Polonium Green Tea

Another twist was added to the “Litvinenko Affair” on Sunday. The Sunday Telegraph features an article about Norberto Andrade, the waiter who served Litvinenko, Vyacheslav Sokolenko, Andrei Lugovoi, and Dmitri Kovtun at the Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel in London the night of Litvinenko’s infamous poisoning. Andrade claims that while he didn’t actually see the poison delivered, he believes that he was deliberately distracted so that polonium could be sprayed into a teapot of green tea.

“When I was delivering gin and tonic to the table, I was obstructed. I couldn’t see what was happening, but it seemed very deliberate to create a distraction. It made it difficult to put the drink down.

“It was the only moment when the situation seemed unfriendly and something went on at that point. I think the polonium was sprayed into the teapot. There was contamination found on the picture above where Mr Litvinenko had been sitting and all over the table, chair and floor, so it must have been a spray.”

As a veteran waiter myself, I have an idea of what Andrade is talking about. There you are with a bunch of drinks your patrons ordered and when you dutifully bring said order, the customers make it difficult to serve it. Um like, hello, there is a person standing here and this tray is kinda heavy. My question is was Andrade’s experience really a distraction or merely indifference? Andrade is assuming that the four men actually acknowledged his existence when he was serving the table. Given the lavishness of the Pine Bar, it wouldn’t surprise me if customers regularly ignored the presence of the “help”.

But be that as it may, Andrade was there and I wasn’t, and he could have indeed been distracted. (Having customers look at me stupid, if they ever did at all, was one reason, among many, why I got out of that biz.) Plus the fact that Andrade is now convinced that something was amiss that night is perfectly normal. With knowing that he served Litvinenko’s last cup of tea, along with the constant loop of the incident in his mind, I’m sure a lot of what would normally be considered ordinary that night, now seems unusual, deliberate, and well planned.

In addition to being distracted, Andrade also claims that when he poured out the radioactive brew he noticed that “the contents of the teapot had turned a “funny colour”.

“When I poured the remains of the teapot into the sink, the tea looked more yellow than usual and was thicker – it looked gooey,” he recalled to the Telegraph. “I scooped it out of the sink and threw it into the bin. I was so lucky I didn’t put my fingers into my mouth, or scratch my eye as I could have got this poison inside me.”

Later investigators found the picture hanging above where Litvinenko was sitting was contaminated, suggesting that the assassin’s method of delivery was probably a spray.

Since the murder was made public, Andrade claims that he’s suffered from nightmares and fears for the safety of his wife and two grandchildren. I doubt the disclosure of his story to the Telegraph will do anything to alleviate those fears. Some advice. Watch you back, brother. Watch your back.

The article doesn’t indicate the role Andrade’s testimony is playing in the investigation. But according to Alexander Goldfarb, a friend and spokesman for the Litvinenko family, the revelation is “extremely significant” evidence, adding that,”Up until now [British authorities] asked all of us not to say anything publicly which might be constituted as evidence at the trial. Possibly, they have decided that they’re not going to get Mr. Lugovoi and have him stand trial.”

As far as I know, Andrade is the first witness to go public with testimony. While his words are hardly grounds for strong evidence, perhaps they symbolize more to come in the coming weeks? Time will tell. At least it will give the story a bit more life in the bowels of our ever digesting news cycle.