Friday, November 24, 2006

Litvinenko: Wet Work and KGB Sushi?

This is the sushi restaurant on Picadilly in London where Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko ate his last meal, as it were, on Nov. 1. I've passed by there a couple of times this week and it's been packed, despite the prominent coverage in the British press of Litvinenko's terrible suffering from a mysterious poison. .... So I decided, what the hell, I'd go to Itsu for lunch today, eat a couple of California rolls, chat up the staff, see what other customers were thinking. But by 1:30 this afternoon it was shut down tight. The sign out front reads "As a result of the Russia/KGB business, we are temporarily closed while Scotland Yard investigate. Sorry!!"... Litvinenko died last night of what authorities in the UK are calling a "massive and deliberate dose" of an isotope called Polonium 210. The BBC is reporting traces of radiation have indeed been found at Itsu as well. ... Apparently polonium, exotic as it sounds, is not so hard to come by. A quick Google search shows traces of it are found in cigarettes and, well, fish. The BBC is reporting that it can be purchased on line. ... Moscow is adamantly denying any involvement in Litvinenko's demise, but the suspicion that this is the work of some present or past members of the Russian secret services is not going to go away. As suggested in the Shadowland column this week, what the Soviets used to call "wet work" is growing common in our world of deeply conflicted national interests. The intellectual authors seem to think they have licenses to kill, and they may be right. -- C.D.

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