Sunday, 14 February 2016

Watson: “The Polonium trail starts on 16 October 2006, when Alexander Litvinenko met both prime suspects. This is thought to be the day of a first murder attempt. The sushi bar where they had lunch was contaminated.”

Watson avoids confronting the possibility that this contamination may have occurred when Scaramella met Litvinenko on 01 November; for the benefit of his Newsnight audience, Scaramella, like Berezovsky, is conveniently airbrushed out of the picture. However, the scenario Watson points to here, that the sushi bar was contaminated on 16 October, cannot be excluded – though it should be noted that on Kovtun's account, Litvinenko had complained of feeling ill before their various meetings on 16 October.[1]

So let’s get down to brass tacks. Owen’s report estimates that Litvinenko’s dose of Polonium-210 on or around this 16 October meeting, was around 100 times smaller than the fatal 1st November dose; there may be a connection with what Litvinenko considered to have been some kind of food poisoning. If though we are in fact dealing here with a scenario consistent with Lugovoy and Kovtun’s vehement protestations of their innocence, i.e., an extremely complex and high-risk plot to falsely incriminate them, there would have to have been a dry run.

They spent the night at the Best Western Hotel in Shaftesbury Avenue – very heavy contamination was found in their rooms.
Lugovoy was back in London on 25 October. His room at the Sheraton, Park Lane, was heavily contaminated, as was the laundry.

Owen’s report makes clear that some of the heaviest contamination was discovered on two towels at the Sheraton Hotel. At Part 8.153, Owen rationalises this as follows:

“Had Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun known more about the substance they were handling, I am confident that they would have dealt with it more carefully. The fact that they did not know what they were handling explains why it was splashed around in hotel bathrooms and mopped up with hotel towels that were then left in the hotel.”

This nevertheless assumes a monumental degree of ineptitude on the part of, supposedly, ruthless secret service executioners, probably carrying out orders from the Kremlin. Leaving that aside however; if this was an intricately choreographed deception, Polonium-210, while expensive, would possess a number of useful attributes. It only kills if it is ingested – its radioactive ‘alpha particles’ cannot penetrate skin (see 3.178 etc). Therefore, what is the best way to contaminate someone without killing them? Why – douse the towels in their hotel bedroom, of course. After the hotel has been vacated, it would be preferable to retrieve and dispose of these towels. Assuming therefore that the two Russians are not the Laurel and Hardy figures depicted by Owen in his report, perhaps deliberate contamination of their bathroom towels, followed by efforts (not entirely successful) to retrieve them afterwards, was part of the procedure followed by whoever was behind this plot. 

[1] Testimony given short shrift in Sir Robert Owen’s report, consistent with his generally contemptuous attitude (mentioned above) towards anything contributed by Russian nationals, and especially those whose guilt he seeks to establish.

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