Tag Archives: Kremlin

UK announces inquiry into former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko’s murder

FILE - In this Friday, May 10, 2002 file photo Alexander Litvinenko, former KGB spy and author of the book FILE – In this Friday, May 10, 2002 file photo Alexander Litvinenko, former KGB spy and author of the book “Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within”, is photographed at his home in London. The British government Tuesday, July 22, 2014 announced plans for a wide-ranging public inquiry into the 2006 death of poisoned ex-Russian spy Litvinenko. The decision, which comes at a time of rising tensions with Russia, means investigators can look into whether the Russian state played a role in Litvinenko’s demise. (AP Photo/Alistair Fuller, File)

LONDON (AP) — The British government announced plans Tuesday for a wide-ranging public inquiry into the mysterious 2006 death of poisoned former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.

The decision, which comes at a time of rising tensions with Russia, is a breakthrough in the much-delayed probe because it means investigators can look into whether the Russian state was involved in Litvinenko’s death.

Here are key facts about the case.


A former officer in the Russian intelligence service, Litvinenko fell out with the Russian government and became a strong critic of the Kremlin. He came to Britain in 2000 and obtained political asylum.

Litvinenko died in 2006, aged 43, after drinking tea laced with polonium-210 at a London hotel.


That remains a mystery. On his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of responsibility. The former agent’s family believes the Kremlin ordered his killing.

Britain identified the two Russian men who met Litvinenko for tea — ex-KGB agent Alexander Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun — as prime suspects. Both denied responsibility. British prosecutors decided to charge Lugovoi with murder, but Moscow refused to extradite him.

Questions were also raised about whether British security officials could have done anything to prevent the death. Lawyers for Litvinenko’s family said he was working for Britain’s intelligence service, MI6, at the time of his death.

Alexander LitvinenkoFormer Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko final hours


#MH17: world’s anger at Russia grows as bodies pile on to train at crash site

Experts fear clues as to why Malaysia Airlines plane was brought down could be lost for ever as chaos at scene persists.

The OSCE monitors have had to take the word of the local emergency services that 196 bodies have been found so far. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty ImagesThe OSCE monitors have had to take the word of the local emergency services that 196 bodies have been found so far. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Masked, hooded men ran along the platform nervously waving their guns, as the large grey door to one of five train carriages was levered open. A ghoulish stench poured out; inside the glint of shiny black body bags piled in a heap was visible. A group of international monitors from the OSCE peered in briefly, and then the door was swung shut again.

That this event was seen as a great breakthrough in the cleanup of the MH17 air disaster only goes to show what a grimly farcical mess it has been up to now.

As politicians, investigators and relatives of the dead across the world express growing anger at the Kremlin for not forcing pro-Russian rebels to offer more cooperation, there has yet to be any serious examination of the crash site. Experts suggested vital clues to how the Malaysia Airlines Boeing was brought down could be lost forever as the site continued to be a free-for-all on the fourth day after the tragedy, which took 298 lives.

Buk missile launcher filmed in two towns

The small OSCE mission on the scene is made up merely of monitors. Not a single international aviation expert or investigator has visited the site, as evidence disappears. Until Sunday lunchtime, nobody even knew where the body bags from the site had been taken, with dark rumours swirling. Even now, the OSCE monitors have had to take the word of the local emergency services that 196 bodies have been found so far.

“We have not been able to count them as that would be too difficult in this situation,” said Alexander Hug, the deputy chief of the OSCE mission, as he was circled by rebels with guns.

Michael Bociurkiw, the spokesman for the mission, added: “Going inside the wagons is impossible without special equipment. The stench is very, very bad.”

The OSCE are fully at the mercy of the rebels, and were only told of the fate of the bodies on Sunday: “We are waiting for the rebels to call us and tell us what we can do,” one of the monitors had said over breakfast in a Donetsk hotel earlier in the day. “They are heavily armed and we are unarmed, so we don’t have much of a choice.”

At the crash site, the rebel fighters who had been stationed there and barred access on previous days had gone, but chaos still reigned. Volunteer miners and local emergency workers continued to find bodies in the corn and sunflower fields throughout the day on Sunday, and stacked them by the side of the road in thick plastic bags: black for more or less whole bodies, and green for small parts. By the afternoon at least 18 freshly bagged corpses lined the road.

There was a complete lack of control over access to the site. The world’s television media seemed oblivious to the irony of criticising the chaos while contributing to it – wading through fields to get a better shot with little regard for the human and material debris below. Sky had to apologise after one of its reporters rummaged through a suitcase on camera for effect.

Elsewhere, items had been moved and piled up by the search teams on the side of the road – suitcases stacked next to each other; and three football biographies, of Kevin Keegan, Ron Atkinson and Nigel Clough, lined up in a neat row.

