Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage–02 Sep 14

Gelzinis: Dzhokhar’s pal lost in translation
Peter Gelzinis
Boston Herald | August 22, 2014

GUILTY: Dias Kadyrbayev, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, with his defense attorney Robert Stahl at his left, pleads guilty yesterday before Judge Douglas P. Woodlock for impeding the investigation into the deadly attack.

Dias Kadyrbayev came to court yesterday flanked by his lawyer and his translator, a woman who looked a lot like my third-grade teacher.

She planted herself by Kadyrbayev’s left shoulder and only sprung into action on those occasions when the 20-year-old Kazakh’s brow wrinkled, or U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock would ask, “Do you understand me?”

The kid nodded politely, answered, “Yes sir,” and “No sir,” but never once, “I understand, your Honor.”

This bit of lost in translation became all the more curious when Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Seigmann rose to read six pages of stipulated facts about Dias’ role in trying to get rid of evidence that allegedly ties his UMass Dartmouth buddy, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to the marathon bombings.

The most chilling part, the one without a trace of an accent, was the fateful text exchange Dias had with Tsarnaev on Thursday, April 18, 2013, the night he saw his friend in those pictures the FBI flashed around the world. There was nothing “foreign” about it.

“Yo, bro, u saw the news?” Dias asks.

“Yea bro, I did,” Tsarnaev responds.

“For real?” texts Dias

“I saw the news,” Tsarnaev replies, then follows it up with a warning, “Better not text my friend.”

Though Dzhokhar tries to lighten things up with a quick “LOL,” Dias asks, “U saw yourself in there?” meaning strolling with backpacks among all those unsuspecting strangers on Boylston Street.

Dias then adds, “ahaha…hahaha.”

What kind of virtual laugh do you suppose that was? As it turns out, it became Dias Kadrybayev’s entry into a situation that would have him copping a plea to obstruction of justice. He would find himself up to his ears in a vicious terrorist incident.

When the brief courtroom proceeding was over, Kadrybayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, told reporters that he was convinced his client had no role in the planning of the bombing, or that his friends might be involved.

That might well be true. But when it comes to this horrific act, joining in the cover-up is just as bad. I rode the elevator down yesterday with a sergeant from the Somerville Police Department, a woman who politely declined to say anything beyond, “I needed to be here.”

This cop came to court yesterday to see a kid admit that he obstructed the justice that might well have prevented the murder of MIT police Officer Sean Collier, who had just learned he was going to join the Somerville police.

That text conversation, which is bound to play a role in Dzhokhar’s upcoming trial, ends with Tsarnaev telling Dias “If yu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there…” He ends with “Salam aleikum.”

Dias responds with: “what’s wrong with u?

He should have taken that question to the police.


Boston Marathon bombing: Dias Kadyrbayev guilty of obstructing justice
Prosecutors to ask for seven years or less, but judge will review deal
Associated Press | Aug 21, 2014

Attorney Robert Stahl speaks to media outside federal court in Boston, after his client, Dias Kadyrbayev, pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation into the deadly attack in April 2013. (The Associated Press)

A friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded guilty Thursday to impeding the investigation by removing incriminating evidence from Tsarnaev’s dormitory room several days after the deadly attack.

Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, admitted in federal court that he removed Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder from Tsarnaev’s room.

Twin bombs placed near the finish line of the 2013 marathon killed three people and injured more than 260.

Under a plea agreement, federal prosecutors said they would ask for no more than seven years in prison. The agreement allows his lawyer to argue for a lesser sentence. The Kazakhstan-born Kadyrbayev also agreed not to fight deportation after he completes his prison sentence.

Judge will review plea agreement

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock set sentencing for Nov. 18 but did not immediately accept the plea agreement, saying he first wanted to review a report that will be prepared by the probation department.

Kadyrbayev’s decision to plead guilty came just two weeks before he was scheduled to go on trial and a month after his friend and co-conspirator, Azamat Tazhayakov, was convicted of identical charges by a jury.

During Tazhayakov’s trial, prosecutors described Kadyrbayev as the leader in the decision to remove the items, but said Tazhayakov agreed with the plan. They said Kadyrbayev was the one who threw away the backpack and fireworks, which were later recovered in a landfill.

Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, said his client made a "terrible error in judgment that he’s paying for dearly."

Stahl emphasized that Kadyrbayev — a native of Kazakhstan who came to the U.S. in 2011 on a student visa — "had absolutely no knowledge" that Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were planning to bomb the marathon and was "shocked and horrified" when he learned they were suspects.

He said Kadyrbayev, who was 19 at the time, "now understands he never should have gone to that dorm room, and he never should have taken any items from that room."

Backpack, laptop taken from dorm room

His plea agreement with prosecutors does not make any mention of him agreeing to testify against a third friend who was also charged. Robel Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators about being present when Kadyrbayev took the items from Tsarnaev’s room. Phillipos is scheduled to go on trial next month.

The backpack, fireworks and laptop were taken from Tsarnaev’s room hours after the FBI publicly released photographs and videos of Tsarnaev and his brother as suspects in the bombing.

Prosecutors said Kadyrbayev exchanged text messages with Tsarnaev after seeing the photos, and Tsarnaev told him he could go to his dorm room and "take what’s there."

Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of explosive powder that can be used to make bombs.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled to begin in November.


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s College Friend Pleads Guilty
If a judge accepts the agreement, Dias Kadyrbayev, facing obstruction charges for disposing of Tsarnaev’s backpack after the Marathon bombings, will serve a maximum of seven years.
Susan Zalkind
Boston Daily | August 22, 2014

In a major turnaround, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friend Dias Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty to charges he obstructed the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings in a court hearing on Thursday.

Wearing a blue shirt and jeans, 20-year-old Kadyrbayev admitted he knew Tsarnaev was a bombing suspect when he went into Tsarnaev’s UMass Dartmouth dorm room and took his laptop and a backpack containing fireworks, Vaseline, and a thumb drive, and then threw the backpack into a dumpster. His guilty plea is the result of an agreement worked out between prosecutors and the defense, whereby Kadyrbayev will only serve a maximum of seven years instead of the potential 25 if found guilty. Judge Douglas Woodlock must still approve the plea agreement for the deal to move forward.

The prosecution said it took 25 agents two days to search through a landfill to find the backpack, and once they did, the items and the backpack had been altered.

“Is it all true?” Woodlock asked.

“Yes,” said Kadyrbayev, with his head down.

He stood solemnly when entering his guilty plea, a shift from his typically jovial mood—he started the hearing by flashing his attorney Robert Stahl a toothy grin. Despite the serious nature of his charges, Kadyrbayev comes off as a bit of a class clown. He has already taken the stand in attempt to suppress statements he made to the FBI on the grounds that he did not understand his Miranda rights. Expert witnesses argued that his reliance on slang masked his inability to comprehend complex phrases. Back in June, his first word to the court was, “Sup?”

Stahl later told reporters that Kadyrbayev has spent the past year alone in his cell, reflecting on his actions. “He understands he should not have gone to that room,” he said. “He did not do so out of malice.” None of the Tsarnaev’s friends facing charges are accused of knowing about the bombing beforehand.

Kadyrbayev’s plea is just the latest in a series of legal happenings stemming from Tsarnaevs associates, coming just a month after his friend and co-conspirator Azamat Tazhayakov was found guilty of obstruction after agreeing with Kadyrbayev to remove and throw out Tsarnaev’s backpack. He could face up to 25 years.

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are both from Kazakhstan. They became friends with Tsarnaev in 2011 during their first semester at UMass because they all spoke Russian and, according to friends’ testimonies, bonded over an interest in video games and weed. In an opening statement, Myers argued that they originally went to Tsarnaev’s room get his marijuana.

Missing from the courtroom yesterday was Robel Phillipos, another friend of Tsarnaev’s who allegedly was in the dorm room when Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov took the backpack. Phillipos is not facing charges of obstructing justice but is facing one count of lying to the FBI. His trial is set for next month.

Phillipos grew up in the same Cambridge apartment complex as Stephen Silva, who was arrested last month for selling heroin and for possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number in February 2013. The Ruger model P95 is believed to be the same gun the Tsarnaevs allegedly used to shoot and kill MIT officer Sean Collier.

“He basically let him use it but having no idea what he was going to do with it, and next thing you know, he’s a terrorist,” said a friend of Silva’s who asked not to be named.

Silva was friends with Dzhokhar and has an identical twin Steven Silva, who was reportedly even closer to the Tsarnaevs. Stephen Silva was arrested in November 2013 and told law enforcement, “I smoke weed because my friend is the bomber.” Silva’s friends tell Boston magazine Silva grew increasingly depressed after the bombing. His next court hearing is set for October.

