Murder on the streets of Londongrad
, 07 Jul 2013
On 1 November 2006 in a bar at the Millennium Hotel in Grosvenor Square in London, Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer in both the Soviet KGB and the Russian Federal Security Bureau [FSB] which replaced it, was poisoned with a highly radioactive substance called polonium-210. The use of polonium-210 as a poison had never been documented before and the British government speculated that this was probably the first time it had been used in this way. A difficult substance to obtain, acquiring enough of it to kill someone would require sophisticated laboratory facilities and access to a nuclear reactor. Who could possibly have access to such resources and why would they go to so much trouble to kill a man? According to Andrei Nekrasov, the St Petersburg-based TV and film director and the maker of this film, Litvinenko was assassinated by his former employer the FSB as punishment for his rebellion against the Russian state he once served. In Russian with English subtitles, this documentary is an interesting, if slightly unnerving, look at the complicated politics of modern Russia. According to this DVD, it is a Russia where the state security service, the FSB, is completely out-of-control and is essentially running the country. Through a series of interviews with those involved in the Litvinenko case [his widow, his friends, his alleged killers and Litvinenko himself before he was killed] the film contends that the FSB staged the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow, in which over 300 people were killed, as a 'false flag' operation to bring Vladimir Putin - a former Director of the FSB - to power as president. Furthermore, it provides Litvinenko with the opportunity to repeat allegations he first made in his book 'Blowing Up Russia', that the FSB were involved in both the Moscow theatre hostage crisis and the Beslan school siege, as well as alleging their wider involvement in global 'Islamic' terrorism. He also accuses Vladimir Putin of ordering the execution of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in the lift of her Moscow apartment building in 2006 [on Putin's birthday], after she had spent years writing articles criticising the Russian President and the conduct of the FSB in the Chechen War. She also wrote the book 'Putin's Russia'. Plenty of allegations then, but how many of these claims are true? Litvinenko has been described by some as a 'fantasist', 'a one-man disinformation bureau' who made 'outlandish claims' yet 'presented little or no evidence to back them up'. Is this all just an elaborate conspiracy theory, nothing more than the ravings of a paranoid, disgruntled ex-spy? I don't think so. After all, Litvinenko's allegations were so 'outlandish' that someone, with access to polonium-210, had him killed for daring to make them - which would suggest he was irritatingly close to the truth. Since Litvinenko's death and the making of this documentary, Putin has further tightened his grip on power in Russia and is now serving his third term as president. Russia itself is becoming ever more assertive as it becomes richer and more powerful due to the massive reserves of natural gas and minerals within its borders. It is also spreading its influence through the power of money. Indeed, there are now so many Russian Oligarchs living in the UK that the British capital is described by many as Londongrad. Therefore, if the central premise of this well-made and thought-provoking documentary is true - and the FSB really are out-of-control and running Russia - then Litvinenko's murder will be the first of many as the dark forces at the heart of modern Russia spread their tentacles onto the streets of Britain in their quest for power.
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