The following is my own translation of Oleg Gordievsky’s interview for Radio Liberty’s Russian Service (December 18, 2006):
How would you assess the collaboration of the Russian authorities with Scotland Yard in the Litvinenko case, on the whole?
A pure disaster, and the British detectives knew what they were in for when they went. They had to, so to speak, ‘give evidence’ of their respect, they were to come and take a look, and just enter it into the record, because neither Kovtun nor Lugovoy… no one was presented to them in the proper way. The British detectives sat there, they realized this was purely a pathetic show the Russians were putting on. The British are not fools, they knew that the Russians have never collaborated honestly with the British in juridical questions.
Then why, in your view, don’t the British officials voice criticism to Moscow?
Because they are gathering information, information of enormous import, which will lead to an immense explosion of indignation throughout the entire world. It’s all being got together, everything is known. I knew who the killer was on the fourth day. They all know, but they’re doing it all step by step, in the correct way, it must be done according to procedure, according to official record… As I sit here now I’m also writing a statement, by the way, two detectives are sitting here with me. And they will publish it some time next year.
You said that you know who killed Litvinenko. Won’t you share your knowledge with Radio Liberty?
I can only give you a hint. It was a person whom Lugovoy and company… who joined them for 10 minutes. They said: “Hey Volodya. Volodya, here’s Sasha. Sasha, don’t you know Volodya? He also works in a kind of business that might be able to organize some work for you. Sit down.” He sat down. “Well, maybe just a cup of tea.” “All right, I’ll get it for you.” He went, brought the cup of tea and put it in front of him. And that was it – that was the end of Sasha. There’s this person, and where is he… The KGB group, which notified neither Lugovoy nor the other agents who were taking part, was a big one. They rehearsed, they had two rehearsals. They rehearsed in Moscow. Then they rehearsed in London. Then they had another rehearsal in the morning. It was all carefully arranged, as in the Bolshoi Theatre. But they didn’t know that this was a substance that kills people, and even this main killer, even he didn’t know what kind of a substance it was, what power it had.
The Times newspaper writes that the dose of polonium-210 with which Litvinenko was poisoned was 10 times greater than the lethal dose and that its cost was more than 10 million dollars. How could it be that they had so many rehearsals and yet they didn’t know what they were doing?
The people who were rehearsing, they didn’t know, they weren’t told, they weren’t supposed to know, only the bosses knew. But they rehearsed, they rehearsed, and on one occasion they even dropped the container. It was the British who discovered that, for the British equipment has proved to be the best in the world. This polonium, this pill that was made, it didn’t cost 10 million, someone has exaggerated there.
But doesn’t this super-dose prove that the whole thing was not done in a very professional way? May it not be used as an argument to support what many are now saying, that the Russian special services are not behind this?
You say: it’s not the Russian special services. But who does stand behind it, in that case? The Americans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Pakistanis, the Israelis, all of whom have the bomb? Well, who can stand behind them? Polonium-210 is available only in Russia and the United States. Both the Americans and the British know the power station at which polonium is produced and in what quantity, how it’s packed, and in what type of container, they know its weight, they know everything about it. And all that questioning they did in Moscow was just pure comedy, their aim was simply to be able to say we’ve done what we were supposed to do.
What, in your view, is the role of Lugovoy, Kovtun and Sokolenko in the Litvinenko case?
Calculations of this kind, which are still premature, lead one to the thought that they are not the killers because they were just the killer’s assistants. The killer was this man who arrived from the side. While the other two sat, distracting his attention.
Why, in your view, was polonium-210, a substance that leaves so many traces, chosen for the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko?
They want to demonstrate something new. They developed this. Did you know that polonium-210 leaves traces? I didn’t. And no one did. This was the main failure of this operation. Everything else was done correctly, everything was calculated, and so on. But what they didn’t know was that this equipment, this technology exists in the West – they didn’t know that, and that was where they miscalculated.