15 December 2018
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286 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     278 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Opinion: credibility of British Litvinenko Judgment Doubtful (Eurasia Review, By William Dunkerley, February 10, 2016)

Disclamer: The Embassy is not responsible for the opinions expressed in this publication.

A dark cloud of suspicion still hangs over a 2006 British murder mystery. The Litvinenko affair started as a London spy mystery. It made top headlines back in the day. Riveting allegations claimed Alexander Litvinenko died of polonium poisoning ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Now almost ten years later, the mystery has evolved into a government political scandal. After years of false starts and inaction, an official inquiry was finally called in 2015. Getting to the bottom of things was its ostensible purpose.

Retired high court judge Sir Robert Owen chaired the proceedings. Prime Minister David Cameron put his weight behind Owen’s undertaking. Owen released a final report of his findings on January 21, 2016. But instead of shedding light on what happened to Litvinenko, it only further confounded the issue. The report is replete with incertitude, and its findings are biased, flawed, and inconsistent.

Owen’s report is so poorly done that it’s worth considering whether Sir Robert himself should be accorded credibility. Instead of moving the long-drawn-out case toward justice, Owen just may have poisoned the chance that the truth will ever be known.

Owen had racked up an alarming record with his work, first as coroner and then as chairman of the official government inquiry. It suggests that he is a man on a mission, and perhaps not an honest one. While coroner, Owen said he had a “duty to undertake a full, fair, and fearless inquiry into the circumstances of Mr. Litvinenko’s death.” In actuality he followed quite a different path.

Just what circumstances did British law require him to investigate? They’re not what you might expect. It may come as quite a surprise, but fingering a culprit in the killing is not among them. That wasn’t his job. In fact British law explicitly forbids coroners from establishing criminal liability.

Owen should have been ruling on the manner and cause of death. That was his statutory responsibility. The manner of death could refer to something like: natural causes, accidental death, homicide, suicide, or undetermined (if there were no clear indications of the other manners of death). The cause of death tells what specifically killed the person. Examples include cardiac arrest, drowning, overdose, automobile collision, etc. Owen ignored that responsibility. He clearly had his own agenda. But what was his game?

Owen’s rogue behavior got so out of hand that Home Secretary Theresa May actually reprimanded him and told him to focus on his legitimate duties. In my book Litvinenko Murder Case Solved I write about a July 2013 incident:

“Coroner Sir Robert Owen was taken to the woodshed by the British government. At issue is his conduct of the inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko. A reputed former KGB spy, Litvinenko died suspiciously in London in 2006.

“Owen’s rebuke came as a result of the course he had charted for himself in investigating Litvinenko’s death. The coroner’s statutory responsibility, according to Home Secretary Theresa May, is to ‘ascertain who the deceased was, and how, when, and where he came by his death.’ But Owen was not focusing on those issues; he was not doing his job.

“Instead, Owen had been conducting a rogue criminal investigation, looking for Russian state involvement in the death. The late Boris Berezovsky, a fugitive Russian oligarch who was hiding out in London, had accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of culpability. He never presented any evidence, however. But Owen was apparently picking up where Berezovsky left off.”

It’s important to note that when reality-tested, Berezovsky’s assertions typically can be proved absolutely false. They are sheer fabrications. My 2011 book titled The Phony Litvinenko Murder factually debunks the many unsupported allegations that have become the mainstream news story.

Continuing from Litvinenko Murder Case Solved:

“The Home Secretary reined in Owen, pointing out that he had overstepped his bounds. She stated that the law does not allow a coroner to determine criminal liability.

“Earlier news reports uncovered Owen’s illicit criminal investigation. In response he concocted a scheme of deception. He wanted to transfer his coronial work to a different venue, one without the restrictions placed on coroners regarding openness and criminality. It was a clever strategy.

“But when Owen wrote to the government requesting the transfer, he misrepresented the circumstances of the case. He said, ‘It is a highly exceptional situation when the victim of what appears to have been a murder is interviewed by police before he dies, and makes a public statement in which he names those whom he suspects of being responsible for his death…’

“However, the public record shows that Litvinenko made no such statement to the police. It is true that there was a written public statement accusing Putin that was attributed to Litvinenko. It was released after his death. But that document has been shown to be a fraud. The statement was a hoax, and the hoaxer has publically confessed.”

Some wonder if he was really murdered. It’s interesting that while media reports have persistently called Litvinenko’s death a murder, the coroner had never ruled it to be a homicide. Owen didn’t do his job. He failed in a primary responsibility.

Owen’s scheme to transfer his work to a different venue was in fact a request to move the Litvinenko matter from coroner’s court to a “Public Inquiry.” Common sense says that this term means an inquiry that’s out in the open. But in this case, the words are a tricky technical term. It’s actually a misnomer. According to British law, a “Public” Inquiry really can be conducted behind closed doors in secrecy. There never was any intention that the Public Inquiry be completely transparent. The media reports about this give entirely the wrong impression.

