OMAN TRIBUNE EUROPE WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2015 13 Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium ‘not once but twice’ LONDON AN INQUIRY INTO THE radiation poisoning of a former Russian spy opened on Tuesday with claims that there may have been an earlier assassination bid in the most sensational tale of espionage since the Cold War. Alexander Litvinenko was killed – apparently via a cup of green tea laced with hard- to-detect polonium-210 – in an upmarket London hotel in 2006. The inquiry will look into claims of Russian state involvement and on Tuesday it heard chilling extracts from Litvinenko’s interviews with police conducted at his hospital deathbed. Russia has refused to extradited the two men identiied by British police as the chief suspects – Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun – who drank tea with Litvinenko on November 1, 2006. Counsel to the inquiry Robin Tam said on Tuesday that traces of polonium found from a previous meeting between the three on October 16 in the ofices of a London security irm may indicate a previous poisoning attempt. “One of the most signii- Tsipras unveils anti-austerity veterans’ cabinet cant things that the evidence suggests is that Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium not once but twice,” he said. Tam also revealed that a friend of Kovtun from Germany will testify that the Russian told him he had poison and needed a contact for a cook to kill Litvinenko. “Kovtun said that he had a very expensive poison and that he needed the cook to put the poison in Litvinenko’s food or drink,” Tam said. Litvinenko, who was doing work for Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service, died on November 23, 2006 – three weeks after the poisoning. A deathbed statement in his name accused President Vladimir Putin directly, saying that “the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life”. The inquiry’s chairman Robert Owen said at the start of Tuesday’s hearing that closed-doors hearings would examine intelligence material on “the issue of Russian state responsibility”. The hearings are due to last two months and Owen said his report would be out by the end of the year. Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported at the weekend that communications between London and Moscow intercepted by the US National Security Agency pointed to Russian state involvement. At the time, Putin rejected the accusations as a “political provocation”. There are other theories about who may have killed him, given Litvinenko’s GREEK PRIME MINISTER Alexis Tsipras unveiled a cabinet of anti-austerity veterans on Tuesday, signalling he has no intention of backing away from election pledges despite warning shots from the euro zone and inancial markets. Promising to reverse budget cuts and renegotiate Greece’s huge debts, Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party stormed to power in Sunday’s snap election on a wave of anger against the Germanbacked austerity policies that have driven up poverty and left one in four Greek workers out of a job. Among a team spanning the radical and more pragmatic wings of Syriza, Tsipras named academic economist Yanis Varoufakis as his inance minister. The defence portfolio went to Panos Kammenos, leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks party which is the junior partner in the Tsipras coalition. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Tsipras on Tuesday and wished him “much strength and success” after his antiausterity party’s election victory. “You are taking ofice at a dificult time in which you face a great responsibility,” Merkel said in the message released by the chancellery in Berlin. She expressed the hope that his coalition government would “further strengthen and deepen the traditionally good and deep friendship between our peoples. “For your future work as prime minister, I wish you much strength and success,” she added. Her spokesman said a day earlier that Germany, the paymaster for euro zone bailout packages, would listen closely to how the new Greek government sees its “future reform course and the fulilment of its commitments”. “In our view it is important for the new government to take action to foster Greece’s continued economic recovery,” Steffen Seibert said. “That also means Greece sticking to its previous commitments.” Later, Varoufakis, who left a position at the University of Texas to enter Greek politics only in the run-up to the election, stressed he would keep writing a blog which he has used to denounce the austerity policies demanded by Greece’s creditors in return for 240 billion euros in bailout loans. “The time to put up or shut up has, I have been told, arrived,” he wrote on his blog. “My plan is to defy such advice.” Varoufakis has railed against the bailouts of struggling euro zone states as “iscal waterboarding” that risked converting Europe into a “Victorian workhouse”. But speaking to Irish radio, he said on Tuesday he planned to negotiate a solution with lenders, and that he had already had an “encouraging and inspiring” chat with the head of the euro zone inance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem. “Make no mistake: what is beginning today is a process of deliberation with our European partners,” he said. The new cabinet includes a number of lawyers, professors and some former journalists. Former Communist politician Yannis Dragasakis – who in the run-up to the vote demanded an investigation into Greece’s bailout – took the deputy prime minister’s role that is