Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Belarus of the West?

On Hogmanay, Andrew Sullivan is posting from Scotland, and has something to say about it:

20% of Scots see themselves as being primarily “British” - down from 38% in 1979. 78% of Scots now say “Scottish” “best describes” their nationality.

One example of this: the argument has moved on to what sort of Scotland we’d see post-independence. In one corner there are those like the exiled Scots historian Niall Ferguson who see a sad, shrivelled country that has abandoned even the memory of its glory years. Scotland, he quips, is “the Belarus of the west.”

Ferguson - like many Scots in exile views his native heath with great ambivalence (a sentiment not so often shared by exiles from other countries, in my experience). Certainly surveying the solidly-statist, rock-solid consensus that prevails in Scotland one’s forced to fear that there might be 20 years of appalling government before prosperity and progress returned. (The Scottish conservatives - who would fit solidly into the Democratic party in the United States - are considered dangerous radicals when, that is, anyone remembers to consider them at all.)

On the other hand, there are advantages (currently under threat) to be gained by living in Scotland, as this blog points out, quoting an op-ed article by Gerald Warner in Scotland on Sunday:

Labour proposes to use its control of Holyrood to demolish the defences of Scottish personal liberties and harmonise our laws with those of England, as in pre-devolution times. South of the Border, the DNA of 3.46 million people is stored in police records, the highest number in the world - more than in Putin’s Russia. That is an embryonic police state.
A Happy New Year to readers of A Step At A Time.

A Quotation

FAKT: Every terrorist you have named is from ‘the old staff’ of the KGB. Could you name someone from recent history?

A. Litvinenko: Certainly, here it is. The number two person in the terrorist organization al Qaeda, who they are crediting with the series of explosions in London, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is an old agent of the FSB. Being sentenced to death in Egypt for terrorism and hunted by Interpol, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in 1998, was in the territory of Dagestan, where for half a year he received special training at one of the educational bases of the FSB. After this training he was transferred to Afghanistan, where he had never been before and where, following the recommendation of his Lubyanka chiefs, he at once … penetrated the milieu of bin Laden and soon became his assistant in al Qaeda.

Bildt Comments

Carl Bildt, who in October became Sweden’s foreign minister in the new centre-rightist government of Fredrik Reinfeldt, has resumed posting to his blog.

A recent post links to Bildt’s speech (.doc) to the International Institute for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm earlier this month. The message of the speech is mixed, combining “optimism about the possibilities of globalisation with pessimism concerning the dark clouds gathering on the more immediate horizons of the neighbourhood of Europe.” Excerpt:

Being Minister for Foreign Affairs in Sweden today is not the same as it was yesterday.

We are living at the beginning of a major paradigm shift of our own. We are in the midst of a new phase of accelerating globalisation. We see the darkness at the edge of Europe’s strategic horizon. And we see how states are weaker and more tentative when confronted with all these new developments.

Naturally, national foreign policy still has a role to play. We have a role in developing cooperation in the Baltic Sea region and northern Europe, which will become ever more important. We must safeguard our national interests even in an age of internationalism.

But even so, these are not the crucial tasks.

The crucial tasks lie in strengthening European cooperation which can make us, together, the force in the service of peace, freedom and reconciliation that the world will be in ever more desperate need of.

They lie in safeguarding the ideas of the open society, open economies and the open world against those forces that want to turn back the clock.

Litvinenko: New Details and Commentaries

At Rivoluzione Italiana, commenter Hermit has been opening up new lines of inquiry in the Litvinenko poisoning mystery. His English-language post, reproduced on December 28 by Senator Guzzanti, reveals some new and disturbing details that have emerged from an interview with Litvinenko published on the Novosti Ukraina website in Russian some time ago. While it is true that Litvinenko said many things of dubious credibility, if he was in this instance telling the truth, this is a significant finding, and one wonders if the investigators of Scotland Yard are aware of it.

In the same blog, Hermit has drawn attention to the striking differences that characterize the approach of much of the German and Austrian press and media to the Litivinenko affair, when compared with the approach taken by their counterparts in other European countries.

Referring to enrix’s list of insults against M[ario]S[caramella], I would like to draw your attention to a strange campaign of hatred in some “very respected” German and Austrian newspapers

Der Spiegel (Hamburg, Germany),1518,456900,00.html

dated December 28 by Andreas Block

Schaumschläger im Schattenreich“millantatore di credito”,
SchwindlerHochstaplerzwielichtiger Akteur mit zweifelhafter KarriereSein Onkel
ist der Postfaschist Antonio Rastrellisogenannte
Mitrokhin-KommissionOppositions-Jäger mit Regierungsauftrag

Die Presse (Vienna,

dated December 29, by PAUL KREINER in RomeBetrüger in Haft


The same story from the same person in Rome but this time under


Agent oder Hochstapler?

As compared with rather balanced articles about MS in British, US,
French and Spanish press, the approach of some German media is extraordinary and
really strange.

What did Mr Gordievsky say about the KGB buying newspapers?


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chechen Society Today

The eighth issue of Chechenskoye Obshchestvo Segodnya (Chechen Society Today) is currently available for download (pdf, Russian) at the Prague Watchdog website.

Among other things, the current issue of the magazine contains an interesting interview with Czech journalist Petra Prohazkova, who has covered both the Chechen conflict and the war in Afghanistan. She compares the two experiences from a journalist’s point of view, stating that while from a personal standpoint she really prefers Russians to Americans, she admits that she would much rather cover bombing operations run by American forces: the bombing of Tora Bora was carried out with such precision that “the journalists stood calmly, smoking, adjusting their cameras, while the American planes that were bombing the nearby Taliban hillside flew overhead.” The Russian bombing of the Chechen capital Grozny was, by contrast, a thoroughly life-threatening episode for all who tried to witness and record it.

Ms. Prohazkova dispels the myth about the presence of Chechen fighters in Afghanistan. Although under the Taliban regime the Chechen government did have official representation in the country, and Yandarbiyev and Khattab visited it for a while, she says that now the Chechens “really aren’t here. One man once tried very hard to convince me that he’d killed a Chechen, a fearsome cutthroat. Then they showed me his diary, and we discovered that he was an Uzbek. It was just that for them, anyone who came from the post-Soviet space was a Chechen.”

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mountain Borderland Restrictions in Chechnya

Via Prague Watchdog [my tr.]

Borderland in Chechen mountains can only be reached with FSB’s permission

By Ruslan Isayev

CHECHNYA, December 29 - From now on it will only be possible to visit Chechen mountain villages located along the border with Georgia with special passes issued by the Federal Security Service (FSB). This was announced at a press conference given on December 27 by Andrei Sergeyev, director of the FSB border guard service for the Chechen Republic.

According to Sergeyev, the passes will be issued swiftly and on an individual basis. But violators of the new regime, which came into force at the beginning of December, can expect administrative punishment, and this may include expulsion from the zone.

After obtaining permission, any citizen will be able to stay in the border zone for six months. The residents of the villages concerned will only be able to remain in the zone on presentation of a passport that includes a local residence permit.

The border zone is considered to be the strip of land up to 5 kilometres wide which passes along the Chechen section of the Russia-Georgia state boundary. The section is more than 80 kilometres long.

Translated by David McDuff.

UK "Dirty Bomb" Training to Increase

The BBC reports that the British government is “significantly increasing” the numbers of police trained to deal with a dirty bomb attack, with the Home Office planning to buy 12,000 extra personal protection suits for police officers to wear in the event of a radiological, biological or chemical attack.

Conservative homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer said he was “delighted” by the move.

“It seems strange that they are doing it in December 2006 rather than October 2001,” he added.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Svetlana Bakhmina Appeal Refused

The Moscow Times reports:

The Moscow City Court refused Wednesday to postpone the imprisonment of former Yukos legal manager Svetlana Bakhmina, Interfax reported.

Bakhmina was sentenced to seven years in prison in April for fraud and tax evasion. She had asked to have her imprisonment delayed for nine years, until her younger child reached the age of 14. The law allows for such delays.

The Italian Connection

The Litvinenko poisoning affair continues to have special resonances in Italian politics. From Rivoluzione Italiana (the blog of Paolo Guzzanti) [my tr.]:

(ANSA) - ROME, Dec. 27 - “As we all know, making hypotheses about Professor Prodi’s past brings bad luck: Trofimov was killed, so was Litvinenko, and Scaramella is in jail while more crazy fabrications against me are being unfolded by the newspaper [La Repubblica] that is piloting the whole infamous framework being used to target not Scaramella, but the results of the bicameral parliamentary commission of inquiry on the Mitrokhin dossier and the Italian secret service.”

These are the words of former president of the parliamentary commission of inquiry on the Mitrokhin affair, Paolo Guzzanti, who says that “Andrea Papini is altering the truth of the facts when he asserts that I used information coming from Mario Scaramella in the election campaign, something he claims to document by citing my declaration of March 5 this year.”

