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  • Russia has always had a reputation for illicit international activity, from sleeper cells

  • to mysterious numbers stations to outright brazen assassination.

  • If you annoy a Russian political leader enough, you have a decent chance ofaccidentally

  • falling out a window and onto some live bullets.

  • You may have heard of Russian agents of death coming in forms as strange and innocuous as

  • a poison-tipped umbrella, but what about a simple, innocent cup of tea?

  • You're about to hear a story about a high-profile assassination, a deadly and mysterious poison,

  • and one of the most bizarre criminal investigations known to history – a man solving his own

  • murder before he even died.

  • How could a story this fantastical have possibly happened?

  • Let's take a look and find out.

  • Imagine yourself on a normal November day in London, England.

  • You have a decent, uneventful morning.

  • A simple breakfast at home, perhaps a walk outside in the crisp fall air.

  • You have a lunch meeting at a sushi restaurant, then, later, head over to the Millennium Hotel

  • for yet another meeting at the Pine Bar.

  • You decline the bartender's offer to order a drinkafter all, you don't drink alcohol

  • and sit down to speak with the two men you have arranged to meet.

  • They seem distracted, sullen even, but blame the behavior on a long flight into the country.

  • They have a pot of tea at the table when you arrive, and offer some of the remaining tea

  • to you.

  • You drink several sips, but are put off by the bitter taste and decline to finish the

  • cup.

  • The men bid you farewell, and you all go your separate ways.

  • Seventeen days later, you are lying in a hospital bed in severe pain.

  • You experienced intense diarrhea and vomiting and even lost the ability to walk without

  • help before you asked your wife to call you an ambulance.

  • The doctors have diagnosed you with thallium poisoning.

  • However, your symptoms do not completely align with a case of thallium poisoning.

  • You have damage to your bone marrow and gut that is consistent with thallium poisoning,

  • but lack the presence of peripheral neuropathypain and numbness in the fingers and feet

  • – a key indicator of this ailment.

  • The doctors are baffled by your case, and the British police are just as confused by

  • your condition and apparent poisoning.

  • Only you have an idea of what could have happened.

  • You believe that you have been assassinated, and you are correct.

  • Soon, with the help of authorities, you will solve your own murder from your hospital bed.

  • This is exactly what happened to Alexander Litvinenko in November of 2006, and it is

  • just the tip of the deadly iceberg.

  • Alexander Litvinenko was a former member of the Russian Federal Security Service who fled

  • Russia to seek political asylum in the United Kingdom, which he was granted.

  • He was a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin, and referred to his rise to power as a “coup”,

  • drawing a great deal of negative attention from Putin.

  • He left Russia in 2000, and in 2003 he began working with MI6 as an agent and an expert

  • on organized crime in Russia.

  • He provided MI6 with intelligence about the Russian mafia presence in Spain.

  • This activity likely reached officials within the Russian government, who were already not

  • great fans of Litvinenko, and who had close ties with the Russian mafia.

  • In the weeks leading up to his assassination, there was a plan in place for Litvinenko to

  • testify before a Spanish prosecutor about the influence of the Russian mafia.

  • This is likely what placed a target on his back, and led to his assassination at the

  • hands of Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.

  • They poisoned Litvinenko, not with thallium as his doctors initially thought, but with

  • polonium-210, a rare, deadly, nearly undetectable radioactive isotope.

  • Before we learn more about Alexander Litvinenko's assassination, and how he solved it, we must

  • discuss polonium-210 and what it does to the human body.

  • Polonium is one of the rarest elements in the world, rightfully referred to by Kovtun

  • as “a very expensive poison.”

  • It was first discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898.

  • Polonium is so toxic to the human body that a fatal dose would only need to be about the

  • size of a speck of dust.

  • That is all that it would take.

  • Once a person has ingested the polonium, radiation poisoning begins to set in.

  • Nausea, hair loss, swelling of the throat, and the breakdown of the immune system are

  • all symptoms of exposure to polonium.

  • After long enough, it causes organ failure and seeps into the bone marrow.

  • Eventually, it causes cardiac arrest and death.

  • Not only is it deadly, but polonium is very difficult to detect, making it a perfect murder

  • weapon.

  • Litvinenko's doctors only determined a correct diagnosis of polonium-210 poisoning by testing

  • his urine for the isotope on the day of his death.

  • By then, of course, it was much too late.

  • However, before he died, Litvinenko was able to aid in the investigation into his own murder.

  • Very few people get the opportunity to solve their death before it happens, but Alexander

  • Litvinenko was a brilliant man who understood that there were many people out there who

  • wanted to kill him.

  • He also knew that, if he had been assassinated, there were only three men that could have

  • done it.

  • He met with three men on the day that he was poisoned, and it had to be one of them.

  • First, he met with an Italian associate of his, Mario Scaramella, for lunch.

  • After lunch, he met with Lugovoi and Kovtun at the Millennium hotel.

  • Litvinenko described this meeting in detail to Detective Inspector Brent Hyatt of Scotland

  • Yard in an interview.

  • He was greeted by Lugovoi upon entering the Pine Bar.

  • Lugovoi then led him to a table that was already covered with mugs and a pot of tea.

  • Litvinenko did not drink alcohol, so the two men did not attempt to ply him with something

  • stronger than the tea on the table.

  • Then, Lugovoi told Litvinenko that he was leaving, and there was tea left in the pot

  • if he wanted to drink it.

  • Litvinenko poured himself some tea from the pot and drank it.

  • In his account, Litvinenko told Hyatt that he had only a few sips, and that the tea tasted

  • off to him.

  • He also noticed that Lugovoi did not drink any tea while sitting at the table.

