Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB
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The assassination of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander "Sasha" Litvinenko in November 2006 -- poisoned by the rare radioactive element polonium -- caused an international sensation. Within a few short weeks, the fit forty-three-year-old lay gaunt, bald, and dying in a hospital, the victim of a "tiny nuclear bomb." Suspicions swirled around Russia's FSB, the successor to the KGB, and the Putin regime. Traces of polonium radiation were found in Germany and on certain airplanes, suggesting a travel route from Russia for the carriers of the fatal poison. But what really happened? What did Litvinenko know? And why was he killed?
The full story of Sasha Litvinenko's life and death is one that the Kremlin does not want told. His closest friend, Alex Goldfarb, and his widow, Marina, are the only two people who can tell it all, from firsthand knowledge, with dramatic scenes from Moscow to London to Washington. "Death of a Dissident" reads like a political thriller, yet its story is more fantastic and frightening than any novel.
Ever since 1998, when Litvinenko denounced the FSB for ordering him to assassinate tycoon Boris Berezovsky, he had devoted his life to exposing the FSB's darkest secrets. After a dramatic escape to London with Goldfarb's assistance, he spent six years, often working with Goldfarb, investigating a widening series of scandals. Oligarchs and journalists have been assassinated. Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko was poisoned on the campaign trail. The war in Chechnya became unspeakably harsh on both sides. Sasha Litvinenko investigated all of it, and he denounced his former employers in no uncertain terms for their dirty deeds.
"Death of a Dissident" opens a window into the dark heart of the Putin Kremlin. With its strong-arm tactics, tight control over the media, and penetration of all levels of government, the old KGB is back with a vengeance. Sasha Litvinenko dedicated his life to exposing this truth. It took his diabolical murder for the world to listen.
economics, did the impossible: he auctioned off and privatized tens of thousands of enterprises, moved more than half the workforce into the private sector, and somehow kept the economy from sliding into uncontrolled inflation. Yet these successes cost ordinary Russians dearly. The lack of purchasing power in the impoverished population and the reduction of state subsidies brought entire branches of the economy to a halt, primarily in the military-industrial complex and also among producers of
Human Rights, 310 France, Chechen kidnappings and, 153 Fridinsky, Sergei, 269 Furman, Dmitry, 253-54 Fyodor I Ivanovich, Czar of Russia, 251 G7 Summit, 242 Gaidar, Yegor, 345-47 gamma radiation, 327 Gang from Lubyanka, The (Litvinenko), 165, 169, 264-66, 269 Gazprom, 71, 109-12, 114-15, 174, 208, 233, 249 General Motors, 110 Genieva, Katya, 346-47 Georgia, 87, 101, 187, 196, 270, 271, 297, 347 Pankisi Gorge in, 260-62, 269, 290 Gilded Age, 49, 56 Glushkov, Nikolai: Aeroflot and,
drove north to Ankara. We sped along the empty highway through a cloudless night in a rocky desert, and Sasha told me stories about the FSB to keep me awake at the wheel. In Ankara’s Sheraton hotel, we were met by Joseph, a small, punctilious American lawyer, a specialist on refugee matters whom I had contacted before leaving for Turkey. Boris Berezovsky was footing the bill, so Joseph kindly agreed to fly in for a few hours from Eastern Europe, where he was on business. Joseph explained that
he belonged to her, and therefore he could not belong to anybody else. It was not like this with Natalia, his first wife. But Marina somehow found the key to the lock even he did not know he had. “Had I gotten to URPO before her, I would have done whatever I was told, like a robot. But she broke that grip and allowed me to think. Then Boris came along, and he finished the job. Because he explained things. Not like my bosses, who could only bark ‘Because I told you so!’” Lying with his eyes to
thousands of copies of Assassination of Russia, making it an underground best seller. In early April, Liberal Russia deputies distributed copies of the film in the Duma. Everyone wanted to have it, even though the deputies promptly voted down a motion to set up a parliamentary investigation of the 1999 bombings. On April 14, Agence France-Presse reported the results of a poll by Russia’s public opinion research center: 6 percent of the respondents said they were sure that the FSB staged the