“That day, in fact," - Guzzanti emphasizes - “I cited not Scaramella (whose documents originating with Litvinenko I classified as “unverifiable” by the commission because of the fact that the source of the news had been murdered) but another public and official document concerning an act of the European Parliament, namely the intervention of the British MEP Gerald Batten of April 3 2006 which asked the European Parliament to open an inquiry on the former President of the Commission Romano Prodi and his relations with the USSR. Batten said he had listened to ‘one of my constituents, Alexander Litvinenko’, who had provided ‘the same information he had already given’ to Scaramella, and which I had kept confidential. Batten’s intervention made public what I had kept secret on my own initiative, but which from April 3 onwards was not secret any more, as it concerned an act of Parliament which can also be found on the Internet.”

“In his intervention of April 3,” Guzzanti continues, “Gerald Batten said that the Russian exile who was subsequently assassinated with Polonium-210 told him: General Anatoly Trofimov, deputy head of the FSB (Russian intelligence agency) advised me not to settle in Italy, as there are many agents of the KGB among the politicians, and Romano Prodi ‘is our man there’.

“As we all know, making hypotheses about Professor Prodi’s past brings bad luck: Trofimov was killed, so was Litvinenko, and Scaramella is in jail while more crazy fabrications against me are being unfolded by the newspaper that is piloting the whole infamous framework being used to target not Scaramella, but the results of the bicameral parliamentary commission of inquiry on the Mitrokhin dossier and the Italian secret service.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Following the Thread

The blog of Italian senator Paolo Guzzanti continues to ruminate on the background to the Litvinenko poisoning affair. In recent weeks the blog has been transforming itself into a fully-fledged discussion forum, with a large amount of space devoted to a standoff between posters of left-wing and right-wing sympathies, moderated with admirable tolerance and fair-mindedness by the senator himself.

In the most recent post - and accompanying comments - the blog considers the strange circumstance that Mario Scaramella, who met with Litvinenko at a London sushi bar shortly before the onset of his fatal illness, has now been arrested in Italy on a charge of slandering an obscure Ukrainian intelligence agent.

Boris Berezovsky

AIA has published a lengthy study of the life and career of Boris Berezovsky which characterizes him as Putin’s main rival. Among other things, the article, which is presented in a somewhat difficult-to-read translation from Russian, cites certain claims about Mr Berezovsky’s links to Western intelligence - claims that some may want to consider further.

What Does Putin Want?

In Commentary magazine, Leon Aron asks the question.

The ideology behind the Putin restoration rests in the first place on a distinct interpretation of recent Russian history. When Putin came into office, the fall of the Soviet Union and the reforms of the late 1980’s and 90’s were generally accepted as the consequences of a free, if imperfectly implemented, choice of the Russian people. Today, that crucial decade-and-a-half is seen in a very different light. Many key policies from that time are now viewed as shameful mistakes, deeply harmful to the country’s interests and committed by leaders who were at best naïve and weak, at worst venal and perfidious—if not, in fact, participants in a vast plot perpetrated by outsiders intent on weakening the Soviet (and then Russian) state. As Putin himself famously declared, the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”

Key postulates of Russian national political culture—so magnificently and, many of us thought, permanently banished by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin—have now returned in force. It is once again respectable to say that the glory of Russia is the state, that what is good for the state is necessarily good for the country, and that the strengthening of the state is society’s primary objective. Hence, the state functionary (naturally conceived as a model of enlightenment, probity, and public spirit) is today considered a far more effective agent of progress than a free press (so sensationalist and profit-seeking), the voter (so uneducated and fickle), the judge (a bribe-taker), or, heaven forbid, the private entrepreneur.

(via CH)

Sunday, December 24, 2006


There will be a short break in posting over the Christmas holiday.

Season's greetings!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Inversions of the Truth - II

In EJ, Marina Litvinovich, editor-in-chief of the Truth of Beslan website, protests about the lies and distortions in the official Russian report on the Beslan tragedy [my tr.]:

For a start, it’s important to make it clear that no report has been published, although the commission promised to do this. All that has happened is that the commission’s head, Alexander Torshin, read out this report - so far there is no printed text anywhere.

No one was invited to hear the presentation of the report - not journalists, nor victims, nor hostages nor relatives - no one. Everything is being done in a hurry and in secret. On the eve of the holidays, on Friday, so that no one would even notice what was taking place. Moreover, after the report the Federation Council has already voted to close the activity of the Commission of Inquiry into the terror act in Beslan. In other words, as far as the Federation Council is concerned, the matter is now closed.

Now the State Duma is to have its say. But the text of the report was presented in the lower chamber of parliament only yesterday evening, and the Duma Council has not yet had time to study it. But at today’s session already they are already trying to raise a motion for the closing of the commission’s activity. Meanwhile, not a single deputy has actually seen the text. Thus, they propose to vote blindly.

Let us move on to the text itself. The report is very similar to the one that was published in August - in fact, the commission has not worked since then. The commission did not meet in September, or October, or November, or December. And it’s totally unclear what the new report is based on, because no work has actually been done, there have been no expert assessments, no new evidence has been examined.

Moreover, Torshin’s report is based on the same assessment of the actions of operational staff which was removed from the judicial process six weeks ago. An assessment, in other words, that has been acknowledged to be illegal and invalid. As for the report’s principal conclusion - that the first shots were the result of the actions of the guerrillas - this conclusion has not been confirmed in any way. By no mathematical calculations or technical analyses - it is all empty words. Thus, Torshin asserts that the federal forces did not fire flamethrowers at the school in which the hostages were held. Yet one has only to enumerate the people who were killed or injured as they stood in the windows - from this it follows naturally that the shooting came from the street. There is much evidence to support the contention that there was also firing from tanks.

Another of the report’s conclusions is that 32 people took part in the school seizure, of whom 31 were killed and one has been sentenced in court. This is simply ridiculous. Even the Prosecutor’s office has already admitted under pressure from us that there may have been more of them. It’s a mystery why this figure has not changed in Torshin’s reports since 2004 - there is a mass of evidence which refutes it.

All this is being done for one purpose alone - to close the question of Beslan. And to bring an end, as the government representatives say, to “the speculations and insinuations” on this subject. But I think, these efforts are in vain - those who suffered will not give up. Whatever the lies that Torshin gives them, they lost their children and they will go to the end.

What is more, the investigation continues: expert analyses are being made, there are studies, examinations of witnesses. It’s only for Torshin that the question is closed - he is the only one for whom it’s all clear. He has cleared it all up and decided not to do any more work, taking into account the fact that in any case he has actually done no work for the past six months.

Khodorkovsky to Face New Fabricated Charges

Via Mikhail Khodorkovsky Press Center

Defense Lawyers Claim Khodorkovsky, Lebedev Being Transferred to Chita to Face New Charges

December 22, 2006

Mikhail Khodorkovsky defense lawyer Natalia Terekhova said today that Mikhail Khodorkovsky was transferred from his penal colony to a detention center in Chita on December 20 in advance of the announcement of new charges against him and former business associate Platon Lebedev.

Moreover, Khodorkovsky defense lawyer Yuri Schmidt received a notification from the Prosecutor General’s Office today claiming that “on December 26 at 10:00am, your client Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky… will face investigations wherein you are entitled to participate.”

Platon Lebedev lawyer Evgeny Baru issued a statement that seemed to confirm the new charges. He said: “We have been informed that an inquiry involving Khodorkovsky and Lebedev will be carried out in Chita on December 27. I understand a new charge will be made.”

Robert Amsterdam, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s attorney, comments:

“This regime has lost its moral authority to dispense justice. If new charges come to light, no one doubts that they would be purely politically motivated. What needs to be examined today is the criminality of certain people in or near the Kremlin.”

Mr. Amsterdam stated that while he would be appalled by new charges, they would not surprise him. “They arrested an innocent man. They put on a show trial reminiscent of Stalinist tactics for dealing with political opponents. Defense lawyers were threatened with disbarment or deported. They sent Mr. Khodorkovsky to the gulag in a remote location in Siberia. They destroyed his company with absurd tax charges, amounting to eight dollars of tax per dollar of revenue in 2004. They forced the closure of his charitable Open Russia Foundation, the first example of modern Russian philanthropy. They sent masked officers armed with machine guns into the orphanage for war victims run by his parents, turning over every last stone in their search for his remaining funds. They announced the seizure of his house, threatening to throw out his wife and school-aged children. Should anyone be surprised by new charges designed to bury Mikhail Khodorkovsky?”

Putin's New Power in Ukraine

From TimesOnline:

Russia demonstrated its renewed influence over Ukraine yesterday during the first visit by President Putin since the Orange Revolution swept pro-Western reformers to power.

Mr Putin met President Yushchenko in Kiev in what both leaders described as an effort to mend relations after the revolution and the “gas war” in January that cut off supplies to Ukraine.

Mr Putin told reporters: “We had a very constructive, good, friendly dialogue. Everything was very pragmatic and businesslike.”

Inversions of the Truth

Another sign of the hardening of Moscow’s position on human rights issues. As predicted, the official “parliamentary commission” of inquiry into the deaths at Beslan has exonerated the Russian special forces, leading many of the surviving relatives to despair of finding justice:

Many relatives blamed their children’s deaths on the botched rescue operation, in which fire engulfed the school, in the Russian Caucasus republic of North Ossetia.

A campaigner representing victims’ relatives, Ella Kesayeva, voiced anger at the Torshin commission’s findings.

Speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio, she said the report gave the Russian authorities the green light to “use banned weapons with impunity”.

