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Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB Hardcover – May 22, 2007
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About the Author
Alex Goldfarb, Ph.D., was a dissident scientist who left Russia in the 1970s, joining the faculty of Columbia University. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, he went to work for George Soros directing charitable initiatives in Russia. He befriended Alexander Litvinenko in the 1990s. Goldfarb later helped Litvinenko work on his memoirs and supported his efforts to expose the abuses of the newly ascendant FSB. Goldfarb is currently the executive director of the International Foundation for Civil Liberties, set up by Boris Berezovsky as an umbrella group for human-rights activists.
Marina Litvinenko first met Alexander at her thirty-first birthday party, in 1993, when he was a young officer in the FSB. They married and she gave birth to a son thereafter. In 2000, the three of them sought asylum in the United Kingdom, and she continues to live in London with her twelve-year-old son.
The death of Alexander Sasha Litvinenko in London in November 2006 was a cause clbre, but few people know of the political intrigue that went on behind the scenes. This was no random hit--this was an execution in the style of the Cold War-era KGB. This chronicle by friend Alex Goldfarb and Litvinenkos wife, Marina, reads like the best le Carr or Clancy, and Dennis Boutsikaris is a wise choice for narrator. His portrayal of various East European accents is flawless. Under the spell of Boutsikariss hypnotic voice, we follow the Litvinenkos as they flee Russia for safety (they hoped) in England. Along the way, we learn of Sashas KGB past, his discovery of major crime at the heart of the state, and his poisoning and painful death. B.D.J. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Livinenko, who defected from Russia and became a British citizen, became the first man in history to be the victim of a nuclear terrorist attack. Within days, because of the nuclear radiation, he had aged almost 20 years! A few weeks later he died at a London hospital. The FSB, the successor to the KGB, and the Putin regime were suspected. Traces of polonium radiation were found on some airplanes originating from Russia, suggesting the terrorists had traveled from there. A pub and the Sushi restaurant where Sasha was poisoned were closed due to traces of radiation. You may recall in the news seeing British personnel in yellow protective suits (to protect them from radiation) searching the sushi restaurant.
Sasha's wife, who tended to her husband and was exposed to his vomit, was found to have been exposed to polonium. But the exposure was minimal and did not pose an immediate health risk to her. His children however were not exposed to polonium. According to the author, Scotland Yard knows who the terrorists are, and who is behind them, but the information is classified. Is it because of the political ramifications? Should such information be withheld from the public?
Ever since 1998, when Litvinenko denounced the FSB for ordering him to assassinate tycoon Boris Berezovsky (who's story is told of how he made his billions), he had set out to exposing the FSB's darkest secrets. According to Litvinenko, the FSB were responsible for the assassinations of oligarchs (government by the few), politicians, and journalists. He believes that the FSB were also behind the assassination of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko who was poisoned during his campaign. He also exposes the dirty deeds of the FSB during the war in Chechnya. Litvinenko warns the west that the KGB is back with a vengeance. For these reasons, many in Putin's government viewed Litvinenko as a traitor, and, according to the author, may have wanted him killed.
In an address to the Russian people, Putin flatly denied having been involved in the murder of Litvinenko, saying that Litvinenko is insignificant. But then all politicians lie, don't they? It is part of their job description.
The book revealed to me so many traits about Putin that I never knew, but I don't want to use this book to pass judgment on the man. After all, the author does say that the beliefs and conclusion of the book are those of Litvinenko and his own, and that he does not claim to be a neutral observer.
According to the author, Putin was on holiday during the Russian submarine accident that made headlines throughout the world. The west volunteered to help, but Putin refused any kind of help until it was too late. All sailors on board the submarine died many days later. They could have been saved by an immediate rescue attempt. During the whole incident, Putin remained on holiday. I found this shocking. Do his people mean so little to him?
The author reveals more of Putin's character during the Chechnya war and the atrocities that took place there. He also accuses Putin for the Moscow bombings and killings of innocent Russians. Again, we should not take the author's word, but we should keep an open mind.
The author also says that Putin never liked the west but only pretended to, and that when the occasion arises, he would separate from them. He also says that it was the Americans who kept him in power. You may recall hearing in the news a few months ago that Putin resumed his nuclear air patrol to protect Russia from a possible nuclear attack from the west. Is the tension of the cold war repeating itself?
I really enjoyed this book, and it opened many questions I never thought of before. I don't want to use this book alone to pass judgment on Putin and the Russian government. This book opened for me a door to learn more about this ex-superpower that might turn out be a sleeping giant.
This book also exposed to me the evil that man can do in the name of power. Do politicians sleep peacefully at night? Would the world be a better place without politicians? One thing is certain: in the name of power, man is capable of untold atrocities!