Andrey Lugovoy calls himself victim in Litvinenko case
Russian businessman Andrey Lugovoy at a press conference in Moscow has called himself a victim, not the murderer in the Litvinenko case, saying the British special services used him as a scapegoat.
Before November, 2006, almost no one had heard the name Aleksandr Litvinenko. Now it’s almost impossible not to.
The former Russian security officer died last November three weeks after falling ill on November 1. He was admitted to hospital and for weeks it was unclear what was causing him to deteriorate.
With the launch of an investigation a media sensation broke out in the UK-the country obsessed by the “Spy Story” with new speculation each day and almost all fingers pointing at the Kremlin.
“The police investigation will proceed and I think people should know that there is no diplomatic or political barrier in the way of that investigation going wherever it needs to go,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair stressed.
Specialist narrowed down the lethal poison to the radio-active substance polonium 210 shortly before Litvinenko died. The fatal dose could have cost close to 20 MLN pounds.
This prompted even more accusations implying the murder had all the hallmarks of a state-sanctioned assassination. The Kremlin strongly denied any involvement and still does.
“What comes to allegations, especially in British press, that this case can somehow be interconnected with Kremlin, we simply don’t want to comment on such nonsense,” Dmitry Peskov, Russian President’s press attaché, stated.
A trail of radio active material was traced throughout London then to Moscow and finally in Hamburg on passenger jets, in hotels, restaurants, cars, and residential homes.
Scotland Yard name two main suspects in the case. Dimtiry Kovtun, who lead the investigation to Hamburg, and Andrey Lugovoy, who is now suspected for the murder.
But Lugovoy is now revealing a new twist to this seemingly endless story and accuses the British Intelligence Service of being behind the real perpetrators of this complex crime.
He accused British special services of attempts to cover the real reason for the murder of the former Russian security officer.
Mr Lugovoy also claimed the UK special services tried to recruit him to collect compromising material against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Both men are contacts of Aleksandr Litvinenko – the former Russian security officer who died of polonium 210 poisoning last November in London.
They met Litvinenko on the day he fell ill with symptoms of poisoning.
Andrey Lugovoy is now wanted by Britain to face charges of murdering Litvinenko.
Lugovoy himself says he is not guilty.
Earlier, British investigators called on Russian authorities to extradite Lugovoy.
Moscow's refused the demand, as Russia's Constitution doesn't allow the extradition of its citizens.
The statement of Mr Lugovoy follows:
“So, once again I would like to thank all those, who have given me this opportunity to give the necessary explanations on the so-called Litvinenko case. For a long time I held myself back to those limitations, which were due to the work with the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, which launched the case on the murder of Russian citizen Aleksandr Litvinenko and an attempt to murder another Russian citizen Dmitry Kovtun last December. I willingly agreed to co-operate with the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office and answered all the questions I was asked. I did absolutely the same when answered all the questions of the investigation group of Scotland Yard. Though, already at that time I had a feeling that everything that the British side had been doing was mere formality and they had already declared me, or Dmitry Kovtun, guilty. But I could not give any comments to the mass-media because that was what the Russian investigators asked me to do, according to the Article 310 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation. Therefore, in my opinion time was lost, which made it possible for the British side to cover the traces and make me the scapegoat. Another limitation, maybe even not less important for me was Boris Berezovsky, whom I knew for many years, with whom I worked together and whom I never betrayed. I did this not out of affection towards Boris Berezovsky, but because of respect to his former business partner Badri Patrikatsishvili. I would like to stress this.
Today I am ready to make the statement which should throw light on this shady political story in which the British special services play the main role, and their agents, I mean Mr Berezovsky, and the deceased Mr Litvinenko.
By the way, according to Litvinenko’s own words, he was recruited first, but after Mr Berezovsky, following his advice, passed some documents of the Russian Security Council to the British, which he possessed while being Under-Secretary of the Security Council, also became an agent of the MI 6, and the process of getting political asylum and British citizenship became easy for him.
I had been acquainted with Litvinenko a long time ago, but briefly. In 2004 when I was in London and met Berezovsky, he inquired whether I kept in touch with Sasha (Aleksandr Litvinenko). When my answer was ‘no’ he advised me to resume contacts with him. I ignored his advice, and only in November 2005 after Litvinenko himself called me and asked to meet with him in London, I decided to agree to this meeting.
After one month, when I again was in London on a business trip he called me again and we had a meeting. The meeting was appointed in the office of Risk Management Ltd., a company situated at 1 Cavendish Place, London. Several employees of this company attended the meeting. It was proposed that I start a new business connected with the protection of British investments in different spheres of the Russian economy. Within the framework of the new project I was supposed to collect and analyze information of financial activities of possible Russian partners in order to secure British investments. However, after just a couple of visits, I began to understand that it was not as simple as it seemed. For example, for some minor consultations I was paid evidently in excess. Keep in mind that all the payments were transferred through an off-shore company on Cyprus.