Two additional Tsarnaev friends, Khairullozhon Matanov and Konstantin Morozov, were detained in separate incidents on May 30 of this year. Matanov is charged with three counts of lying to federal authorities and two counts of obstructing justice. His trial is set for June 2015.

Morozov was detained on immigration charges. His attorney Carlos Estrada says Morozov was applying for asylum and was detained after FBI agents asked him to become an informant. Morozov refused.

Tsarnaev’s capital case is set to start in November. The emerging theme from the testimony and documents of Tsarnaev’s associates’ cases is the younger Tsarnaev’s cool demeanor in the days after the bombings. In a video released in Tazhayakov’s trial, Tsarnaev appears to smile nonchalantly on the way to the gym, just a day after the bombings.


Legal analyst Tom Hoopes discusses Kadyrbayev plea
7News Boston WHDH-TV | Aug 21, 2014

BOSTON (WHDH) – Dias Kadyrbayev, a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges Thursday.

Legal analyst Tom Hoopes weighed in on the hearing. He said the outcome of the Azamat Tazhayakov’s trial likely influenced Kadyrbayev’s plea.

"I think probably if they tried this case, exactly the same thing was likely to happen, at least that’s what the defendant and his lawyer thought. The prosecution was going to call all kinds of witnesses and this defendant wasn’t going to have anybody to call, and in this environment, the jury was probably going to find him guilty, and as a result of all that, he was going to do a longer sentence," he said.


Guilty plea opens evidence vs. Tsarnaev
Experts: Prosecutors must prove conspiracy
Bob McGovern
Boston Herald | August 22, 2014

Evidence dug up as part of yesterday’s guilty plea by a former college roommate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be used against the accused Boston Marathon bomber if prosecutors can show they were part of a conspiracy to thwart investigators, according to legal experts.

“If people are considered co-conspirators, anything one says can possibly be used in the case of another,” said Peter Elikann, a Boston criminal defense attorney. “If these guys were doing anything to help Dzhokhar out, and he knew about it, they would be considered co-conspirators since they worked together to achieve a goal — to get rid of the evidence.”

Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to charges that he hindered the investigation into the deadly 2013 bombings. He could spend up to seven years behind bars if Judge Douglas Woodlock approves the agreed-upon plea.

As part of his plea, Kadyrbayev admitted to a series of facts, including a text exchange with Tsarnaev that occurred after the attacks.

One comment could show that Kadyrbayev and pal Azamat Tazhayakov conspired with Tsarnaev to hide a backpack and laptop that were key aspects of the obstruction charge Kadyrbayev admitted to.

“If yu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there (SIC),” Tsarnaev texted Kadyrbayev, after it became clear that Tsarnaev was involved in the twin bombings that killed three and injured more than 260.

The statement, which was made before Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov raided Tsarnaev’s University of Massachusetts Dartmouth dorm room, could show that they were in a conspiracy to obstruct the investigation. If prosecutors prove the conspiracy, Tsarnaev’s words could be used against him as a co-conspirator, even if he isn’t indicted as one, according to an expert.

“As long as the government can establish someone is a co-conspirator in the charged conspiracy, they don’t have to be indicted,” said Brad Bailey, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “It is sufficient to label someone an unindicted co-conspirator. However, the government still must prove the existence of the conspiracy charged and that the unindicted co-conspirator was part of it.”

Tazhayakov was found guilty of obstruction and conspiracy charges last month. He faces up to 25 years in federal prison when he’s sentenced Oct. 16. Kadyrbayev is set to be sentenced Nov. 18.

A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to investigators.


Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage–01 Sep 14

The Tsarnaev Women Tell Chechnya’s Story
Julia Ioffe
The Moscow News | 23/07/2014

There were three important women in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s life—five, if you count his sisters—and each is a window into the culture to which he seemed to cling in the final years of his life.

First, there is his aunt, Maret Tsarnaeva, a Chechen refugee from Kyrgyzstan and now a resident of Toronto, by way of the U.S. In a press conference the day her nephew Dzhokhar was being hunted in the streets of suburban Boston, Maret, with her rust-colored hair and silvery manicured nails, gave a magnificent performance. She was brassy and assertive, commanding the attention of the reporters calling to her with questions. “I’m lawyer from back home,” she declared, exhorting the FBI to prove to her that her nephews were responsible for the bombing of the Boston marathon. “How difficult is that? Give me evidence!” she demanded, flicking her hand into the air as if peppering the press with her disdain. She talked about her nephews, but also about her youth in Kyrgyzstan, where the Tsarnaev brothers spent part of their childhoods. As a Chechen, Maret said she had to prove her mettle, to go over and above her Kyrgyz and Kazakh peers because, unlike them, “I was not in my land.” Asked about Tamerlan’s radicalization, Maret acknowledged that he did indeed turn to Islam in recent years. “He started praying five times a day, but I don’t see what’s wrong with that,” she said. “You just say words, gratitude to Creator.”

Maret is the old Chechnya: secular, Soviet, severed from its roots, paranoid and cynical in its knowledge, acquired painfully and firsthand, of what a government can do to its subjects. When Maret talked about her nephews being framed, she knew what she was talking about: “Lawyer from back home” actually meant state prosecutor, a key actor in a judicial system that was in practice a political bludgeon, one that actively invented charges against potential opponents. Maret also talked about Islam as a thing that is both native and foreign to her. Islam was something into which she was born, and which, to her, likely, is a set of pleasant traditions and holidays that give her a sense of belonging to an old history. For someone who had a Soviet upbringing, being born a Muslim was akin to being born Chechen; it was just another mark of ethnicity, and, towards the end of the Soviet experiment, didn’t mean much more than having a non-Slavic name.

Enter her sister-in-law, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, wife to her brother Anzor, mother to her nephews Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. You look at that old baby photo of Tamerlan from the late 1980s, and you see Zubeidat looking like a more sullen version of Maret. Her hair is uncovered and fashionably teased; her dress is secular, even stylish. At a press conference in Makhachkala, Dagestan, a quarter of a century later, she is a woman transformed, though the long, morose face is still the same. In between, she had moved from the wasteland that was nominally Buddhist Kalmykia, where Tamerlan had been born, to nominally Muslim Kyrgzystan, had another son, Dzhokhar, and two daughters, emigrated to America, gone to beauty school, married off her older son and daughters with uneven success, was arrested for shoplifting, divorced her husband, and moved back with him to her native Dagestan.

Somewhere along the way, Zubeidat found Islam in a way Maret never did.1 It is said that Zubeidat pushed Tamerlan toward the old faith when he started to lose his way, and it is also said that Mikhail Allakhverdov, the mysterious “Misha,” a Ukrainian-Armenian convert to Islam, had pushed Zubeidat or Tamerlan or both closer to Islam. And from there, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar seem to have moved on to more intense forms of the religion, including an interest in the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. It is something that seems to have percolated through the house and into Zubeidat’s newfound faith: She told one of her customers that the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job designed to turn the world against Muslims. “My son knows all about it,” Zubeidat is said to have claimed . “You can read on the Internet.”

Zubeidat is the new Chechnya, and the new Dagestan. At the Makhachkala press conference, she is dressed in a long-sleeved black caftan, her face framed tightly by a black and white hijab. Her mourning is expressive and theatrical, almost Middle Eastern. She talks about how she regrets moving to America— “why did I even go there?”—about how she expected America to keep her children safe, but instead “it happened opposite,” she says, weeping. “America took my kids away.” If the Tsarnaevs hadn’t emigrated, Zubeidat contends, “my kids would be with us, and we would be, like, fine.”

That, in the new Chechnya and the new Dagestan, is highly unlikely. While the Tsarnaevs were in Kyrgyzstan and America, the region began to change rather violently. After the First Chechen War ended in 1996, Chechnya became a mix of lawless wilderness rife with violence and kidnapping, and pockets ruled by fundamentalist warlords, like Aslan Maskhadov. After a second war between Russia and Chechnya broke out in 1999 and dragged on for years, Vladimir Putin installed Ramzan Kadyrov as president of Chechnya. Kadyrov was the son of a separatist mufti and led a vicious militia that switched to the Russian side early in the second war, and become allied with the FSB.