“The next time hostages are taken the security services can do whatever they like, they can do what they did in Beslan,” she said.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Estonica is a web encyclopedia about Estonia, in English and Estonian. It has entries on the history, culture, nature, economy and society of Estonia, and much more besides. It’s a constantly growing project, and promises to become a central information resource on the country and its people. There are maps, photographs and illustrations, and it’s also possible to comment and leave feedback.

The essays on Estonian music are particularly noteworthy, giving a background not only to the latest avant-garde and pop expressions, but also to the more traditional symphonic, choral and chamber music that still continues to emerge from this intensely European nation, not least from the country’s Russian-speaking community, with its Narva Symphony Orchestra and Russian Philharmonic Society.

Indeed, the survey of Russian culture in Estonia makes fascinating reading. The encyclopedia notes that
On 14 March 2002 the Cultural Endowment of Estonia issued for the first time a literature award to an author writing in Russian. The first award winner was Larissa Vaneyeva (1955). Various other Russian writers live or work in Estonia, e.g. prose writer Mikhail Veller (1948), an Estonian citizen who lives in St Petersburg, Tallinn and Israel and whose works appear in Russia in hundreds of thousands of copies; Yelena Skulskaya (1950), poet and prosaist whose poems have been considerably influenced by the Estonian poetry of the 1960s; Svetlan Semenenko (1939) poet and an eminent translator of Estonian literature; and some others.

The output of Russian writers is mainly published in three literary and cultural magazines: ‘Vyshgorod’ (Toompea Hill), ‘Raduga’ (Rainbow) and ‘Tallinn’, although they contain a fair number of translations from Estonian authors as well. Quite a few books by both Russian and Estonian authors have recently been published in the Russian language, with the most active period falling in the early 1990s. Today, a few publishing houses specialising in Russian literature have remained: ‘Antek’, ‘Avenarius’, ‘Ingri’, ‘KPD’. Besides fiction, they also issue, to a lesser extent, scientific and popular scientific books by Russian authors.

Chekist Day

Far from trying to conceal the growing power of Russia’s secret police, President Putin is apparently doing everything he can to advertise it, TimesOnline reports, in a description of Chekist Day:

Mr Putin, a former KGB spy, heaped praise on the secret services as state television broadcast pictures of champagne flowing and an orchestra playing classical music in a hall packed with spy chiefs and politicians.

The event on Wednesday evening marked the annual Security Service Workers’ Day, better known as Chekist Day. The Cheka, forerunner of the KGB, was founded on December 20, 1917, by Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the feared secret police. "There are many glorious pages, bright examples of true heroism and courage in
the history of national state security organisations,” Mr Putin told the gathering.

He reserved his “very warmest words of gratitude” for KGB veterans whose efforts, he said, had laid the foundations for Russia’s modern secret services. "This profession employs those who love our Motherland and who are selflessly devoted to their people. And it is not simply qualifications but also a high degree of civic consciousness and courage that act as guidelines for important and professional activities in this field,” Mr Putin said.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Plan Gets Tougher

Germany is to "toughen" a plan on European policy towards Russia that has been drafted by the SPD-controlled Foreign Ministry, the IHT reports (see also RFE/RL). The plan was to have been an important part of Germany's forthcoming EU Presidency and chairmanship of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries, which begin on January 1, and it will still go ahead, but with major modifications, to
reflect the erosion of human rights, the murder of a prominent journalist and the use of energy as a political weapon under President Vladimir Putin, senior government officials said Wednesday... under pressure from Chancellor Angela Merkel and senior members of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union, which are part of her governing coalition, the Foreign Ministry is preparing to include references to human rights and the rule of law. The two issues have caused increasing unease in the West. Both were absent from the Foreign Ministry's original paper.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who arrived in Moscow on Wednesday for two days of talks that will include a meeting with Putin on Thursday, was asked by the chancellery to raise human rights issues, including the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist who was shot outside her Moscow apartment in October.

"The Foreign Ministry knows exactly what our views are about its paper on Russia," said Ruprecht Polenz, a Christian Democrat who is the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Bundestag. "As we prepare to take over the EU presidency, it is absolutely necessary that we make clear to Putin what we think about his policy toward human rights and the rule of law."

Putin promised an investigation into the killing when he met Merkel in Dresden shortly after the shooting, but German officials said they had heard nothing since.

Making the Change

This blog has now made the switch from Old Blogger to New Blogger. I'd postponed taking this step, but then saw a couple of days ago that the new version of the Blogger software is finally out of beta. Everything seems to work more or less as before, though there are a few more bells and whistles, and posting is definitely faster.

Moscow Targets Zakayev - II

In the comments, Jeremy Putley has contributed a note on the Zakayev/Berezovsky "extradition" case:
Yuri Chaika's posturing is in anticipation of an impending announcement by HM government concerning the murder of a British citizen on British soil, with disclosures that will include a statement confirming that the murder was executed by Russian agents acting on the instructions of a highly-placed Kremlin official. Measures to be announced will include a large number of personnel at the Russian embassy being expelled from the country, and severe impairment of international relations until Putin goes.

Chaika's "extradition" efforts are therefore anticipatory posturing and disinformation, essentially the type of hypocrisy we saw in the bad old cold war days. Chaika is well aware that his extradition case is bound to fail, the more so because it is well known in the West that the Russian judicial system is as corrupt as the Russian "security" services. No court will ever extradite suspects to Russia's travesty of a system of justice.

Russian Winter Festival in London

Mayor of London

news release
Office hours: 020 7983 4070
Out of hours and weekends: 020 7983 4000


Wednesday 20 December 2006 FORWARD PLANNING - LIVE EVENTS

Plans announced for third Russian New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square

Event Russian Winter Festival
Venue Trafalgar Square, London WC2
Date Saturday 13 January 2007
Time 11am-6:30pm
Entry FREE
Information 020 7983 4100; /,uk

The third Russian Winter Festival, organised by Eventica with the support of the Russian Economic Forum and the Mayor of London, will take place on Saturday 13 January 2007, the eve of the Russian ‘Old New Year’, which was originally celebrated before 1917.

The free event is open to all and will feature an eclectic mix of live performance, music and other attractions aimed at people of all ages.

Live performances will include young Russian Londoners performing classical Russian folk dance and songs, as well as professional musical ensembles. Music will range from the traditional – including balalaikas and accordions and dance moves such as the Cossack kazachok – to contemporary popular music from Russia itself.

There will be Russian crafts and other products available from specially constructed Russian kiosks, Russian children’s games and puppet performances, and traditional Russian food.

Further details about performers will be released in due course.

More information about the Russian Winter Festival is available by calling Lieran Stubbings at Eventica on 020 7183 2560, or Ben McKnight in the Mayor’s press office on 020 7983 4071.

Notes to editors

1. The Russian Winter Festival will take place in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 13 January 2007. It is being organised by the Russian Economic Forum, with the support of the Mayor of London. For more information: Or call the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100, or Lieran Stubbings at the Russian Economic Forum on 020 7183 2560.

2. The event celebrates the Russian Old New Year, which falls in mid-January and is based on the Julian calendar, which was in use before 1917.

3. Eventica, which organises annual business, social and investment events, (its flagship event being the Russian Economic Forum which is held in London in April), is hosting its annual ‘Old New Year’ gala dinner at the Guildhall on Friday 12 January, as a curtain raiser to the Russian Winter Festival. Further information on attending and sponsoring the event can be obtained by telephone 020 7183 2560, or by emailing Elena at

4. Proceeds raised during the Gala Dinner will support the construction fund for the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Adoration of the Virgin Mary in Chiswick, London.

5. The Russian Winter Festival seeks to innovate and add to its themes each year. Sporting elements have always proven popular and the Russian Winter Festival 2007 will seek to integrate sport with culture by profiling winter sports. Famous sporting personalities will appear at the event at strategic points throughout the whole day, information will be available on Sochi – Russia’s Candidate City for the Winter Olympics 2014 and competitions will be held with the best on simulated winter sports games!

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Press information is available from Ben McKnight on 020 7983 4071 (number not for publication) or Lieran Stubbings on 020 7183 2560

GENERAL PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000

Benjamin McKnight
Chief Communications Officer

Mayor’s Press Office
Greater London Authority
City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA

t: 020 7983 4071
m: 07881 501 920


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Moscow Targets Zakayev

The Russian authorities have not yet given up their long-held aim of extraditing Akhmed Zakayev and Boris Berezovsky from Britain. The Litvinenko case appears to be the latest instrument being used by Moscow in this strategy. A report in Gazeta notes that

The Public Prosecutor’s Office will again attempt to attain the extradition of Zakayev to his native land. Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika recently directly stated such intentions. Especially as now the Russian investigators, after the visit to Moscow of the detectives of Scotland Yard (yesterday the completion of their work was announced), have a real possibility to meet personally with Zakayev His questioning will take place within the framework of the case concerning Litvinenko’s poisoning with polonium-210 (The Prosecutor’s Office is conducting its own investigation), but it is unlikely that the only subject of discussion will be the death of the former FSB official, with whom Zakayev was friendly.