A bell rang in my head because this was open sources information you can easily find in the Internet. I understood that the fees were set to engage me in co-operation. Conversations were becoming blunter. The British side became interested in all my connections and acquaintances, financial potential, possible direct ties to the Administration of the President of Russian Federation and also contacts with the members of Federal Security Service, Federal Guard Service and Federal Intelligence Service. In particular, they were interested in getting information on FSS activities concerning Great Britain. They started to recruit me openly to become a British agent. Actually speaking, they proposed me to collect any kind of information discrediting our President Vladimir Putin and members of his family. For example they proposed to collect information on one Russian official so as later to use him, as they hoped, to collect discrediting information on the President of Russian Federation. In particular, they planned to lure him to London so that in exchange for keeping secret his personal accounts, to made him collect discrediting information on the President. The name of this person I will pass on later to the General Prosecutor’s Office investigators. To stay in touch with them I was given an English mobile phone to use it for calls from Moscow to London. And from bad to worse, Litvinenko gave me a book by Russian writer Evgeny Grishkovets named “Shirt” and explained that from now on we must, like movie spies, encode messages using pages, paragraphs and lines from this book. You must be an idiot not to realise that, pretending to do business, they were simply recruiting me for already predetermined political and intelligence tasks on Russia and the Russian President. I am not an admirer of President Putin, and I have personal reasons for not being one, and you probably understand why. But I was taught to love my Motherland and not to betray it.
At the next meeting I told Litvinenko what I really thopught about all this and that I was not interested in that kind of business. The fact that I declined the British Intelligence proposal infuriated Litvinenko. He said that I would be persona non-grata in Great Britain and all my business contacts in Western Europe will be closed down. He also told me that Berezovsky and British Intelligence still hope to reason with me and to begin with the proposal to set up a business in the name of political salvation of Russia from Putin. During one meeting, please pay attention to this, Litvinenko stated that by using his contacts in Britain, Secret Service and human rights organizations, such as International Foundation for Civil Liberties, he could arrange political asylum in Great Britain for wealthy Russians having problems with the Russian law or just those who needed the residence permit of Great Britain by acquiring political refugee status, which gives you the right to become a British citizen in the future. I ask the British media to pay special attention to this. To organise such a trick, the potential political refugee needed to publish in Russia several political, anti-Russian articles, criticizing the policy of the Russian government. These articles were supposed to serve later as a proof of the political activities of the refugee. The level and geographical location of the publisher was a secondary matter. It was advisable for the refugee to promote a criminal economically-oriented case against himself, which later could be interpreted as being under pressure for his business on the part of the Russian authorities for political disloyalty. Later on, the articles, together with the commencement of prosecution and all the other possible documents, like photos from public demonstrations etc., allegedly proving the refugee candidate’s active political stance and persecution by Russian authorities, Litvinenko passed on to Mr Goldfarb and with the mediation of the International Foundation for Civil Liberties, the Chairman of which is also Aleksandr Goldfarb, the candidate could surely get the political refugee status without any difficulties.
Litvinenko used to say that all of them, there, in Great Britain are idiots, that they believe in everything that we say is happening in Russia. According to him, the International Foundation for Civil Liberties had vast experience in such matters, in spite of the cost of getting British citizenship, which could vary from £500,000 to £ 1 MLN. As the first successful result of such a scheme, Litvinenko named getting the political refugee status by Boris Berezovsky with, needless to say, Litvinenko’s help. Litvinenko proposed to me to search for those who want to get refuge in Great Britain, using my personal contacts with wealthy Russian citizens and was obviously discouraged by the lack of interest to that kind of business activity on my behalf. Now I would like to turn to the actual death of Aleksandr Litvinenko.
Firstly, it’s not necessary to be a lawyer to understand that committing such a crime means having a motive. Aleksandr was not my enemy. I did not care much about his activities in London, what kind of books he wrote and whom he criticised. I am a businessman for quite a time and all this did not interested me in any way. Secondly, for some reason all British newspapers claim that the poisoning took place on the November 1, though we met twice in October. Moreover, we had met even in the summer at his apartment, while his wife Marina was absent. By the way, Berezovsky did not know about that meeting. It could be an ideal opportunity to poison him. But it did not happen in the given ideal conditions. At the same time, in a crowded bar, where he could possibly never show up, as they say, it took place in the presence of tens of witnesses. It means that somebody needed us to be seen together in the Millennium bar. Thirdly, those who knew Sasha will confirm that he never smoked and never drank alcohol. Neither me nor Dima (Dmitry Kovtun) remember whether he ordered something, tea or water, because we were getting ready to go to watch a football match and it was cold, so we drank a good deal of alcohol. What an idiot of a poisoner one should be to act so primitively! So, again, there was a need to set up someone. Fourthly, if the poisoning took place on November 1, then how did it happen that all the places in London where we met with Litvinenko only in October, but not in November, were marked, I want to stress the word ‘marked’, by polonium, and why was polonium found aboard the planes on which Dima and I came back to Moscow and Germany respectively, back in October 2006. I have only one conclusion: we were marked by polonium on purpose for further use in the political scandal. I came to London to watch a football match with my wife and children. They all were later tested for polonium poisoning, and the results were depressing. They privately underwent the medical checkup together with me at a hospital. What a monster one should be to put to jeopardy his children’s and wife’s lives. The sixth: back in summer of 2006 Litvinenko started to present me with different small gifts. When I was in hospital undergoing a checkup all my personal possessions were checked. It turned out that the souvenirs and a number of documents passed to me by Litvinenko long before November 1 were smudged with polonium. I informed the Russian General Prosecutors, but, according to their words, their English counterparts did not show interest in this fact. It is possible that these marks were made by Litvinenko himself, but for the British justice this version was unacceptable from the very beginning.
