Sunday, December 25, 2016


Dearest in Christ good morning it's Christmas day. With the incarnation of the only begotten Son of God, the appointed time for the fulfilment of God's promise of restoring lost humanity had been set in motion. May this Christmas, the Mass of Christ which we celebrate today bring to you divine restoration of lost blessings of past years & sustainance of God's favours in the years to come.
*Happy Sunday and Merry Christmas.*

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

You and your TIME

Monday, December 5, 2016



By FEMI ADESINA( current spokesperson to President Buhari)

In December 2009, I was at Aburi, while holidaying in Ghana. We Nigerians call it A-b-u-r-i, but the Ghanaians pronounce it as E-b-r-i. For those who have read widely about the civil war that we fought between 1967 and 1970, Aburi is a significant place. This was what I wrote about Aburi, after returning from that journey:

“Aburi. Beautiful, serene Aburi, set daintily atop a hill. It is home to a botanical garden that is 119 years old. But for us in Nigeria, Aburi goes beyond just nature and its preservation. It is the town where General Yakubu Gowon and Odumegwu Ojukwu met, to try and avert the Nigerian Civil War that lasted between 1967 and 1970. They came out with Aburi Accord, which later broke down. And a shooting war started. You could see the Presidential Lodge on a hill, where the Nigerian leaders had parleyed at the behest of Ghanaian leaders. It all ended in futility.”

As one of the key parties to the Aburi Accord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, returns to mother earth today, it is also apposite to return to Aburi, and look at the letter and the spirit of the accord once again, an agreement that was violated by the Federal side, and which made a bloody internecine war inevitable.
For most part of 1966, the northern part of Nigeria, particularly, had been turned to killing fields. Non-natives, especially Igbos, were killed in thousands. Many fled, many others were displaced. There was complete anarchy in the land. The average Igbo looked up to Lt. Col Odumegwu Ojukwu, military governor of the Eastern Region, to provide leadership and direction. He did not fail. He picked the gauntlet and championed the cause of his people.
By January 1967, the drums of war were loud and clear, reverberating across the length and breadth of Nigeria. But there was a last ditch effort to prevent what was imminent. There was a peace meeting hosted at Aburi, in Ghana, by the then Ghanaian head of state, Gen J. A. Ankrah. At the meeting were Gowon, Ojukwu, all the military governors of the regions, and some top civil servants, both from the Federal side and the Eastern region. The meeting held on January 4 and 5, 1967, and came out with what is popularly known today as the Aburi Accord.
The agenda of the meeting consisted of three crucial issues: (i) Reorganization of the Armed Forces (ii) Constitutional agreement (iii) Issues of displaced persons within Nigeria.

The two-day meeting reached consensus that were acceptable to both sides. Among others, it was resolved that legislative and executive authority of the Federal Military Government was to remain in the Supreme Military Council (SMC), to which any decision affecting the whole country shall be referred for determination provided it is possible for a meeting to be held, and the matter requiring determination must be referred to military governors for their comment and concurrence. What does this mean in simple language? The SMC would run the affairs of the country, but not without consulting the regions as represented by the military governors. This was something akin to federalism, even under a military government.

Other terms of the agreement include that appointments to senior ranks in the police, diplomatic and consular services as well as appointment to superscale posts in the federal civil service and the equivalent posts in the statutory corporations must be approved by the SMC. What does this mean again in simple language? Equity, fairness, true federalism.
Other matters like the holding of an ad hoc constitutional conference, fate of soldiers involved in the January 15, 1966 coup, rehabilitation of displaced persons, etc, were also amicably resolved, and the conferees returned happily to Nigeria. Only for the Federal side to deliver a blow to the solar plexus: the Aburi Accord, Gowon said, was unworkable, and he reneged on all the agreements.

Using the Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Service, Ojukwu played the tape recording of the proceedings at Aburi repeatedly, to educate the populace on who was playing Judas. Later, he made a broadcast in which he said: “we in the East are anxious to see that our differences are resolved by peaceful means and that Nigeria is preserved as a unit, but it is doubtful, and the world must judge whether Lt. Col Gowon’s attitudes and other exhibitions of his insincerity are something which can lead to a return of normalcy and confidence in the country.

“I must warn all Easterners once again to remain vigilant. The East will never be intimidated, nor will she acquiesce to any form of dictation. It is not our intention to play the aggressor. Nonetheless, it is not our intention to be slaughtered in our beds. We are ready to defend our homeland.”

In a piece I did last December, shortly after Ojukwu passed away, I said he was virtually pushed into war by the infidelity of the Federal side to the Aburi Accord. I still stand by that position. Ojukwu was called ‘warlord’ for many decades, but he was by no means a warmonger. He only did what he needed to do for his people–and for the country.