Why did Owen so intently want to continue his witch hunt for Russian culpability? Was he somehow in cahoots with the Berezovsky crowd? I don’t know. Did he have a personal reason to prolong the case? What might that be?

Until Owen was put on the Litvinenko case, he was facing mandatory retirement from the bench in September 2014. Extending his activities in the Litvinenko affair kept him on the government dole beyond that. Now, it looks like he might have been milking the Litvinenko case for all it’s worth to his own personal benefit.

Perhaps the Home Secretary saw through Owen’s ruse. She turned down his request for the Public Inquiry, asserting that his legal responsibilities could be fulfilled within the coronial process.

With that unequivocal news, Owen announced that he would comply. On December 18, 2014 he issued a formal ruling that removed the Russian culpability issue from the scope of his inquest. At that point the case seemingly went dormant. And at that very time there still was no determination of the manner and cause of death.

How did things get from there to the actual convening of an official Public Inquiry, the one just reported upon? In a word, it was politics. Politics at the highest level.

In mid-2014 David Cameron inserted himself into the proceedings. He exerted political pressure from the highest level, and completely reversed any legitimate course the case could take.

Why did he do that? Cameron took on a personal mission to hit Russia hard over the MH17 disaster. This came as part of the sanctions frenzy over Ukraine. The so-called Public Inquiry, although earlier ruled out by the Home Secretary, was now propelled to the forefront. Owen was finally allowed to continue his dedicated witch hunt adventure unfettered.

Earlier Home Secretary Theresa May had clearly expressed her wish that “…the normal legal process following a suspicious death should be permitted to run its course.” But that was not to come. Cameron’s intervention stopped the wheels of justice, and politically corrupted the case. It was a real setback.

A July 22, 2014 Reuters headline said, “Britain Does U-turn on Ex-KGB Agent Litvinenko Murder Inquiry.” So now, against Theresa May’s original recommendation, the coroner’s work was transferred to a Public Inquiry where Owen could go hog-wild on his witch hunt for a Russian angle with great freedom and alacrity.

There’s the answer to why Cameron got involved. He was joining in the Russia sanctions frenzy that had erupted over the MH17 tragedy. This was another way to poke Putin in the eye. July 22 coverage in The Week put it plainly, “Litvinenko Inquiry is Launched: Now There’s a Coincidence!” Cameron denied the connection, but few experts bought his story. Cameron was denying the obvious.

So now here we are with the official results of Owen’s witch hunt unwrapped. He asserts Russian culpability that probably traces back to Putin. But can Owen be believed? I don’t know whether or not there is Russian culpability. What I do know that those who have been trying to convince us have resorted to fabrications and lies.

Ever since his days as coroner, Owen pursued not justice but justification for his preconceived notion of Russian culpability. On top of that there was Cameron’s intrusion and politicization of the case.

The inquiry had a chance to cut through bias and misinformation and give the case an honest hearing. But it passed up that chance, only to wallow in the malicious mud slinging that has plagued the Litvinenko affair from the start. In the end all we have is an untrustworthy verdict sent to parliament by a discredited judge with blessing of a revenge-seeking prime minister.

The Public Inquiry and its official report have plainly made a mockery of justice. Shame on Owen. Shame on Cameron. What a scandal they themselves have produced. They championed a disrespect for the law and a willingness to substitute political pressure for the process of justice. It was a disgraceful performance. Who could be expected to reasonably trust the outcome?


28.11.2018 - Statement of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin at the Fourth OPCW Review Conference

Statement of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin at the Fourth OPCW Review Conference in response to the USA, United Kingdom and Canada accusing Russia of not observing its obligations under Chemical Weapons Convention. Distinguished Mr. Chair, We consider absolutely unacceptable the groundless accusations voiced in the statement of the United States that Russia is in violation of its obligations under Article I of the CWC pertaining to alleged involvement of Russian nationals in use of a nerve agent in Salisbury. Such statements have absolutely no bearing on the facts and are effectively aired to influence the international community. The refusal of the United Kingdom to cooperate in any form with Russia on the “Skripal case”, which would be in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article IX of the CWC only underlines the emptiness of the accusations. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom has addressed the Technical Secretariat with a request to confirm the outcomes of its own national investigation, which contradicts the goals and objectives of technical assistance provided to a State Party under subparagraph e) of paragraph 38 of Article VIII of the CWC. As follows from the presented materials on the assistance provided in connection to Salisbury and Amesbury cases, we have to state the politically motivated nature of the undertaken measures.

30.10.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with ''Moscow. Kremlin. Putin'' TV programme Moscow, October 25, 2018

Question: Why did US National Security Adviser John Bolton come to Moscow? Sergey Lavrov: To talk. There are many matters we need to discuss. We appreciate it that it is US National Security Adviser John Bolton who is especially proactive regarding ties with his colleagues in Moscow. Question: Is this a joke? Sergey Lavrov: Not at all. Actually, we have meetings with Mr Bolton more often than with our other colleagues. He was here in July, and now he is back again. In between, he met with Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva. We believe that it is important when such a high-ranking official takes interest in the practical matters on our bilateral agenda.