The seventh: it is not a secret any longer that all my contacts with Litvinenko were under tight control of the British special services. Then why did not they track Litvinenko’s poisoning and let all of us leave Britain with impunity? Why among tens of the places in London where polonium was found, which were listed by the mass media, there has never been mentioned one place. I mean the place where we met English intelligence officers in October, namely the Internal Analysis Director Jerry Merrence and Finance Analyst Daniel Clark. I wonder whether traces of polonium were found in that office, which is in fact a secret office for them.
I have three versions of Litvinenko’s poisoning case. Knowing and analysing his behaviour during the last months in 2006 I could not but see that he got disappointed both in Berezovsky and in his British masters from the Special Service. He thought that the English undervalued him and therefore paid low fees. I got an opinion that he was obviously getting out of the British special services’ control. I think the unsuccessful attempt to recruit me considerably undermined his significance with the British. Trying to fulfil the intelligence officers’ task at any price, Litvinenko often exceeded the role of a recruiting agent and let out too much information while talking to me. For example, the British did not like him for boasting to have contacts with high-rank officials of MI6. By co-operating with the British Secret Service he followed the way of Gordievsky and Kalugin. Berezovsky and Zakayev just followed him in their turn. Therefore, it is hard to forget that Litvinenko became another out-of-control agent of the British secret Service and they got rid of him, if not the Service itself, than under its control and with its connivance.
Secondly, maybe journalists do not know this, but I stated officially that Litvinenko established contacts with the police of Spain on his own risk and assisted them by getting information about the so-called Russian mafia. We are talking about the arrest of Shakro Junior and his associate. I already said that in December to some journalists, but made them promise not to refer to me as the source of this information. Litvinenko told me himself that to get data on Shakro he had had to personally visit Israel to meet Leonid Nevzlin. Sasha boasted of earning money by helping Spanish police to disclose Shakro junior. I do not think his actions in Spain were not noticed by the bandits. Maybe that explains the awful way he was killed. The third version seems the most probable to me. I talk about Boris Berezovsky, who is a well-known expert of political intrigue.
Litvinenko told me that Berezovsky had practically stopped financing him by cutting his salary by three times. Lately they both were afraid that the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office would make a deal with their British colleagues and Berezovsky would be extradited to Russia. In connection with this I would like to say what Litvinenko told Dmitry Kovtun shortly before his death. While having dinner together in one of the Chinese restaurants of London's Chinatown, Litvinenko, pondering aloud about the ways of earning money, touched the issue of the recommencing negotiations between Russia and Great Britain on the extradition of Boris Berezovsky to Russia. Complaining about Berezovsky, undermining his service, allegedly having saved Berezovsky’s life not once, Litvinenko told Dmitry Kovtun he had most important incontrovertible evidence of Berezovsky’s unlawful actions in Great Britain, concerning the way Boris Berezovsky had received his status of political refugee and if even a part of it receives publicity, Boris Berezovsky would have immense problems. Litvinenko hinted, that the moment is particularly handy since Russia had requested again Berezovsky’s extradition, and letting Berezovsky know about the existence of such evidence would be very appropriate. He also tagged the price in several MLNs dollars. Still being financially dependant on Berezovsky, who supported Litvinenko’s family living in London and was paying for the education of Litvinenko’s son, Litvinenko asked Kovtun to find a reliable person whom he would introduce to Berezovsky in order to get Berezovsky acquainted with this discrediting evidence through this person. Litvinenko was absolutely sure of the success of the affair as he referred to the evidence being scandalous and authentic. As I was already leaving the table when they were discussing the issue, Litvinenko demanded Kovtun to keep it secret as he suspected that I could contact Berezovsky at any time and disclose Litvinenko’s plan to him. I and Kovtun never had any intention to participate directly or indirectly in the plot, and also we did not take him seriously, therefore we considered dropping the matter once and for all as soon as possible. Only now thinking over the details of our meetings with Litvinenko and his conviction that the evidence he had could radically improve his shaken well-being, I can assume that he did not leave the idea of blackmailing Berezovsky which quite possibly had such mournful consequences for Litvinenko in the end.
