President Putin “probably” approved murder of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko

Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian Federal secret service, who specialised in tackling organised crime. In November 1998, Litvinenko publicly accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of the Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested the following March but was later was acquitted and then re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000. He fled to London and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he worked as a consultant for the British intelligence services.

He wrote two books in which he accused the Russian secret services of staging the Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in an effort to bring Vladimir Putin to power. He also accused Putin of ordering the murder in October 2006 of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

At a central London hotel on 1 November 2006, he took tea with Mr Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, who was also a former Russian agent. Mr Litvinenko fell ill soon afterwards and spent the night vomiting. It was established as a case of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210 which resulted in his death on 23 November. It is alleged that prior to his death Litvenko was investigating Spanish links to the Russian mafia and had planned to fly to Spain with former agent Andrei Lugovoi – the main suspect over his murder.

The UK demanded for an investigation, which the Russians denied- resulting in a thawing of tensions between the two countries.

A British public inquiry into the death of Aleksandr Litvinenko, was realeased in which it has accused senior Russian officials of “probably” having motives to approve the murder

The chairman of the inquiry, Sir Robert Owen said, “Taking full account of all the evidence and analysis available to me, I find that the FSB operation to kill Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Putin.” Sir Robert also added that Litvinenko’s cooperation with the British intelligence services may have been a factor

The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the report, blaming London for politicizing the “purely criminal” case of Litvinenko’s death.

According to a foreign ministry spokesperson, the inquiry was “neither transparent nor public” and resembles a “shadow play” because it was “conducted mostly behind doors, with classified documents and unnamed witnesses contributing to the result.”

The public inquiry into the case was launched in January 2015. The case cannot face a formal trial in Britain as the main suspects are not in the UK.

Russian officials, as well as the two men suspected in Britain of killing Litvinenko – Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun – have always denied the accusations.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Lugovoy reiterated his innocence and said, “It happened as we expected it, no sensation here. The result of the inquiry voiced today just confirms the anti-Russian stance of London, the bias and lack of determination to establish the true cause of Litvinenko’s death.”

The enquiry has once again bought to light potential conspiracy theories and accusations surrounding the death of Litvinenko and the involvement of the Russian government. The diplomatic fall-out from the enquiry could derail international co-operation as well as relations between the UK and Russia.

 

How the UK is Helping Saudi Commit War Crimes in Yemen

In just three months last year the UK sold more than £1 bn worth of bombs, missiles and rockets to Saudi Arabia. In comparison, during the previous three months only £9 mn worth of sales were made, which shows more than a hundred fold increase in the amount sold- according to an official record of arms export licences quietly released by the Government this week.

This was despite that there are clear indications that the weapons and arms would have been used by Saudi forces in their battle in Yemen. The Saudi Arabian led coalition, aims to push back Houthi rebels and reinstall the exiled government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Yemen. The campaign has been condemned by the United nations who said the region is facing a  ‘humanitarian catastrophe’.

The campaign in Yemen has raised concerned that war crimes are being committed and that it violate human rights. Reports also suggest that civilian targets and aid hospitals, including those ran by Medicins Sans Frontieres, have been targeted.

The UN says more than 7,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s war, including nearly 3,000 civilians. The international body has reported that more than 80 percent of the country’s 24 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance.

However, disregarding the evidence, David Cameron has defended the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, describing the kingdom as a key ally in the fight against terrorism.

“Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is important for our own security,” he told BBC Radio 4 . “We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure that the work done by Saudi Arabia is properly targeted and it’s right that we should do that. We’re working with them and others on behalf of the legitimate government of Yemen.”

Human rights groups have condemned the UK’s role in the Yemen war, and in December, it was found that Britain’s exports to Saudi Arabia was breaking national, EU, and international law and policy. Supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia, who are using them in military intervention and in a bombing campaign is violation of the laws. The UK government, however, insists it is not taking part in the campaign.

Amnesty Internationals head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said., “These figures are deeply worrying, showing that the UK continued to dispatch huge amounts of weaponry to Saudi Arabia despite overwhelming evidence that the Saudi war machine was laying waste to Yemeni homes, schools and hospitals… As officials were signing off these sales, hundreds – possibly thousands – of Yemeni civilians were dying in a terrifying barrage of indiscriminate Saudi air strikes in the country.”

In total British weapons companies have sold more than £5.6 bn worth of arms, fighter jets and other military equipment to Riyadh- according to the Campaign against Arms trade.

For the full analysis by Amnesty International describing the laws being broken by the UK click here.

 

Idris Elba On Diversity

Media is the ‘means of mass communication’. It has an extremely important role in modern day society which aims to effectively represent and link together a source to its audience.

In our multicultural society, one which we should be so proud of, diversity plays an increasingly important role in attempting bridge together societies, cultures and ethnicities. It helps us to learn from each other and make us better, providing new opportunities and planting new ideas. It is now part of the fabric that makes our British society so great.

Idris Elba recently made a speech to Members of Parliament regarding this issue, and in particular within the Media Industry- which I thought deserved to be shared, so here it is:

And here’s the full transcript of the speech: http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/idris-elba-s-keynote-speech-to-parliament-on-diversity-in-the-media?hootPostID=82edcd8d27c64b8197527ea00e8229a2