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Press conference of Dmitry Kovtun and Andrey Lugovoy

Published time: August 29, 2007 17:46
Edited time: August 29, 2007 17:46
Dmitry Kovtun and Andrey Lugovoy

Dmitry Kovtun and Andrey Lugovoy

Dmitry Kovtun and Andrey Lugovoy answered questions about their alleged involvement in the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko.

To watch the video in Russian please follow the link.

Independent (UK newspaper): Did you murder Aleksandr Litvinenko?

Andrey Lugovoy: Prior to answering such a deep and thought-out question, I would like to thank all those who helped us to organize this meeting with the British media.  Because to our mind the approach of the UK media to us and Russia was not adequate, but one-sided and tactless. All our requests to the British media for live meetings have been simply ignored. All the rare occasions to meet leading UK TV companies where we could express our views on what happened in London on the so-called  investigation by the Crown Prosecution were interpreted in completely the other way. So thank you for this opportunity.

We want this meeting to run a bit the other way. We have more questions to ask the British media than you want to ask us.

The questions we asked at our press conference, and the further ones we asked the public in the UK were merely ignored.

As for your question on whether I murdered Litvinenko: I unambiguously and with open eyes and face answer negatively.  I have not murdered him. But unfortunately, the public in the UK still fails to grasp that. It's quite clear that within the last 10 months a certain public opinion has developed in the UK and abroad on my involvement in the murder of Litvinenko, on the involvement of the special services and Russia as a whole.  Simultaneously, none of the UK media tried to make its own investigation, to probe the issue of the selling of UK citizenship. I insist that UK citizenship was traded like finery on the market, and you've stood by calmly and observed it.

There was no investigation on whether the British secret service was involved in Litvinenko's murder, on the involvement of the intelligence and counterintelligence service – MI5, MI6, namely SIS.  A three-month investigation by Russian law enforcement agencies show – with pictures and phonecall recordings – Litvinenko describing all the developments around me for a year, and they reveal the direct involvement of the UK secret service.

Certain criminals, crooks and swindlers are shielded by a so-called wall of UK justice.  They are using this provocatively, to undermine everything taking place in Russia.  I definitely mean Mr. Berezovsky and his accomplices and some member of the UK establishment, Lord Bell in particular, who carries out most of the PR campaign against Russia, funded by Berezovsky.

It is proclaimed in Russia that there is a fourth power in Britain – meaning the media.  But there is a fifth power in the UK – Boris Berezovsky.

Guardian: If you are innocent, how you can explain your refusal to face trial in Britain on the charges against you?

Andrey Lugovoy: Good question and it's very useful that it's among the first ones because I waited for it. Moreover, I have already answered it many times before. However, it emerges at every meeting. I will not go to Britain not for this reason, but because I haven't been invited.  From the very beginning, when my name appeared in this scandal, right through these ten months, I have not got any official paper from Britain inviting me to London.

I draw your attention to the fact that on November 20, three days prior to the death of Litvinenko, I,  of my own free will, and being sane, together with Dmitry Kovtun and with my lawyers, went to the UK embassy and made a written statement and handed them over the documents of our meetings with Litvinenko.  We left all our contact information – addresses, phone numbers, phone numbers of relatives, e-mails – and definitively offered a meeting.

They accepted these statements and promised the meeting.  During the following week, nobody approached us. On our own inititiative, we contacted Scotland Yard via our London partners and their detective Philip Boots. I've mentioned this name many times before. It's strange that nobody in the UK media can find him and ask him to confirm my words.  I called him and said: “Dear Sir, we contacted the UK embassy. I met Litvinenko on November 1st and I'm ready to visit London but I need an official invitation and an official statement that everything that happens is not the insinuation of the media.”

Philip Boots promised to pass on my request, but mentioned that they had got nothing from the UK embassy. I draw your attention to the fact that our statement to the UK embassy had not been transferred to the police and the Crown Prosecution. That was a decisive moment for me, which could have solved everything. He also promised to call back but failed to do so for two days.  And then he appeared in Moscow on the third day. How should I consider this?

Moreover, when the British returned home and the Russian prosecutors tried to visit London (I will further describe the behavior of the UK and Russian prosecutors during the investigation) we waited for two months. In late February and early March, when it was revealed that the Litvinenko case had been transferred to the Crown Prosecution, I called Philip Boots once more and asked for the contacts of the people who were in charge of thecase – so that our lawyers could contact them in order to arrange my trip to London.