Nevertheless, despite the loud accusations of looting by locals, it is unclear how widespread this has been. Dozens of eminently lootable items – watches, new pairs of shoes and even somehow unharmed bottles of duty-free alcohol visible from the road lay untouched on the ground, and at one site locals had even brought furry toys and small candles in tribute. It was unclear if and how relatives would ever be able to take possession of the items that lay scattered over a huge radius.

There was widespread international suspicion that the rebels may have been deliberately attempting to restrict access to the site in order to destroy important evidence. International experts said that preserving the site intact was key to understanding what exactly happened to MH17.

Phil Giles, formerly with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, said: “It’s absolutely crucial to seal of any crash site because it’s similar to the scene of a crime and you don’t want any contamination. The reason the site needs not to be disturbed is because if you accidentally shot down a Malaysia Airlines plane the first thing you would do is find the record casing [from the aircraft's flight recorder] and disappear it.”

Giles, who looked into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, said the site would also be contaminated by people trampling over the wreckage. He said that the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing hinged on a thumbnail-sized piece of the bomb’s timing device that could easily have been walked into the ground. Other experts said in some cases, traces of the blast on the aeroplane’s surface could even reveal the manufacturer of the missile.

Additionally, the cockpit recording of the explosion might contain a “fingerprint” that could identify the type of missile used, said Tony Cable, an investigator who worked for the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch for 32 years.

Ukrainian security forces have released an audio of what is alleged to be a series of intercepted phone calls between two rebel leaders, which suggest the rebels may already be in possession of up to three of the boxes containing vital clues about the final moments of the flight.

“The boxes must be under our control,” says one of the voices. “Our friends from high above are very interested in the fate of the ‘black boxes’. I mean people from Moscow”.

Questioned about whether he was in contact with Russian authorities over the black boxes, self-styled prime minister of the Donetsk People’ Republic Alexander Borodai said only, “officially, no”.

Borodai said that rebels had found “technical elements” that are believed to be the black boxes. They will be “stored in a safe place” in Donetsk until they can be handed over to “international experts,” he said.

As more and more time has passed since the crash, international anger and anguish has grown, especially in the two countries most affected. The Netherlands’ best-selling paper De Telegraaf called for Nato troops to be deployed in eastern Ukraine, while prime minister Mark Rutter called attempts to block the site “totally disgusting”. In Malaysia, the country’s youth and sport minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “Pro-Russian terrorists have not handled #MH17 victims with dignity. Putin promised PM @NajibRazak he would help. He hasn’t.”

In Donetsk, the rebels shrugged off these accusations, claiming they would welcome any international experts, but none had shown any desire to arrive yet. Borodai said that the Donetsk People’s Republic was expecting a team of 81 international experts, including 20 Malaysians specialists, who would “probably arrive tomorrow evening”. The rebel leader said he did not know why the international community had not responded quicker to the incident. “I cannot understand why the experts cannot come here immediately, we are not an island, it should be easy for them to come here,” he told press.

However with military clashes between the Ukrainian army and rebels continuing in the area, there are obvious safety issues, as well as the fact that Donetsk airport has been inactive since it was the scene of a huge battle in May.

A forensic expert working with the Red Cross has arrived in Donetsk on Sunday after the humanitarian support organisation’s offer of assistance in dealing with the crash site was accepted by the Donetsk authorities. However a diplomatic source in Kiev said that the main international delegation plans to travel to Kharkiv, the east Ukrainian city where there are plans to transport the bodies.

A number of stories told by locals showed just how haphazard the gathering of the bodies has been. At the main hospital in Torez, a man arrived in a white Lada and pulled the corpse of a child from the boot, around two hours after the crash on Thursday.

The boy was perhaps six or seven and looked Asian, recalled duty nurse Olga. The man was a local and had arrived on the scene shortly after the crash. Spotting the child, the same age as his own son, he had been overcome with emotion and decided to bring the body to hospital, so as to avoid stray dogs attacking the corpse.

“He was covered in blood, so much blood. He was wearing a green T-shirt which had been pulled up around his neck, and there were burns on the body and injuries to his arms and legs,” she said.

The hospital washed and refrigerated the corpse of the boy, but were later told he should be delivered to a nearby village, so was taken in an ambulance. From there, the nurses believe, he was part of a convoy of around 38 bodies that were taken to the train at Torez.

After the OSCE departed the station, the armed men left with them, and the platform was left in an eerie silence. The train driver shrugged and said he had no idea of its destination, or its departure time. In the musty, decaying interior of the small station building a few locals gathered, wondering when the next passenger train would arrive.