Update: Akhmed Zakayev has responded to the Russian threats:
He said the Kremlin was trying to scare him into silence after he blamed it for the murders of campaigning journalist Anna Politkovskaya and Litvinenko, a former security agent who was Zakayev’s friend and neighbour in London.
“You can liquidate a person or you can frighten him. Either way, if he shuts up, you’ve reached your goal. Of course they want the same thing from me,” Zakayev told Reuters.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Litvinenko: Gordievsky Interview - II

The following is my own translation of Oleg Gordievsky’s interview for Radio Liberty’s Russian Service (December 18, 2006):

How would you assess the collaboration of the Russian authorities with Scotland Yard in the Litvinenko case, on the whole?

A pure disaster, and the British detectives knew what they were in for when they went. They had to, so to speak, ‘give evidence’ of their respect, they were to come and take a look, and just enter it into the record, because neither Kovtun nor Lugovoy… no one was presented to them in the proper way. The British detectives sat there, they realized this was purely a pathetic show the Russians were putting on. The British are not fools, they knew that the Russians have never collaborated honestly with the British in juridical questions.

Then why, in your view, don’t the British officials voice criticism to Moscow?

Because they are gathering information, information of enormous import, which will lead to an immense explosion of indignation throughout the entire world. It’s all being got together, everything is known. I knew who the killer was on the fourth day. They all know, but they’re doing it all step by step, in the correct way, it must be done according to procedure, according to official record… As I sit here now I’m also writing a statement, by the way, two detectives are sitting here with me. And they will publish it some time next year.

You said that you know who killed Litvinenko. Won’t you share your knowledge with Radio Liberty?

I can only give you a hint. It was a person whom Lugovoy and company… who joined them for 10 minutes. They said: “Hey Volodya. Volodya, here’s Sasha. Sasha, don’t you know Volodya? He also works in a kind of business that might be able to organize some work for you. Sit down.” He sat down. “Well, maybe just a cup of tea.” “All right, I’ll get it for you.” He went, brought the cup of tea and put it in front of him. And that was it – that was the end of Sasha. There’s this person, and where is he… The KGB group, which notified neither Lugovoy nor the other agents who were taking part, was a big one. They rehearsed, they had two rehearsals. They rehearsed in Moscow. Then they rehearsed in London. Then they had another rehearsal in the morning. It was all carefully arranged, as in the Bolshoi Theatre. But they didn’t know that this was a substance that kills people, and even this main killer, even he didn’t know what kind of a substance it was, what power it had.

The Times newspaper writes that the dose of polonium-210 with which Litvinenko was poisoned was 10 times greater than the lethal dose and that its cost was more than 10 million dollars. How could it be that they had so many rehearsals and yet they didn’t know what they were doing?

The people who were rehearsing, they didn’t know, they weren’t told, they weren’t supposed to know, only the bosses knew. But they rehearsed, they rehearsed, and on one occasion they even dropped the container. It was the British who discovered that, for the British equipment has proved to be the best in the world. This polonium, this pill that was made, it didn’t cost 10 million, someone has exaggerated there.

But doesn’t this super-dose prove that the whole thing was not done in a very professional way? May it not be used as an argument to support what many are now saying, that the Russian special services are not behind this?

You say: it’s not the Russian special services. But who does stand behind it, in that case? The Americans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Pakistanis, the Israelis, all of whom have the bomb? Well, who can stand behind them? Polonium-210 is available only in Russia and the United States. Both the Americans and the British know the power station at which polonium is produced and in what quantity, how it’s packed, and in what type of container, they know its weight, they know everything about it. And all that questioning they did in Moscow was just pure comedy, their aim was simply to be able to say we’ve done what we were supposed to do.

What, in your view, is the role of Lugovoy, Kovtun and Sokolenko in the Litvinenko case?

Calculations of this kind, which are still premature, lead one to the thought that they are not the killers because they were just the killer’s assistants. The killer was this man who arrived from the side. While the other two sat, distracting his attention.

Why, in your view, was polonium-210, a substance that leaves so many traces, chosen for the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko?

They want to demonstrate something new. They developed this. Did you know that polonium-210 leaves traces? I didn’t. And no one did. This was the main failure of this operation. Everything else was done correctly, everything was calculated, and so on. But what they didn’t know was that this equipment, this technology exists in the West – they didn’t know that, and that was where they miscalculated.

Litvinenko: Gordievsky Interview

AIA has the digest of an RFE/RL Russian Service interview with Oleg Gordievsky on the Litvinenko case. Excerpt:

Gordievsky claimed he knew who was the murderer on the fourth day after it happened. He said that British experts also knew it, “but they have been doing everything step by step, as it is correctly and it is necessary in this case according to procedure”. “Some time next year will publish the results”, said Gordievsky. Asked to name the murderer, the ex-spy said he could make a hint only. “It was the person, who joined Lugovoy and the company for ten minutes”. According to Gordievsky, they [Lugovoy and the company] introduced him to Litvinenko as Volodya and told that “he also works in such business that could provide [you] some work”. Gordievsky said the man went away for a while and brought a cup of tea, and “so the end of Sasha had come”. The ex-spy said the participants [of the murder] was a large group and they had rehearsed [their action] several times, in Moscow and then in London. However “they did not know what force this material possessed, even the main murderer did not know, only the bosses did know”.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Half-Life of a Lie

An investigative article in Novaya gazeta dissects the official Russian version of the Litvinenko poisoning case, and reminds readers that

Until November 1 Litvinenko had left no traces of radiation anywhere.

Kovtun began to leave traces of polonium in Hamburg on October 28.

Before his meeting with Litvinenko, Lugovoy stayed in room 441 of the Millennium Hotel, where very strong traces - the initial traces - of polonium-210 were found.

The radiation “tail” followed Alexander Litvinenko only after his meeting with Kovtun and Lugovoy in the bar of the Millennium Hotel. And it was there that a cup which had been strongly contaminated with polonium was found.

No Caption

This photograph ( was taken during the “March of Dissenters” (Marsh nesoglasnykh) which took place in Moscow on Saturday, involving the participation of about 3,000 demonstrators from various factions and groupings. It shows Mikhail Kasyanov, Eduard Limonov and Garry Kasparov marching very close together - causing some observers to wonder: is Limonov changing his views, and is the National Bolshevik Party which he leads a different party now? Or is something else happening here?

(via M.L.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Poetic CIA

RFE/RL has an interesting feature about how the CIA may have performed the inestimable service of arranging in 1958 for the first Russian-language publication of Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago. In the same year, Albert Camus had nominated Pasternak for the Nobel Prize, but the award could not be made unless the novel had been published in the original language - no Soviet publisher would do this, and the risks for the author of having the book published in a Western country were great.

According to RFE/RL’s Ivan Tolstoi, it was the CIA which ultimately managed to get the book put out in the West - and this may not only have secured the Nobel Prize for the poet and author, but also saved his life:

“Thanks to the fact that Pasternak won the Nobel Prize, Pasternak wasn’t arrested,” says Tolstoi. “This deed by the CIA served to ennoble and save Pasternak. The actions of American intelligence saved a great Russian poet.”

But, in a December 14 presentation in Moscow, Tolstoi said “Pasternak had absolutely nothing to do with” the operation. “The American intelligence community did and financed everything itself, in order that a famous novel from an ingenious writer and poet might receive recognition.”

Pasternak was forced to decline the award under pressure from Soviet authorities. But when he died two years later, in 1960, it was in his home in Peredelkino — not in prison or exile abroad. It was a better fate than those of many Russian writers of the time.

Tolstoi said America’s use of culture as a weapon in its ideological battle with the Soviet Union typifies what he calls “the drama of the Cold War.”

“American intelligence, American policy, in this story, battled Kremlin ideology and communism not with poison, or kidnappings, or some other unseemly actions, but with the help of Russian culture,” Tolstoi said. “They used Russian culture to fight against the Soviet state.”

(via M.L.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Estonia and Ukraine

The presidents of Estonia and Ukraine have issued a joint declaration, committing their countries to a programme of bilateral cooperation. In particular, the declaration notes:

8. Presence of national minorities – Estonian national minority in Ukraine and Ukrainian national minority in Estonia, assurance of their rights, satisfaction of language, cultural, educational, informational and other needs have positive impact on bilateral relationship of two countries;

9. Improving conditions for mutual trade and investment is a common goal, especially bearing in mind the growing interest of European investors in Ukraine’s markets;

10. Secure energy supplies and transparency in the energy sector, as well as joint participation in energy projects, are gaining importance in Estonian-Ukrainian cooperation, and need to be expanded further on the basis of the principles of the European Energy Charter;

11. Both countries wish to cooperate in the development of the transport corridor between the regions of the Black and Baltic Seas, and the increasing of the range of container transport in the Caucasian-Caspian and Scandinavian directions;

12. Estonia and Ukraine note the importance of adhering to international law, principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and good neighborly relations in the settlement of so-called “frozen” conflicts in Europe, including Transnistria and conflicts in the Southern Caucasus, as well as disputes between states. Solving these conflicts, as soon as possible, in a peaceful way, and according to the aforementioned principles, is of immense importance to regional security and stability, as well as to the development of the states concerned;

(hat tip: Leopoldo)

Amnesty Loses the Plot

In August, Amnesty International showed that it had lost its way in the modern world when it took the sorry step of trying to accuse Israel of war crimes in Lebanon. Now the organization is again reinforcing the impression that it has lost the moral focus which once inspired it, by issuing a report on Estonia which - almost incredibly - charges that country with “human rights abuses” allegedly committed against its Russian-speaking residents.