Philip Boots told be that he couldn't give me any contacts.  If you have a computer, go to the Crown Prosecution website and find the name of the investigator there. This reveals the attitude of the UK justice system as whole to me, but there are more important things. I insist that nobody gave me any official invitation. What has prevented your brave Prosecutor General from sending an official notification of charges or an invitation for me to be a witness, and to visit London, as it would happen in every other country. Instead we see a performance by the UK Prosecutor General, where he issues charges against me and issues an international warrant for me, thus making it virtually impossible for me to visit the UK. Who in their right mind, after charges had been brought, and taking into account the story I've just told you, would dare to make such insane moves? 

The idea is quite clear: there is no evidence or proof and all the statements of the Crown Prosecution are lies instigated by the British leadership and secret service.  Because, I guess, they have carried out an internal investigation and found that those who were in charge of Litvinenko,aldo carried out a surveillance of me and the rest. The idea is simple: they place charges, I refuse to go to London and then they claim that I'm afraid of going to the UK.  The Russian Constitution forbids extraditing Russian citizens and they blame Russia's justice and legal system. High-ranking British officials claim that the trial cannot be held in Moscow because we are not sure that Russian courts are impartial and fair. Who makes the criteria of the court's fairness and impartiality. Don't your highest officials assume too much in taking this line with Russia and its Constitution, claiming it has to be changed? 

There has been already an answer to that by Russia's highest official. After all that they say that Russia is not co-operating and we will not send additional proof.  As a result we have a status-quo, where they have made plenty of noise, paid for by the British tax-payers, but still there is no evidence.  I have not said many things because of the secret nature of the investigation. Then I called a press conference, where the investigators of the Prosecutor General's Office also expressed themselves.

So, the reason I don't go to London is because the UK officials have done their best to prevent me from going.

ITV: You claim that the UK media has not investigated the case but I say they did. Here you can see a bestseller on that. What are the changes after your last press-conference? Is there any evidence that makes you less suspect then before. Why should we believe your statements today, is there any difference with your previous statements? Is there any additional proof of your innocence?

Andrey Lugovoy: Is there any new evidence of my guilt? Tell me what is the evidence of my guilt? Are you the aide of the UK Prosecutor General? Have you read the criminal case? Have you read the statements of the witnesses? You ask about the changes but what have you got except for the leaks from corrupted policemen who are used to disseminating lies about me? Your question is not professional. Nobody presented evidence to me! The Crown Prosecution request contains no evidence.

Dmitry Kovtun: We have gathered to make you question the things you watch and hear. Maybe it's in the book you showed but we have not read it.

Andrey Lugovoy: How can one write a book without speaking to us!  Who paid for that book to be written?

Dmitry Kovtun: I want to ask several questions for you to think about. Zakayev [Akhmed Zakayev, Chechen envoy living in exile in Britain and wanted in Russia] claims that Litvinenko has never been to Pankisi Gorge in Georgia.  But a week before the book by Goldfarb and Litvinenko's widow was published, we claimed that Litvinenko was there on the orders of Zakayev. Goldfarb writes in his book that in 2002 Felshtinsky together with Litvinenko were in Georgia. Litvinenko went under the name of Edward Carter and was wearing dark glasses. Check it out,  carry out an investigation, who's lying and what's the purpose of it?

Berezovsky claims that Lugovoy was in his office in October 31. Check it, it's easy. Lugovoy flew to London on October 31 on the last plane and was in his hotel at roughly 20.30, has a supper with his family and goes to bed. What's the purpose of Berezovsky's claims?

Eight months after the beginning of this story, Mr. Felshtinsky claims that he saw Lugovoy in London on October 12, that Lugovoy stayed there illegally and that he has firm evidence that Lugovoy is guilty. Let him show it. Whom are they covering with these claims about October 12 and October 31.?

What has Scotland Yard come close to finding out that Berezovsky decides to let Felshtinsky make such statements? Polonium traces could date back to October 12. Think about that? Ask yourself?

There are questions about Vladimir who flew with me from Hamburg. I'm really worried about him because he is missing. How has this happened? Gordievsky claims that there was such a person of Oriental appearance and firm build. Litvinenko claimed that some Vladimir attended the meeting in the bar at the Millennium hotel. No Russian can mistake the name Dmitry for Vladimir. We met him on October  15, 16 and 17 in London. He greeted me as Dmitry when we met on November 1st. Firstly there was Scaramella, then Lugovoy appeared. After it appears that Litvinenko met Zakayev and his subordinate. Litvinenko was in Berezovsky's office. There could be some Vladimir in between. Where is he, why is nobody looking for him?

