Interview with Andrey Lugovoy
Andrey Lugovoy, suspected by Scotland Yard of murdering former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, gives his version of the mysterious Polonium 210 poisoning in an exclusive interview with RT.
RT: Hi, Mr Lugovoy and thanks for having us over. We are in the Russian State Duma now, having tea in your faction’s conference room. Are you on a lunch break?
Andrey Lugovoy: Traditionally, Tuesday is the day when deputies work within their parties. Most of the time is usually spent studying various documents, bills, letters from voters, and meeting various people, including journalists.
RT: Many people are wondering what is your exact function, what are the decisions you get to make, what is it exactly what you are doing here?
A.L.: This is my first year, but I’m a rather energetic person, so I do my best to get into things I consider crucial.
RT: Probably you don’t get questions very often about Litvinenko and the whole ways in this particular building, do you?
A.L.:Not only in these corridors but in other corridors as well. I believe the last time somebody asked me about the Litvinenko case was back in February.
RT: But still if it wasn’t for Litvinenko, do you think we would be sitting here, sipping tea in the State Duma?
A.L.: Of course not. I harbour no illusion that I’m special. My experience just confirms how great the power of the media is. It is possible to take a man nobody knows – or hardly anybody knows – and turn him into a hero-or an anti-hero. To the West, I’m an anti-hero; to Russia, as many people suggest, I’m a hero. In fact, I don’t consider myself any of the above. Things just happened that way. As one of my friends likes to say, “Any lemon can be turned into lemonade.” I believe the lemonade I made is not too bad. It’s sweet.
RT: When you’re alone with yourself, do you still sometimes think about Litvinenko’s death with the fact that you were made an anti-hero?
A.L.:Since I had nothing to do with his death, my conscience is absolutely clear – I don’t have nightmares. Somebody asked me once if Litvinenko ever comes to me in my dreams. I can tell you frankly: fortunately, in the past two years, this has never happened.
RT: You’ve stated many times possible versions of Litvinenko’s death, but as time goes by perception of things changes. Two years on, I’m going to ask you a question that you’ve heard millions of times: Who killed Litvinenko?
A.L.:It’s difficult for me to say specifically who may have killed him. All I can say is that sometimes interests of various people or groups converge. In Litvinenko’s case, clearly, Berezovsky, the British secret services, and perhaps Litvinenko himself all had a common interest. Still, somebody did kill him – either that, or (and this is yet another, fourth, theory, which I consider to be quite legitimate) he may have poisoned himself accidentally with the polonium he may have had. Anyway, they all had a common interest, but after the accident took place, they all started pursuing their own goals.
RT: What would Litvinenko have been doing with polonium?
A.L.: I believe, if Litvinenko did play with polonium, it was not because he had plans to sell it or to smuggle it somewhere. If he did have polonium, this would definitely mean he and his Chechen friends planned some kind of provocation on Russia’s territory.
RT: Did you have only common business ties with Litvinenko or you also had some sort of personal relationship?
A.L.:We have never had any personal relationship. As for our business ties, these ties lasted merely for a month or two. After British special services began their attempts to recruit me, my relationship with him was limited to issues of my own security.
RT: So you were being recruited?
RT: How exactly was it happening? Can you give me a quote of how you were being recruited?
A.L.: They proposed to use my security company (the business I have) as a cover for British agents and their activities. Also, they wanted to use me and my connections to gather and analyse information for the British secret services. This included working with compromising materials on various Russian officials they were going to give me. Also, they wanted me to purchase any compromising materials I’d be able to obtain on Russia’s top officials, including (as I have frankly and repeatedly stated in the past) President Putin and his family.
RT: Were you offered money?
A.L.:This was a hypothetical conversation. Naturally, I tried to avoid it and refused to continue. Hence, there was nothing specific said about money. But they did say they were willing to open an account in Britain and to make a deposit. They even mentioned the amount: 50,000 pounds. This was just a retainer.
That’s why I tend to think that initially they planned some kind of provocation. Maybe the secret services had some project they were working on; maybe, Litvinenko talked them into something. Anyway, Litvinenko was busy working on something. What was their plan? I think what happened eventually was different from what they planned initially, that somehow things got out of hand. Because after the incident with Litvinenko, we remained in London for two more days, and they did nothing to detain us.
RT: What was your reaction when you first heard that Litvinenko was dying in a London hospital from a highly unusual poisoning?
A.L.:I was surprised. Of course, I called my lawyers right away. Then, the next morning, at 10am, I called the British Embassy.
RT: Even though this story doesn’t make headlines anymore, every time the Litvinenko case is mentioned, your name automatically comes up and there are a lot of people who are still convinced that you killed Litvinenko. Now at this point, what’s important to you – to forget the whole thing or to prove to the rest of the world that you’re innocent?
A.L.:It all depends on my current condition. When I’m busy, I don’t feel like thinking about these things; when I have some spare time, why not? By the way, my partner Dmitry Kovtun is currently considering the possibility of flying to London to clarify his status, because he’s not even sure if he is a suspect or a witness in the case.
It is very important for the British to leave the case hanging in the air. Yesterday, we gave an interview to a well-known British newspaper, The Times. We told them, the most terrible scenario for the British prosecution service would be if we were to announce we were willing to travel to London – because they did everything they could to scare us out of doing it.
RT: So why don’t you go there? Are you ready to fly to London?
A.L.:Of course not, not now. Think about the twelve jury members who have been under pressure from the media for two years. Like you just said, whenever the Litvinenko case is mentioned, the name Lugovoy automatically comes up.
RT: You mentioned an interesting fact about your business partner, Dmitry Kovtun, who is considering going to the Great Britain. What is his status now?
A.L.: Dmitry Kovtun has tried to contact German police through his lawyer – and he’s currently trying to contact British police – to clarify his status. Moreover, here’s another interesting detail: they came and interviewed Kovtun a week after Litvinenko’s death. After that, there was a whole series of examinations and interrogations. Alright, in my case, they did charge me. But why don’t they send a request to the Russian Prosecutor General for another interview with Kovtun? Why don’t they contact Kovtun and me directly and ask us to come to Britain and testify in the case? They haven’t contacted us. They always go through the Prosecutor General.
RT: Can you travel the world freely?
A.L.:No. I can only travel inside Russia: Altay, Kamchatka, Vladivostok…
RT: What are going to do about it? You can’t possibly stay constrained in Russia for the rest of your life.
A.L.:We expect that in time, after emotions wane, and reason prevails, we will be able to at least talk to them and discuss various possibilities. We insist that they send the papers here, and let the Prosecutor General decide whether the case should go to court.
RT: If you could go back, what would you have done differently?
A.L.:I didn’t know Litvinenko was that crazy. So, if I could go back in time, to my first meeting with Litvinenko, or rather to our second or third meeting, when he started approaching me with all sorts of proposals, I’d just punch him in the face.