As Edward Lucas points out on his blog and in The Economist,

The report is puzzling for several reasons. It is a bad piece of work, ahistorical and unbalanced. It echoes Kremlin propaganda in a way that Estonians find sinister and offensive. But most puzzling of all, it is a bizarre use of Amnesty’s limited resources. Just a short drive from Estonia, in Belarus and in Russia, there are real human rights abuses, including two classic Amnesty themes: misuse of psychiatry against dissidents, and multiple prisoners of conscience. Yet the coverage of these issues on the Amnesty website is feeble, dated, or non-existent.

Amnesty seems to have become just another left-wing pressure group, banging on about globalisation, the arms trade, Israel and domestic violence. Regardless of the merits of their views—which look pretty stale and predictable—it seems odd to move to what is already a crowded corner of the political spectrum. To save Jüri Kukk and other inmates of the gulag, people of all political views and none joined Amnesty’s campaigns. That wouldn’t happen now.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Brezhnev at 100

RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Tatar-Bashkir, and Ukrainian services have all contributed to a report on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonid Brezhnev. Excerpt:

Golzada Rzayeva is a 58-year-old living in Chally in the republic of Tatarstan. Also known as Naberezhnyye Chelny, the city between 1982 and 1988 enjoyed a brief period under a third name — Brezhnev.

Rzayeva, the longtime head of the local cultural center, says she has good memories of the Brezhnev era.

“This was a very good, youthful time, we lived with youthful enthusiasm, without problems. There was just one problem at that time: finding nice clothes,” Rzayeva said.

Vyacheslav Komarov, a 69-year-old pensioner, is similarly enthusiastic. Komarov lives in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine’s third-largest city and a key industrial center in the Soviet Union that is also a short distance from Brezhnev’s birthplace of Dneprodzherzhinsk.

Under Brezhnev’s rule, Komarov worked at a restricted weapons facility. But even such a serious occupation, he says, did not prevent employees from taking time to enjoy themselves at work.

“Under Brezhnev, feasts and parties were permitted. On any holiday, even on Paris Commune day, we got together, set the table, and had a nice party at work. We were always having some kind of celebration,” Komarov said.

Russia’s ORT television station is marking the 100th anniversary of Brezhnev’s birth by broadcasting a film depicting the Soviet leader as a kindly soul who loved his wife, fought for the common man, and was ultimately duped by sinister associates like former KGB head Yury Andropov.

And there are the jokes:

“After a speech Brezhnev shouts at his speech writer: ‘I ordered you to write a 15-minute speech, but it took me a whole hour to read!’ ‘Sorry, Leonid Ilyich,’ he answered, ‘there were four copies, and you read them all.’

Alla Dudayeva Interview

Sobesednik has published an interview with Alla Dudayeva, Dzhokhar Dudayev’s widow. Chechnya Weekly has a resume of some of the highlights:


Alla Dudaeva, widow of the Chechen leader Djokhar Dudaev, gave an extensive interview to Sobesednik that was published on December 11, the twelfth anniversary of the start of the first Chechen war. Dudaeva, who is now living with her son in Lithuania, told the Russian weekly that after the death of her husband, who was killed in a Russian air strike in April 1996, she was interrogated by Aleksandr Litvinenko, the dissident Federal Security Service (FSB) officer recently murdered with Polonium-210 in London. “Djokhar had just been killed, and we were preparing to fly with the whole family to Turkey, but we were arrested in Nalchik [the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria],” Dudaeva recalled. “I was interrogated by a specially dispatched young officer, who introduced himself as `Colonel Aleksandr Volkov.’ He joked that it was not an accidental last name…After some time, I saw him on television next to [tycoon Boris] Berezovsky and found out his real last name – Litvinenko.” According to Dudaeva, during the interrogation, Litvinenko wanted to find out “the truth” about her husband’s death. “The special services were worried that he might have survived and escaped abroad,” she told Sobesednik.

In the Sobesednik interview, Dudaeva gave her version of how her husband was tracked down and killed. “Djokhar received his satellite telephone as a present from [then] Turkish Prime Minister [Negemuddeen] Arbakan,” she said. “As the phone was being assembled in Turkey, Turkish leftists with connections to the Russian special services, through a spy, placed a special microchip in it [the satellite phone]…A Turkish Internet newspaper wrote about this in 2001. In addition, a system of round-the-clock surveillance of Djokhar Dudaev’s telephone was set up in the Signet Super Computer Center located in the state of Maryland in the United States [an apparent reference to a putative NSA facility]. The U.S. National Security Agency transmitted information about the location and telephone conversations of Djokhar Dudaev to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on a daily basis. Turkey received that dossier. And leftist Turkish military officers handed the dossier over to the Russian FSB. Djokhar knew that a hunt for him had begun. When the [satellite phone’s] connection would be broken after a minute, he would joke: `So, they’ve already figured it out?’ But, all the same, he was sure his telephone wouldn’t be located.”

Dudaeva said that “Chechen oil” is the reason why the Chechen conflict continues. “As soon as the former Kremlin protégé Akhmat Kadyrov tried to take control of it [Chechen oil] and announced this publicly, he was blown up there and then,” she told Sobesednik. (The elder Kadyrov was killed in a bomb explosion in Grozny in May 2004). “And he was most likely killed by those whose `property’ he was encroaching on. The uncontrolled extraction of oil is possible only when a war is going on. Therefore, as soon as someone begins to demand peace talks, he is immediately killed. Those who are stealing oil are also sharing it with their associates at the top.”

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Problem

A thoroughly perceptive and thought-provoking point that’s made in the Economist’s latest diagnosis of just what is wrong with Russia. The article sees

the problem at the bottom of Russia’s increasingly bitter ties with the West: the Russians’ deep conviction that the rest of the world works as Russia does, and that all politics and diplomacy are as cynical and self-interested as Russia’s own.

The row over Mr Berezovsky is another example of this way of thinking. Some Russians simply refuse to believe that in Britain extradition cases are decided by the courts, rather than by the government. Likewise, some in the Kremlin were angry that Litvinenko’s deathbed accusations managed to penetrate his police guard to be broadcast: they apparently assumed that protection meant arrest.

The Iranian Position


The Iranian Position

By Reva Bhalla

The Iraq Study Group (ISG) has issued its long-awaited — and by now, much-criticized — report to the White House, and has met with a lukewarm reception. President George W. Bush is now seeking input from a cadre of other agencies and officials as he attempts to formulate a new Iraq strategy, which will be announced in January 2007. Presumably, the perspectives and ideas being gathered from the Pentagon, the State Department and others will be placed alongside the ISG’s 79 recommendations, which did more to address the United States’ diplomatic challenges in the Middle East than to articulate a rational course of action for the U.S. military.

One of the most significant recommendations put forth by the ISG was one to which the Bush administration — on the surface, at least — appears to be strongly opposed: Engage Iran directly in negotiations. This should hardly come as a surprise to anyone. Even if Iran’s importance to any strategic equation involving Iraq had not been apparent since the very beginning of the “postwar” period or before, due to geopolitical factors and Iranian actions, there certainly were enough leaks as to what the Baker-Hamilton panel was going to say to prepare the American public for a move in this direction. And of course, the administration itself long had engaged in back channel dealings with Iran designed to shape the future of Iraq — at least, until a political deal fell apart at the crucial moment in early summer.

Politically speaking, it is obvious why the administration has balked at suggestions that the United States should openly extend the hand of diplomacy to Iran, which — chiefly through the mouthpiece of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — has said and done little to endear itself to the world, and much to spotlight the weakness of the U.S. position. Geopolitically speaking, it is equally obvious why the United States has no real choice in the matter. Washington’s best option is to combine diplomacy with a military strategy (which we have discussed elsewhere) that can open the door to a substantial drawdown. But engaging Iran on some level — however unpalatable it seems — is an unavoidable part of the equation.

It is useful, then, to consider the situation from Iran’s point of view. The straitjacket the United States now finds itself in was not created overnight, but through years of careful manipulation. The Islamic Republic now is drawing the world’s attention to its position of strength in the region, but there also are some internal issues that weigh on the minds of regime leaders and must be carefully managed if this strength is to be maintained.

The Iranian Strategy

Tehran has been maneuvering for years to secure certain interests in the region. First and foremost, of course, is the country’s own national security, for which the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad was a prerequisite. With the establishment of a friendly (or at least neutral), Shiite-controlled government in Baghdad, Iran would be able to both secure the primary goal of security and be well down the path toward a secondary and equally desirable goal: regional hegemony.

Therefore, an Iranian strategy began emerging almost from the moment the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad fell in April 2003. The strategy has revolved around shaping events in the region and, crucially, external perceptions of Iran and its leadership. The chief tactics employed have been manipulation of political events in Iraq, a vocal emphasis on Iran’s nuclear program, skillful use of politically incorrect (at times, seemingly maniacal) statements by Ahmadinejad, the activation of regional proxies and, above all, patience. Stratfor has explored many of these tactics in detail before, but we will recap them here briefly as the strategy, viewed in full, is quite something to behold.