Andrey Lugovoy: Why have you forgotten about this Vladimir? You wrote about him for six months. The statements of Berezovsky and Goldfarb about this Vladimir are most certainly in your book. Where is he, who is he? There was not such a person and it's easy to check.

Dmitry Kovtun: The statement by a barman made eight months after the incidents took place. From my own experience, as I was in London more often than Andrey, I recall that the bar was crowded that night. How could a barman recall that someone stood up and covered the teapot with one's body eight months after. Ask him once more and he will tell you something else.

Andrey Lugovoy: As for the evidence produced by Scotland Yard, I can mention the so-called testimony of Litvinenko before his death where he mentioned Vladimir who is absent and so we can question his sanity, the testimony of Berezovsky who quotes Litvinenko and reports by the media on polonium traces in some places. I ask you why there are polonium traces at locations I didn't visit, and there are no such traces at places that I did?  Why has Scotland Yard asked us about the places we never visited but where polonium traces were found? Why are there no traces of polonium on the plane I flew from Moscow? We flew on a Transaero plane on October 16, where no traces of polonium were found. But three hours after our arrival at the Erius company HQ at 25 Grosvenor St, if I'm not mistaken, large amounts of polonium were discovered. And after all that you claim that the traces are from Moscow.

Dmitry Kovtun: Check the planes which flew on October 12. Felshtinsky appeared on purpose.

Andrey Lugovoy: I state once again that testimonies by Berezovsky are complete lies. I did not meet him on October 31, but four days before that. He is a coward and did not reveal the purpose of the meeting. He claims he met me to thank me for providing security for his daughter. Firstly, he knew nothing about it by then because Lisa contacted me independently and other people paid for her. We discussed providing security for Elena Tregubova. Seven years had passed  since our last meeting and we never discussed business in the meantime. He called me without prior notice somehow learning I'm in London and invites me to meet him. I was very surprised. I met him in his office and he instantly asked me about whether it's possible to provide security for Elena Tregubova. I answered that it's possible and that we protect many persons. I asked about the reasons, possible threats. He answered that he is afraid that Tregubova could meet Politkovskaya's fate.

Now we know what happened to Politkovskaya because by now the case is solved. I do not know who the Prosecutor General's Office have in mind when it says the person who contracted the crime was living outside Russia. Berezovsky has not only inquired about protection for Tregubova, but also whether the security men will be from my bureaus.  He was preparing an alibi for himself.

The chain should be as follows: Politkovskaya-Litvinenko-Tregubova or Politkovskaya- Tregubova-Litvinenko. It's crystal clear.  I called Tregubova. She can prove I never met her before. My partner in charge of security contacted her. Now I read her interview in which she writes that she is afraid of being killed. Let her ask Berezovsky who tried to arrange something for her in late October. What was the hurry and why such mystery? What's the purpose of the inquiries about the personalities of the security men. It was a provocation from the very beginning. I am surprised that he doesn't admit it. There are people in London who can prove it, but he denies it.

Host: We cannot claim that Politkovskaya case is solved because there has been no trial yet.

Andrey Lugovoy: Look, British media claims that the Litvinenko case is solved, but there was no trial there and no evidence either.

SKY News: What evidence do you have that you are not connected with the traces of polonium that were found on you? 

Andrey Lugovoy: And is there any evidence that it is somehow connected with me? The traces of polonium were found after a month.   Moreover, the polonium traces are not the same as fingerprints. You can’t identify a man by them, can’t identify his face. All the traces of polonium were found 30 days after I’d been to those places. That’s it. And bearing in mind the polonium was found in those places, but not on the plane that I flew on, there should be no questions to me. My explanations are the following: somebody infected me with polonium on purpose after what happened to Mr Litvinenko – who got involved in some serious things that ended with such sad consequences.   

RIA Novosti English Website: What is your version of what happened to Alexandr Litvinenko?

Andrey Lugovoy: I have already told my version at the previous press conference. I think that, Litvineko and all his dealings in London had something to do with polonium. They were up to something. I don’t know what it was. And the death of Litvinenko happened by accident, I think, The British justice system has to put all their efforts in investigating this matter. I am absolutely sure about this.    

I have to underline that Litvinenko was a salaried agent of the British secret service. So it will be very easy to investigate.  Litvinenko was receiving his salary and it will be easy to trace all of the accounts from where the money came and where it went afterwards. Litvinenko had close contact with British intelligence agents. He also proposed that I meet them in Turkey, Finland and Norway. As far as I know, he himself flew to these countries.

