Russian police want to interview 100 people in London

Russian police have asked to interview more than 100 people and to search dozens of properties, as they seek to take their investigation into Alexander Litvinenko’s polonium poisoning forward.

Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev confirmed:

“We asked [the UK authorities] to question more than 100 witnesses and conduct dozens of searches. In our request, we formulated questions that we would like to have answered,” he told the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper.

“We want these investigative efforts to proceed in the presence of our detectives. We hope that our UK colleagues will respond to our request as promptly as we did recently.”

There has been no official reaction from the British authorities yet – in fact, they claim they haven’t had an official request yet.  So far, the only official reaction has been the rather bland statement:

“We would consider any request for assistance in consultation with the police”

The British press, however, lead by the Times, suspect that Russia is attempting to hinder the British investigation:

The Kremlin has unleashed a bureaucratic blitz on Scotland Yard as part of Russia’s investigation into the murder of the former spy Alexander Litvinenko.

The scale of the Russian request has prompted suspicions that Moscow is seeking to stall the investigation by overwhelming Scotland Yard with largely irrelevant demands.

I must confess, 100 interviews seems somewhat extreme, especially given that British police will have already interviewed most of the people on the Russian list.

However I still think the British government should accept this request.

Thinking in terms of realpolitik, the chances of the person who actually ordered this murder ever being extradited from Russia are extremely slim, so the Russian request won’t actually delay anything with regard to the resolution of this case.

What the Russia is actually trying to do is embarrass the UK – they expect the British to turn around and reject their request or, at the very least, only agree to a few interviews.  If this happens, they will think they have a water-tight public relations case for rejecting any future requests for significant co-operation, and for rejecting any extradition requests.
The solution is simple – the UK should let the Russians in, with full access, and sieze this chance to take the moral highground before requesting any extraditions.

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10 Responses

  1. copydude says:

    Andy wrote:

    “The chances of the person who actually ordered this murder ever being extradited from Russia are extremely slim, so the Russian request won’t actually delay anything with regard to the resolution of this case.”

    You make three assumptions here, none of which are proven.

    1. It was a murder
    2. It was ‘orderered’.
    3. Whoever did ‘it’ is in Russia

    It’s highly unlikely it was a murder, for reasons I have set out here and here. And the one person who is connected to all the players in the case – be they in Russia, France, Italy, Israel or the US – is the Godfather of crime, Boris Berezovsky.

    Remember that the leading source of disinformation in this case to date is The Times, which just happens to be owned by Berezovsky’s friend and business colleague, Rupert Murdoch.

  2. The solution is simple – the UK should let the Russians in, with full access, and sieze this chance to take the moral highground before requesting any extraditions.

    That’s rather naive. “Moral highground” means nothing to Russians, who will simply come up with another delaying tactic if this one is successful. It’s obvious that the only purpose of this effort is to delay the investigation, and it’s obvious that the Kremlin would only want to delay it because it has something to hide.

    If you believe Russia will never cooperate with the British investigation by producing people for trial, then it makes no sense to suggest that Britain should let itself be jerked around by Russia. Trust me, the world already knows that Britain stands on a higher moral plane than Russia . . . but then, so does your common housefly.

    You can fight them now when they’re weaker, or fight them later when they’re stronger. It’s up to you.

  3. Andy says:

    When referring to the ‘moral high ground’ I didn’t so much have Russian public opinion in mind, as international opinion.

  4. Andy says:

    Copydude – first, apologies for the length of time it took for your comment to appear – I missed it in the moderation queue because of the links it contained.

    I agree, I am making the assumptions you list. I think there is a fair amount of evidence out there (some of which you have highlighted but which are also far from being proven) to cast doubt on whether there was some other cause to Litvinenko’s death than murder, and we should continue to keep an open mind.

    AS things stand, the British police are still pursuing a murder investigation. They know far more about this case than you or I, and at the moment, I’m still inclined to follow their lead. In particular, I still think they will be looking to extradite someone (whoever that may be) from Russia, if they believe the evidence warrants (and they don’t get over-ruled in the interests of ‘national security’.

  5. copydude says:

    Certainly no end of people would have wanted Litvinenko wasted.

    There is an enormous scandal going down in Italy at the moment surrounding Litvinenko’s and other exile’s ‘testimony’ to Scaramella and the Mitrokhin Commission.