expected to oversee economic issues. The government is expected to pursue social welfare policies such as handing out free electricity and food stamps to the poor and cutting heating oil prices, alongside a crackdown on tax evasion. Agencies Countries most exposed to Greek debt Total Germany 141.8 41.3 billion euros 29.13% As of Sept 30, 2014 France Italy 31.0 27.3 21.88 19.22 Spain 18.1 12.77 Netherlands 8.7 6.13 Belgium 5.3 Austria Source: Natixis 4.2 Others 3.73 5.8 4.16 2.99 PARIS isters) to assess the situation and to consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures, aiming at a swift and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements,” they said. The leaders said they would assess the situation at their next meeting in February. The foreign ministers are likely to ask the EU’s executive Commission on Thursday to prepare new sanctions against Russia, but the inal decision on whether to implement them would be taken by EU leaders at their summit on February 12, EU oficials and diplomats said. It was unclear what kind of sanctions the EU might prepare, but one diplomat said he did not expect major new economic restrictions on Moscow at this stage. POLICE IN FRANCE AND Belgium arrested eight suspected militants on Tuesday in dawn raids three weeks after the attacks in Paris. “A particularly dangerous and organised network was broken up today,” said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, whose government has deployed thousands of soldiers and extra police since the attacks in Europe. Elite police troops, many of them hooded and heavily armed, arrested ive people aged 26 to 44 in the raid in Lunel, a small town near France’s Mediterranean coast. Two of the arrested had returned from Syria, a police source said. Lunel has attracted intense attention in recent months after local media reported that as many as 10 people from the town, of a population of just 25,000, had sought to travel to Syria to ight alongside insurgents, in particular the Baghdadi militia group. Cazeneuve said on Tuesday those reports were accurate. In Belgium, where earlier this month police killed two gunmen in one of several raids, three men were arrested in Kortrijk, a town some 10km from the French border, prosecutors said. Police searches found weapons in the homes of the men suspected of having links to “radicalised groups”. In Brussels, France’s inance minister said on Tuesday the EU must better monitor anonymous money transfers to crack down on the inancing of terrorism and this idea will be part of proposals to be presented to the bloc’s leaders next month. EU leaders will meet in Brussels on February 12-13 to discuss the bloc’s strategy. Agencies Agencies Michaela Rehle/Reuters A young woman, dressed as a ‘Barbie’ doll, poses in the air as she hangs from a ceiling, during the press preview of the 66th International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, on Tuesday. More than 2,700 exhibitors from over 60 countries worldwide will present their new toy products from January 28 to February 2. 9 Ukraine troops killed in battle to retake key town KIEV NINE UKRAINIAN SERvicemen have been killed in ighting Russian-backed separatists in the past 24 hours, the Kiev military said on Tuesday, as rebels fought to encircle a key town straddling transport routes between their two strongholds. Military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said 29 servicemen had been wounded in addition to those killed, adding that ighting was the most intense near the strategic town of Debaltseve, north-east of rebel-held Donetsk. “The situation remains tense. In the past 24 hours illegal armed groups carried out 120 attacks on government positions,” he said in a televised brieing. In Kiev, parliament was due to meet for an emergency session to vote on a statement that would call Russia an aggressor-state, lawmakers said. It was not immediately clear what implications such a declaration would have beyond its symbolism. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said on Monday deadly attacks on the port city of Mariupol on the weekend show that Moscow’s objective is to increase the Ukrainian territory it controls. Rebels control less than half of this area, but have made its two largest cities the capitals of their self-styled ‘People’s Republics.’ So long as it is under the control of Kiev troops, it weakens the separatists’ frontline as it forms a “tongue”, extending into rebel-controlled territory, separatist deputy commander Eduard Basurin said. In Brussels, European Union (EU) leaders asked their foreign ministers on Tuesday to consider possible new sanctions on Russia in response to a rebel offensive in eastern Ukraine, but a inal decision to impose them is likely to be left to a summit next month. Foreign ministers have called an extraordinary meeting for Thursday after Kiev said 30 civilians were killed in shelling of the government-held port of Mariupol by pro-Russian rebels on Saturday, shattering a ivemonth ceaseire. In a rare joint statement, the EU’s 28 leaders voiced concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and condemned the killing of civilians in the “indiscriminate shelling” of Mariupol. “In view of the worsening situation we ask (foreign min- INSIDE Kosovo protest turns violent PRISTINA SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE injured on Tuesday, including at least four police oficers, when Kosovo police clashed with thousands of violent protesters demanding the dismissal of a Serb minister accused of insulting the ethnic-Albanian