Summing up my statement, having described my point of view on what happened, I want to note, that whatever version I proposed turns out to be true, the number of these versions could be much more numerous. I cannot doubt just one thing. In any case, the poisoning of Litvinenko could not stay uncontrolled by Great Britain’s Secret Service. I do understand why it took so long to accuse me. Accusing me the British anticipated that I would start talking and tell everybody what kind of unlawful actions Great Britain’s Secret Service, together with Berezovsky and Litvinenko, took agaist me. I suppose that British Crown Prosecution, by accusing me and not the Russian authorities and secret services, is practically offering a compromise to Russia. It means that Russia must keep silent on the British contacts with Berezovsky, Litvinenko and Lugovoy, while British Crown Prosecution in its turn would withdraw charges against the Russian secret service and the President. They know that Russian law prohibits extradition of Russian citizens, therefore they will close with pleasure this criminal case and everything will calm down to mutual agreement of both parties. I strongly object to this. Just imagine, they found the Russian James Bond who can infiltrate into a nuclear research laboratory as well as cold-bloodily poison his buddy incidentally contaminating his children, his wife, his friends and himself as well. All this performed in a one-man show of the terrorist Lugovoy, incidentally losing his business and clients. And the most important question –for what reason? Where is my motive? London expected me to keep silence, enjoying the fact that I could not be extradited to UK and all the questions would no longer be relevant. I would be branded as a criminal and Berezovsky would have additional reasons not to be ever extradited to Russia. Scotland Yard and the British Secret Service would save their faces in the eyes of tax-payers and Russia and its authorities would be compromised for a long time. This would not come true. Maybe I will lose heaps of money more, but I want to save my good name. I do understand that if I go to London they will condemn me just out of esprit de corps reason. That is why within the nearest time, as I have already done before, I will engage experienced lawyers from London to protect my reputation in the British court. If the British authorities decline to clear up the issue in an upright manner in court, I am ready to take the case to the International Court of Justice in Hague. Please consider this statement as my official reference to the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office.”
Then the questions from the Russian and foreign mass media followed.
ITAR-TASS News Agency: At the moment, have your lawyers received any official documents with charges on the Litvinenko poisoning case, and do you know any details of the charges, apart from just oral statements?
“I have already mentioned this. For half a year we have not received any official document from the Crown Prosecution Service. Let me remind you – after my name appeared in the media, on the same day, I made a special statement to the British Embassy in Moscow. We gave all our contact telephones and addresses to them and proposed to go to Britain immediately, and the British Embassy said nothing. Then my partner from London met representatives of Scotland Yard and they gave me the phone number of Philip Butts, Scotland Yard officer, for me to phone him. I have phoned him and said that we were prepared to fly to London the next day. The only thing was that we wanted to get an official invitation and to understand whom to deal with. Mr Butts answered: ”Give me some time to inform you about that.“
The next day Mr Butts was in Moscow already. I was ready to go to the UK and the British authorities did not let me do that. I phoned Mr Butts and asked what the matter was, I said: “We are ready to fly to Britain, why did you do everything to fly to Russia?” And then, according to a certain scenario, the British media spilled out lies that we were not allowed to meet the British prosecutors; that we were not ready to fly to Britain. It is a lie.
Then we contacted the representatives of Scotland Yard about ten times in January and February, especially when the file was transferred to the Crown Prosecution Service. We phoned Mr Butts and asked for a phone, or name, of the Crown Prosecution Service’s investigator who was in charge for the case. Mr Butts answered that he did not have the authority to do that. He asked us to go to the Internet site of the Crown Prosecution Service and try to contact somebody there. This is the British policemen’s approach.
In fact, we haven’t got any official document up to now and were surprised with such an ‘in absentia’ charge on the part of the Crown Prosecution Service which could at least formally send us an invitation. I suppose that the Crown Prosecution Service artificially creates conditions for us not to be able to fly to Britain and meet the British justice representatives,” Andrey Lugovoy stated.
American NPR radio: Mr Lugovoy, how do you think your statement will be perceived in the UK? It is a serious accusation which you make six months after the poisoning of Mr Litvinenko. You have stated the reasons why you have waited so long before revealing this information, but are there any other reasons? Why have you decided to do it right now?
“Let me answer this question. For the six months which have passed after Mr Litvinenko’s death, we have been contacting and co-operating with the Russian Prosecutor General. We were ready to co-operate with the British prosecution, and we expected a thorough and impartial investigation. But since this is not happening, we understand that after these ‘in absentia’ charges we will not have any chance to meet the British investigators. So we decided that it would be the proper way to give them the information which they did not want to get from us. That is why we are making statements here. We are not saying everything that we know, please believe us,” commented Dmitry Kovtun.
BBC: You say you have hired lawyers in London. What is that for? Are you considering going to London to defend your name? And are you worried that you may be put on trial here in Russia? Also, you have alleged that the British Secret Service were trying to recruit you to get information about President Putin. Can you explain more about that, what sort of information they were trying to get from you?
“That is a very good question. We have been actively contacting with members of a prominent British law company. In January and February of this year we got in contact with it. In the beginning of March, we even had a conference for about an hour about our further activity. We got a proposal to sign a contract, but in April we suspended this because we found out that the representatives of the Russian prosecution service flew to London. Now we are considering inviting the representatives of this law company to Moscow for more detailed discussion of our forthcoming plans.
As far as our arrival in London is concerned, we think that the truth will come out. As for the proposal of Litvinenko and the British Special Service to collect the compromising materials about the top leadership of Russia, I have already told you everything that I considered necessary to say. The other things are already said and will be said to the representatives of the Russian Prosecution Service, including documents and materials,” Andrey Lugovoy resumed.