Kadyrov, who now posts photographs of his devout family at play or going on Muslim pilgrimages on his Instagram account, is accused of grotesque human rights violations. He now rules Chechnya with a mix of terror and a torrent of money from Moscow. He has led Chechnya down the path of increasing Islamization. Women are now required to cover up, lest they be harassed by the authorities or, worse, subject to paintball attacks by Kadyrov’s modesty vigilantes. Kadyrov has also voiced his support of honor killings, a rather stark turn for the once secular republic. “Now Chechen women must wear hijab and long dress with long sleeves to go anywhere out of home. There have been many situations of the public humiliation of those who tried to resist,” a Chechen woman told me. She asked to remain anonymous for fear for her family’s safety. “The previous generation was under the radicalization of Wahhabi regime during 1996-1999, but the Wahhabis lost, they didn’t achieve the goal to cover all Chechen women with hijab. But now the government has achieved that goal. This young generation of radicalized girls and boys might be a real threat to the society in the nearest future.”

Even before this policy had firmly taken root, the region became a source of unique terrorism: the female suicide bomber. The first woman to detonate herself was 22-year-old Khava Baraeva, who, in 2000, drove a truck packed with explosives into a local Russian military base, killing three. She was going after the commander who had killed her husband. Other Chechen and Dagestani women followed her lead, blowing up military posts as well as civilian targets inside Russia. Two women, for example, simultaneously brought down two Russian airliners in 2004, killing 89, and two young Dagestani women blew themselves up in the Moscow metro, in March 2010, killing 40. Half of the terrorists who seized the Dubrovka theater in Moscow in 2002 were women, strapped with explosives. Experts estimate that up to 40 percent of suicide bombings originating in the region are perpetrated by women.

The women have come to be known in Russia as “Black Widows.” At home they are known as shakhikdi, the Russianized feminine form shakhid, or martyr. “A lot of the women in these radical Islamic groups, for example, in Indonesia, they don’t get personally involved in frontline warfare but they raise their sons so that if their father is killed, they can step right away into his shoes,” says Mia Bloom, a scholar at Penn State’s International Center for the Study of Terrorism, and author of Bombshell, a book about women suicide bombers. “Women act as the glue within the terrorist cell,” she explains. “The daughter of one cell leader will marry a cell leader in another area to create linkages, like in 15th century European courts. And the women are to make sure that their men stayed fierce.” Bloom adds that, though it’s hard to do this in the U.S., in conflict zones “the mothers will convey a certain ideology or worldview to the children.” Others, like Mariam Farhat, a Hamas activist, encouraged her sons to go on suicide missions, and publicly bemoaned the fact that she didn’t have more sons to send into battle.

Chechen and Dagestani women took it one step further; they went into battle themselves. It is a stunning paradox, given that at home they live in what Bloom calls “an extraordinarily patriarchal society—so much so that the women at the Dubrovka theater were wearing explosive belts, they were not the ones with the detonators.” The man is the means and the ends of a Chechen home. When a Chechen woman is married, she is not allowed to speak at the wedding. Often, her relatives can’t even come. It is a celebration of the man’s acquisition. “In a Caucasian family, where the man dominates, woman is raised to take care of the man and to sacrifice for the man,” the Chechen woman told me. “The Caucasian code of ethics requires the woman to be modest and quiet. But during the war in Chechnya I have witnessed so many times how Chechen women would step before tanks and armed soldiers, aiming weapons at them, if their men were in danger of being captured or killed. So, this socially required behavior changes when it comes to a life and death issue. Mothers are ready to sacrifice for their sons, sisters for their brothers, wives for husbands, and so on.”

Though Zubeidat refuses to accept her sons’ guilt—“No, never,” she said that day in Makhachkala—and though a Russian wiretap caught her talking with Tamerlan about jihad, it seems unlikely that she would strap herself with explosives and charge forth against the enemy. Chechen and Dagestani mothers usually don’t. And that’s where Katherine Russell comes in, especially after a woman’s DNA was said to have been found on a fragment of the bomb.

Russell, the daughter of a Rhode Island doctor, met Tamerlan at a night club, converted to Islam, and, after marrying the elder Tsarnaev brother, reportedly became more observant and began to pull away from her family. She went to work while her husband stayed home. According to her friends, he was often abusive, calling her a “prostitute” and hurling furniture at her. This too is unfortunately common in the culture: Tamerlan’s naturalization was held up when he faced charges for slapping his girlfriend; his father, in an interview with The New York Times, wondered aloud at the strangeness of this country, where “you can’t touch a woman.”

But unlike a black widow, and unlike Zubeidat and Maret, when her husband was accused of blowing up the Boston Marathon and then died in a shoot-out with police, Russell, the American, did not pick up arms, verbal or physical, to avenge her man. She walked away. His violent attack on the state did not bond her to him; rather, it seemed to rip her out of his orbit, to shame and terrify her where, had Tamerlan been a radical in Dagestan, it may have brought her a certain grief-tinged honor. Instead, Russell issued statements in which she expressed her ignorance of the plot—the DNA was found not to be hers—as well as her shock and her family’s grief for the victims of the bombing. Most tellingly, she declined to claim Tamerlan’s body. Instead, it was claimed by his sisters, who though Americanized and horrified by Tamerlan’s act, said they would give their brother a proper Muslim burial.


Boston Marathon suspect’s sister allegedly threatened to bomb boyfriend’s ex
Associated Press | August 27, 2014

NEW YORK –  Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s sister was arrested Wednesday on suspicion she threatened to bomb a woman who previously had a romantic relationship with her boyfriend.

Ailina Tsarnaeva, who lives in North Bergen, N.J., made the threat against an upper Manhattan woman via telephone on Monday, police said. She turned herself in at a Manhattan police precinct, and police charged her with aggravated harassment.



Several media outlets reported that Ms. Tsarnaeva told the Harlem woman she had "people who can go over there and put a bomb on you."

Officers gave Mr. Tsarnaeva an appearance ticket and released her pending a Sept. 30 court date.

A telephone number linked to Mr. Tsarnaeva was disconnected. Her lawyer, George Gormley, said he had left his office and would speak Thursday.

Ms. Tsarnaeva has been required to check in with Massachusetts probation officers since prosecutors said she failed to cooperate with a 2010 counterfeiting investigation.

Prosecutors said Ms. Tsarnaeva picked up someone who passed a counterfeit bill at a restaurant at a Boston mall and "lied about certain salient facts during the investigation."

At a hearing last October, Mr. Gormley said Ms. Tsarnaeva was pregnant with her second child and was unlikely to flee.

Ms. Tsarnaeva once lived in Cambridge, Mass., at an apartment linked to her brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who were the subjects of an intense manhunt in the Boston area in the days after the deadly April 2013 marathon bombing.

Records show Ms. Tsarnaeva now lives with a sister, Bella Tsarnaeva.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with building and planting the two pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the marathon’s finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a gunbattle with police.


Defense Seeks to Move Trial on Boston Marathon Bombing
NYT | AUG. 8, 2014

BOSTON — Citing “an overwhelmingly massive and prejudicial storm of media coverage” here, lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused in last year’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, pressed their case this week for moving his trial to Washington.

In papers filed here in federal court, Judy Clarke, the lead defense lawyer, wrote in response to prosecutors’ arguments: “Although the government insists that Mr. Tsarnaev has not been portrayed in a negative light, ‘but rather [as] the sympathetic young man who appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone,’ the actual data show he has been portrayed as a monster, a terrorist, depraved, callous and vile. He is viewed as an outsider, a foreigner, disloyal and ungrateful.”

The defense team had already sketched out its arguments for moving the trial, which is scheduled to begin in early November. In papers filed in June, the defense said its research had found an “overwhelming presumption of guilt” in Massachusetts against Mr. Tsarnaev in the bombings of April 15, 2013, which left three people dead and more than 260 wounded. Mr. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the 30 counts against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty.

In filings on Thursday evening, the defense sought to bolster those earlier arguments with almost 10,000 pages of supporting documents. They included extensive analyses of news media coverage and community attitudes performed by Edward J. Bronson, a professor emeritus at California State University, Chico.

Mr. Bronson was part of the team that argued unsuccessfully for the insider-trading trial of Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, to be moved out of Houston, where the company was based. The court in that case ruled that pretrial publicity did not preclude a fair trial.

The Tsarnaev case is more frequently compared to that of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people were killed. The court held that prejudice against Mr. McVeigh in Oklahoma was so great that he could not obtain a fair trial there, and it moved the proceedings to Denver. In that case, the federal courthouse where the trial would have been held had been damaged in the bombing, and waiting for repairs would have delayed the start of the trial.

In papers filed here, Mr. Bronson said the Tsarnaev case “is more like the Oklahoma City bombing case, where a whole state was found by the trial court to be biased, than the city of Houston in the Skilling case.”