24.10.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's introductory remarks at the opening of the 2nd Russia-UK Raw Materials Dialogue, 24 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, To me as Russian Ambassador to the UK, it is a privilege to address such an important Russian-British conference. The 2nd Russian-UK Raw Materials Dialogue has a great meaning for the professional community in our countries, for it covers a broad range of different topics from mining technologies, new material development and use of natural resources to international academic and scientific exchanges.

27.09.2018 - Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council meeting, September 26, 2018

Mr President, Colleagues, In the modern world, an efficient fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is becoming increasingly important for global and regional stability and the reliable security of all states without exception. Constructive cooperation in this area is an important component of the efforts to shape a positive international agenda. I think everybody agrees that the UN Security Council resolutions that outline specific measures against violations of non-proliferation must be strictly observed. Resolution 1540 remains the basis for this and contains obligations for the member states to take specific measures to prevent non-government agents from accessing weapons of mass destruction and their components. The UNSC decisions taken in pursuance of this resolution are particularly important as they include sanctions for handing over any types of weapons to terrorists. There have been incidents of such handovers and they must be thoroughly investigated.

07.09.2018 - Remarks by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the UNSC meeting on the incident in Salisbury

Q: Do you expect British sanctions on Russia soon? A: We are not expecting or afraid of anything. Taking to the account how things have been developing during the recent years we do not exclude anything. This discussion and yesterday’s speech by the British Prime-Minister in the British Parliament are not coincidental. I think that’s looks like a prelude to a new political season. Q: So, Ambassador it’s really coming from the highest level in the UK. A: It always comes from the highest level. Last time when the incident took place it also came from the highest level. Q: But it seems that you are not taking it seriously. A: We are taking it very seriously. We were saying it all the time. Why we’ve been asking for cooperation with the UK from day one. Only few minutes ago Ambassador Pierce was referring to an ultimatum that Boris Johnson made in his letter to the Russian Ambassador in London when the incident took place presented as a request by the British site to cooperate while in fact it was a demand to to accept the gilt. At the same time our requests which we sent to British authorities constantly through OPCW and bilaterally were ignored.

06.09.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show on Channel One, Moscow, September 4, 2018

Question: Today we have a special guest in our studio, one of the main participants in the “great game”, someone the future of the world really depends on in many ways: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We are happy to welcome you in the Great Game studio. Sergey Lavrov: Thanks for inviting me.

22.08.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comment on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's anti-Russian claims

At a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's urges to European partners to slap their own sanctions on Russia in connection with the Salisbury incident.

16.08.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Salisbury Journal"

The Russian Ambassador said he stands together with the people of Salisbury in a meeting with the Journal last week, as the United States announced new sanctions against the country. Speaking at his official residence in Kensington Palace Gardens on Thursday, Alexander Yakovenko said: “We are together with the people of Salisbury.”

24.06.2018 - Greeting by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for the Znaniye school Family Day (Ealing, 24 June 2018)

Dear friends and guests, I am delighted to welcome you at a Family Day celebrating Russia and the World Cup. Today, Russia is the place to be for the whole world. It is a great pleasure to hear fans from all continents appreciating Russia’s hospitality, friendliness and openness to everyone. Right now, people from virtually every country see the 11 host cities, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals on the border of Europe and Asia, and realize how diverse and beautiful our country is. We’d like to bring a bit of Russia and the excitement of the World Cup to Ealing, for those who couldn’t make it to the tournament. By the way, so far both our teams are doing very well, and let us hope they keep up this good work. We cheer for both Russia and England but I’m afraid this can change if both teams meet at the semi-finals.

20.06.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, May 30, 2018

Mr Dynkin, Colleagues and friends, Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for a new opportunity to speak at the international forum named after Academician Evgeny Primakov, an outstanding Russian statesman, academic and public figure. It is indeed a great honour for me. I consider Mr Primakov, with whom I worked at the Foreign Ministry in the latter half of the 1990s, my senior comrade and teacher, as probably do the majority of those who crossed paths with him at one point. Holding this representative conference under the aegis of one of Russia’s leading academic institutes – National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) that also bears Primakov’s name – has become a good tradition. The Primakov Readings have earned a reputation as a venue for serious dialogue of authoritative specialists on the most pressing issues of international politics and the global economy. Today, there is no lack of buzzwords used by politicians, experts and scientists to capture the current moment in international relations. They talk about the crisis of the “liberal world order” and the advent of the post-Western era, “hot peace” and the “new cold war”. The abundance of terms itself shows that there is probably no common understanding of what is happening. It also points to the fairly dynamic and contradictory state of the system of international relations that is hard to characterise, at least at the present stage, with one resounding phrase. The authors of the overarching theme of the current Primakov Readings probably handled the challenge better than others. In its title “Risks of an unstable world order’ they provocatively, and unacademically, combine the words “unstable” and “order”.

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