“Mayak” Radio: You have already said that you were limited by the Prosecutor General's office. Now it seems that you are no longer limited as you give a press-conference. Is it true? Also there are rumors in the media that you could be exchanged for Boris Berezovsky though officially it is denied. Were you officially assured this will not happen?
A.L.: We have not considered such a possibility, including extradition, because we stand on a very simple position: we are not guilty and we including myself, my family and Mr Kovtun, are not simply witnesses, but victims, as we were psychologically and otherwise attacked in the UK. That's why we have not discussed this with the Russian law enforcement agencies.
‘Vesti’ programme, RTV: What is the role of polonium in the whole issue? Was it used to compromise you, or the version about the alleged bomb which was being prepared by the terrorists – and Mr Litvinenko allegedly took part in it – is true?
A.L.: I am convinced that polonium was used to mark us and the places which we attended. I draw your attention to the fact that polonium was found only a month after we left Britain. That is all I have to say. These are not fingerprints with traces of polonium. Many people just do not imagine that. For example Mr Berezovsky says that the traces of polonium were found on the chair in which I sat. But Mr Litvivnko approached the Xerox machine where the traces of polonium were also found, and printed something. I did not approach it. As we think, Mr Litvivnenko visited Mr Berezovsky before our meeting in the Millennium on November 1, but after meeting Mario Scaramella.
D.K.: We think that Mr Litvinenko was somehow related to polonium. He might have been intentionally misled. Polonium marks are longstanding and thus, rather useful. Berezovsky separates the chairs occupied by Lugovoy and by Litvinenko, and distinguishes between more and less of polonium. As far as I have seen, the chairs there are not fixed and this does not prove anything. The chairs could be shifted. It is all very strange. Polonium could be used on purpose to leave marks and thus prove something. Taking into account the period of the British investigators' work they seem to use polonium like fingerprints though we think it was used intentionally to draw the attention of the investigators.
A.L.: Traces of polonium were not found in some places we visited and vice versa – it was found in places we have never been to.
‘Vesti’ programme, RTV: When did you learn you have polonium traces?
D.K: We learned about it on November 26 or 27, when the whole world heard about it. We became alerted because in case of polonium it is not the same as in case the person was poisoned for instance with thallium. We contacted the medical specialists who detected internal and external contamination with polonium.
A.L.: On November 1 my wife and three children were with me and nobody was planning to meet Litvinenko, but he called us many times and asked to meet him precisely in the hotel. We proposed to have meeting with him on November 2, because we planned to visit a certain office. I believe even if he was rejected he would still have tried to meet us in the hotel.
D.K.: We had not enough time and we told him to be on time as we still intended to spend some time in a bar we chose, when entered the hotel. We had never been there before. Lugovoy's family, and Mr Sokolenko should have joined us, but they got lost in the London streets near the hotel.
Bulgarian News: Have you informed the Russian special services about the attempts to recruit you, and what was their reaction, if any?
A.L.: Certainly I gave all the information available to the Russian law enforcement agencies, but I will not elaborate on the details of my relations with them due to matters of principle, because I pledged in written form to keep the secrets of investigation.
[media title incomprehensible]: It is a very serious allegation to suggest that MI6 was involved in Litvinenko's death. In fact you are accusing the British government of involvement. Do you have any evidence of this?
A.L.: Yes, I do. I treat all that very seriously. I think the British public should get very much interested in the activities of certain Russian nationals in the UK. They recruit Russian citizens, they sell British citizenships, while the media is completely unaware of it.
Eurasia News: You said that you have been treated for polonium poisoning. Could you please tell in more detail where you got treatment, how much it cost and how you feel now?
A.L.: We have been treated privately. Just imagine – the person dies in London and everybody knows what he died of. Everybody knows that we are the people who had a contact with this person and the British officials didn’t care about at least informing us about the danger to our health. And as the mass media said a lot about the polonium 210, we turned to one of the Moscow clinics, it is Hospital №6, and have been undergoing treatment for a month. It was rather expensive. As for my current condition, I feel fine.
RIA Novosti: You said you have suffered certain damages and are ready to pay to defend you honest name. What is your estimate of the damages? Will you try to cover them somehow?
A.L.: We suffered considerable psychological and moral damage, especially my family. Thank God, I have a strong and reliable family. As for the business, it was certainly affected. For instance, until recently I was among the owners of a plant in Ryazan district, and held negotiations with one of the leading world soft drinks companies on a bottling contract. After the scandal unfolded, the other party insisted that I terminate being a share-holder. In order not to damage my partners I sold my shares, thus suffering $US 25 MLN in damages.
D.K.: My business also suffered considerable damages, for my British partners have now decided to wait and see. One can also recall the situation of my being in a coma, which cannot be estimated.
German Television: Where are these traces of polonium in the places you visited in Germany, in your ex-wife's home in Hamburg, where did they come from?
D.K.: You should simply study the proper literature. Polonium leaves traces. If you put some polonium on a door-knob and someone touches it, this one would leave traces everywhere, and if someone other shakes hands with him, he, in turn, will leave traces. This is the reason for the traces in Hamburg on after October 16-17. These traces are miniscule and the German specialists determine them as secondary ones. After my first-ever visit to London on October 16, and meeting Litvinenko there, I began to leave traces all over Europe.
