Tuesday, November 21, 2006

We're Baack!

Dust off those old thrillers. The Sovs are back. Did I say Sovs? According to the Globe and Mail, Canada claims it has caught a 10-year Russian spy using the legend "Paul William Hampel". The man believed to be a member of the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR), used three different Canadian passports to operate in Canada and abroad. He had $7,800 cash in five different currencies, plus three cellphones, when he was arrested one week ago. He is being held under a special Canadian security law which allows his detention until he is deported. Meanwhile, in foggy London Town, mysterious killers strike again. The excellent Russia Blog takes up the tale:

Former Federal Security Service (FSB) Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has apparently been poisoned with traces of the toxic metal thallium. Tonight the 41 year-old Russian exile is being treated in the intensive care unit of London's University College Hospital, and the staff has added extra security for Litvinenko's protection. Litvinenko is being fed intravenously, and has lost nearly all of his hair. Doctors treating him say his white blood cell count is down to nearly zero. This high profile poisoning case has drawn comparisons in Western media outlets to the dioxin poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko, shortly before he was elected President of Ukraine in 2004. ...

Did I say the President of Ukraine? A foreign leader. Yes, I did. Surely ordinary men have nothing to fear. Nothing, unless they happen, like Richard Hannay in the 39 Steps, to have stumbled into the wrong plot. The Russia Blog continues.

Litvinenko became violently ill following a meeting on November 1 with a man who claimed that he had information on the murder of the Russian journalist Anna Politovskaya. Litvinenko met his contact, an Italian academic named Mario Scaramella, at the Itsu sushi restaurant near London’s Picadilly district. Mr. Scaramella, an expert on the history KGB and FSB spy activities in his native Italy, contacted the British Embassy in Rome when he found out about Litvinenko’s illness. He is now in hiding and seeking protective custody as a material witness to the crime.

Litvinenko had a secret to tell. Russia was being taken over by deeply concealed cabal, he had to warn the world before it was too late. Well maybe it's already too late.

Litvinenko is best known in the West as the author of Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within. In his book, co-authored with the Russian historian Yuri Felshinsky, Litvinenko accuses the FSB of planting bombs in several Moscow apartment buildings in 1999 as part of a plot to blame the explosions on Chechen terrorists. The wave of bombings sparked the Second Chechen War. In 2004, two Chechens, Adam Dekushev and Jusuf Krymshankhalov, were convicted by a Moscow court of planting the explosives in the apartment blocs. Russian prosecutors claimed that the bombers were trained by the Saudi jihadist Ibn Khattab, who was later killed by Russian security forces. In a 2002 interview with Echo Moskvy radio, Litvinienko claimed that he had been in contact with a third Chechen suspect wanted for his alleged role in the attacks, Achemez Gochiyayev. According to Litvinenko, Mr. Gochiyayev affirmed his innocence and blamed FSB agents for the bombings.

Litvinenko resigned as a Lieutenant Colonel from the FSB in the mid-1990s, alleging that his superiors in the newly formed security service had ordered him to kill the oligarch Boris Berezovsky. At that time, Berezovsky had become the first billionaire in Russia and acquired enormous influence in President Yeltsin's kitchen cabinet of advisors known as "the Family".

By the late 1990s, Litvinenko faced multiple counts of prosecution for divulging state secrets and sought political asylum in Great Britain. He joined a circle of émigrés that included Berezovsky, the legendary KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky, and the chief spokesman for the “Chechen resistance”, Akhmed Zakayev.

Litvinenko has been a persistent critic of the Russian government for several years. After Anna Politovskaya was murdered on October 7, he accused Putin of personally ordering her death. For his part, Berezovsky has claimed that only security services like the FSB have access to the toxic thallium compound that was used to poison Litvinenko, though the doctors on the case have told reporters that thallium compounds can be found in some types of rat poison sold outside of the UK.


Wheels within wheels. Calling Alcee Hastings. Calling Alcee Hastings.


Blogger Boghie said...


You insult all Americans with comments like:

'Wheels within wheels. Calling Alcee Hastings. Calling Alcee Hastings.'

How dare you...

How fast can a SuperPower run...
How fast?

11/21/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Is that John Phillip Sousa's famous military march "Liberty Bell" that I hear in the background...

Or, the famous Monty Python Theme song...

Oh, that's right. At one moment in time it brings out our best, another moment the worst...

11/21/2006 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

At least the NYT can name its unimpeachable (uuuummmm) source now that he is in charge of the House Intelligence Committee.

It just goes to show you just how much importance the Democratic Party places on national intelligence. I mean, Alcee Hastings really is ‘one of the few’. I think only twelve judges have ever been impeached.


11/21/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Often brilliant, always hard, the Russians. Prayers for the brave victims of the new tyranny.

Six years ago in Smolensk, I took a picture of an FSB building after being warned not to, but it was just an exterior shot at dusk, and the warning seemed ridiculous since they were no longer KGB. Two hours later my camera went missing.

If only their economy were that efficient.

11/21/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The bourgeois republic, parliament, universal suffrage - all represent great progress from the standpoint of the world development of society. Mankind moved towards capitalism, and it was capitalism alone which, thanks to urban culture, enabled the oppressed proletarian class to become conscious of itself and to create the world working class movement, the millions of workers organized all over the world in parties - the socialist parties which are consciously leading the struggle of the masses. Without parliamentarism, without an electoral system, this development of the working class would have been impossible."

