Thursday, December 14, 2006

Was Litvinenko - just the spy who wasn't loved enough?

This Reuters report would be very reassuring if it was credible:
BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of an organization of former Russian spies was quoted as saying on Thursday Stalin-era policies of Moscow assassinating enemies had ceased, and ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was probably murdered by criminals.
Former KGB agent Valentin Velichko, head of a Moscow-based Russian nationalist foundation called "Dignity and Honor," said in an interview that Litvinenko, who died on November 23 from severe radiation poisoning, was a traitor but was not killed by Moscow.

"That was long ago. It belonged to the days of Stalin," Velichko told Die Welt newspaper. He was referring to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who in the 1930s led a campaign of political persecution, repression and executions.

"In those days there was a special department called "V," which handled the liquidation of political opponents," said Velichko, who also heads the Veterans of Foreign Intelligence. Asked about the assassination of Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov, who was killed with a poison dart coated with deadly ricin shot from an umbrella in 1978, decades after Stalin's death, Velichko said this was probably the last one.

"In the system of Russia's secret services there was and is no department for liquidations," he said. Velichko was asked if some people in his organization might have wanted to settle scores with Litvinenko. He said, "No." "I see it (Litvinenko's murder) as a dispute among criminals," he said. At the same time, Velichko said Litvinenko had revealed secrets, which "made him a traitor under the law."
However, the denial sounds like it just came straight out of the old KGB playbook, which in turn could be explained away by saying the FSB has adopted a decidedly 'green' ethos.

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