The media is weaning itself of the "Putin Must Have Murdered Litvinenko" theory ..with considerable reluctance. It was a theory handed to them -neatly packaged and fully orchestrated - by a Public Relations expert, working on behalf of the expatriate Oligarch billionaire , Boris Berezovsky. What's more, it was a "juicy" story : sure to attract viewers/readers, and beef up those third quarter advertising revenues.
It was also a story to gladden a billionaire Currency Trader's heart: Russia-on the verge of membership in the World Trade Organization-suddenly hit with a monstrous scandal ! If one has - ever so discreetly-taken a "short position" on the Ruble, who knows what extra millions may be reaped ? If that particular Trader is a heavy contributor to at least one major Russian newspaper - and one of America's dominant political parties , it is certain the "scandal" will have "legs".
Unfortunately, the story has been falling apart - with almost daily revelations - and another,more viable theory is emerging : The death of Litvinenko may be closely linked to Polonium smuggling .Moreover,the death may have been closer to manslaughter than murder: a death occuring by accident during the commission of another crime.
Polonium-210 is an extremely valuable commodity. Russia exports about 8 grams a month to the United States - thereby earning about 40 million Dollars. We use it for a variety of commercial and industrial applications - in microscopic quantities. The Black Market value of Polonium-210 is about 25 million dollars per gram !
It is also a very very dangerous commodity ! It can be carried - so they say - in a sealed vial with little or no risk ; but , once outside the vial, the risk is astronomical. It is reported to be 2.5 x 1000000000000 times more poisonous than Hydrocyanic acid (the stuff they use in gas chambers),and at least 50 times more energetic than Radium. Left in a warm environment (131F or above), it will vaporize within 45 hours-coating everything it touches with an ultra-thin layer of highly radioactive material - ideal for a "dirty bomb" . Mixed or alloyed with a super light metal called Beryllium, it becomes a Neutron emitter-and has been used as such in nuclear bombs.And yes, Virginia, there are people called "terrorists" who would gladly pay $25 million per gram for it !
The British, German, and Russian police are now investigating what the German police have tentatively identified as a smuggling operation; and the people they are looking at have absolutely nothing to do with Vladimir Putin.
So far, the following have come to the attention of the police in three countries:
Dmitri Kovtun - a businessman, with interests in oil and gas-has been exposed to radiation;
Andrei Lugovoi - a businessman who specializes in brewing kvas - a sort of weak beer-has been exposed to radiation,left trail of same in Hamburg;
Evgeny Limarev- a businessman with contacts, who is,at the moment, remaining out of contact.
One should not neglect to mention the victim: Alexander V. Litvinenko - a man with a distinctly checkered past. According to what Lugovi told Der Spiegel during a recent interview, the victim was no longer receiving money from his "patron" - billionaire Oligarch Boris Berezovsky- and needed money so badly he was actually ruining lucrative "deals" with his demands for large sums of cash.
It seems entirely possible at this juncture the unfortunate Litvinenko received a lethal dose of Polonium-210 poisoning because someone in his immediate circle was exceptionally careless with an exceptionally dangerous material.
The nature of the business these ill-assorted players were engaged in has not been made public-officially,anyway. What is officially acknowledged is the fact the business left a trail of radioactive contamination : in hotels, airplanes,lounges, a sushi bar,a football stadium, and (Oops !) the offices of Boris Berezovsky.
It is also notable the British police suddenly decided to take stock of their radiation-resistant protective garments, and found they needed to place a rather large order for same.
Might one suspect the existence of a "dirty bomb" component in the hands of terrorists ?