11/21/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"General talk about freedom, equality and democracy is in fact but a blind repetition of concepts shaped by relations of commodity production. To attempt to solve the concrete problems of the dictatorship of the proletariat by such generalities is tantamount to accepting the theories and principles of the bourgeoisie in their entirety. From the point of view of the proletariat, the question can be put only in the following way -- freedom from oppression by which class? equality of which class with which? democracy based on private property, or on struggle for the abolition of private property? - and so forth.

"Long ago Engels in his 'Anti-Duhring' explained that the concept 'equality' is molded from the relations of commodity production; equality becomes a prejudice if it is not understood to mean the abolition of classes."

11/21/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11/21/2006 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...


11/21/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Why use poison? The real threat of Communist totalitarianism is being talked to death with a lot of five-syllable abstract nouns.

11/21/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I like to think I'm in the vanguard. Choke's just in the basement, subverting the republic by his brand selection.

My American agents can fawn their own fanfare. The triumph will be for me however! Huzzah!

11/21/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tranz - is it just me or is the EB unaccessible presently?

11/21/2006 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

I can get it. Blogger's being glitched by hidden forces lately, so be careful out there, Hu. Unless they're yours, of course :)

11/21/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't be the first time.

It took forever for Wen to pass on a gmail invite to me :/

11/21/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

anybody have a clue about the elephant bar being down?

11/21/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No clue - we need a fallback.

Did Deuce try to do something fancy?

11/21/2006 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

habu said:

anybody have a clue about the elephant bar being down?

Habu, I've heard of dudes wanting to get in touch with their softer side, but this is ridiculous.

11/21/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Either the Russkie's need to find a new more better poison that actually works once in a while, or they're getting a whole lot of publicity for nothing. Which leads to the next question: is the publicity what they're after in the first place?

11/21/2006 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...


Quoting Engels on a blog is so ironically bourgeois it must be tongue in cheek.

Nice touch with the Hammer & Sickle pic and 'the ash-heap of history'.

Maybe you should bang your shoe and threaten to destroy us next.

11/21/2006 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

You broke your silence. Am I off your list? and what are you talking about?

11/21/2006 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tranzi: I took a picture of an FSB building... Two hours later my camera went missing.

I think these FSB guys are handling baggage at Logan International, too.

I still don't understand why the FSB needed my sharkskin boots.

(Seriously, Logan will pilfer. And those were good boots. D***it.)

11/22/2006 12:44:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Condolences on your loss, Tex. Taking a man's good boots is both a shooting offense and a compliment! But I suppose you weren't carrying at the airport--

11/22/2006 04:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nahncee wrote:

Either the Russkie's need to find a new more better poison that actually works once in a while, or they're getting a whole lot of publicity for nothing. Which leads to the next question: is the publicity what they're after in the first place?

It's called deterrence. Bush and Olmert should look into it sometime.

11/22/2006 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

There is a serious argument that the Soviet Union was simply a continuation of the Russian Empire under a different name. Similarly, Putin is just trying to put the band back together. Oil will provide some money and they still have a lot of nuclear weapons, but Putin is playing a very weak hand.

Russia, The Sick Man of Europe By Nicholas Eberstadt:

The Russian Federation today is in the grip of a steadily tightening mesh of serious demographic problems, for which the term "crisis" is no overstatement. This crisis is altering the realm of the possible for the country and its people -- continuously, directly, and adversely. Russian social conditions, economic potential, military power, and international influence are today all subject to negative demographic constraints -- and these constraints stand only to worsen over the years immediately ahead.

Russia is now at the brink of a steep population decline -- a peacetime hemorrhage framed by a collapse of the birth rate and a catastrophic surge in the death rate. The forces that have shaped this path of depopulation and debilitation are powerful ones, and they are by now deeply rooted in Russian soil. Altering Russia's demographic trajectory would be a formidable task under any circumstances. As yet, unfortunately, neither Russia's political leadership nor the voting public that sustains it have even begun to face up to the enormous magnitude of the country's demographic challenges.

11/22/2006 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

It's called deterrence. Bush and Olmert should look into it sometime.

Of course, that’s just precious snark from someone who, as Teresita in a former form, condemned Bush’s policy of “torture” against “helpless captured enemy” (aka suspected terrorists).

Or, does woman catholic really think it more moral or acceptably effective to poison civilian political opponents a la Putin than to strongly interrogate mass-murdering jihadist animals?

Maybe it's a funny joke at the expense of can't-win-for-losing Bush and Olmert.

*chuckle, chuckle*

11/22/2006 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Putin is just trying to put the band back together

Yes, it's amazing how retro Putin is. Economically he is destroying his country by trying to run it the Communist way. Some experts think Russia actually has more oil than Saudi Arabia, but production is going down because Putin took over the Russian company that was pumping oil and chased the foreign oil experts away.

11/22/2006 06:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Robert. Those are some clear numbers. If Putin has "put the band back together", I'd say they're back, but "back in black", only.

Note: the link didn't work for me. I found an alternate here.

11/22/2006 06:42:00 PM  

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