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November 30, 2006

British Officials Increasingly Certain of Government Cooperation In Litvinenko Poisoning; Speculate About "Rogue Elements" Within Kremlin

"Rogue elements" are a nice way to say "We suspect it's Putin, but we can't afford to level such accusations against a nuclear-armed state."

A little preview of what happens when Iran goes nuclear. There will be a lot of "rogue elements" of the Iranian government conducting attacks against America.

British intelligence sources increasingly suspect that Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy killed with a radioactive poison, was the victim of a plot involving "rogue elements" within the Russian state, the Guardian has learned.

While ruling out any official involvement by Vladimir Putin's government, investigators believe that only those with access to state nuclear laboratories could have mounted such a sophisticated plot.

Police were last night closing in on a group of men who entered the UK among a large crowd of Muscovite football fans. The group of five or more arrived shortly before Mr Litvinenko fell ill and attended the CSK Moscow match against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium on November 1. They flew back shortly afterwards. While describing them only as witnesses, police believe their presence could hold the key to the former spy's death.

Last night, the Irish government said it was launching a separate investigation focussing on the former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar, who fell ill during a visit to Ireland a week ago. At first Mr Gaidar's entourage thought he was suffering from something he had eaten. But yesterday one of his aides said doctors suspected he had been poisoned.

The Gardaí said it would question everyone Mr Gaidar had been in contact with, but there was no immediate link to the Litvinenko case.

In London the number of locations searched by police for traces of radioactive material rose to 24 yesterday, with polonium-210 found at 12. John Reid, the home secretary, told the Commons there was a "high level" of contamination at some of the locations but the risk to the public was low.

It was reported that the levels of radiation were highest in the toilets of the Millennium Hotel in London, where Mr Litvinenko had a meeting shortly before falling ill. These levels were above the safe public dose limit, according to Channel 4 News. There were also traces at the Itsu sushi bar, where he went later, but they were far lower.

...

Explaining the increasing belief that Mr Litvinenko's death involved Russian state elements, one official said yesterday: "Only the state would have access to that material".


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