Russia Today: Testifying in the course of the investigation in Russia you pledged in written form to keep the investigation secret. You even indicated the article in the Criminal Code obliging you to withhold it. Why have you decided to make it public, and could you be prosecuted for it?
A.L.: We are giving general information only. I would like to note that the gentleman who read the statement of the Crown Prosecution with accusations against me did it in absentia, without even formally inviting me to London. Imagine them sending me an invitation making it public all over the world and then saying that Lugovoy rejected that invitation. We place the charges in absentia because he rejected an invitation. This was done intentionally on the public scale, defiantly toward my country and myself. Considering me a defendant it is aimed at somehow pointing to the Russian connection, to the possible production of polonium in Russia. The Prosecutor General's office should consider my current statements – my interviews over last 6 months touched upon my activities, general problems. Taking into account that I have been declared as the killer of Litvinenko worldwide, we have the right to answer in public.
Gazeta daily: Ex KGB agent Oleg Gordieyevsky estimated the poison used is worth of $US 10 MLN. Who can afford it?
A.L.: One who has over $US 10 MLN.
D.K.: The estimate is very strange. Mr Gordieyevsky recently claimed that some person of Oriental origin accompanied me from Hamburg to London, landing somehow in Heathrow instead of Gatwick I use traditionally. He claimed to know his name, how he crossed the border, showing some mysterious passports. And where is he? Whare is this someone called Vladimir who apparently was in the bar at the Millenium Hotel? First of all, there was Scaramella, then Lugovoy, then some Vladimir. Then it became known that the same day Litvinenko visited the office of Berezovsky, I met Zakayev and the friend of his who brought Litvinenko home. Someone else could be in this kaleidoscope. The UK special services pay no attention to that. Considering the questions of the UK investigators we learned that there are certain places in London we have not visited which have the traces of polonium. The British investigators insist we were there. They should impartially consider all the evidence instead of investigating one version only, including the so-called Russian connection. Let us take the abduction of the girl in Portugal – a Russian connection is found. It is everywhere. The media is always eager to talk about it.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper: You said that Mr Berezovsky was recruited by the UK special services and handed over certain documents to them, thus becoming a traitor. When did you learn it? Why is the case not open yet?
A.L.: Litvinenko said a lot about Berezovsky, especially in summer last year when his salary was cut from GBP5,000 to GBP1,000. He was eager to speak about Berezovsky.
D.K.: It was in my presence on October 16. Once we tried to get a taxi in London but without any result and Litvinenko sadly pointed out that he has done a lot for Berezovsky and the latter cut his salary, does not treat him properly, despite the fact that Litvinenko saved his life many times and helped him to get the political asylum. Litinenko claimed that he introduced Berezovsky to MI6 operatives and insisted that they considered Berezovsky seriously because he worked in Russia's Security Council and has some important papers. Then there was an incident with a pen and attempted poisoning which made it easier for Berezovsky to get the political asylum.
El Pais newspaper: Once you said that you had plans to fly to Spain. Who are your partners in Spain? What are your relations with Spain?
A.L.: I have beautiful relations with Spain though I have never been there. I like Spanish wine and even collect wines. I have simply planned to have a vacation with my wife in Spain.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper: As far as I understand from your speech, you are rather undesirable for the British special services and justice, both as a witness and as an accused. That is why they want to get you. In this respect, do you have fears for your life?
A.L.: Mr Berezovsky has already announced in public that I may be got rid of. In fact, looking at his life it took me a long time to decide for myself how seriously I can talk about this person. I think that someday a big book will be written about him, not by me, named “Devilish Story”, because those who got too close to him ended their lives rather tragically. Nobody rules out the possibility, and there was much published in the press about it, that he was one of the first persons who were suspected in Vladislav Listiev’s murder, a well-known Russian journalist of the 1990s. I worked for the ORT TV channel for a long time, and was head of the Security Department for five years. I was well informed about what was happening in the times when ORT was being formed. In my opinion, Vladislav Listiev not becoming the head of the ORT, was advantageous only for Berezovsky. That's the first thing. Besides, if you take a look at other people who were around him, such people as the famous deputies Yushchenkov and Golovlev. Both of them were close to Boris Berezovsky. He was funding not only their parties but also their private life. Subsequently, all these people were killed and Litvinenko was the next person in this line-up. The scandal about journalist Evgeny Kiselev in 2001 also comes to my mind. Certain phrases I heard from Berezovsky concerning this scandal, which we later discussed with Litvinenko back in 2001, make me think that Berezovsky was preparing a serious provocation against Kiselev, when he became director of TV6. I’m almost sure, and Litvinenko confirmed this, that the porno clip with Evgeny Kiselev, which was shown on internet, was made by people hired by Berezovsky. Litvinenko even proposed this tape to me as a gift. As far as I know, the equipment used to make this film at Kiselev’s apartment or wherever, was later found during the search in Logovaz’s office, but that is only according to Litvinenko’s words. Remember also Ivan Rybkin. He was trying to get away from our bodyguards, when he suddenly left Russia and headed for Kiev. His security brought