  • They were then joined by Kovtun.

  • Litvinenko knew, even as he was leaving the hotel, that something was off about the meeting.

  • He told DI Hyatt, “Later on, when I left the hotel, I was thinking there was something

  • strange.

  • I had been feeling all the time, I knew that they wanted to kill me.”

  • Litvinenko made for an excellent witness, even as he lay dying in the hospital from

  • an as-yet-unknown poison.

  • He gave 18 interviews to the detectives assigned to his case, spanning a total of nearly nine

  • hours.

  • His experience with investigations gave him a great memory, and he pointed the detectives

  • in the direction of Lugovoi and Kovtun.

  • He gave the police his email, his bank account, and a full account of his history with the

  • Russian Federal Security service, as well as explaining why these men might want him

  • dead.

  • With his help, the police began to piece together a clearer picture of what happened to Alexander

  • Litvinenko on November 1, 2006, at the Millennium Hotel.

  • The investigation uncovered information that indicated that, contrary to what was believed,

  • November 1 was not the first attempted assassination of Litvinenko.

  • A radiation stain was found in a cup leftover from a business meeting between Lugovoi and

  • Litvinenko in October, but, because Litvinenko did not drink any of the liquid in this cup,

  • this attempt was unsuccessful.

  • So, the fateful Millennium Hotel meeting was set up.

  • Lugovoi told detectives that he arrived at the hotel for the meeting at 4 PM.

  • However, when CCTV footage was checked, it was revealed that he arrived at 3:32 PM, a

  • half hour earlier than reported.

  • He disappeared into the men's bathroom, then emerged.

  • At 3:45 PM, Kovtun arrived at the hotel and did the same.

  • Later tests showed a massive amount of radiation contamination in one of the bathroom stalls,

  • as well as under the bathroom's hand dryer.

  • These readings were so high that they were off the scale, indicating that Kovtun and

  • Lugovoi were likely preparing the polonium in the restroom somehow.

  • At the very least, they had polonium on their hands when they went into the restroom, and

  • it could not have come from anyone else at the hotel.

  • Litvinenko never went to the hotel bathroom while there, so he could not be the source

  • of the polonium contamination found inside.

  • When Litvinenko arrived, the pot of tea was already on the table, and his fate was already

  • sealed.

  • It is not certain which man put the polonium in the teapot, but, whoever did, the tea was

  • contaminated, and the few sips that Litvinenko took before giving up on the unpleasant-tasting

  • tea were enough to kill him.

  • When the forensics team investigated the Pine Bar, checking tables, cups, spoons, saucers,

  • teapots, and milk jugs, they found the teapot that Litvenenko was served from.

  • Lugovoi and Kovtun clearly didn't care if their assassination attempt put others in

  • harm's way, as the polonium was spread throughout the kitchen and dozens of unsuspecting people

  • exposed.

  • Polonium contamination was found in the bar's dishwasher, the floor, an ice cream scoop,

  • a chopping block, chairs, and the piano stool.

  • However, as dangerous as it is, polonium's tendency to stick around on items and provide

  • detectable radiation readings allowed the police to connect it back to Lugovoi and Kovtun.

  • The teapot that Litvinenko drank from gave off a reading of 100,000 becquerels of polonium,

  • and the table where the three men sat indicated radiation levels of 20,000 becquerels, or

  • twice the strength it would take to kill a person if ingested.

  • Even more damning than the evidence found in the bar, however, was the evidence found

  • in Kovtun's hotel room, room 382.

  • While the room was being investigated, the forensics team took apart the bathroom sink.

  • Inside, in the sink's waste pipe, they found a strange clump that tested for 390,000 becquerels

  • of polonium.

  • This clump had to have come into direct contact with the polonium itself, rather than just

  • traces of it.

  • With this information, the picture came into sharp focus.

  • After the meeting with Litvinenko, Kovtun went to his hotel room and dumped the rest

  • of the polonium down his bathroom sink, hoping to dispose of the murder weapon once and for

  • all.

  • However, in spite of this damning evidence, Kovtun and Lugovoi were already back in Russia

  • and out of the reach of the British justice system.

  • Though Lugovoi and Kovtun were directly responsible for his death, Litvinenko blamed another,

  • loftier figure for the decision to have him killed.

  • He named Putin in his final statement before his death, saying: “…this may be the time

  • to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.

  • You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price.

  • You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics

  • have claimed.

  • You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value.

  • You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of

  • civilized men and women.

  • You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will

  • reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.

  • May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its

  • people.”

  • He also agreed to have his photograph taken as he sat in bed, bald and gaunt from radiation

  • poisoning, so that the world could see what was done to him for the mere act of speaking

  • up and speaking out.

  • Even as he was sick, weakened from the poison, he stared defiantly down the lens of the camera,

  • strong until the end.

  • The image circulated around the world, accompanying his story and his message.

  • While the British police named Kovtun and Lugovoi as prime suspects in the murder of

  • Litvinenko, they have not been able to extradite them from Russia.

  • Both men deny their involvement in Litvinenko's death, but Litvinenko's account of events,

  • and the evidence, speaks for itself.

  • Even if they are never truly brought to justice directly, Alexander Litvinenko made sure that

  • the world would know who killed him.

  • Check outDeath Row Criminal the Law Couldn't Kill - True StoryandThe Man Who Stole

  • $65 Billion - Largest Ponzi Scheme In Historyfor more wild true stories about fascinating

  • people!

Russia has always had a reputation for illicit international activity, from sleeper cells

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Death By Polonium-210 - How Russia Takes Out One of Their Own Spies

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/18
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