I can tell you that Litvinenko had the ability to nose into things in which he had no business – things that were beyond his capabilities – as the Russian proverb says. So that what happened to him did so with the silent assent of British intelligence or with their connivance. And it tells a lot about how professional the British secret service is.  And it shows that the time has come to disband those organisations and say: “Thanks you, guys, but the pace of life is too fast for you”.

Dmitry Kovtun: The psychiatric examination of Alexandr Litvinenko that should have been done after his death could shed light on this whole situation. Such things are commonly done and you should know that if you are working on this. My first question is: Whether a psychiatric examination of this man was performed after he died? And my second question is: Whether there was a linguistic examination of the statements that he made before his death? They were made in English. Do you have answers to those questions?    

CNN: You are very angry about the accusations made against you but don’t you think you will remain the only suspect in the case of Alexandr Litvinenko’s murder until the last day of your life? Maybe, you should come to Britain voluntarily and hand yourself over to British justice to clear your name, because the world trusts British justice?  And the second, you are speaking to the journalists in words that we hear from the official sources in the Kremlin. You were receiving help or working with the FSB and other organisations, why can’t you stay loyal to them?

Andrey Lugovoy: It is a very wise question and I am not going to answer it in a sequential order, as it was asked. It is really a serious question concerning politics. I’ve already said why I am not going to give myself up to British justice.

`The world trusts British justice`, but where are the criteria to judge? I’ll tell you again, we are not dealing with an ordinary criminal case and an ordinary death here. Although no evidence of it was presented, it is considered to be a death caused by radioactive material. And you are saying that it looks like my words are the words of officials in Kremlin. Well, this is your mentality towards Russia, my friends. It is all that has been happening throughout the last three or for years in the Western World’s attitude to my country. I was raised in a patriotic way, I am a Russian officer, and can tell you that there was a small, but a very difficult, period in Russian history starting from 1988 and continuing up to the year 2000. And I think that in your question this attitude towards Russia is present. This is the echo of the Cold War that was back in the 80s.

Russia recently resumed strategic bomber flights after a gap of 20 years and the whole Western World immediately got very nervous.  All countries are doing this but Russia can’t. And I think that the Russian bombers should be set on combat duty, not just patroling the territory, to make it clear that Russia will never be on the backyards of this World. It was the leading state in the World. Thank God now it has risen from its knees again. You may not like it, but Russia will be strong again, and you will have to live with it.
 
Yesterday I read an article which said that the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, was criticising Russia’s actions in power engineering (energetics). But, my friends, it’s nobody’s fault that you do not possess gas and oil. And I want to point out that all the riches of the British Empire were made on the blood of colonial wars. You were robbing the world for 400 years, and you are reaping the fruits of it. Now you are democrats, and every thing is OK with you.  You have enough money, so you think now you can lecture the rest of the world.

Only British businessmen see the situation more clearly. They are going to Russia to invest money in its economy. Blair, your new or future Prime Minister, may say what he wants but everything will be fine in Russia. The British PM had to save face in this whole story, because there were no evidence. The death of the special services agent was missed by the officials. Something had to be done to make the situation look good.  When that happened, everybody took advantage of the situation – the British secret service, the enemies of Russia, meaning a group of Russian criminals who escaped justice at home and fled to Britain. The vectors of different forces which had one interest – to discredit Russia – all came together. And we're experiencing it now, during the last 10 month.

Russian Business review: You say you have not got an official invitation to go to the UK. Haven't you a visa? You can board a plane and go because you have a valid visa. As for the lack of co-operation and transparency by the British side, gather all the e-mails and present them to the UK media. Give us this information.

Andrey Lugovoy: Good question. I have a visa which expires in early December. But I have already mentioned that I visited the UK embassy and made a statement that we are ready to meet and to fly to London. We contacted the British police and made the same request – when we should fly and who we should meet. And after three days the policemen were in Moscow. So they came here.  However, I proposed flying to London. They did their best to prevent us from going. I am not an idiot. I said that I'd like to go to London but got a reply that I'd better stay in Moscow.

As for the e-mails, I have nothing to present because I didn't get any for 10 months. No letter or phone call. It's unprofessionals to propose leaving everything and flying to London. It's too primitive.

There is a powerful campaign to discredit me personally, calling me a murderer, a suspect, etc.

Dmitry Kovtun: Who guarantees personal security?

Andrey Lugovoy: Now I feel more comfortable in Russia.   However I asked for a meeting in London. Let us not cheat and ask such populist questions.

The charges against me are not that I've stolen chewing gum from the shop, but that I killed a person by socially dangerous means and caused a scandal.