Ms. Clarke, a staunch opponent of the death penalty, added that the marathon bombing “has been portrayed, and is likely perceived, as a direct attack on Boston, its institutions, its traditions and each of its residents.”

Mr. Bronson said his analysis of coverage by The Boston Globe showed that it had run 2,420 articles on the bombing in a 15-month period, a volume that he called “extraordinarily high.” The Globe’s themes, words, phrases and passages constituted inflammatory overload, he said.

Brian McGrory, editor of The Globe, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the marathon bombing, said in response, “We believe our coverage to be fair, accurate and comprehensive, and will let our work speak for itself.”

It is not clear when the judge in the case, George A. O’Toole Jr., will decide whether the trial should be moved. The government will probably ask for time to respond to the latest filings.

Jeremy Sternberg, a former federal prosecutor in Boston and now a partner in the Boston office of the law firm of Holland & Knight, said the defense filings indicated that there were jurisdictions outside Boston, like Washington, that might be less prejudiced. But, he said, “they have not demonstrated that you can’t find a fair and impartial jury” in eastern Massachusetts.

On Russia and Islam – 3 Aug 14

Islamic Movements in North Ossetia
Dr Mikhail Roshchin

PRAGUE, 10 April 2014, Caucasus Times. This paper is based mostly on my own field-research in North Ossetia. I hope it will give a picture of what is going on in Muslim republics of Russian North Caucasus.

Little is known about the Muslims of North Ossetia outside its borders. However, according to the assessments of experts (in particular, the Ossetian sociologists Timur Dzeranov and Olga Oleinikova), approximately 15 percent of the population of the republic is Muslim.1/ Islam was disseminated in North Ossetia mostly during the 19th century. The central city mosque of Vladikavkaz was built in the early 20th century. The funds for the construction of the mosque were allocated by the Azerbaijani oil magnate Murtuza Mukhtarov, who was married to an Ossetian woman with the last name of Tuganova. The mosque was built in the Egyptian style and it is unrivaled in the North Caucasus in terms of its architectural features.

During the Soviet period, all mosques on the territory of North Ossetia were closed, but during the religious renaissance that arrived during the perestroika years and which continued after the breakup of the USSR, the religious life of Ossetian Muslims experienced a revival. On the one hand, the older generation of Muslim traditionalists 2/ was becoming increasingly active and their most vivid representative was Dzankhot Khekilaev, who died in the summer of 2004. 3/ On the other hand, thousands of young men in North Ossetia began actively following Islam and, in particular, its salafi variety. This, in turn, led to the formation of two parallel Muslim structures in the republic. The Muslim traditionalists founded the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of North Ossetia in 1990, while Muslim youth began to build their own organization, which they called the “Jamaat” and which was officially registered as the Islamic Cultural Center in 1996. The young people elected Ermak Tegaev to be the chairman or Emir of the newly created entity. It should be noted that 40-year-old Tegaev had a criminal past and had spent 12 years behind bars during the Soviet period.

The composition of the Jamaat, according to its Vice Emir and imam of the Vladikavkaz central city mosque, Suleiman Mamiev, who met with me on a number of occasions, included the Muslim communities of Beslan and Elkhotovo. The Ossetian Jamaat closely cooperated with the Jamaat of Kabardino-Balkaria, headed by the charismatic imam Musa Mukozhev, who was popular among Muslim youth and who later became an outlaw and one of the leaders of the armed Islamic opposition in Kabardino-Balkaria. Musa Mukozhev was killed on 10 May,2009 during a special operation of Russian services. Suleiman Mamiev told me that the Muslim community of Vladikavkaz in the early 2000s numbered about 500 members and that a majority of them was ethnic Ossetian. Before the tragedy in Beslan, Vladikavkaz was teeming with many Chechen and even Ingush students, but after the tragic events of September 1-3, 2004, many were expelled from colleges and forced to leave the city.

One of the militants who participated in the September 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis—Vladimir Khodov—was a resident of the North Ossetian village of Elkhotovo. He was an ethnic Russian who converted to Islam and later worked as a cook in the detachment of Chechen militants led by Ruslan Gelaev. Khodov moved to North Ossetia in his childhood in 1979, when his mother, a resident of the Ukrainian town of Berdyansk, married Anatoly Khodov, an Elkhotovo native and an Ossetian. Who Khodov’s real father was is unknown, but he was raised in an Ossetian village by an Ossetian stepfather. The village of Elkhotovo is predominantly Muslim. The local mosque was built in 1902. According to village residents, Anatoly Khodov was a former military man who was respected and whose family was relatively well-off.

The first criminal search for Khodov was announced in 1998, when he was accused of rape. After that, however, he frequently visited Elkhotovo, and it was during this period that he decided to enter one of the madrassas in Dagestan. After graduating from the madrassa, Vladimir Khodov underwent a metamorphosis and joined the radical Muslims, who are colloquially called “Wahhabis” in the North Caucasus. He visited his mother in Elkhotovo regularly and spent many hours at the mosque every day. Since 2002, Khodov has been accused of organizing a February 2004 bombing in Vladikavkaz and a failed bomb attack on a train in the vicinity of Elkhotovo in May 2004. Nonetheless, this had practically no impact on his life in his home village. He lived there, albeit not on a permanent basis, but still quite often. The neighbors maintained normal neighborly relations with him. Then the Beslan tragedy took place, after which the local court ordered his mother to leave the village. 4/
According to the North Ossetian Muslim newspaper Da’ua, on February 2, 2005, officers from the Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation for the North Ossetia, in a joint operation with operatives from Interior Ministry’s Directorate for the Fight Against Organized Crime raided the house of the chairman of the Islamic Cultural Center, Ermak Tegaev. According to Da’ua, witnesses saw how law enforcement officers planted explosives in Tegaev’s residence and, based on the alleged discovery of the explosives, he was later arrested. 5/ When Ermak Tegaev was detained, he was found to be in possession of 270 grams of plastic explosive and three electric detonators as well as religious literature and instructional materials, including video- and audio cassettes of extremist nature. 6/

According to Ermak Tegaev’s supporters, and also other Muslims, his detention represented a special action aimed at destroying the Ossetian Jamaat and Islamic Cultural Center. Later, in August of 2005, the Sovietsky District Court of Vladikavkaz sentenced Ermak to two-and-a-half years in a forced labor camp and during the year after that the imam of the Vladikavkaz city mosque, Suleiman Mamiev, immigrated to Turkey together with his mother. After his return from a labor camp Tegaev tried to renew ‘Jamaat’ activity, but very quickly disappeared. Presumably he was killed by services.

In April of 2005, Murat-khaji Tavkazakhov, a resident of the Kartsa suburb of Vladikavkaz, which is predominantly populated by Ingush, became the head of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of North Ossetia. However, the ethnic Ossetian Tavkazakhov failed to improve Ossetian-Ingush relationships within the Muslim community of Ossetia. His close ties to the Ingush caused constant dissatisfaction among Ossetian Muslims. 7/ In addition, many Muslims suspected him of being corrupt and misappropriating funds pouring in from various Muslim foundations and charities that support Islam in Ossetia.

In February 2008, Ali-khaji Evteyev was elected the new mufti of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of North Ossetia. 8/ He was born in Moscow in 1974 in an ethnically mixed family: his father was Russian, while his mother was Ossetian (her maiden name was Komaeva) and was originally from a family of Muslims. In early childhood Evteyev moved with his parents to Beslan, where he grew up. At the age of 22, he accepted Islam and in the late 1990s he took active part in the creation of the Ossetian Jamaat. As a matter of fact, he was among those who supported the election of Ermak Tegaev to the position of Emir. Later, in 2000, he became disillusioned with Ermak Tegaev and the Jamaat itself. He decided to travel to Cairo, Egypt, with Kumyks from North Ossetia. In Egypt he entered preparatory courses at the Muslim university of Al-Azhar, where he studied for four years.