“You only came here because they are foreigners dead,” said one. “We’ve been having a war here for months.”

Additional reporting: Harriet Salem in Donetsk and Josh Halliday

The Guardian.

#Russia #Today’s “Genocide in Eastern Ukraine”: #Sick, #distorted and #deleted.

Russia Today's despicable propaganda video

The Kremlin-funded TV channel Russia Today has first shown, and then removed, a film in which it claims that ’the junta’ in Kyiv and its ’Nazi mercenaries’ are carrying out genocide, ethnic cleansing and starving its population, while children are being taught Nazi slogans and salutes.

The Kremlin should surely investigate why Russia Today, the TV channel it lavishly funds took so much trouble to produce a ‘Truthseeker’1 programme on the ‘Kyiv junta’s’ alleged ‘genocide in eastern Ukraine only to remove all trace of it from its site.  Why if, as it claims, eyewitnesses have spoken of “unarmed civilians being systematically massacred – village after village, town after town – all under complete mainstream media silence”, has Russia Today followed suit ?

The video for the moment can be viewed here.  Can and should, most particularly by broadcasting councils in all countries where Russia Today is widely watched as a ‘counterweight to the mainstream media’.  The channel can also be accessed in hotels as the Russian counterpart to the BBC or Deutsche Welle.

Anybody who happened to be watching RT, or simply flicking channels, on July 13 came upon a truly disturbing ‘documentary’.   After contentious assertions about the US’s role in the Rwandan Genocide, the viewer is told about another genocide supposedly taking place before our eyes, in eastern Ukraine where, according to RT, Kyiv is carrying out daily mass bombings of unarmed civilians.  They are ‘reportedly using “cluster bombs designed to kill or maim everyone in the surrounding area”.

The viewer is then shown the funeral of Vanya who had celebrated his 5th birthday the day before “the junta’s cluster bomb blew his leg off”.

There are some staggering moments, such as the assertion by Eric Zuesse that the current government in Kyiv is “the most far-right-wing government on the face of the earth.”  For anyone wishing to appreciate the full depth and scope of this ‘investigative historian’, further thoughts on the ‘ethnic cleansing’ he claims is underway in Ukraine can be found in “Who profits from Ukraine’s war”.  The author states that  “at the bottom levels (the level of the troops who are carrying it out) there indeed is a very strong ethnic hatred of the Russian-speaking population, and so it is overtly naziistic (or hate-driven fascism) at those lower levels”.  His, as it were, scholarly, focus is, however, on “the aristocratic psychopaths at the top of the operation”.

The TV producers clearly decided that all this was too complex for their viewers and provide catchy labels like ‘openly Nazi mercenaries’ and “the direct successor to Hitler’s Wehrmacht” as their way of describing the Ukrainian military.  The latter, we are told, are directly targeting civilians “who had no other crime but their ethnicity”.

Some points are written out on the screen for maximum effect.

“One day the Right Sektor, National Guard, Azov and Dniepr Battalion mercenaries came to Saurovka village and they instilled European values. They took the men alive and cut off the limbs. First their arms, then legs, then the heads. They did not cut the women – they raped them.”


RT claims that the military have also “murdered and tortured” journalists, naming the Pyervy Kanal journalist Anatoly Klyan almost certainly sent to his death by the Kremlin-back militants and Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli

The renowned journalist Anne Applebaum called the programme “sick and distorting”, and some parts are indeed so cynical and full of lies that it is difficult to even write about them. These include the claims that the ‘junta’ has prevented people escaping, condemning them to try to survive on berries, with stark predictions that come winter there will be scenes like those during the blockade of Leningrad in World War II. Or the accusation that the military are “walking up to somebody, disembowelling them, a child”. They are accused of “even bombing the wheat fields”. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is claimed to have labelled nearly half the country as “subhuman” with extensive coverage aimed at linked the Kyiv government to Nazi Germany and its treatment of Slavs as ‘Untermenschen’.

It would be difficult to name one most offensive moment, but certainly in the running would be the manipulative images of young children and claims that they are taught Nazi slogans and salutes from an early age.

This truly sick broadcast came just two days after a Russian Pyervy Kanal interview made world headlines with its assertion that the three-year-old son of a militant had been crucified by Ukrainian soldiers on the non-existent Lenin Square in the centre of Slovyansk. There was outrage and calls for those responsible to be called to account. What was meant, it should be stressed, was those responsible for such primitive war propaganda and misinformation since the story was a pack of lies.

It may have been the fallout from that scandal which led to RT quietly removing the offensive material. It may even be the renewed calls for third-level sanctions as Russia continues to encroach upon Ukrainian territory, amass troops on the border and openly support the militants in eastern Ukraine. Or it is simply a ploy – the film was, after all, viewed by a large number of people many of whom will have no idea how grossly they were being misinformed.