    And a new scoop has emerged on Litvinenko gathering dirt on ex-Yukos directors – one of whom is under house arrest in Italy. Interesting . . . he was once Judith Svetlichnaya’s boss at Russian investors.

    So there could indeed be very many people the Russians would like to interview. Not only in London.

    Polonium still doesn’t fit with me as a murder weapon though. But we’ll see.

  6. ANDY:

    I’m a bit disappointed to see you dignify COPYDUDE with responses. He has just said “it’s highly unlikely it was a murder” and “Polonium still doesn’t fit with me as a murder weapon.” These are the ravings of a madman. Did somebody say “grassy knoll”? I see no point in encouraging this kind of psycho-babble; it seems he actually believes he has more insight into the Litvinenko killing than the world’s media and that Litvinenko killed himself, just to make the Kremlin look bad, and made it look like he had used Polonium when in fact he used something else. Or is he saying that Litvinenko, like Elvis, isn’t dead at all, but still alive and sipping tropical coolers in Bora-Bora?

    We’ll never get anywhere on Russia if we allow freaks like this to throw wrenches into the works.

  7. Andy says:

    La Russophobe – Copydude is right to say that there is “no end of people who would have wanted Litvinenko wasted”.

    Currently, the media is awash with rumours as to who caused Litvinenko’s death. At one end of the extreme is the theory that he was murdered by the Kremlin, at the other is the theory that he killed himself as a result of his smuggling activities.

    On balance, I personally tend towards the murder theory, although I’m unsure whether it was ordered by the Kremlin. At the moment, though, nothing has been proven, and there is very little hard evidence to the public at large, so I’m trying to keep an open mind.

    Occasionally, though, my prejudices do creep through unconsciously into posts, as happened in this post.

    On another matter, I’d appreciate it if everyone kept the personal insults out of comments and stuck to genuine discussion of the issues.

    There is absolutely no need to go around calling people freaks.

    If you have a problem with someone’s argument, refute it.

  8. ANDY:

    I didn’t say anything about COPYDUDE’s statement about the number of enemies Litvinenko had. COPYDUDE said he WASN’T MURDERED and that POLONIUM DIDN’T KILL HIM. Those are the statements of a raving maniac, and since you don’t attempt to defend them I take it you agree.

    The belief that Litvinenko had many enemies SUPPORTS the idea that he was murdered, so COPYDUDE is arguing with himself, another trait of the insane.

    A number of former KGB agents have come forward to say in no uncertain terms that the Kremlin killed Litvinenko. There is ZERO evidence that any force outside the Kremlin’s control killed him, and the use of Polonium by itself speaks to state-sponsored action.

    It’s not enough to “refute” the “arguments” of a maniac whose blog is devoted to justifying the rise of a neo-Soviet dictatorship in Russia by means of outrageous lies. Such activity must be opposed by every means possible, lest it fester and grow into something (even more) dangerous.

    Above all, we must demand documented facts if the blogosphere is to retain its reputation. The very concept is totally unknown to COPYDUDE, and hence his comments should be disdained. Otherwise, you encourage and facilitate his activities.

  9. Andy says:

    LR – I didn’t mean that you had said anything about Copydude’s statement about the number of enemies that Litvinenko had. Apologies if this was not clear.

    As for your other main point – the need to use facts. The problem here is that, when discussing the Litvinenko murder, precious few hards facts are available that would clearly indicate guilt. When you, Copydude or I discuss the case at this stage, we are building an argument based on a few facts and a lot of speculation. As our conclusions will be based on supposition, big differences in our opinions are only to be expected.

    We know you don’t agree with Copydude’s conclusions. I don’t agree with them either.

    However, I expect that, if you disagree with Copydude in the comments on Siberianlight, you stick to discussing theories and facts with him, and – whatever your own personal view of Copydude’s mental health – do not descend to the level of personal abuse.

  10. von Kaufman-Turkestansky says:

    LR – sorry to point it out, but Copydude did not actually say “he WASN’T MURDERED and that POLONIUM DIDN’T KILL HIM.” He said “You make… assumptions here, none of which are proven. 1. It was a murder… It’s highly unlikely it was a murder, for reasons I have set out here and here.” and then “Polonium still doesn’t fit with me as a murder weapon though. But we’ll see.”

    That’s an opinion, and I guess we’ll know if it’s right or wrong after the investigation and trial are over.

    I think Andy’s comments are very reasonable.