Nuclear Weapons and Image Control

Let’s begin with the most potent part of the strategy (both politically and militarily): the nuclear program.

Iran clearly has used this as a bargaining chip in the back channel dealings over Iraq. Rather than pursuing a covert nuclear program — which has been the logical course if obtaining nuclear weapons were truly Iran’s primary goal in the beginning — the Iranians made a conscious decision to tout their nuclear advances publicly. Their political and energy partners in Moscow and Beijing routinely have played defense, ensuring that the nuclear issue languishes in the U.N. Security Council. And Tehran has made sure to crank up the rhetoric whenever political developments in Iraq take an unfavorable turn — while always staying clear of the red line (beyond which the United States or Israel could be expected to mount pre-emptive strikes). This tactic has helped shape perceptions of Iran as a force to be reckoned with, while keeping Washington and its allies off balance in negotiations over Iraq. And, significantly, nuclear weapons no longer appear to be a red herring tactic, but an end of themselves for Tehran.

Closely related to this has been the image campaign for Ahmadinejad, who has been carefully and purposely branded in the public mind as an utter lunatic. The nearly unknown, populist mayor from Tehran was captured in the public spotlight during Iran’s 2005 summer election season. Before the world could even begin to form an opinion of him, he began threatening to wipe Israel off the map, labeling the Holocaust an enormous lie and so forth. As North Korea’s experiments with the “crazy fearsome cripple gambit” have showed, an otherwise weak state — headed by a seemingly wild-eyed leader who just might be mad enough to launch some of the nukes that the state may or may not actually possess — can gain useful concessions, if not respect, from the rest of the world. And in Iran’s case, it certainly made Israel and the United States to think twice about whether to attempt any military adventures concerning the Islamic Republic.

Regional Proxies

Tehran has shown itself equally effective in its use of militant proxies in the region.

The financial, ideological, political and military support of Iran has helped Hezbollah build a strong following among the mostly poor Shiite population of southern Lebanon. Since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the Shiite militant group was left languishing — provoking the occasional border skirmish with Israel as a way of maintaining its credibility. But over the summer, while the world was focused on Iraq, Hezbollah roared back to life in a conflict that went well beyond a border skirmish.

There is reason to believe Iran had a hand in igniting that conflict. In early July, when long-range missiles began raining down on Haifa, sources within Hezbollah hinted to Stratfor that the launch had taken them by surprise — indicating something more than a routine kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that garnered unintended consequences. Hezbollah forces certainly took a beating during the 34-day conflict, but the important point is that the militant group successfully resisted the Israeli military.

This outcome has purchased long-term benefits for both Hezbollah and Iran. On the micro level, it has attracted new levels of support for Hezbollah and engendered a new sense of confidence within the movement — which is now moving to expand its political clout through massive street demonstrations in Beirut, designed to bring down the government controlled by its opponents. On the macro level, the outcome of the conflict left Israel in military and political paralysis — providing Iran with even more room to maneuver politically within the region.

In addition to Hezbollah, Iran has kept in close touch with its Shiite proxies in Bahrain and Kuwait — a quiet reminder to Sunni Arab states in the region that Tehran retains the means to destabilize their neighborhoods, as it did Israel’s, should circumstances compel it. Iran’s rising influence in the region has put the Arab regimes on a defensive footing, and some are now questioning the wisdom of strategies that rely on U.S. military strength to secure their interests. It is for this reason, then, that Saudi Arabia is now hinting it will step up support for Sunni insurgents in Iraq, and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have announced plans to launch a joint nuclear program (ostensibly for civilian energy purposes). The Sunni states lack strong military capabilities of their own, but will shout as loudly as possible to make it clear to the United States that they will not sit idly by while Iran recasts the region’s balance of power in favor of the Shia.

Iraq: The Center of Gravity

All of these tactics, of course, hit around the periphery of what is really the first and most crucial issue: Iraq. It is there that Iran’s political manipulations, its use of proxies and its great patience — as the poor position of U.S. troops and of the U.S. president both grew increasingly evident — have come into play. And with its growing confidence in the region, Iran seemingly has become less inclined to settle for merely a friendly or neutral government in Baghdad. Instead, it wants control.

As expected, October turned out to be a particularly deadly month for U.S. forces in Iraq, with Iran helping to fuel attacks by its Shiite militant proxies. These Iranian-sponsored rebels are an assortment of militants, many of whom received training from Hezbollah cadres in Lebanon. Iran also has enlisted rogue elements from Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement to aid in this effort. The timing of the uptick in American casualties played into the U.S. political cycle — as the Iranians could have predicted — and contributed to the Republican upset in November’s U.S. congressional elections. At the same time, already loud demands for the Bush administration to shift course or construct a real policy for Iraq gained even greater volume.

In keeping with the strategy, Washington now is feeling pressure from all sides to engage Tehran — and, crucially, the Iranians have had to sacrifice nothing to achieve this position.

The Domestic Situation

That is not to say that the Iranians are invulnerable, of course — and the political situation inside the country is particularly worthy of consideration.

For the first time since Ahmadinejad came to power in June 2005, student protests over his presidency broke out Dec. 6, Dec. 8 and Dec. 11 in Tehran. Though the number of protesters dwindled from around 4,000 to about 50 over the course of a week, the fact that the demonstrations occurred at all is significant. Such demonstrations are rare inside Iran, and they speak to the fact that an undercurrent of opposition to the hard-line clerical regime still exists. Political moderates have been without a voice in the government since former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani lost his bid for election last year, and they now appear ready to make their presence felt once again.

An important milestone will be Dec. 15, when municipal officials and delegates to the Assembly of Experts (AoE) will be elected. These elections could bring Rafsanjani’s pragmatic conservatives into a power-sharing arrangement with Ahmadinejad’s ultraconservative faction. And, though a dramatic shift in Iran’s foreign policy should not be expected in the near term, the new AoE members will be highly significant in determining the future leadership of the regime: The group not only appoints Iran’s supreme leader, but also oversees his performance and even has the power to remove him from office. With many of the most senior members of the clerical regime in Iran now elderly and some ailing, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a generational shift is likely under the watch of the new AoE members, whose terms in office last for eight years.

Meanwhile, the government faces opposition from a variety of ethnic minorities — including Ahwazi Arabs in the southwest, Kurds and Azerbaijanis in the northwest, Balochis in the southeast and Turkmen in the north. Iranian leaders are well aware of the risk that these dissident groups could be utilized by foreign intelligence agencies seeking to destabilize the Iranian regime.

With such considerations in mind, it is little wonder that Iran’s maneuvers during the past six months or so have been particularly obvious. The regime not only has been moving adroitly to contribute to and exploit a period of relative U.S. weakness, but also acting with the recognition that it cannot play this game indefinitely. The clock is ticking, and the time for Iran to capitalize on its gains in the region is now.

Next Steps

Obviously, the ethnic makeup of the government in Baghdad is a crucial consideration for both Washington and Tehran.

One of the options the Bush administration currently is entertaining would involve revamping the Iraqi government leadership — meaning the removal of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the exclusion of Shiite figures loyal to al-Sadr. Though Bush has insisted publicly that al-Maliki is the “right man” to govern Iraq (much as he insisted Donald Rumsfeld was the “right man” to lead the Defense Department), al-Maliki has been losing favor among U.S. political and military leaders, who see him as an ineffective leader who is unwilling to disband the Shiite militias. The leak of a memo by national security adviser Stephen Hadley, which harshly criticized al-Maliki just ahead of his meeting with Bush in Amman, Jordan, could be an indication that the administration is pursuing a good-cop, bad-cop strategy to introduce the idea that al-Maliki is the wrong man for the job after all.

Al-Maliki is a member of Hizb al-Dawah, which ranks second in terms of influence within Iraq’s Shiite political bloc — behind the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the most staunchly pro-Iranian party. Thus, to counter SCIRI’s influence, al-Maliki has had to play various Shiite factions against each other in order to shore up his own party’s standing.

If al-Maliki were to be sacked, the heir apparent would seem to be SCIRI leader Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, who met with Bush on Dec. 5 at the White House. However, should al-Hakim choose to retain his position as kingmaker among the Iraqi Shia and avoid the challenges that a prime minister inevitably would face, Adel Abdel Mahdi — also a senior SCIRI member and one of Iraq’s two vice presidents — very well could take the job.

Installing a prime minister from SCIRI clearly would root the Iraqi government in the pro-Iranian camp, but this is not necessarily something Washington would dismiss out of hand. With someone like al-Hakim or Mahdi in power, the government could be expected to bring the largest and most sophisticated Shiite militia — SCIRI’s own Badr Brigade — under control. And both Washington and Tehran have an interest in putting an effective Shiite leader at the helm who can actually keep the level of sectarian violence propagated by Shiite militias under control.

But this plan has its drawbacks. Unlike the al-Sadr bloc, SCIRI has an insurance plan for its militant arm: With government control, it could more easily integrate the Badr Brigade into Iraq’s security forces — and effectively sideline al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army, which has been a major contributor to the lawlessness in Baghdad. The Mehdi militants would be sure to mount violent resistance to any deals that would sideline al-Sadr’s supporters in government.

