Resolutions, Prophecies, and Videotape

The comedy that is the Alexandr Litvinenko murder case took yet another turn to the absurd yesterday when the US House of Representatives began looking a resolution that calls on Russia to fully cooperate with Britain. Apparently, the mighty Empire feels that Russia should extradite Andrei Lugovoi even though the Russian Constitution forbids extradition. I think that if the resolution passes, it will be a good reason for Russia not to comply.

In the meantime, Russian deputy prosecutor general Sabir Kekhlerov issued a reply to the British request to extradite Lugovoi. “Great Britain has the right, if they believe they have proven the guilt of one of our citizens, to send all of the materials to us. If the general prosecutor’s office believes that the British side has presented us with sufficient grounds, they will be given an appropriate legal appraisal,” he told Kommersant. The business daily added, quoting Interfax, that a representative in the prosecutor’s office stated that “it is not a fact that the conclusions of our investigators will coincide with those of the British [investigators].”

If all that wasn’t enough, Boris Berezovsky is once again soothsaying to anyone willing to listen. The other day he claimed that Putin was behind Litvinenko’s death. Now he’s predicting that Andrei Lugovoi will be next in a pine box. In an interview with the Associated Press, Berezovsky claimed that Lugovoi will be “killed within the next two or three years” and that “he is the suspect of the plot in London, but he is also the witness of the plot in Moscow, and that is more dangerous.” Then he said assuredly, “I tell you there is no doubt in Russia Lugovoi will be killed. They don’t want to keep him alive because he is a witness of Putin’s crime.” In our next episode, Borya predicts the next World Cup champion, Miss Universe, and the invention of teleportation.

And just to keep the Litvinenko story from losing its spy vs. spy flavor, there is the mysterious videotape from 1998 that depicts Litvinenko and two other FSB agents claiming that their superiors ordered them “to kill, kidnap and frame prominent Russians.” The video was made as “insurance” in case one of the FSB agents turned up dead. Well one of them did. According to the Moscow Times, in the video,

Litvinenko and his colleagues sit on couches with journalist Sergei Dorenko, speaking solemnly of their repugnance at the violence and immorality they claim had infected the FSB. More than six months later, Litvinenko repeated many of the same accusations at a news conference — including that he had been ordered to kill businessman Boris Berezovsky. That news conference, in which Litvinenko appeared with other purported FSB men disguised in masks or dark glasses, was later regarded by critics as a ruse engineered by Berezovsky. But Litvinenko told the same account in the tape that he did not intend to make public.

Dorenko, now a talk-show host on Ekho Moskvy radio, showed a few excerpts of the tape on television in 1998 after Litvinenko’s news conference, but the full video has not been broadcast. Dorenko made the tape available to the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal.

In the tape, Litvinenko also contends that he was ordered to beat up or plant a weapon on Mikhail Trepashkin, another former FSB agent who was imprisoned several years later for revealing state secrets. The videotaped claim appears prophetic: Trepashkin, who investigated claims that the FSB was behind a series of apartment building explosions that killed about 300 people in 1999, was arrested in 2003 after police said they found a gun in his car. His lawyers said the weapon was planted. Trepashkin was convicted of disclosing state secrets and is now in prison. Amnesty International has said the charges “appear to have been politically motivated.”

Another man in the tape identifies himself as Alexander Gusak, Litvinenko’s direct superior, and says there was talk in the FSB of kidnapping Umar Dzhabrailov, a wealthy Chechen businessman based in Moscow.

In the tape, Litvinenko is casually dressed, with a full head of thick hair and an intent manner. He admits he is worried but insists he is not fearful.

“I do understand that a security officer is not supposed to give interviews or appear on television,” he said. “But now I realize the time has come. If I were afraid, I wouldn’t do what I do now. But I fear for the life of my wife, my child.”

Gusak says on the tape that he believes the situation in the agency had become intolerable.

“The reason we have gotten you out of bed,” he says to Dorenko, is to describe actions by the agency “that contradict the current law, with the Criminal Code and, we will say it directly, do not meet our moral demands.”

I assume that all this will available on the Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case Special Edition 2-disc DVD?