P.13 - Oman Tribune

Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium ‘not once but twice’
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
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
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
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
At the time, Putin rejected
the accusations as a “political
There are other theories
about who may have killed
him, given Litvinenko’s
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
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
“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.
Countries most exposed to Greek debt
billion euros
As of Sept 30, 2014
Source: Natixis
3.73 5.8
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.
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
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
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
EU leaders will meet in
Brussels on February 12-13
to discuss the bloc’s strategy.
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
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.
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
“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
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
“In view of the worsening
situation we ask (foreign min-
Kosovo protest
turns violent
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
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.
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
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
Russian bank official kills 3, self
MOSCOW An oficial of the Russian Central Bank in
Thousands gather at anti-Pegida rally in Dresden
Agence France-Presse
Cops arrest
8 ‘militants’
in France,
Merkel wishes PM ‘strength, success’
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.”
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.