If a bid to displace the al-Sadrites should succeed, however, some Iraqi and U.S. leaders are looking to strengthen Sunni standing in the government through Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi — the No. 2 leader of the Iraqi Accord Front, the largest Sunni party in the government. Sunni participation in the government remains a prerequisite if the government is to clamp down on the non-Shiite insurgency in Iraq. And as the pressure grows for the United States to shift strategy, pull away from day-to-day security responsibilities and engage in serious talks with Iran, the Sunni bloc in Iraq might see this is as their best chance to consolidate their position in the government before the Iranians get more control of the situation. It is no coincidence, then, that al-Hashimi traveled to Washington earlier this week for a meeting with Bush — three weeks ahead of schedule — as the rumors of a new power-sharing agreement involving SCIRI spread.

The diplomatic problem the United States now is facing brings to mind the words of President John F. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” At this point, Bush knows he cannot negotiate with Iran out of fear, and so he is delaying negotiations by shopping for recommendations on military strategy and mulling over ways to revamp the political leadership in Baghdad.

Washington’s strategy clearly is not yet set — and as the ISG noted publicly, not all of the options have yet been exhausted. New political deals certainly can be forged — but as history has shown, deals in Baghdad have a tendency to spark even larger conflagrations if and when they break apart. Washington can attempt to reshuffle the cards within the Iraqi government in a variety of ways, but in the end, it will be terribly difficult for the administration to ignore that Iran has most of the chips and is unlikely to fold.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Security Secret

Peter Finn’s article for the Washington Post - In Russia, a Secretive Force Widens - has received quite a lot of attention in the last 24 hours or so. Deservedly so, for it’s an important one. It begins by reminding us that three recent senior appointments - Oleg Safonov as deputy head of the Russian Interior Ministry, Yevgeny Shkolov as head of its economic security department, and Valery Golubev as a deputy chief executive at Gazprom - have confirmed a tendency that has been noted for some time now by Russia-watchers: all three of these men are former KGB officers and were colleagues of Vladimir Putin, either in his days as a KGB operative in East Germany, or later as a career politician in the local government of St Petersburg:

Russia’s intertwined political and business elites are increasingly populated with people like them, former intelligence agents who have personally proved themselves to the president. At the same time, Putin has spearheaded the regrouping and strengthening of the country’s security services, which had splintered into a host of agencies after the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991.

In particular, the Federal Security Service, known by its Russian initials FSB, has emerged as one of the country’s most powerful and secretive forces, with an increasingly international mission. Putin headed the agency in the 1990s.

“If in the Soviet period and the first post-Soviet period, the KGB and FSB [people] were mainly involved in security issues, now half are still involved in security but the other half are involved in business, political parties, NGOs, regional governments, even culture,” said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, director of the Moscow-based Center for the Study of Elites. “They started to use all political institutions.”

Kryshtanovskaya recently analyzed the official biographies of 1,016 leading political figures — departmental heads of the presidential administration, all members of the government, all deputies of both houses of parliament, the heads of federal units and the heads of regional executive and legislative branches. She found that 26 percent had reported serving in the KGB or its successor agencies.

Axisglobe has some in-depth reports on the subject, linked to from this news bulletin, which among other things highlights the Center’s finding that

78% of leading political figures, heads of departments of the Presidential administration, all members of the government and members of both chambers of parliament, heads of federal structures and heads of executive power and legislature in regions, somehow in their career have been connected with the KGB or the organizations that had come to replace it.

The Trepashkin Letters - II


All-Russia Public Movement “For Human Rights” Executive Director Lev Ponomarev

Room 21, Bldg 1, House 7, M. Kislovsky Pereulok, Moscow, 125009 Tel: (095)291-62-33, Tel/Fax: (095)291-70-11, e-mail:


News, statements, appeals, analysis, commentaries
Issue No. 44 (89)

4 December 2006 Special issue

“A very serious group created”

Open letters from Mikhail Trepashkin:
1) To Mr Alexander Litvinenko
2) They’re strangulating us like puppies!
3) The silence of the human rights advocates

(the original Russian text is available here)

1) To Mr Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko

Dear Alexander,

I’m sorry to hear that you have been poisoned but I think that failure to act in the face of specific evidence of attempts on your life is partially to blame for this. In particular, as far back as August 2002, I reported about a meeting I had near the Kitay-gorod metro station with former officer of the URPO [Department of Countermeasures Against and Prevention of the Activities of Organized Criminal Formations] FSB RF Mr V.V. Shebalin (at his request). At that meeting, he declared that he was once again working for the USB [Department of Internal Security] FSB RF (USB officer D.A. Paramonov took him on communication through Mr Vitvinov) and that “a very serious group” had been created that would “f*ck everybody connected with Berezovsky and Litvinenko”. He told me that if I stepped aside from the house bombing case and started cooperating with the group, I would be “left in peace”. At the same time, he asked me to give him information about your father and another relative (I don’t remember whom exactly), both living in Biryulyovo. I answered him then that I absolutely can’t stomach dirty violence, and especially murders. I clearly understood that it had been decided to gradually bump off your kin, masking the evidence of murder. If they are alive, it is because I immediately brought the fact of his criminal proposal to public notice. Recall that I told you about this as well, but a reaction did not follow. But you should have demanded an investigation.

During the course of that meeting, I told V.V. Shebalin: “Forget about A.V. Litvinenko! He’s in London. And enough with these dirty affairs to settle personal accounts. There are affairs more important for the FSB RF – a field commander of Salman Raduyev’s who goes by the alias of Abdul and was earlier detained by me has appeared in Moscow. He is a specialist in terrorist operations. N.P. Patrushev ordered his release in December 1995. Then he tore off to Turkey, but promised to gather forces and return, having shot down me, Gagayev, and Shevchenko. And now here he is in Moscow; Alexander Yevstigneyev saw him. In addition to this, I know from clients (Trepashkin’s law clients. – Ed.) that many armed Chechens have appeared since May of 2002 in the Western and South-Western districts (of Moscow – Ed.), and that they’re audaciously meeting together, fearlessly showing up at these gatherings with weapons. Something’s afoot, and immediate work needs to be done in this direction, not settling accounts with Litvinenko!” I then gave Shebalin (for the FSB RF) information from 1995-1996 with “Abdul’s” old places of residence and his contacts. But they did not react at the FSB RF. The events at the House of Culture on Dubrovka (“Nord-Ost”) exploded, leading to 130 deaths of hostages.

The episode of the meeting with Shebalin and the warnings about a terrorist act being organized has been imputed to me as the divulging of a state secret, disclosing information about the plans of the FSB RF! As I understood, questions of the pursuit of B.A. Berezovsky and A.V. Litvinenko, as well as of their supporters in Russia, were put by the authorities in a more important place than the prevention of terrorist acts in Moscow. Or maybe “Nord-Ost” is also a part of the plans of the FSB RF? And then deputy procurator-general of the RF Kolesnikov raised the dusty old events having to do with contracts for “Zhigulis”, in order to get Berezovsky. They arbitrarily locked me up in jail and are holding me in isolation behind barbed wire going on four years already. And calmly (in the calm atmosphere of the “people-loving” Russian “rule-of-law” state, as it is presented in the international arena), according to a separate plan, they decided to get to you, Alexander Valterovich! If you continue to do nothing more than spew out slogans, instead of describing concrete proof, and keep silent with respect to the facts set forth, then they will destroy you! By the way, I’m concerned that some kind of information blockade has been organized with respect to my case as well. I write a lot of concrete things, but nothing gets placed, not only in the central mass media, but even on my sites. Although in March of this year, in response to my appeal, B.A. Berezovsky promised to help with coverage of my case in the mass media.

However, quite to the contrary, I was isolated even by defenders and human rights advocates! I do not object to the publication of this letter in the mass media.

With respect and empathy

M.I. Trepashkin
20 November 2006

P.S. Since my letters often don’t reach their intended addressee, please confirm receipt of this letter, if only with a single sentence.

2). They’re strangulating us like puppies!

In 1998, there was a big article in one of the central newspapers entitled “They Will Strangulate Us Like Puppies”. In it, officer of the URPO FSB RF lieutenant-colonel A.V. Litvinenko expressed h is prognosis after the famous press conference by officers of the named administration that took place on 17 November 1998 at “Interfax”, at which he, together with work colleagues colonel V.V. Shebalin (the man in the mask), major A.V. Pon’kin, senior lieutenant Konstantin Latyshonok and German Shcheglov told about how the leadership of the FSB RF had instructed them to abduct and murder people. In particular, they told about three instances of crimes that had been arranged on the orders of former FSB RF director N.D. Kovalev (currently a deputy to the State Duma of Russia), generals Khokhol’kov, Makarychev and others:

1) the murder of CIS executive secretary B.A. Berezovsky;
2) the abduction of businessman U. Djabrailov for the purposes of obtaining a ransom;
3) the physical elimination of me (at that time I was head of the investigative branch of the UFSNP RF for Moscow Oblast).

