'Litvinenko laughed off my warning. He said it was like the plot of a film'
· Italian gave former agent details of 'murder plot'
· Document pointed finger at Russian intelligence
Jeevan Vasagar, Barbara McMahon in Rome, Tom Parfitt in Moscow
Saturday December 2, 2006
When Mario Scaramella met Alexander Litvinenko at the Itsu sushi bar in London to warn him of an apparent threat to both their lives, the former Russian spy dismissed the document - which purported to detail the plot against the two men, as well as three others - as being "like the plot of a film".
One of the documents mentioned a Russian judo master who is slightly lame in his right leg, but speaks good Portuguese and arranges "special operations". It seemed far-fetched, and Mr Litvinenko certainly did not believe it.
Since that meeting in Itsu, Mr Litvinenko has died from an overdose of polonium-210. Yesterday Mr Scaramella tested positive for the radioactive substance.
The emails are believed to have come from the son of an officer in the FSB [Russia's state security organisation] and were brought to London by Mr Scaramella, who was worried about the details in them.
The emails claim Russian intelligence officers "speak more and more about the necessity to use force" against a number of named enemies.
As well as Mr Litvinenko and Mr Scaramella, one of the documents says Russian intelligence is targeting Paolo Guzzanti, an Italian senator and chairman of the Mitrokhin commission, which investigates KGB infiltration of Italy. Mr Scaramella is a consultant to that inquiry.
The document says Russian security services believe the two Italians are in collusion with "enemy no.1 of Russia", the businessman Boris Berezovsky, and two of his associates - Mr Litvinenko and Vladimir Bukovsky, a Russian dissident living in Britain. The Mitrokhin investigations, it says, "are considered in Moscow as purely provocative towards Russia".
Valentin Velichko, ex-KGB general and head of a security service veterans' group, Dignity and Honour, is also named in the documents as involved in the "planning of actions" against Mr Guzzanti and Mr Scaramella. There is no evidence connecting him to the poisoning of Mr Litvinenko or Mr Scaramella.
The second email identifies an alleged assassin, an officer in Russia's Spetsnaz special forces. He is described as having black hair and a lean build. The email says he "speaks well English and Portugal, is master in judo" and is on a reconnaissance mission to Naples.
Despite his reservations, Mr Litvinenko promised to check the information and to get back to him. He and Mr Scaramella had regular meetings to discuss matters relating to the Russian security services. "Alex had a huge breadth of knowledge of both the KGB and the FSB. He had incredible archives and contacts," Mr Scaramella said. On one occasion, Mr Litvinenko gave him information about an arms smuggling plot in which six men from Kiev were attempting to smuggle grenades and a detonation system in hollowed-out Bibles into Italy. The men were arrested and are going through the Italian judiciary system. It has been alleged they were planning to use the weapons to kill Mr Guzzanti.
Mr Velichko left Moscow last Friday [Nov 24] for an unknown destination but in an interview with the Guardian shortly before Mr Litvinenko's death he rubbished the idea of security service involvement with the alleged poisoning, saying the former FSB officer "probably ate some bad sushi".
Dignity and Honour, which has up to 3,000 members, is based in an apartment block on the outskirts of Moscow. It owns more than two dozen companies that provide everything from bodyguards to banking services. It is known to have strong links with the Kremlin.
The lame judo master
The man named as the potential assasin targetting Scaramella and four others in the document he gave to Litvinenko is described as a member of Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces, who speaks English and Portuguese and is a master in Judo. He sometimes travels using a false name and passport and operates a network of professional hitmen in St Petersburg.
The document Scaramella gave Litvinenko named five potential targets:
Alexander Litvinenko Former spy and critic of Putin regime who was later killed with a radioactive poison
Mario Scaramella Consultant to Italian Mitrokhin inquiry, set up to investigate KGB activities in Italy
Paolo Guzzanti Chairman of the Mitrokhin commission
Boris Berezovsky London-based billionaire and Russian oligarch
Vladimir Bukovsky Russian exile living in the UK.
1 Scaramella was poisoned accidentally when he met Litvinenko at the Itsu restaurant in London on November 1 - Litvinenko was the main target
2 Scaramella was actually the intended victim at the Itsu meeting, and Litvinenko received a fatal dose of polonium instead
3 Both men were targeted at the Itsu meeting - both their names appear on the document Scaramella gave to Litvinenko
4 Scaramella was not poisoned at the same time as Litvinenko, but has been targeted with polonium since then, either in Italy or London; this raises the possibility that the 'poisoner' is still at large in the UK.
27.11.2006: Max Hastings: Corruption, violence and vice have triumphed in Putin's Russia
26.11.2006: Henry Porter: Voices from the grave tell a tale of freedom betrayed
26.11.2006: Leader: Behind the assassins, the grim truth of Putin's Russia
21.11.2006: More attacks on the Kremlin's opponents could take place in Britain
25.11.2006: Amid the intrigue, a wife and son are left to mourn
21.11.2006: How the FSB inherited the KGB's legacy
24.11.2006: Litvinenko poisoning: the main players
27.11.2006: Tom Parfitt: Don't rush to judgment
25.11.2006: Countdown to Litvinenko's death
26.11.2006: Nuclear poison: the deadly trade
25.11.2006: Obituary: Alexander Litvinenko
25.11.2006: Explainer: Polonium 210
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