In 2004, Evteyev made a small pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and entered the International University of Medina. However, while studying in the Arab countries, he never lost touch with Ossetia. He visited every summer and in 2004 he became the deputy mufti of North Ossetia. When Ali-khaji Evteyev was elected the mufti, he was studying in Medina, but he took an academic leave of absence and decided to return. When he assumed the position of the head of the Spiritual Directorate of North Ossetia, Evteyev soon discovered that his treasury was empty and that he had to start from scratch. 9/

The new mufti described me his main task as uniting the Muslims of Ossetia. This implied the youth, which was previously oriented towards the Jamaat, and the supporters of traditional Islam, who are mostly representatives of the older generation. Ali-khaji’s views are moderately Salafi what is exceptional among all other muftis of North Caucasus. He is against the armed struggle of Muslims across the North Caucasus because it does not correspond with Sharia law, which must be understood not formally but in its totality. At the same time, a return to the roots, a rethinking of the Muslim worldview based on the experience contained in the Noble Quran and Sunnah, in Evteyev’s view, will help the Muslims of North Ossetia to find their place in the modern world.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about this position. The muftis of neighboring republics in the North Caucasus have accepted Evteyev reluctantly into the ranks of the Coordinating Council of Muslims of North Caucasus. That is directly related to the fact that the rest of the muftis are followers of traditional Islam and, moreover, none of them received such a well-rounded Muslim education as Evteyev. A Congress of North-Ossetian Muslims confirmed in April 2009 Evteyev as Mufti of North Ossetia. Among participants of this congress there were for the first time a few representatives of South Ossetia where local Muslims are planning by now to build their own mosque in Tskhinval, a capital of South Ossetia.10/

Despite the difficulties in recent years, which were primarily related to the unresolved Ossetian-Ingush conflict, the Muslim community of North Ossetia is gradually growing, and this should be mostly attributed to the influx of Ossetian converts.

The Ossetian Jamaat, which functioned legally in the past, now operates in the underground and from time to time informs the public about its existence by carrying out operations. One of the recent occurred on February 13, 2009 when a car belonging to a battalion commander of an armed detachment was blown up near the building housing the dormitory of the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Vladikavkaz. 11/ In the end of 2007 Caucasus Emirate even declared that North Ossetia becoming a vilaiyat Iriston, but on May,11, 2009 this vilaiyat was suppressed and included into Ingush vilaiyat 12/, presumably because Ingush involvement into the movement of radical salafi Islam becoming gradually predominant in North Caucasus.

During last time there is growing tension between Ossetian authorities and Muslims. Ali Evteyev told me that the authorities are not happy with Muslim revival in Ossetia. In autumn 2010 Evteyev was obliged to leave Russia and returned to Medina to fulfill his Muslim education. Later on December, 26, 2012 Ibrahim Dudarov, the imam of Central Mosque of Vladikavkaz, was killed under strange circumstances. He was alone Muslim Ossetian leader who got a regular higher religious education in Muslim University (Al-Jamia al-Islamia) of Medina.


2/Traditional Islam in North Caucasus including North Ossetia represents Sunni Islam with a big impact of local traditions (adat).
4/ Yury Kvyatkovsky.’ The history of the village of Elkhotovo’.
9/ Based on my personal interviews with Ali-khaji Evteyev in November 2008 and interviews with people close to him.
10/These details were kindly given me in the end of December 2009 by Elbrus Satsaev, a member of Board of Spiritual Administration for Muslims of North Ossetia.


Moscow’s Orthodox Churches Deserted While Streets are Filled with Muslims
Paul Goble
The Interpreter | July 30, 2014

Staunton, July 30 – This year, the Russian Orthodox ‘Day of the Baptism of Rus’ coincided with the Muslim holiday of Uraza Bayram [The Sugar Feast, when Muslims traditionally break the fast – The Interpreter]. On Monday, in what many will see as symbolic, Moscow’s churches, with the exception of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, were largely empty, while the streets around the capital’s five mosques were filled with Muslims.

In a commentary for the religious affairs site,, Feliks Shvedovsky says that this picture “would be funny if it were not so sad” and if it were not the case that this is “nothing new but on the contrary typical” of the situation in the Russian capital, all the talk about the return of Orthodoxy notwithstanding.

The Union of Muftis of Russia has been emboldened by this to renew its request that the Moscow authorities reverse themselves and allow the construction of at least one mosque in each of the ten administrative divisions of the city, something Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said he will not do because of the reaction of Muscovites.

At the same time, of course, Sobyanin has gone along with the Russian Orthodox Church’s plans to build 200 new churches in the Russian capital, even though there have been at least as many protests about what such construction projects will do to parks, neighborhoods and traffic patterns as there have been about the possible building of mosques.

But, feeling themselves increasingly numerous and thus strong, Shvedovsky says, many Muslims in Moscow are now joking at least among themselves about “the fate of numerous Orthodox churches in Constantinople, which is now called Istanbul,” after the Muslims took over that city and made it the capital of the caliphate.

Unfortunately, the Russian religious commentator says, Moscow officials are nonetheless unlikely to accede to the Muslim requests. They rather adopt what he calls “a ‘Crimean’ scenario,” in which, instead of optimizing what already exists, “the authorities will unite new territories under the control of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

Moreover, they will invest ever greater funds “into propaganda of ‘Orthodox-patriotic values’ which have nothing in common with faith and spiritual life” and which does not oppose “the further demonization of the image of Islam at the day to day level.” This reflects a judgment by those far above Sobyanin’s pay grade that can re-ignite Islamophobia after Ukraine.

Within the Russian Orthodox Church, one might have expected believers and hierarchs to be most concerned by the passing of the Metropolitan Vladimir on July 5, as Vladimir had been the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But instead, it appears, most were upset that Patriarch Kirill hadn’t been able to travel to Kiev for this anniversary.

As a result, Shvedovsky says, the center for the celebration of the anniversary of the Baptism of Rus had to take place in Moscow where “it immediately became obvious that this is already almost a Muslim city and that the chimeras of ‘the Russian world’ haven’t existed since Crimea was taken from fraternal Christians.”

“Nature” in this, as in all things “abhors a vacuum,” the commentator says, “and in place of a transparent chimera” of the Russian Orthodoxy that is offered by the Moscow Patriarchate, it came in the shape of a vital and energetic Moscow Muslim community which includes the immigrant workers. That is a contrast few in the Russian government or the Patriarchate can be comfortable with.

Moscow’s Ambassador to London Stresses Russia’s Interest in Litvinenko’s Case Probe

LONDON, July 24, 2014 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is among the key stakeholders in finding out the truth about the death of Russia’s Alexander Litvinenko back in 2006, who was a former Federal Security Service officer, Russian Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko said Thursday.

"Russia is among the most interested parties in establishing the truth in this dark business. Simply because serious allegations against the Russian Federation have been made publicly. We have always asked the British authorities to provide evidence, which, as they claim, they have, accusing Russian citizens [of the involvement in Litvinenko’s death]. But these requests were rejected," the ambassador said at a press conference in London.

"The British government has refused to provide this evidence upon request of the Coroner conducting the inquiry. Now, as we understand, the evidence will be examined in private hearings, closed to the public, presumably for reasons of national security. We will never accept any decision based on evidence which had not been considered in a competitive open trial," the Ambassador said.

On Tuesday, UK Home Secretary Theresa May agreed to a public inquiry on the Litvinenko case after a number of refusals to do so, arguing that the existing enquiry connected with the case of Litvinenko’s death is sufficient. The first hearing of the respective proceedings will be held on July 31. At the same time the investigation dropped alleged charges against the British side for failing to prevent Litvinenko’s death.

It is an issue that could not be investigated during the inquest into Litvinenko’s death earlier, as the inquest did not allow considering certain sensitive material on the case.

Litvinenko’s widow Marina Litvinenko won a High Court ruling that May should reconsider her decision not to allow a public inquiry. Coroner Sir Robert Owen, who was conducting the inquest into Litvinenko’s death, proposed a public inquiry as a more appropriate measure instead of an inquest, since it would allow the consideration of sensitive material in private.

With public inquiry approved by the UK government, this material, potentially relating to the alleged role of Russia in Litvinenko’s death, can be used in the investigation.

Litvinenko died on November 23, 2006 of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210 in London. His health began to deteriorate after he met up with former colleagues Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun for a cup of tea in London’s Millennium hotel.



Lugovoi rules out participating in public probe of Litvinenko’s death in London, calls it "cynicism"

MOSCOW. July 22, 2014 (Interfax) – The decision of the British authorities to resume investigating circumstances of Alexander Litvinenko’s death is cynical and politically motivated, Russian State Duma Deputy Andrei Lugovoi told Interfax on Tuesday.

"Cynicism, deception, and treachery. This is the only way I can comment on the actions of the British establishment and the decision to hold a public investigation of Litvinenko’s death," Lugovoi said. This piece of new is perplexing, he said.

Circumstances of Alexander Litvinenko’s death, who passed away in London in November 2006 of polonium poisoning, will be investigated publicly, British Secretary of State for the Home Department Theresa May said earlier.

