

Putin’s response:

“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth….

“You’re damn right I ordered the Code Red.”

Steve Eggleston on January 21, 2016 at 10:48 AM

Fortunately for us Trump will get along with Putin…

right2bright on January 21, 2016 at 10:48 AM

…and Trump’s respect for him deepens.

everdiso on January 21, 2016 at 10:51 AM

Putin preys on the weak.
He sees Trump as someone he can manipulate.

weedisgood on January 21, 2016 at 10:55 AM

You can take the boy out of the Cheka, but you can’t take the Cheka out of the boy….

Torcert on January 21, 2016 at 10:56 AM

So? What are they going to do? Start a war with Russia? Try Putin in the international court thus starting a war with Russia? Send agents in to kidnap Putin and thus start a war with Russia? Send agents in to kill Putin and thus start a war with Russia?
What can they really do and is it worth the diplomatic fallout to do anything to Putin?

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 21, 2016 at 10:58 AM

Some of you are too dumb to hold more than one thought in that tiny brain of yours.

Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 10:58 AM

I’d rate the probability of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Her Royal Thighness, being involved in the murder of Vince Foster as being very high too.

ConstantineXI on January 21, 2016 at 10:45 AM

I have to confess that I am not that ashamed at laughing at that….

Torcert on January 21, 2016 at 10:59 AM

ReStart!

albill on January 21, 2016 at 11:02 AM

I have to say I’ve been really enjoying Spinnin’fraud’s panicked maniacal posting in recent days. I sure hope you’re getting paid for all this, olpalomine.

everdiso on January 21, 2016 at 11:02 AM

Chalk one more up to Pootin. He’ll answer this by sending a nekkid selfie to the Prim (yes, Prim) Minister.

vnvet on January 21, 2016 at 11:03 AM

This is just a failure to assimilate. Maybe the Brits can hand out pamphlets explaining how poising people is wrong.

Flange on January 21, 2016 at 11:04 AM

I have to say I’ve been really enjoying Schadenfreude’s successful postings.
everdiso on January 21, 2016 at 11:02 AM

Your fear is my joy.

Sanders :)

Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Have any of you seen Hillary and Bill, lately?

obama is finishing them both off.

Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 11:05 AM

No fear and it’s Christmas, several times a day.

Next year, today, it’s “former oaf in chief obama”.

Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 11:06 AM

But they’ll still ban Trump and Michael Savage from their country before Putin. Because “Muslim sensitivities”.

Rusty Nail on January 21, 2016 at 11:07 AM

How many of you focus on how Putin threw out both Soros companies from Russia?

Off topic you say? Think again then.

Putin is a KGB thug, always.

But Russia is not a 3rd world country and everditz’ obama and Hillary wanted to badly to do two things:

Her to reset the button, which is only good when commies do it.

He, to be an even bigger traitor, but he was overtaken, by Putin.

Until the Russian people vote him out, or have another revolution
We’re all stuck with…wait, dummy everditz…Putin

Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 11:10 AM

Steve. “I strenuously object” to your movie qoute. :-D

Indiana Jim on January 21, 2016 at 11:10 AM

obama and Hillary wanted to badly to do two things

Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 11:12 AM

Everdiso. You need a good rosettastone class. Or maybe rewatch schoolhouse rock. Or just say fcuk it and flush your GED down the crapper…..

Indiana Jim on January 21, 2016 at 11:13 AM

Does this help or hurt the cons-crush for Putin?
“Obama would never fatally poison his political enemies…because he’s weak!”

verbaluce on January 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Personally I’d like it if someone assassinated some of those Russian a-holes that keep unleashing viruses and ransomware on the rest of the world.

Do that and we’ll call it even…..

Hank_Scorpio on January 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Hope this doesnt give obola any ideas…..

Indiana Jim on January 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Based on this “strong probability” they should drag him to the Hague, those ‘courageous’ euroweenies, no?

Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 11:28 AM

When it ends for Putin it will probably not be good for him.

albill on January 21, 2016 at 11:30 AM

☢ I question the timing. ☢

hillbillyjim on January 21, 2016 at 11:38 AM

When it ends for Putin it will probably not be good for him.

albill on January 21, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Dictatorships rarely end with the dictator not being dead. And it’s very rare for a dictator to live a full natural life.

Something Obama should consider as he contemplates canceling the elections and continuing his term beyond 365 days today noon.

ConstantineXI on January 21, 2016 at 11:38 AM

Trump’s BFF.

Tater Salad on January 21, 2016 at 11:58 AM

Trump supporter Putin.

Moesart on January 21, 2016 at 12:27 PM

At least Putin is a man of action and gets things done, unlike our vain Mom Jeans sporting loser of a president.

Pablo Honey on January 21, 2016 at 12:27 PM

At least Putin is a man of action and gets things done

Understatement. You don’t even know how much he gets done.

Moesart on January 21, 2016 at 12:29 PM

You’re g-damned right I ordered the Code Red!

connertown on January 21, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Fortunately for us Trump will get along with Putin…

right2bright on January 21, 2016 at 10:48 AM

Hey, we kill lots of people, too!

Meredith on January 21, 2016 at 12:43 PM

But Russia is not a 3rd world country
Schadenfreude on January 21, 2016 at 11:10 AM

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-21/russian-ruble-crashes-record-lows-panic-some-investors-are-selling-any-price

everdiso on January 21, 2016 at 12:44 PM

British judge concludes “sky is blue”.

jnelchef on January 21, 2016 at 12:53 PM

“Obama would never fatally poison his political enemies…because he’s weak!”

verbaluce on January 21, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Yeah, you poison someone and that person is dead. Barry uses the IRS instead because that is a lifetime of pain.

F X Muldoon on January 21, 2016 at 1:29 PM

Meanwhile, Parliament debates whether to keep The Donald out of the UK for being boorish and a meanie. While doing nothing whatsoever about Muslim extremists who live by their own rules in London.

Priorities. They misunderstand them.

orangemtl on January 21, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Putin is evil! Saudi Arabia is good! Believe me, I’m from the media!

MMK on January 21, 2016 at 2:38 PM

Strong probabilities only count in horseshoes

tej on January 21, 2016 at 4:04 PM

so what? … and watcha gon’ do ’bout it even if he did?

Pragmatic on January 21, 2016 at 6:42 PM

water is wet!

Pragmatic on January 21, 2016 at 6:51 PM

That judge might want to get a food taster/body guard….

OTOH – Does anyone really believe Putin gives a shiite what a Brit judge says?

dentarthurdent on January 21, 2016 at 6:53 PM

So the thug Putin, he can come to Britain, but Trump cannot. The voice of violent jihad Mohammed al-Arefe can come in, but not Robert Spencer.

J.B. Say on January 21, 2016 at 10:13 PM

All is good.
W looked into his eyes and thought he could deal with Putin.
AND
Hillary has a ‘Reset’ or ‘Over Charge’ (a RED) button.
AND
Donald J Dumpth thinks Vladimir is a Great Leader and admires him.

Man, our future is so bright, I gotta wear shades!

Missilengr on January 22, 2016 at 3:01 PM