Andrei Lugovoy, one of the suspects in the Litvinenko radiation poisoning case
This week Pajamas Media, a kind of aggregation/wire service for bloggers worldwide, has picked up a post by blogger AJ Strata casting more doubt on the claim that Alexander Litvinenko was assassinated in London. AJ Strata joins Edward Jay Epstein and others who doubt that Litvinenko was deliberately poisoned with a polonium-210 by an assassin. Instead, these bloggers believe that Litvinenko may have been the victim of a botched polonium smuggling operation, with the highly toxic radioactive substance leaking out a sealed container or vial into a teacup in Litvinenko's room at the Millenium Hotel.
As we have previously reported here at Russia Blog, Litvinenko's former colleagues Andrei Lugovoi and Dimitri Kovtun, who met with him on November 1, have downplayed their business relationships with the ex-FSB agent. Mr. Kovtun reportedly left a radioactive trail behind in Hamburg before he entered the UK.
AJ Strata thinks that the multiple radioactive traces found at places Litvinenko visited before his poisoning, as well as the massive amount of radioactive material found in his body (more than thirty times the lethal dose) point to a smuggling operation gone terribly wrong. If he and Edward Jay Epstein are correct, then the real question is: who was trying to buy more than $25 million worth of polonium 210, and for what purpose?
Historically, polonium 210, which has a very short half life of 138 days, was used as a trigger device in early U.S. nuclear bomb tests. Were Iran or North Korea trying to buy this material for their own Manhattan Projects today?
UPDATE1 - January 27, 2007 - Writing from Australia, Pajamas Media writer Richard Fernandez is asking similar troubling questions.
UPDATE2 - March 18, 2007 - Sean's Russki Blog links to a New York Times article in which Dimitry Kovtun maintains his innocence. The Moscow-based security company executive accuses Alexander Litvinenko of exposing him to polonium, rather than the other way around.