"This year it will be eight years since Litvinenko’s death. And every time the British pull the Litvinenko case out, right when ‘political viability’ becomes an option. Now, due to the situation existing in southeastern Ukraine, the West enhanced pressure on Russia and personally on President Vladimir Putin," Lugovoi said.

Lugovoi said he did not consider the possibility to participate in the public investigation in London in any way.

Former agent of the Russian Federal Security Service, FSB, Alexander Litvinenko, who fled to the UK in 2000, died in November 2006. The radioactive element Polonium 210 was found in his body later.

Duma Deputy Andrei Lugovoi is considered to be the main suspect in the case by the UK. Lugovoi insists he is innocent. In April 2012 Lugovoi took polygraph test conducted by the British experts, which showed he was innocent.

UK Home Secretary announces public hearing on Litvinenko case

The inquiry will be conducted by a specially appointed judge who will hear any person wishing to testify and provide any relevant information

LONDON/MOSCOW, July 22, 2014 /ITAR-TASS/. After long consultations the British government on Tuesday agreed to hold public hearings on the death of former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London in 2006.

Home Secretary Theresa May said in a written message to the parliament that a public hearing on the Litvinenko case would be held.

The inquiry will be conducted by a specially appointed judge who will hear any person wishing to testify and provide any relevant information.

“Subsequent to today’s announcement that the Home Secretary is establishing an Inquiry … into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, Sir Robert Owen, in his capacity as Assistant Coroner for the Inner North London District of Greater London, will hold a hearing on Thursday, 31 July 2014 to formally suspend the current Inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko. Following which Sir Robert will open the Inquiry into Mr Litvinenko’s death,” the coroner said in an operational note on Tuesday.

The British government earlier opposed the idea of public hearings saying they might have an adverse impact on relations with Russia.

Secretary May said the government should wait until the end of the inquest before making a decision on whether to hold a public investigation or not. In the early autumn of 2013, Litvinenko’s widow filed a supervisory complaint against this decision and it was granted in February of this year.

Owen said that Russia’s responsibility for his death would not be included in the scope of the inquest. He also ruled that the responsibility of the British State for Litvinenko’s death would not be included in the scope of the inquest either.

Owen said he had come “to the conclusion that Russian State responsibility should also be withdrawn from the scope of the inquest.”

The assistant coroner said he could not consider these two aspects as he was unable to hear the evidence of Litvinenko’s cooperation with British security services, following the court ruling upholding the British government’s request that such evidence should remain classified.

Speaking of whether the British State could have prevented Litvinenko’s death, Owen said, “This is an issue of the highest importance, involving as it does the possible culpability of the British State for the death of Alexander Litvinenko.”

In November 2013, London’s High Court ruled against disclosing some of the materials in the Litvinenko as had been requested by Owen. The High Court issued its ruling after then Foreign Secretary William Hague’s appeal against Owen’s request, in which the former insisted that classified materials remain undisclosed.

On February 7, 2013, Hague, who oversaw the British security services, sent a note to Owen, stating that disclosing secret information in the Litvinenko inquest would be unacceptable and detrimental to British interests.

Having studied the note, Owen on May 17, 2013 supported it in part, but said that the other materials should be made public for the sake of fair and complete inquest.

However the government opposed Owen’s position and succeeded in getting it overruled by the High Court, saying that the documents the assistant coroner had sought to make public were highly sensitive and their disclosure could impair national security.

Interested parties to the process include Maria Litvinenko and her son Anatoly, late entrepreneur Boris Berezovsky (the court intends to look into his possible role in Litvinenko’s death), Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Deputy Andrei Lugovoi (who the British authorities claim to be a suspect in the case and who flatly denies any such charges), Metropolitan police, and the British Foreign Office.

The Inquest said earlier it might look into the involvement of Litvinenko’s late friend Boris Berezovsky and groups connected with Chechens and the Spanish Mafia. The court may also consider different leads such as Litvinenko’s suicide and the infliction of death by negligence.

However, the lawyer of Litvinenko’s wife Marina said that her defendant did not like the assumptions that her husband might have committed suicide or died as a result of some accident. Marina believes these leads have no foundation but she is prepared for a situation where they will be considered in court.

It’s a coroner’s duty to find out if the death of a person has constituent elements of offence. After that, the coroner decided whether the case should be submitted for judicial inquiry.

Litvinenko died of polonium 210 poisoning at a London hospital in November 2006.

British investigators consider Russian MP Andrei Lugovoi to be the main suspect in the case, but he flatly denies all charges. Lugovoi is incriminated in Litvinenko’s death in Britain. The British authorities claim that Lugovoi is responsible for Litvinenko’s death.

Luguvoi has declined to comment. “I will make no comment for the time being,” he told ITAR-TASS.



Alexander Litvinenko: Profile of murdered Russian spy
BBC | 22 July 2014

A public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko has been announced by the Home Secretary Theresa May. But who was he and why did his death become such a cause celebre?

Alexander Litvinenko fell ill after a meeting with former KGB contacts in London in 2006

Before he was poisoned and died in November 2006, few outside Russia had ever heard of Alexander Litvinenko.

A 43-year-old former officer with the Federal Security Service (FSB), Mr Litvinenko had become a useful, if not entirely reliable, source for journalists interested in the machinations of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

But it has since emerged the Russian spy was being paid by both the British secret service MI6 and the Spanish secret service.

He was allegedly investigating Spanish links to the Russian mafia, and had planned to fly to Spain with the main suspect for his murder, Andrei Lugovoi.

At a central London hotel on 1 November 2006 he took tea with Mr Lugovoi and another Russian contact Dmitri Kovtun.

He fell ill soon afterwards and spent the night vomiting.

Three days later he was admitted to Barnet General Hospital in north London, where his condition gradually became a cause for concern.

On 11 November he was interviewed by the BBC Russian Service and said he was in "very bad shape" after a "serious poisoning".


The Litvinenko case

  • 23 Nov 2006 – Litvinenko dies three weeks after having tea with former agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun in London
  • 24 Nov 2006 – His death is attributed to polonium-210
  • 22 May 2007 – Britain’s director of public prosecutions decides Mr Lugovoi should be charged with the murder of Mr Litvinenko
  • 31 May 2007 – Mr Lugovoi denies any involvement in his death but says Mr Litvinenko was a British spy
  • 5 Jul 2007 – Russia officially refuses to extradite Mr Lugovoi, saying its constitution does not allow it
  • May-June 2013 – Inquest into Mr Litvinenko’s death delayed as coroner decides a public inquiry would be preferable, as it would be able to hear some evidence in secret
  • July 2013 – Ministers rule out public inquiry
  • Jan 2014 – Marina Litvinenko in High Court fight to force a public inquiry
  • 11 Feb 2014 – High Court says the Home Office had been wrong to rule out an inquiry before the outcome of an inquest line
  • July 2014 – Public inquiry announced by Home Office


During that same interview, Mr Litvinenko, a critic of the Putin regime, said he had been looking into the assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

He said he would hand over documents he had received on 1 November to a Russian newspaper when he recovered.

But he never did. On 17 November he was transferred to University College Hospital in London after his condition worsened.

He died six days later, with his wife Marina, father Walter, and son Anatoli at his bedside.

Born in the city of Voronezh in 1962, Mr Litvinenko joined a military unit of the Soviet Union’s interior ministry in 1980 and reportedly joined the KGB eight years later.

He rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel when the KGB became the FSB in the 1990s.

Mr Putin was his ultimate boss at the FSB but they reportedly fell out.

After leaving the service Mr Litvinenko wrote a book, Blowing up Russia: Terror from Within, in which he claimed FSB agents had been responsible for the bombing of apartment blocks in Moscow and two other cities in 1999.

Police investigating the poisoning sealed off several premises, including this Itsu restaurant, for a period afterwards

The bombings were blamed on Chechen separatists and his book claimed they were used as a pretext for the second Russian invasion of Chechnya.

Mr Litvinenko came to Britain in 2000 and obtained asylum.

After his death, suspicion fell on Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun, the two Russians he had met for tea at the Millennium Hotel.

A post-mortem examination suggested Mr Litvinenko had died after being poisoned with the radioactive substance polonium-210.

A frantic police investigation led to a number of premises being briefly sealed off while forensic scientists tested for traces of the radioactive material.

Locations which tested positive included the Millennium Hotel, the Abracadabra lap-dancing club and the Emirates football stadium, where Mr Lugovoi had watched Arsenal play CSKA Moscow.

It also emerged he had met Italian academic Mario Scaramella at the Itsu sushi restaurant in central London, where he is said to have received documents about the death of Mrs Politkovskaya, a long-term critic of the FSB.