As his earthly remains are interred today, it is tragic that Nigeria is still submerged in the morass that Ojukwu already identified about 45 years ago. Today, bombs go off like firecrackers in the country. There is agitation for the review of the revenue allocation formula. There are strident calls for the convocation of a sovereign national conference. Even some component parts are threatening to pull out of the federation if anything happened to their ‘son’ who is now in power. Didn’t Ojukwu warn of these landmines ahead? Were all these issues not already settled at Aburi? Foremost journalist and media administrator, Akogun Tola Adeniyi, in a recent media interview, explained the Aburi Accord this way: “Let every region be semi-autonomous and develop at its own level.” Yes, that was the spirit and letter of Aburi, but which sadly became a road not taken. And is that not why we are still suffering today, living in a rickety and decrepit country that can burst at the seams any moment? I tell you, Ojukwu was a prophet, and like most prophets, he had no honour in his own country. Pity. But whether we like it or not, there’s no way we won’t return to Aburi. Willy-nilly. I only hope it will be sooner than later, before Nigeria goes to grief. On Aburi I stand.

Federal Government was perfidious and duplicitous on Aburi. It is still the same way today. That is why as Nigerians, we are most times disillusioned, dismayed, dispirited, dejected and depressed. When will change come to this land? Our hearts are getting weary.
Last December, I wrote that Ojukwu should be buried like a hero. I’m glad at the rites of passage so far, culminating in the interment today. Yes, bury him like a true hero. An icon, an avatar, deserves no less. This generation will surely not see another like Ojukwu. He fought not only for his own people, but for a true federation founded on justice, fair play, equity and rectitude. Unfortunately, he did not see the Nigeria of his dreams. Will we? Adieu the Ikemba, the Eze Igbo Gburugburu. May your soul rest in peace. Ka nkpur’obi gi zue ike n’adukwa.

By Femi Adesina
Friday March 02, 2012

Poser by Patriot Carl Oshodi;


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Great Bread Debate: To Fridge Or Not To Fridge?

Natasha Preskey

[Photo: Getty]
There has been many a heated debate about where to put your bread. Should it be kept in the fridge for ultimate freshness or should it stay firmly in the bread tin?
People have deliberated over this issue for many years and we can now reveal that bread should not be kept chilled, but instead left to languish on your shiny kitchen counter - or wherever you like to store your loaves. 
According to Harold McGee’s book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, the reason that bread goes stale is “a kind of settling and strengthening” that happens to its starch molecules, resulting in “toughening effects that are undesirable” - AKA the bread going dry.
But the drying out process happens more quickly in higher temperatures, surely? Not so, apparently.
“Water moves from starch granules in the bread into the spaces between the granules and this changes the nature of the starch, causing the molecules to crystallise and turn the bread hard,” explains Professor Adam Hart, expert at University of Gloucestershire and author of bacteria book ‘Life of Poo’. 
“This can occur more rapidly at lower temperatures so storing bread in the fridge can speed this up.”  
This was confirmed by an experiment run by, which found that bread hardens more quickly from being in the fridge than left at room temperature.

[Photo: Getty]
However, Prof. Hart says that refrigerating your Hovis does have one plus point - it prevents the growth of mould. 
If you want to avoid both mouldy and hard bread, he suggests storing your loaf in the freezer as this both protects it from green fur and slows the staling process.
He says: “Freezing a load in batches of several slices means that you can defrost just what you need without having it lying around to get stale or go mouldy.”
So, there’s your answer. Don’t stuff your bread in the fridge with your housemates’ weird-smelling leftovers, whack it in with your fish fingers and chisel away at it for weeks on end.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Friday, May 6, 2016