majority. Police ired tear gas and scufled with protesters after a few thousand supporters of the nationalist Self-Determination opposition party tried to break into the government building in the centre of the capital Pristina, an AFP correspondent reported. Demonstrators threw stones against a cordon of at least a hundred riot police. Ambulances were seen driving away people who had been injured and at least ive protestors were arrested. Crowd chanted “Jablanovic out” and “Down with the government”. It was the latest in a series of protests in last two weeks to call for the sacking of Labour and Social Welfare Minister Aleksandar Jablanovic, one of three Serb ministers in Prime Minister Isa Mustafa’s cabinet. Jablanovic sparked outrage two weeks ago when he called a group of ethnic Albanians “savages” for trying to prevent Serb pilgrims from visiting a monastery in western Kosovo on Orthodox Christmas. The group had claimed “war criminals” were among the pilgrims. Agence France-Presse GERMANY’S ANTI-ISLAM PEGIda movement was overwhelmed by opponents of the far-right group at a rock concert for tolerance in Dresden late on Monday and enormously popular counter-demonstrations in cities across the country. More than 22,000 cheered German rock stars at an anti-Pegida rally in Dresden, where the movement that argues the country is being EUROPE 11 die in Nato jet crash in Spain, probe launched LOS LLANOS MILITARY BASE Oficials investigated on Tuesday how a ighter jet crashed during Nato training exercises at an air force base in Spain, killing 11 military personnel leaving others with serious burns. Nine French and two Greek personnel died and about 20 people were injured after the two-seater F-16 crashed into parked aircraft at the Los Llanos base in southeastern Spain. The jet lost power as it took off and crashed late on Monday, damaging ive other aircraft, the Spanish defence ministry said. 26 held over Turkey phone tapping ISTANBUL Turkish police detained 26 security of- icers on Tuesday on suspicion of illegally wiretapping politicians, civil servants and businessmen, Dogan News Agency reported. The raids were a further salvo in President Tayyip Erdogan’s campaign against supporters of his ally turned archfoe, the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The chief prosecutor’s ofice in the western coastal city of Izmir carried out the raids, according to Dogan, a privately owned national news service. Armend Nimani/AFP Protesters pull down a gate as they clash with riot police during a demonstration in Pristina on Tuesday. overrun by Muslims and refugees began in October. In Frankfurt, 70 Pegida backers were outnumbered by 15,000. “It’s great that you’re all here with us to send a signal tonight,” said Herbert Groenemeyer, one of Germany’s best-selling rock artists at the hastily organised free concert under the motto ‘Open and colourful – Dresden is for everyone.’ “It’s horrible and sad what’s been happening in some people’s minds lately – creating an atmosphere of hysteria where one religious group is being targeted as the scapegoat. It’s absurd, mean, unjust, undemocratic and completely unacceptable.” Pegida, already reeling after its leader Lutz Bachmann quit for posing for a picture looking like Hitler and calling refugees “scumbags”, normally holds its rallies on Mondays but switched to Sunday to make way for the parade of rock stars. “There are 4 million Muslims in Germany and they are just as much a part of our ‘economic miracle’ as all the other religions in Germany,” said Groenemeyer to the crowd, which braved heavy rain and chilly January temperatures for three hours. In Munich, more than 2,300 antiPegida demonstrators outnumbered the 800 who took part in the Pegida rally there while, in Berlin, 500 supporters of the local BAERGIDA group were met by more than 1,000 counter-demonstrators. Russian bank official kills 3, self MOSCOW An oficial of the Russian Central Bank in Thousands gather at anti-Pegida rally in Dresden BERLIN Agence France-Presse Cops arrest 8 ‘militants’ in France, Belgium HANGING BARBIE Merkel wishes PM ‘strength, success’ ATHENS/ BERLIN investigative work in other European countries including Italy and Spain and his specialisation in researching organised crime. Owen was the coroner in a previous inquest into the death but did not have the power to examine intelligence documents. He lobbied for an inquiry to be able to do so. Earlier on Monday, on the eve of Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germans had an everlasting responsibility to ight all forms of racism. In what appeared to be an indirect reference to Pegida, Merkel told a memorial for the victims of Auschwitz: “We’ve got to ight all racism from the outset.” Reuters the country’s Far East went on a rampage at work on Tuesday killing three colleagues and then shooting himself, investigators said. A deputy head of the central bank’s regional branch in the city of Blagoveshchensk mowed down two women and one man at the bank’s ofices before committing suicide, a spokesman for the region’s investigative committee Alexei Lubinsky told Interfax news agency. Italy regional affairs minister quits ROME Italy’s Regional Affairs Minister Maria Lanzetta resigned from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Cabinet on Monday to join the government of her home region, Calabria, a statement said. Lanzetta, 58, was sworn in about 11 months ago with the rest of Renzi’s cabinet. Now Lanzetta will be a member of the Calabrian government.
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