Lugovoi accused

Traces were also found on two planes at Heathrow airport, at the British embassy in Moscow and at a flat in Hamburg, Germany, linked to Mr Kovtun.

Around 700 people had to be tested for radioactive poisoning but none were seriously ill.

After a two-month investigation, Scotland Yard detectives handed over a file to the then director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, who announced in May 2007 that he was recommending Mr Lugovoi be charged with murder.

Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun both denied any responsibility for the death and at a news conference in Moscow Mr Lugovoi repeatedly stressed his innocence and claimed Mr Litvinenko was a British spy who might have been killed by the British security services.

The office of the prosecutor general in Moscow was quick to declare that Mr Lugovoi could not and would not be extradited because the constitution prevented the extradition of Russian citizens.

Andrei Lugovoi has denied any involvement and has accused the British security services

In July 2007, British-Russian tensions turned into an ugly spat with four Russian and four British diplomats expelled from their respective embassies.

The UK broke off links with the Russian security services and, although relations have thawed, David Cameron refused to renew links between MI6 and the FSB when he visited Moscow in 2011.

After pre-inquest reviews in September and December 2012, the date for the inquest into Mr Litvinenko’s death was set at 1 May 2013.

But it was delayed after the coroner in charge of the case, Sir Robert Owen, decided that the inquest would not be able to hear evidence linked to alleged Russian state involvement.

Sir Robert said that without such material any verdict would be "potentially misleading and unfair" and suggested a public inquiry would be preferable as it would allow some evidence to be heard in secret.

But in July 2013, the British government formally rejected the idea.

The Litvinenko family called for a judicial review of the refusal, saying it showed "utter contempt".

But the government has now set up an inquiry to examine whether the Russian state was behind his death.

The inquiry will hold most of its hearings in public, although potentially sensitive material could "if absolutely necessary" be heard in closed session, a Downing Street spokesman said.



By Mona Charen
National Review Online | July 23, 2014

Alexander Litvinenko, who accused Vladimir Putin of a variety of crimes, was poisoned. It wasn’t one of those quick poisonings such as you get from, say, strychnine. No, he sickened and died over the course of a long month, losing his hair and suffering severe vomiting, diarrhea, organ failure, and then death. Litvinenko died in a London hospital.

It seems that the British, who had declined fully to investigate so as not to offend the Russian government – though they did establish that he died from Polonium-210 poisoning — are reopening the case in the wake of the Malaysia Airlines mass murder.

Marina Litvinenko, the widow, is gratified: ”No matter how strong and powerful you are, truth will out in the end.”

We’ll see. The British government has until now agreed to keep quiet about what it knew so as not to offend Putin. I list some of the other Putin critics in my most recent column. Spoiler alert: Don’t sell life insurance to those who tell the truth about him.

David Cameron dragged feet over Litvinenko inquiry to protect Russia relations – widow

Marina Litvinenko claimed progress on investigation in to spy’s death slowed under Coalition because of attempts to befriend Russia
Tom Whitehead, Security Editor
Telegraph | 23 Jul 2014

David Cameron dragged his feet over a public inquiry in to the death of Alexander Litvinenko to protect relations with Russia, the poisoned dissident’s widow has claimed.

Marina Litvinenko said progress on the investigation in to the 2006 murder slowed after the Coalition came to power because the priority was about whether Russia could be part of the “West club”.

The claims will further fuel suggestions that the Government only finally conceded to a formal inquiry yesterday because relations with President Vladimir Putin have soured in the wake of the downing of Flight MH17.

Officials and Mrs Litvinenko insisted the decision was coincidental to the international outrage over Russia handling of the crisis in Ukraine but the decision came more than five months after a High Court ruling said Mrs May should consider an inquiry.

Mrs May yesterday said a public inquiry will replace the inquest in to Mr Litvinenko’s death, meaning that material can now be examined as to whether Russia was behind the murder.

Last year, when she refused a similar request, she admitted that "international relations" had played a part in the decision.

Mr Litvinenko, 43, who fled to Britain in 2000, was allegedly poisoned by radioactive polonium – 210 at a hotel in London in 2006.

His family and friends have always claimed that the Russian state ordered the killing.

Andrei Lugovoi, a former KGB bodyguard, and Dmitri Kovtun have been identified as the prime suspects. Both deny any involvement and remain in Russia.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mrs Litvinenko said: “As it started I felt there was bigger progress in my case but after the election (2010) and the other became leader of Britain my case became a little bit slow.

“It was quite difficult for me to understand why. Everyone tried to help me by saying there was a relationship between Russia and Britain, trade, control of terrorism.

“It might be that the reference was different. The West tried to build Russia like a friend and of course they gave them every time this opportunity to show that Russia is a friend, that Russia is suitable for West club.

“They would say the case would never be closed but that relationship between these two countries was very important.”

Mrs Litvinenko said even if the inquiry found Russia culpable she did not expect the two suspects to ever be extradited while Putin was in office.

But Mr Lugovoi is an MP there and she hoped the inquiry would "send a message to the people of Russia" to "open their eyes to the truth" and their leaders’ "lies".

“Are they are OK that Andrei Lugovoi is a member of parliament. How is the person who is a suspect providing policy to this Russian citizen?” she said.

"After this is solved, there may be a new era in the relationship between Russia and the West."

The Government has long resisted calls for an inquiry and insisted that an inquest was adequate.

Ministers have been under pressure since last year when Sir Robert Owen, who was chairing the inquest, said he could not hold a "fair and fearless" investigation and that a public inquiry would be more appropriate.

The conflict centred on a ruling that material examining if the Russian state had a role in the murder or whether the UK could have prevented it was to be withheld from the hearing – material that could be considered in an inquiry albeit in private.

Sir Robert will now chair the inquiry.

However, although the inquiry will now look at apparent “prima facie evidence” that Russian was involved, it will not examine whether the UK could have done more to prevent the death.

Mrs Litvinenko said: “I am relieved and delighted with this decision. It sends a message to Sasha’s murderers: no matter how strong and powerful you are, truth will win out in the end and you will be held accountable for your crimes.”

Mrs May said in a written ministerial statement: “I very much hope that this inquiry will be of some comfort to his widow."



Cold case: A renewed effort to discover the truth about Alexander Litvinenko’s death is both practically and politically motivated
The Independent | 22 July 2014

It is seven years, 34 weeks and four days since the fugitive Russian secret serviceman, Alexander Litvinenko, died a ghastly death in University College Hospital in London, after someone had dosed  him with radioactive polonium, allegedly while he was sipping tea with two fellow Russians in a London hotel.

His widow, Marina, and his friends never doubted that he was murdered because he was considered to have betrayed his former employers at the FSB, successor to the KGB, Russia’s secret service. In their campaign for justice, they had to accept long ago that there was no realistic chance of Litvinenko’s suspected killers being brought to trial. But they have at last, after all these years, been given hope that the British authorities will get to the bottom of this bizarre and horrible event, after the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced today that there is to be a formal inquiry into his death.

The decision is the right one, but the timing is – to put it politely – rather convenient, coming just four days after Flight MH17 was shot down.

The case has been an irritant in Russian-UK relations ever since a post-mortem examination uncovered the sensational cause of Litvinenko’s death. The Crown Prosecution Service has asked for two Russians, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun, to be extradited. Both men deny killing Litvinenko and it is unlikely that either has ever lost a minute’s sleep worrying that they might end up in a British courtroom.

Lugovoy reacted to his extradition request in 2007 by contemptuously suggesting that the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, had “no brains”. The case made him a celebrity. In its wake, he was elected to the Duma. When Kovtun learnt that he too was subject to an extradition request, he lost no time spreading the news, as if he were greedy for a share of Lugovoy’s glory.

The inquest into Litvinenko’s death was also a frustrating, uncompleted affair, which has now been suspended. The law did not allow the coroner, Sir Robert Owen, to hear evidence in secret session, which meant that he could not delve into matters that may affect national security. Now that Sir Robert is heading a properly constituted inquiry, under the 2005 Inquiries Act, he will be able to examine British intelligence officers on what they know about who may have had the motive and the means to kill Litvinenko.

Moreover, witnesses will be able to give their evidence free from any fear that they will open themselves to criticism for not protecting the fugitive. Ms May has decided in advance that nobody could have foreseen that Litvinenko might be murdered on British soil, and has told Sir Robert not to stretch his inquiry into passing judgment on whether more should have been done to protect him.