The smoking gun remains and warrants close scrutiny given the overt use made of manifest lies to try to justify Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, to fuel tension in Donbas and incite Russian nationals to come to eastern Ukraine to fight the Kremlin’s undeclared war.

Screenshots from the programme which was doubtless seen by a very large number of viewers can be found below.

And more lies lies.. Lies,


  1. Russia Today’ wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and bit them in the arse! 

Paul Goble: #Putin’s #Russia becoming like #Hitler’s #Reich, Portnikov says

Russians Failing to Notice Ways Their Country Becoming Like Hitler’s Reich, Portnikov Says

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (back 5th R) chairs a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, on July 3, 2014.Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (back 5th R) chairs a meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, on July 3, 2014. Putin has called today for more patriotic education for his country’s youth in order to protect them from foreign influences in what he views as a global ideological battle. In an ongoing standoff with the West over Ukraine, the Kremlin is pursuing an increasingly isolationist cultural policy. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ POOL / ALEXEI NIKOLSKY © AFP

Staunton, July 5 – “Putin’s Russia has already long been a Reich1” much like Hitler’s Germany, but ordinary Russians now, like ordinary Germans 75 years ago, have not taken note of the fact because so far the state’s repressive attentions have not been directed primarily at them, according to Vitaly Portnikov.

Portnikov, a Ukrainian commentator who earlier lived in Moscow for two decades, says that he reached this bitter and unexpected conclusion because the Russian Investigation Committee has announced plans to interview all citizens of Ukraine who are on the territory of the Russian Federation.

So far, the committee has interviewed some 4,000 of them, a small fraction of the millions of Ukrainian citizens living in the Russian Federation, asking them about Ukrainian military dislocations and plans. To interview all Ukrainian citizens will require much if not all of the resources of the committee.

But “behind these boring lines is a picture of growing insanity,” the emergence of a situation in which “every individual who has in his pocket ‘not that’ passport will become the object of attention of the law enforcement organs simply because he does not have the happiness to be a Russian citizen or a citizen of some other country which has surrendered to the Kremlin.”

If the Ukrainian answers these questions, he may be committing treason against his own country; if he refuses, he may find himself accused of a crime up to and including planning for a terrorist act in Moscow. Given that danger, he will likely sign whatever the Russian investigators require, just like in 1937.

In short, what is taking place is “the most banal rape under the form of an investigation. Ordinary fascism.”

Portnikov says that it is “difficult” for him to understand how Russia could so rapidly degenerate in this way. When he lived in Moscow with a Ukrainian passport, he never had the sense that that document alone put him “in a zone of risk, in a zone of interests of the sadists from the Investigation Committee.”

Having watched what is going on now, he continues, he “very well understand what the Jews of the preceding Reich felt when on one fine day they were forced to wear yellow stars.”

“Citizens of Ukraine who are living in Russia now are in a position equivalent to those Jews from the Reich,” he says, even while “the Russians living alongside them do not feel this and do not understand” because their lives are not yet being disturbed, exactly the same reaction of many Germans to what the Nazis did to the Jews.

“I assure you, my Russian readers, that this is only the beginning,” Portnikov continues. After Russian officialdom gets through with Ukrainian citizens, it will turn to “ethnic Ukrainians or even no-Ukrainians or simply people who have relatives in Ukraine.” And the questions and the sense of being separated out and isolated will spread.

Members of these groups, of course, will not be able to get positions requiring any clearance as the Georgians have already discovered And “ethnic Ukrainians with Russian passports and other emigrants from Ukraine await the fate of the Georgians – even if these Ukrainians will come running with the flags” of the secessionists.

In short, whether they have noticed it or not, ordinary Russians living under the Putin regime are facing as Pastor Niemoller moment, when they may assume that the authorities are only coming for others but when in fact at the end of the day those authorities will be coming for them as well.

Paul GoblePaul Goble

Window on Eurasia — New Series

  1.  Reich is a German word that could be roughly translated as “nation”, “realm.” or “Empire”. 

Rebel leaders in Ukraine feel ‘abandoned’ by Putin

A pro-Russian militant looks through the scope of his rifle during the storm of the regional police station in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 1, 2014.A pro-Russian militant looks through the scope of his rifle during the storm of the regional police station in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on July 1, 2014. © AFP

One of Russia’s best-known ultra-nationalists has claimed separatists fighting in Ukraine feel betrayed and abandoned by Vladimir Putin.

Aleksandr Dugin said he talks to some of the most prominent rebel leaders in east Ukraine “five to six” times a day by phone and that they share his disillusionment with the Kremlin.

The Australian