him home. He said he felt bad and would stay at home for the next two days. He even gave a call to his relatives in his bodyguard’s presence and said he would stay at home. But as I understand now, he got into the car in just 30 minutes after his bodyguard left, came to Kaluga, got on the train and fled to Kiev. By the way, Rybkin’s security was paid by Mr Berezovsky, and his house in Nemchinovka village was bought for him by Mr Berezovsky as well as even his pen was bought by Mr Berezovsky. Boris Berezovsky is a master of political intrigues. And I think if something happens to me, this, of course, will be to the advantage of Boris Berezovsky. There is one important thing I would like to add. I don’t know, whether Berezovsky has anything to do with the death of Anna Politkovskaya, but I know for sure that in November-December, 2006, Boris Berezovsky, as I understand it, was preparing a provocation against journalist Elena Tregubova. You must have noticed that in April 2007 Ms Tregubova suddenly flew out of Russia and tried to receive political asylum in the UK. Here I have with me a printout of Berezovsky’s interview to Russian investigators. As you know there are questions concerning Elena Tregubova in it and these questions, of course, are not accidental. While replying these questions Boris Berezovsky is lying through teeth both about what concerns Elena Tregubova, and the purposes of my meeting with him. Berezovsky is always saying we met on October 31, 2006, and this is a blatant lie. I thought at first he must have confused the date, 2-3 days here or there, it is only natural, but I know that when you come to Berezovsky’s office there is a security guard sitting downstairs and recording all visitors. Let British investigators take a look at this register. If I am not recorded there on October 27 it surely means a lot. On October 31, 2006, I was in London with my family. I didn’t leave the hotel that evening and there were many witnesses to that as we had a joint supper with my family. There are also a lot of cameras there, it could be checked easily. Why is Berezovsky lying that we had a meeting on October 31? Here is the answer. On October 26, when I was in London, Boris Berezovsky suddenly called on my English mobile number. By the way, he had never called me since he left Russia himself. And so he called me and proposes to meet in his office the next day. For seven years he never asked me for anything and, besides, how did he know I was in London? The next day, on October 27, I came to his office in the evening, at about 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. I was registered in the log-book. There were a lot of witnesses to this, like secretaries and his partners and assistants. We were talking about 10 minutes. First, he asked me how it was in Russia, but then interrupted me without actually listening by saying that Putin’s regime would soon be disposed of. During the conversation he asked me to provide protection to Elena Tregubova. I said ‘why not, we need clients but what is the problem?’ And Berezovsky answered that he was afraid the same thing as happened to Politkovskaya could happen to her. I wondered what was his evidence? He said there was no evidence, but fears as she wrote against President Putin. He asked me how much it would cost to give protection to her. I announced the sum and he agreed to pay for it. Then he asked me some other questions concerning the deal. But the most interesting is that during his interview to Russian investigators Berezovsky said the main purpose of his invitation was to thank me for giving protection to his daughter Elizaveta. This is a cynical lie. Berezovsky didn’t even know we were protecting his daughter. She came to Saint Petersburg by herself. Berezovsky’s people started protecting her but she didn’t like it and asked me to provide her security. In reality, some kind of provocation was being prepared against Elena Tregubova, I repeat. Before Boris Berezovsky never asked himself to provide somebody’s security. He asked his assistants to do that. This time it was Berezovsky who did it. When we came to Moscow we decided to take a pause and for some time not to give Tregubova protection. Thank God, Tregubova was on vacation till December 15, 2006. But Berezovsky invited me to make sure personally that my people were going to provide Tregubova’s security, because if something happened it would be a wonderful alibi and, after Litvinenko’s death, a good reason to say that Tregubova’s possible death and the death of Litvinenko were somehow connected. This is what I wanted to say.
Sunday Times: When was there an attempt to recruit you? Why did you continue to contact Litvinenko after that? Have you informed the Russian special services?
A.L.: All my statements represent a sort of analysis. The UK special services contacted me a year ago. I am a businessman and other British partners were much more promising than Litvinenko. So this relationship was rather on the sidelines. I will not identify them because these contacts are still active. Litvinenko hinted I could have problems with the visa and that certainly bothered me. I have got a UK visa 4 times, and have never been invited for the interview in the Embassy. In June 2006, I had problems to obtain a visa. I understood it as a signal and decided to act calmly and politely to explain to them it was useless to establish special relations with me and make Litvinenko do business, instead of selling the Motherland.
D.K.: I met Litvinenko three times and learned he was more interested in business than in politics. Many times he said that the years spent on Berezovsky were fruitless, he earned nothing and wanted to enter some serious Russia-oriented business very much. After visiting some British company, we discussed the prospects and came to the conclusion that he should quit politics and literature if he wants to work with us, because it is impossible to make money on Russia simultaneously throwing mud at it. We told Litvinenko that he could either get a one-time commission and leave us alone, or continue work with us, getting regular instalments, but we could'nt associate with him in Russia in his present state. We asked him to choose.
A.L.: I will not reveal the details of my relations with the law-enforcement agencies in Russia.
