I don’t have time nor much interest in continuing to comment on the recent developments of the Litvinenko Affair. Suffice to say that it has become so complex that one would have to only concentrate on it to successfully wade through much of details. The Daily Telegraph has been kind enough to provide a Who’s Who of the affair. A Google News search will reveal literally thousands of articles.
Among the cacophony of news, I was grabbed by the headline “Brits Are Not Looking for the Truth – Ex-KGB Officer” in Kommersant. The article features a short interview, reproduced below, with one Viktor Afanasyevich (he wouldn’t give the paper his last name), the vice president of the KGB veterans’ organization, Dignity and Honor. Founded in 2003 and hosts a membership of 3000 ex-KGB agents, Dignity and Honor was dragged into the Litvinenko Affair as the group that allegedly drew up a “hit list” that included Litvinenko and Politkovskaya. In a statement to the press, Honor and Dignity’s founder Valentin Velichko said “Who is Mr Litvinenko? A traitor. But I am against the elimination of traitors. After certain events in my life I turned to religion and, as a believer, I think that the burden of our sins is already punishment enough. Litvinenko, having betrayed Russia, was already punishing himself.”
Kommersant attempts to interview Evgeny Limarev, who is the author of the letter that speaks of Honor and Dignity’s “hit list,” were to no avail. As noted above they did manage to speak with Viktor Afanasyevich:
“Viktor Afanasyevich, the British Daily Telegraph directly accuses your fund of being involved in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko…”
“I’m not going to comment on it in any way! Imagine, your neighbor says you’re a murderer. You would naturally say it’s rubbish and would not even discuss it. Why should we behave differently?”
“Have your lawyer drawn up a suit against the newspaper?”
“Our lawyers have decided that it’s no use suiting the paper because they allegedly have Limarev’s letter and they have a right to refer to it. But we have no clue who this Limarev is. He has nothing to do with the KGB. In fact, Scotland Yard did not show any interest to this information, so it means nobody takes this letter seriously. Otherwise, they would be here. We are an open organization. It’s easy to find us. We have normal contracts with the press as well as with authorities.”
“How can you explain the fact that your foundation was mentioned in relation to the Litvinenko case?”
“We publish information about the organization, and our leaflets are available. The Daily Telegraph has taken Velichko’s picture from the leaflet, so apparently this was just the first thing that came their way. After that, they put information about our foundation into Limarev’s mouth. They think that veterans of the Foreign Intelligence Service are kind of power brokers. You know, a lot of people still remember that our organization helped to find and release the Dutch doctor Arjan Erkel from captivity. We were indeed involved in this affair – but we have nothing to do with Litvinenko.”
“Not every nonprofit organization is able to hold negotiations with Chechen militants and hold operations to save people…”
“It is quite a natural thing that we still have our work experience and we do have skills of information gathering. Therefore, we did our best after Doctors Without Borders contracted us asking for help. We still have some contacts and friends. You use your contacts as a journalist, don’t you?”
“Why did Litvinenko fear for his life?”
“Come on, he did not fear for his life! Now that he’s gone, everyone attributes all the possible nonsense to him. Of course as a defector he damaged Russia’s image. Everyone knows what he was doing – he was selling information for nice fees, but it could not have inflicted serious damage. To tell you the truth, he did not know much. There are lots of people like Litvinenko, and they are all well – no one would do anything to get rid of them. Western media traditionally blame the Kremlin. Recall Yushenkov’s murder. Everyone claimed that the Kremlin was to blame for his murder, but once a real killer was found, no one even bothered to apologize to special services for those ungrounded accusations.
“Are there any other ‘defectors’ who are more important as public figures than Litvinenko?”
“I guess Gordievsky is.”
“Do you have your own theory of Litvinenko’s killing? Who could have been gained from it?”
“Those who contend Russian authorities, who want to mould the Empire of Evil, those who had their economic interests infringed – they could have gained some profit from it. Berezovsky of course! Well, you know, Russia has been quite hard on the Brits on Sakhalin, so they may still be resentful. I would not make a direct link here, though. Europe’s attitude is weird. It looks like we’re sliding back to Cold War times.”
“Do you know Lugovoi, Kovtun and Sokolenko personally?”
“We have nothing to do with them. They have no relation to the foundation. If they do know something about our organization, it must be from the press or our leaflets. This link has been made with no grounds whatsoever. We know who made his link – Berezovsky.”
“Do you think Scotland Yard will find the criminals soon?”
“You have to understand this – the Brits are not looking for truth now. They are looking for a Russian trace. If they succeed in stitching the case up to Russia, the murder will be solved. If it turns out that the killers have nothing to do with Russia, we may never learn about the results. I think this could prove to be the case.”
“Viktor Afanasyevich, would you remind me please… how do you spell your last name?”
“Do you think it’s so necessary? My name and patronymic are quite enough, I guess…”
Kommersant’s search on the web has shown that the fund has two presidents along with Valentin Velichko. They surnames are Dolya and Ubilava. Ubilava’s first name is Anatoly, Dolya’s name is Viktor. Viktor Afanasyevich’s secretary confirmed that her boss’ last name is Dolya.
I love it when people say “I’m not going to comment!” and then comment anyway. . .