I will note that in addition to the 5 (five) URPO FSB RF officers, more than 7 additional persons confirmed the fact that an act of violence was being organized with respect to me, including FSB RF officers lieutenant-colonels Gusak, Skryabin, Yermolov, Kruglov, and others. Because prior to this I had been summoned to the Main Military Procuracy, where they had familiarized me with a series of documents on attempts on my life that were being arranged, including with statements by many FSB RF officers addressed to the head of the Administration of the President of Russia, I agreed to participate on 17 November 1998 in the famous press conference as an intended victim of a murder attempt. Unfortunately, in the mass media I was grouped together with the FSB RF officers who had been contracted to physically eliminate Berezovsky.

This was untrue, and caused confusion in the publications, as well as negative consequences in my subsequent fate. Litvinenko was asked then: what can you expect for yourself after such high-profile revelations? He replied: if there isn’t good support, then the criminal murderer-generals will fire us, and then will strangulate us like puppies! The solidarity of the generals and big money did their deed. In addition, V.V. Putin and N.P. Patrushev (who had arrived at different times in the FSB RF from the GPU of the Administration of the President of the RF) suddenly burst into power, and it was necessary to reinforce the authority of state security. The revelations impeded this. Who is going to let someone saw through the legs of their trampoline? And they started to strangulate everyone involved with the 17 November 1998 press conference like puppies, to get rid of them like so much unneeded waste.

A.V. Litvinenko spent time in the “Lefortovo” SIZO and in Butyrki, went through many charges, and, as a result, 3 years 6 months of deprivation of liberty, suspended, for questionable acts and flight to London. And now he’s been killed! All of the “revelators” without exception were fired from the FSB RF.

A.I. Gusak was convicted, and also given a suspended sentence (they scraped together what they could under orders).

Field work on the victims as well continued. Berezovsky was forced to emigrate. Trofimov (former FSB general – Ed.) was murdered in Moscow (he sent Litvinenko in 1994 to investigate the first attempt on Berezovsky’s life, as the result of which they became friends). I was locked up, and for a fourth year already I’m being held in places of deprivation of liberty under a special regime of isolation on a fabricated charge!

The only one who lucked out is the spineless coward V.V. Shebalin. Knowing that there’s a series of serious crimes behind his shoulders (unlike the other participants in the press conference), and having understood that Berezovsky is not going to help him become a general (which he very much counted on when he became one of the leaders of the group of “revelators”), Shebalin threw himself at the feet of the sleazy FSB RF officers and offered to function as an agent provocateur for the USB FSB RF and a false witness against Litvinenko and his circle. They took the bastard! He saved his hide. And even got into the group developing schemes to destroy both Litvinenko himself and his supporters.

M.I. Trepashkin 24.11.2006

The officially voiced hypothesis about A.V. Litvinenko having been murdered because he “often appeared in the company of Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev” looks funny. The fact is that Litvinenko and Zakayev had lodgings in close proximity to one another in England. They were neighbours! And as Russian-speaking refugees, they associated with one another. When taking some kind of interview or asking for a comment on some kind of event, representatives of the mass media, as a rule, invited both “political refugees”. And so they would show up together These are logical and fully explainable circumstances. But to stress this, as though they were accomplices, isn’t exactly right. If we follow such a hypothesis, then Zakayev himself should have been the first to be poisoned. Or am I wrong?

M.I. Trepashkin

3) “ But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied; they also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is” (Psalm of David, 37).

I greatly regret that the human rights advocates did not give due attention to what A.V. Litvinenko was talking about way back in April 1998, when he, being an officer of the URPO FSB RF and clearly risking his job, together with his colleagues A.I. Gusak and A.V. Pon’kin, gave a revealing interview to ORT television channel journalist Sergey Leonidovich Dorenko about crimes by the leaders of the FSB RF, including about murders committed by the hands of both FSB RF officers and their agents.

Nor was there a proper response when participants in the notorious press conference at “Interfax” on 17 November 1998, at which officers of that same URPO FSB RF A.V. Litvinenko, V.V. Shebalin, K. Latyshonok, G. Shcheglov, and A.V. Pon’kin told about contract murders and abductions of people committed upon the orders of the leadership of the FSB RF – N.D. Kovalev, Ye.G. Khokhol’kov, generals Makarychev, Ovchinnikov and others – were subjected to unprecedented pursuit. Didn’t believe that such a thing can be? It all was limited to general phrases in the mass media from both sides. Nobody stopped to analyze the concrete proof. The participants in the press conference had it, and the criminal-authorities’ side didn’t. And everybody, like zombies, toed the line proposed by the authorities: it’s not worth it to make a noise around the revelations. And that’s exactly what the authorities needed.

Then – as a consequence of impunity – there followed the blowing up of the houses in September 1999, “Nord-Ost” and a series of other bloody crimes, where the guilt of the special services was obvious. Somehow everybody believed the fairy tales about the solving of these crimes!

Maybe the death of A.V. Litvinenko, who fell as a victim of vengeance with impunity, will finally force those who are engaged in protecting human rights to pay attention to the specifics of what is going on? After all, the specifics will show the falseness of the authorities! There is extreme vexation on my soul in connection with the death of A.V. Litvinenko. Yes, vexation! The same kind of vexation as after the murder of A.S. Politkovskaya. I’ve had empathy for them for nearly 10 years. And now – vexation because the wimpy and unorganized human rights movement of Russia is incapable of effectively preventing neither political murders nor the protection of persons being pursued by the authorities for political motives (apparently this ought to read “preventing pursuit for political motives” – Ed.), nor other crimes by high state officials against people. Weakness because of disunity, some kind of dissentions, often fear – these are but a few of the reasons for the passivity of the human rights advocates.

Together with A.V. Litvinenko, I was a participant in the press conference of 17 November 1998. I was already no longer an officer of the organs of state security, I was unfamiliar until October 1998 with the officers of the URPO FSB RF who appeared at the press conference. I was invited as a victim of a murder being arranged by FSB RF officers because earlier I had brought attention to crimes being committed by FSB RF officers with the knowledge of management. For this they fired me from the FSB RF and organized attempts on my life many a time, including with the forces of the URPO FSB RF.

The murderers succeeded in dousing the wave of scandal without hindrance! The human rights advocates, even though they had some doubts, kept silent! And then the victims started falling! Among others, the revelators are dying, and those who were the targets of the criminal endeavours (the authorities continued to murder and pursue them).

For 11 years I’m warring almost by myself with criminals from among the high-level officials in the special services against people, residents of Moscow and Russia as a whole, against children. In October 2003, the plan of the FSB RF which Gusak, Litvinenko, and Pon’kin told ORT about way back in April 1998 was carried out calmly, cold-bloodedly, and with impunity – a pistol and cartridges were slipped into my belongings, so as to lock me up and shut me up. They held me in a cell with chemicals –insecticide powder, persuaded (apparently, this ought to be read as “threatened” – Ed.) to stab me with a sharpened screwdriver, and placed me in conditions constantly inducing allergy.

And everybody’s waiting to see how long I can hold out. The hangmen are waiting, and, what’s vexing, so are the human rights advocates. For their reaction to clearly evident lawlessness is very weak. In the main, individual people are protesting. There are no appeals to the structures of the Council of Europe and the UN against the criminal lawlessness.

I’m in the following position:

“For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 21).

And I ask of help, but ever it comes not.

I am being held in a SIZO, IVS, and zone for a fourth year already, not having committed anything unlawful against people. All of my charges (apparently, this ought to be read as “charges against me” – Ed.) are concocted! And this can be seen even with the eye of a non-lawyer. But for a fourth year I can not tell people what I’m sitting behind barbed wire for, i.e. what the hangmen have concocted for me! Even defenders and human rights advocates are keeping me in some kind of informational blockade, very advantageous for the authorities, so as to pour dirt on me and pressure me in the zone. If it weren’t for the silence, and it were publicised through the central mass media what specific acts the criminals from authority have locked me up behind bars for, then the criminal case would have been reviewed a long time ago.

Litvinenko, I – we’re not the last in the chain of those being pursued. You remain silent? Tomorrow any one of you may find yourself in this chain. Think about it. And, perhaps, Litvinenko’s death will force you to believe in the reality of what he spoke about! Believe and begin to take more decisive action. I had warned A.V. Litvinenko about the creation way back in 2002 of a group for his destruction.

Even earlier, I described a concrete situation about the use in the FSB RF of special poisons for the physical destruction of people. Already in 1994, certain of the officers of the VKR were sneaking these poisons out from development sites and were attempting to sell them to businessmen they knew for the elimination of competitors.

On this they got burned, running up against the agents of the FSB RF. These poisons do not leave traces in the organism. Most often, autopsy results list cardiac failure as the cause of death of those poisoned. The poison is usually applied by aerosol or with a brush to the steering wheel and door handles of an automobile, in a place where an air conditioner is working, on telephone receivers, and so forth. In the instance described by me, there were 10 kinds of poisons of various effect (through the respiratory passages, through the skin of the hands, through the conjunctiva of the eyes, and so forth). Traces of such poisons are present in the case of the murder of Kivelidi, Shchekochikhin, and others. It can not be ruled out that such poisons have been used for the murder of A.V. Litvinenko. Be silent. And you’ll be next.

M.I. Trepashkin
23 November 2006

(see also: The Trepashkin Letters

Mikhail Trepashkin)