Litvinenko, Russia and the Italian Connection


Litvinenko, Russia and the Italian Connection

The murder in London of a former Russian spy triggers memories of the Cold War and raises some intriguing questions.

Here is “a man I can trust.” Thus spoke President George W. Bush of his counterpart in Russia, President Vladimir Putin. The point is, trust to do what?

Whatever led President Bush to make that statement about the Russian president, according to Putin himself there’s one aspect of his character that is most reliable. During an interview some years ago with three Russian journalists, Putin declared, “I have some rules of my own. One of them is never to regret anything” (First Person).

Perhaps President Putin has no regrets about the murder of a former Russian spy in London last month. Then again, perhaps he has no real cause to—perhaps he had nothing to do with it. Then again, maybe he did. The Litvinenko case itself has become, as Winston Churchill described Russia, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

The elimination of a former Russian intelligence agent amid most curious circumstances revives memories of the shady days of the high-powered, covert, international shenanigans that were so much a part of Cold War Europe during the latter half of the 20th century. Alexander Litvinenko became ill on November 1 after visiting the Millennium Hotel in London’s Mayfair district and the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly. He died November 23.

Due apparently to his strident criticism of his former employer, the Russian state, Litvinenko had became an exile, taking British citizenship and settling in London. Following his publishing two books that made explosive allegations about the Russian security service (the fsb) and the Russian president, he was most recently investigating the murder of a fellow critic of the Putin government, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Litvinenko’s investigations would have obviously placed him very clearly in the fsb’s sights. As Stratfor’s George Friedman observes, “Russian and Soviet tradition on this is clear: Turncoats like Litvinenko must be dealt with, for two reasons. First, they represent an ongoing embarrassment to the state. And second, if they are permitted to continue with their criticisms, they will encourage other dissidents—making it appear that, having once worked for the fsb, you can settle safely in a city like London and hurl thunderbolts at the motherland with impunity. The state must demonstrate that this will not be permitted—that turncoats will be dealt with no matter what the circumstances” (November 29).

As Friedman points out, Litvinenko’s murder certainly makes good political sense for Russia, but in the old traditional Soviet sense, not in the context of that Russia which the West has been led to believe is becoming capitalistic and democratic. The murder of Anna Politkovskaya slammed the point home that, regarding the bad old days of big brother kgb looking over every Russian’s shoulder, nothing has really changed. In Friedman’s analysis, “whatever the public’s impression of the [Litvinenko] case might be, the kgb/fsb has not suddenly returned to the scene. In fact, it never left. Putin has been getting the system back under control for years. The free-for-all over economic matters has ended, and Putin has been restructuring the Russian economy for several years to increase state control, without totally reversing openness. This process, however, requires the existence of a highly disciplined fsb—and that is not compatible with someone like a Litvinenko publicly criticizing the Kremlin from London. Litvinenko’s death would certainly make that point very clear.”

But, did the Russians do it? And if they did, was it to protect their own interests only, or were their other interests under threat of exposure by Litvinenko? If so, could there have been a degree of international collusion in his elimination?

What is not yet explained in all of this is the presence of a mysterious Italian on the scene who shared lunch with Litvinenko on the fateful day of his poisoning by radioactive polonium-210. The Scotsman reported, “The Italian who dined with Alexander Litvinenko on the day the former kgb spy fell ill with radioactive poisoning was taken to University College Hospital London yesterday. Last night doctors confirmed he had been contaminated …. [This] indicates that he could have been a target of a second political assassination” (December 2). Yet the Italian apparently received a much lighter dose of this radioactive element than the unfortunate Litvinenko. What is really going on here?

Reports on this Italian, identified as Mario Scaramella, indicate that he is a man of mystery about which little is known. According to Scaramella, he brought Mr. Litvinenko to Italy in 2004 to testify to the Mitrokhin Commission, which was set up by the Italian government in 2001 to investigate kgb activities in Italy during and after the Cold War. This Italian connection gets quite interesting when compared with a claim from one of our contacts from within the European Union. According to that contact, earlier this year, Litvinenko’s name was supplied as a witness in allegations concerning Italian leader Romano Prodi’s involvement with the kgb. Additionally, the EU Reporterinferred that Prodi may have been involved in the protection of kgb agents involved in the attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul ii in 1981. Following enquiries, British member of the European Parliament Gerard Batten, of the UK Independence Party, exposed Prodi’s connection with the kgb in front of the European Parliament.

The significance of this is that Prodi, currently prime minister of Italy (for the second time) was president of the European Commission during the period when the ex-Soviet states of Eastern Europe were negotiating for membership of the EU. Those were heady days, involving many shady deals as the EU, Russia, each separate European state aspiring for EU membership, and the Vatican each struggled to thrash out deals that would be to their own individual interest. Could it be that the presence of Mario Scaramella at the scene of Litvinenko’s poisoning has any connection with ensuring that he be silenced before giving evidence against the high-profile Eurocrat Romano Prodi that might prove embarrassing to these high-powered interests?

The EU, Russia and the Vatican are playing for high stakes in the great geopolitical game of establishing a new global order as U.S. influence and power declines. The EU (supported by the Vatican) and Russia are obviously pursuing separate imperialist agendas. Economically, each has built a dependence on the other, with Russia being dependant on European investment to grow its economy, and Europe having a marked dependence on Russia for the supply of much of its energy needs. In addition, these two power blocs share a common strategic border.

For all these reasons, the EU and Russia have a need to cooperate with each other in pursuit of both their separate and mutual interests. Neither can afford the embarrassment of having any of their more questionable under-the-table deals made public. This is especially so given the prospect of their colluding against the interests of the British and Americans in their respective international negotiations, which is certainly a probability. It is in the EU’s and Russia’s interests to keep the United States, in particular, on side until they are ready to reveal their true hand. That time has not yet arrived. But it will soon—perhaps very soon.

Perhaps the reports emanating from the media on the reasons for Litvinenko’s murder are entirely misleading. Perhaps the reason has more to do with Italian politics in conjunction with the EU and Russia than we fully realize. We have always believed, as did Herbert Armstrong, that the EU and Russia would undertake a secret pact that would promote their own mutual interests to the great detriment of the Anglo-Americans. Whatever the facts regarding the Litvinenko case, it remains intriguing that there definitely appears to be a connection, behind the scenes, between Russia, Italy and the EU.