To my mind, no case has drawn such attention in the past 100 years, accompanied by diplomatic expulsions and performances in the UK Parliament. Why didn't your Foreign Secretary present all the evidence in parliament? No word, because he has nothing and will have nothing.

Dmitry Kovtun: The same applies to the Germans. I instructed my lawyer to contact the investigators in Hamburg, to give them my phone number and to ask them to call me. Their reply was that I'm almost dead, that someone else contacted him on the orders of the FSB. It's a complete nonsense.

You are saying that you are not going back to Britain, so what will happen now? There is no new evidence, no new data, what does this situation mean? What will be the outcome?

Matthew Taylor: What will happen now?

Andrey Lugovoy: I don’t know what the outcome will be. I can only say that from the point of view of the investigation carried out by the Russians, I don’t know what the results will be. But I think I presented enough evidence of my innocence. The way the question is asked: “no new evidence, no new data”, is not correct. There is evidence gathered by Russia’s Prosecutors and evidence gathered by the British. Why don’t the British Prosecutors send their material here? I’ll tell you, because the evidence of me NOT being involved in Litvinenko’s death, that I presented to Russian prosecutors, is very strong. The absence of polonium traces in the Transaero plane, the things that Livinenko gave me long before October 2006 which have polonium on them. I think, questions are normally asked in such cases. Russian Prosecutors had a meeting with the press and they mentioned it. Believe me, this is very serious evidence.

And another very important thing is that there has to be a motive. Why did I do it? Not because the Kremlin or the FSB ordered me to do it. Where is the evidence of this? There is a phrase often used by jurists, lawyers and prosecutors, even British ones: “If there is no motive – there is no crime”. That’s it.

And the British evidence is the traces of polonium that were found after a month. I may sometimes sound cynical, but there is nothing else to say. Everything was found after a month, but are you sure that during that time nobody could have been to these place after me. I am not. Because right after that a well-organised PR campaign was launched by the scoundrels that are hiding in Britain. Excuse me for using such rude words. Everything becomes obvious – this whole thing was all carefully planned. And now it's scary to look at the faces of some gentlemen that allow themselves to cynically lecture on this case while sitting on British soil.

Independent: If you did not murder Litvinenko as you've been telling us, then who did: a single killer or a criminal group?

Andrey Lugovoy: I don't know. I have already given you my interpretations. It's hard to tell. I repeat that Litvinenko travelled a lot.  He made trips on the orders of Mr Zakayev – the wanted terrorist.  I hope he will be tried in Russia some day. Regardless of your attempts to defend him and present him as a representative of some independent republic of Chechnya, it was, still is and always will be a part of Russia. Thanks God order has been established there. He was in Pankisi Gorge a few times, arriving by various means. Interviews in connection with Litvinenko's case prove it. A statement has been made by a Russian citizen called Zharko, who was close to Berezovsky and who was recruited by the UK intelligence service. He presented serious evidence of Litvinenko's involvement with the special service, with Chechens, trips to Turkey.

Litvinenko was very much dependent on Berezovsky, and carried out many secret missions for him for almost 10 years, including the forging of a murder contract on Berezovsky's life.  I headed security departments in serious companies in which Berezovsky was a shareholder. He paid big money for this press conference. There was conflict about the distribution of money.

Further, Berezovsky deceived him and Litvinenko came to the conclusion that nobody would need him in London in 1-2 years. He has a family to support and he had to come up with something. So he tried to find new ways to earn money.

I do not know whether there was a single killer or a group. I personally believe that Litvinenko had some contact with polonium.

Dmitry Kovtun: If there was a murder, and not an accident, then it was done by one who could benefit from it. Think about the one who could benefit, there is such a person.

CNN: If you have been framed why have they chosen you?

Andrey Lugovoy: It's clear. When its happened, the name Lugovoy appeared – former agent of the KGB, FSB – although I never served in the FSB. Linked to the special services – that's all. They needed a parallel between a particular person and law enforcers. And it was achieved.

Host: Does your company still protect Lisa, Berezovsky's daughter.

Andrey Lugovoy: No comment about my clients. However, the fact is there are some clients who we protected for 10-15 years, together with their relatives.  That is the way theey thanked me.

Host: Would you be ready to prove your innocence in a UK court if it were held via video-conference?

Andrey Lugovoy: I'm ready to prove my innocence in a Russian court because I'm a Russian national. There is a procedure and the Criminal Code does not allow it.

Dmitry Kovtun: There is a presumption of innocence.

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