Marina Litvinenko has had to fight long and hard to get to where we are now. That included obtaining a High Court ruling in February that the Home Office was wrong to refuse to open an inquiry while the never-ending inquest still hung in the air.

There may be some legitimate, bureaucratic reason that this welcome announcement of an inquiry should be made exactly as British-Russian relations hit a new nadir – but it is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the Government has chosen this as one more way to deliver a message that the West is losing patience with renegade Russians.



Litvinenko: ministers accused of protecting Russia over death
Ministers have been accused of “colluding” with Russia to hide the truth behind the murder of Alexander Litvinenko after refusing to hold a public inquiry
Tom Whitehead, and Hannah El-Hawary
Telegraph | 12 Jul 2013

The British Government has rejected a formal request from coroner Sir Robert Owen to replace his inquest with a public inquiry.

Sir Robert fears he cannot properly investigate the death because a ruling on secret evidence means he cannot examine material relating to whether the Russian state was involved.

A public inquiry could look at such material in private but ministers have now refused to hold one.

Mr Litvinenko, 43, a former KGB agent, was poisoned with radioactive polonium – 210 while drinking tea at a central London hotel in 2006.

His widow Marina, who has also called for a public inquiry, said the rejection was a “political decision”, adding: “Were they trying to protect the Russian state? Were they trying to protect national security secrets?"

Alex Goldfarb, a family friend, added: “It’s absolutely transparent that the Russian government is behind this murder.

"The evidence has been seen by the Coroner and the courts.

"There’s prima facie evidence that the Russian government is behind it.

"There’s some sort of collusion behind the scenes with Her Majesty’s Government and the Kremlin to obstruct justice."

Elena Tsirlina, Mrs Litvinenko’s solicitor, said the decision not to hold a public inquiry followed "months of talks between the two governments at the highest level" between the prime ministers of both Russia and Britain.

She said: "What deals have been made behind the scene is difficult to know."

An ex – KGB agent, Mr Litvinenko fled to Britain in 2000. Andrei Lugovoi, a former KGB bodyguard, and Dmitri Kovtun have been identified as the prime suspects. Both deny any involvement.

Mr Litvinenko’s family believe he was working for MI6 at the time of his death and was killed on the orders of the Kremlin.

Sir Robert criticised the Government for only making the decision on a public inquiry this morning and warned the start of the formal inquest, originally scheduled for October, would now be pushed further back.

He said the Government’s decision meant it had not given any weight to his concerns over his limitations in conducting a full and fair investigation in to the death.

Ben Emmerson QC, representing Mrs Litvinenko, told the hearing that the Government had shown an "utter lack of professionalism" with the way it had handled the request.

"The repeated catalogue of broken promises is a sign of something gone awry," Mr Emmerson said.

Mr Emmerson told the hearing that the family would like to see a judicial review into the decision not to hold a public inquiry on the grounds of "irrationality".

Mrs Litvinenko vowed to fight on despite the latest set back.

A Government spokesman said: "We believe that the coroner’s inquest can continue to effectively investigate the circumstance of Mr Litivenko’s death and we will continue to cooperate fully with it.”

How the MH17 crisis helped reopen the case of a poisoned former KGB spy

Griff Witte
The Washington Post | July 22, 2014

Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB spy, photographed at his home in London in 2002, left, and in a hospital bed in London on Nov. 20, 2006. He died Nov. 23, 2006. (Alistair Fuller/AP; Reuters)

LONDON — The killing of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko began with a poison-laced cup of tea and ended 25 days later with an excruciating death in a London hospital.

Nearly eight years have passed since then, and much about Litvinenko’s killing remains a mystery. Who exactly killed the spy-turned-whistleblower? More important: On whose orders, and why?

On Tuesday, there was new and unexpected hope that some of those mysteries will finally be solved.

The hope came in the form of a U-turn from the British government, which has long blocked a full public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death but on Tuesday said it would allow the investigation to go forward.

Litvinenko’s widow has alleged that British authorities didn’t want anyone digging into the case because they feared that it would upset Russian President Vladimir Putin. The British government acknowledged as much last year, saying that “international relations” had been a factor in decision-making around the case.

But Putin’s wrath is not such a concern anymore, now that British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling for Europe to hit Russia hard with new sanctions after last week’s downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine. Cameron and others in the West have blamed the crash on Russian-backed rebels.

British officials stressed Tuesday that the timing of the Litvinenko decision and the push to punish Moscow were entirely unrelated.

But few in London believed that.

Details about the killing of Litvinenko have long been seen here as deep, dark secrets with the potential to embarrass both London and Moscow. Litvinenko had fled to London in 2000 after becoming an outspoken critic of his former employer, the Russian domestic intelligence service. His widow has said that he was working for Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6, at the time of his death at age 43 from exposure to radioactive polonium.

The two Russians who sipped tea with Litvinenko at a posh London hotel before he fell ill have been named as prime suspects in his killing. But they deny involvement and remain in Russia.

Until now, the investigation has been prohibited from considering evidence that the Russian government played a role in the killing. But after Tuesday’s decision, that will change.

“It is more than 7 years since Mr. Litvinenko’s death, and I very much hope that this inquiry will be of some comfort to his widow Mrs. Litvinenko,” Home Secretary Theresa May said in a written statement to Parliament.

Marina Litvinenko, who has long campaigned for the facts of her husband’s killing to be brought to light, celebrated Tuesday’s about-face, saying she was “relieved and delighted.”

“No matter how strong and powerful you are,” she said in a written statement, “truth will win out in the end.”



Litvinenko Public Inquiry: Why Announce It Now?
As Russian relations deteriorate, sources admit announcing a public inquiry into the ex-KGB spy’s death now is "bad timing".
Anushka Asthana, Political Correspondent
Sky News | 22 July 2014

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told us yesterday that "diplomatic activity" was under way "at all levels" to try to persuade EU countries to ramp up sanctions against Russia.

The tragic case of flight MH17 has brought East-West relations to a new low: negotiations that take place in the next few days and weeks will inevitably be sensitive.

A strange moment, then, to shine a torch on a previous diplomatic entanglement.

That was the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London – as a result of radiation poisoning.

It happened after he had met two other former agents for tea. When Britain demanded that a key suspect be extradited, Russia refused.

Now the Home Office has announced a public inquiry into the circumstances of the death, chaired by senior judge Sir Robert Owen.

The question that hovers over this decision is – why now?

Mr Litvinenko was killed almost eight years ago, and the Government has long resisted an inquiry.

Sources admit it is "bad timing" but insist there is no conspiracy. They point to a High Court ruling back in February, following a judicial review by Mr Litvinenko’s widow, Marina. It said there was a pressing need for an inquiry. So the Government had to act.

But it did so slowly.

Today was its final opportunity, according to the source, because it is the day that Parliament breaks up – and given the ruling it would be inappropriate to wait until after the summer.

Arguably, the Home Office is trying to keep the announcement low profile – with a written rather than spoken statement. But inevitably the policy has already become news.

Officials will be hoping that it might slip under Russia’s radar until the inquiry itself reports.

When that happens it is likely to cause another round of recriminations – especially as one of the two suspects is now an MP and Russia is likely to continue to resist any extradition.

Key Dates Leading Up To Litvinenko Inquiry

Updated: 12:08pm UK, Tuesday 22 July 2014

A public inquiry into the death of poisoned Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko has been announced by the Government.

Here are the key events leading up to the announcement.

::  October 2000 – Alexander Litvinenko and his family flee Russia, despite an order telling him not to leave Moscow.

::  November 2000 – the former spy asks for asylum at Heathrow Airport.

::  May 14, 2001 – the UK grants him political asylum.

::  November 1, 2006 – Mr Litvinenko is taken ill after having tea with former agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun at a hotel in London.

::  November 23, 2006 – the ex-KGB officer dies of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210.

::  May 22, 2007 – Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald decides there is enough evidence to charge prime suspect Mr Lugovoi over Mr Litvinenko’s death – he subsequently denied involvement, accusing Mr Litvinenko of being a British spy.

::  July 2007 – Russia refuses to extradite Mr Lugovoi on the grounds that it is against the Russian constitution to extradite someone without firm evidence.

:: October 2011 – A London coroner announces

::  May/June 2013 – The inquest is put on hold as the coroner says a public inquiry would be better.

::  July 2013 – The British Government rules out public inquiry.

::  February 2014 – Mr Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, wins a seven-year fight to force a public inquiry when the High Court backs her case.

::  July 22, 2014 – Home Secretary Theresa May announces a public inquiry is to be held, saying she "hopes it will be of some comfort to his widow".

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