Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, January 19, 2007

Litvinenko: Of Murderer And Boiling Lukewarm Tea

Alexander Litvinenko's murderer may have been identified according to the Times of London.

The Putin critic met with an as yet unnamed suspicious agent described as "tall and powerfully built, in his early thirties with short, cropped black hair and distinctive Central Asian features." He was introduced to Litvinenko as “Vladislav."

He was photographed at Heathrow when he arrived in London, presumably toting polonium-210 into the country. His description matches a description Litivnenko gave before he died, describing a man who gave him a cup of tea when they met in a fourth-floor room at the Millennium Hotel.

Here's the most fascinating part of the story:

“Sasha (Litvinenko) remembered the man making him a cup of tea.

“His belief is that the water from the kettle was only lukewarm and that the polonium-210 was added, which heated the drink through radiation so he had a hot cup of tea. The poison would have showed up in a cold drink,” he added.

These mugs don't seem like the sort who would know the heat-generating capability of polonium through a deep knowledge of physics and long hours in the lab. It's much more likely that this crew was well practiced in the use of the compound as a poison.

Armed with this evidence, Scotland Yard has requested permission to return to Russia to track down more info on "Vladislav." The Russians have denied the request, saying they want to finish their own investigation in London first.

That investigation, methinks, is more about snooping on Putin's remaining enemies in London than solving Litvinenko's murder. They may very well already have the answer to that.

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