Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Trepashkin Letters

The Daily Telegraph has published a report on the letters it has received from Mikhail Trepashkin, who is currently serving a 4-year prison sentence in Russia, ostensibly for divulging state secrets. The letters were smuggled out of Russia and passed on to the newspaper after Litvinenko's death. They were sent to him shortly before he died, warning him of a plot to kill him.

Since the Russian authorities have forbidden British detectives investigating Litvinenko’s murder to interview Mr Trepashkin, the letters now acquire even greater significance. An excerpt from the report:

Mr Trepashkin says that Litvinenko had refused to murder both him and Mr Berezovsky. He claims that there is an FSB document, entitled “Facts about an attempt on the life of Berezovsky”, that will confirm what he says. In a letter dated November 30, Mr Trepashkin describes how he met Litvinenko in October 1998 with FSB “hit men” who said the head of the secret police and two named generals had instructed them to kill Mr Trepashkin and Litvinenko by “breaking their skulls”. He adds: “Litvinenko was forced to flee to England to save his and his family’s lives. He did not betray his Motherland. He was hiding from the bandits who came to power.”

Mr Trepashkin is urging the West to put pressure on Russia to hold an open investigation into Litvinenko’s death and into his own “fabricated” conviction under state secrecy laws.

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