Sunday, January 28, 2007

Litvinenko Poisoning Reportedly Orchestrated by Putin's State Security Services

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International media are now reporting that the Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London's Millennium Hotel by drinking polonium-laced tea from a hotel teapot.

British officials say that Litvinenko, a vocal critic of the Kremlin's policies in Chechnya, was the victim of a botched state-sponsored assassination orchestrated by the Russian security services. Other critics of Putin's brutal policies in Chechnya have been murdered in Russia, too.

The Russians have refused to extradite the suspected killers, so the British are probably going to make their case against the Russian State Security in the court of public opinion. Their Health Protection Agency is probably going to lay-out the case against the Kremlin in March and has issued a press release about an upcoming conference.

Some bloggers have claimed that the highly-radioactive teapot may have been planted later to mislead investigators into believing that Litvinenko's death was an assassination instead of a case of a polonium-smuggling conspiracy-for-profit gone wrong. The bloggers who contend that this was a case of smuggling note that the teapot was far more radioactive than the cup Litvinenko used to drink his tea and therefore could not have been the source of Litvinenko's fatal poisoning.

These bloggers are assuming the tea in the pot was poured directly into Litvinenko's cup, but this is not how Russians typically prepare tea; and the tea was reportedly made by a Russian named Vladislav who used a kettle of water in the hotel room to make tea.

Russians make a very strong brewed tea concentrate called zavarka. They pour a few tablespoons of zavarka into their teacup and then fill the cup with plain boiling water, called kipyatok. [See the note, below for more details.]

This Russian method of brewing tea may explain why the teapot was much more contaminated with radioactivity than the cup Litvinenko drank from.

I think that the British authorities are going to reveal their case to the whole world pretty soon. Scotland Yard, MI5, MI6, and the American government are all working on this case together.

I have written about this polonium poisoning and about the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and others on this blog. Readers can search my blog for "polonium" and for "Politkovskaya." According to some reports, Litvinenko was investigating Politkovskaya's murder.

NOTE: Russians sometimes let this concentrated brew, the zavarka, sit around in a teapot for a long time because the Russian tea doesn’t get bitter when it sits in the pot a long time. I suppose the zavarka could even be carried around.

This site has a description of how the zavarka is made, kept, and used :

A small pot, such as the one seen atop many samovars, is used to produce zavarka. This is the dark, concentrated brew. A considerable quantity of tea leaves are placed in this small pot along with boiling water. The minimum brewing time is 5 minutes with zavarka being used throughout the day and even the following morning for breakfast. When someone wants a cup, a small amount of zavarka is poured into their cup with a greater quantity of hot water to dilute the brew.

The type of tea used is important. If you used English tea for this procedure, it would become quite bitter if left to stand for several hours. A dark loose tea from India, or a Chinese black tea such as Keemun, coupled with a natural herbal or fruited tea is my favorite. Another favorite is Russian Caravan. This is a blend of Indian black teas with a slightly smoky flavor.

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