“Murder most foul,” as Shakespeare put it, going on, “foul, strange, and unnatural.” That is what we are seeing in London today. Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB colonel and declared enemy of Vladimir Putin, has died in hospital. Everything about the unfortunate man’s fate is indeed strange and unnatural. Scotland Yard, investigating the case, is treating the death as “unexplained,” rather than a murder inquiry. This suggests that the authorities may try to sweep it all under the carpet. But shortly before he died, Litvinenko is reported to have told a friend, “The bastards got me.”
To confuse the issue further, the doctors now say that they can’t be sure what poison was used to kill him, but talk of cyto-toxic drugs that kill cells and cause a rapid decline of the kind Litvinenko suffered. The KGB has a laboratory that experiments along these lines. On the day of his death, Litvinenko met in restaurants one Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB officer like himself, as well as an Italian by the name of Mario Scaramella, a shadowy figure said to work for one or more intelligence agencies. Both proclaim their innocence.
To cap it all, Moscow now declares that Litvinenko was too unimportant to kill. The implication clearly is that important people may expect to be killed. Those who know the Kremlin – and first and foremost among them is Oleg Gordievsky, himself a one-time KGB defector – think that Moscow totally misjudged the effect that this murder would have, in the belief that it would pass unnoticed. Actually the murder reveals that the Soviet Union is arising, vampire-like, from its grave.