[media incomprehensible]: What are the links of Litvinenko with the Caucasus?
D.K.: He told me that he can solve any problem there, that he has serious contacts there, but without any details. Litvinenko claimed that he visited Pankisi Gorge in Georgia [where the refugees from Chechnya have found temporary shelter] with the papers of a political refugee. He did not give any reason for these trips. He comes from Nalchik in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in the North Caucasus, and claimed to be able to solve any problem there too. He hinted to be behind the violent developments there. I am a former Russian officer, and I did nor want to discuss it any more, so I did not ask any further questions.
A.L.: Litvinenko told me that he visited Istanbul frequently and met the Chechen separatists there on the orders from Akmed Zakayev.
[media incomprehensible]: You said you intended to go to London to be interviewed, but when asked if still wanted to go there now, you gave no indication of being willing to go. Why did you want to go before, and why did you not want to go now?
A.L.: I have a question: why did the Crown Prosecution chose the form of placing charges against me in absentia? What has prevented them from inviting me to London? Find Philip Boots and ask him whether Mr Lugovoy or his aides called him? Whether Lugovoy asked for an invitation? Ask the UK Embassy whether I visited or called them, whether I asked them to issue an official document on my status indicating the invitation of the Crown Prosecution? I am surprised by some statements calling on me to fly to London to defend myself. They say the judicial system in Russia is corrupted and it is OK in the UK.
D.K.: Litvinenko was very happy with the UK judicial system and the fact it is very easy to prove anything there, for instance to make a statement to a judge and he believes you. It is very handy for a person from Russia who is accustomed to something completely different.
A.L.: Litvinenko said that there are unimaginable idiots in the UK who believe anything we say. I underline this.
Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper: Mr Kovtun, what can you say about your case in Gernany? Mr Lugovoy, what can you say about your relations with Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili?
D.K.: No idea, no information. My lawyer cannot enter the case as the police prevents him from that. And I have got information from the German prosecutor's office that they cannot guarantee that I will not be arrested if I enter Germany.
A.L.: I consider Mr Patarkatsishvili my friend and know him for many years. I respect him very much and I will continue to do so. I consider him to be my business partner and would rather avoid revealing any other details.
Andrey Lugovoy’s statements aroused swift reaction. The stance remains the same: Russia is not going to extradite Andrey Lugovoy. Moscow has not ruled out that if British investigators produce the right kind of evidence, Mr Lugovoy may be tried in Russia as some experts believe
“It is extremely unlikely that anyone is going to be extradited. I think it is much more likely that Russia’s Prosecutor General will say that if it is something that is for real, we will open our own case in Russia,” said Andrey Kortunov, the head of Eurasia Foundation.
Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has already begun investigating the versions proposed by Andrey Lugovoy. What was made public on Thursday was long known to Russian prosecutors dealing with the case.
“All the information on the Litvinenko’s murder which Andrey Lugovoy made public will be carefully examined by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office. Lugovoy’s statements provided no sensations for us. The Prosecutor General’s Office will also check information connected to other criminal cases mentioned by Lugovoy,” stressed Marina Gridneva, a spokesperson for the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office.
But to some they came as a disturbing surprise. Andrey Lugovoy's statements caught the attention of Russia's Federal Security Service.
“Statements made by Andrey Lugovoy will be assessed for damage to Russia's security,” noted Sergey Ignatchenko from the Federal Security Service.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev commented on today’s statements made by Andrey Lugovoy.
“The current development in the Litvinenko case is most interesting,” Konstantin Kosachev noted. “I believe that we have to deal not just with quantitative changes, more versions being presented, but with qualitative changes, because now we have to speak about those common values which are so often matters for discussion between Russia and Great Britain in particular. In this case, if we follow the logic of Mr Lugovoy, we have to deal with alleged attempts to sponsor terrorism in political purposes; we have to deal with attempts to set pressure on free journalists, to interfere with the political life, the activities of the Russian Parliament and the election campaign of 2004. And we have to deal with very serious accusations against British secret services for their attempts to establish co-operation with the Russian citizens, including Mr Berezovsky who had key positions in the Russian national security system in the 1990s”.
Konstantin Kosachev also stressed that all these things are to be investigated very seriously. “I hope that we will be able to establish good co-operation in this matter with our British colleagues, and I do believe that they will take these new versions as serious as they should be taken, and as they will be taken by our investigators,” he concluded.
As soon as Mr Lugovoy’s press conference started, all the British media had it on the top of their headlines.
Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office issued a statement on Thursday morning saying “Our position is clear. A request for the extradition of Mr Lugovoy to stand trial in the UK has been issued and has been handed over to the Russian authorities.”
Now the British officials are awaiting the formal Russian response and the British Foreign Office stated clearly: “This is a criminal matter and not an issue of intelligence.”
Before Mr Lugovoy came out with his press conference, Mr Berezovsky had already started giving interviews to the media on Wednesday, reportedly saying that Andrey Lugovoy should fear for his life.
As for Mr Lugovoy's allegations that Mr Berezovsky is an MI6 agent, Boris Berezovsky has strongly denied this sort of accusation.