Ghana Removes Visa Requirements For All African Citizens

Saturday, April 16, 2016


When things happen  we try to ask  many questions and seek answers (sometimes superficial)  to satisfy ourselves.  Since  the news of your death  came  to us we have not  been able to  find  any answer or answers  to the simple   question; why? No matter how much  we try to philosophize  on life and death . However as Christians  and Igbos  we know  that all powers   and decisions  on  and in our life are sanctioned by God- Uchechukwu- and  with this  we  continue  to praise His mighty name, ask for His mercies  and love , submit  to wish till the last day.
Simon , I believe you  have served God  well  here on earth and He loves you and wants  you to join Him now  in His kingdom: this is the only answer I can deduce   after looking back to the much I know of  you. We thank God  for all his mercies and for  giving you to us  and using you to touch so many people in so many  positive ways. May His wish always be done on all of us  amen. May your soul rest with the Lord for ever and ever amen.
My friendship  with  you which transmuted more than  being a brother is traced back to our common friend Ralph Obioma  who many years  ago invited us among others  for a picnic in the ‘selva di Paliano’. It was ‘love at first sight’,  but  women  being  always a step ahead realized they met each other (without much note) in the Italian embassy Lagos in 1992 as she was applying for her  visa to join me.  Since that day the both families became one  and shared all the moments (good and bad )that occur in the families  together. Thank you so much  for always being there for us  and  for all that were around you or came to you; as I said earlier  you were a blessing to many.
The children grew up and when your daughter presented an Enugu person to  you as her suitor you didn’t say a word until you heard from me. You passed her through my family to the young man as the Igbo tradition demands .Oh God what an honor what a trust and what an assignment ! We promise  as we promised the first day to look after your gems,  your queen our wife Adanna and her siblings also to the best we can. Ezigbo Ogo laa nke oma !
The Enugu  (Wawa) communities  in Italy especially Lazio region are devastated. Gaa nke oma our Ezigbo Ogo , as they call you, your beloved wife and all the Okwelle  people  they  see. Know it as you go that your daughter is a good ambassador  in our home.
  My able ‘AMBASSADOR’ we wish you farewell. We fondly called  (nicknamed) you AMBASSADOR not because  you worked at the embassy but because of  the sincere, godly, committed  and able manner you handled all cases and situations presented to you especially concerning the family and community.  Our ambassador   we miss you so dearly. The communities, associations both religious and laity are really mourning, but God knows the best.
I call on the immediate family, Okwele  people in Italy and at home,  his son  in-law Ikenna (who he greatly loved) though humanly it is a hard blow  but we all have to accept Gods wish , it is a blow on all of us. Let us take solace that Simon lived a fulfilled life fearing God  and that he will have mercy on him and accept him in His bosom. May the soul of Simon Ebonine  and the souls of all departed rest in peace Amen.
From ,
Your friend
Charles O Chukwubike  & family
(Cisterna di Latina)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dr. Bennet Omalu vs. the NFL: ‘I’m not anti-football’

Dr. Bennet Omalu and Will Smith at the New York 'Concussion' premiere
At first glance, Dr. Bennet Omalu seems an unlikely subject for a major studio movie. A Nigerian-born forensic pathologist, Omalu worked for years in quiet obscurity, performing autopsies at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh — hardly the kind of resume that would normally attract the attention of Hollywood.
But in 2002, Omalu performed an autopsy on former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster and found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head — the first such discovery in a pro football player. Omalu’s findings put him on a collision course with the National Football League, which sought to undermine and discredit him. That story that is now recounted on the big screen in director Peter Landesman’s hot-button drama “Concussion,” with Will Smith playing Omalu.
We spoke to Omalu, 47, who now serves as the medical examiner of San Joaquin County in California, about his improbable journey from growing up in a village in Nigeria to taking on one of the most powerful institutions in the sports world.

Question: What did it feel like for you to watch this movie the first time?

Dr. Bennet Omalu: It was a very unusual feeling, watching someone act you on-screen. But really this has never been about me. It sounds weird, but as a physician we are taught in medical school to detach ourselves — yes, be empathic, but don’t get involved personally. So my approach to all this has been very professionalized.
This is not about me. It’s about a message. It’s way, way above my pay grade. I’m just as ordinary as everyone else.

Growing up in Nigeria, did you see many American movies?

My gosh, as a child, I loved American movies. I didn’t see so many of them, but I remember I saw “An Officer and a Gentleman,” I saw “The Sound of Music.” I had this idealistic image of America. I thought America was a heaven on Earth.

When you reported the first known case of CTE in a former pro football player, did you have any idea that your findings would get so much pushback from the NFL?

I was naive. I knew nothing about football. When I identified CTE, I was happy because I thought what I had discovered was going to enhance the game. When the NFL started coming after me, the NFL was going against the truth — not me. I knew in my heart of hearts, deep down, that the truth would always prevail. That is the humanity of science.
I’m a Christian. The Bible says, “Do not be afraid.” When you do something in truth, you step into the light. That was just what I did. The NFL was attacking me, ridiculing me, but they couldn’t change the truth.

The movie suggests that there was a degree of racism and xenophobia behind some of those attacks.

As a black man, I’m still discriminated against systemically and systematically. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go, especially in the field of science.
Some people have told me, “Bennet, if you were white and you did what you’ve done, the NFL would have opened up an institution for you and had you serve as the head of it.” Even fellow doctors — including ones who, if I gave you their names, you’d be appalled — have made very derogatory, ugly statements about me simply based on my ethnicity. They have this tendency always to suspect: “He is suspicious — don’t trust him.”
I’ve been to meetings where, you look on the side of the (NFL) players and the majority are black and then you look on the side of the management and physicians of the NFL and the majority are white. It’s almost like 98 percent to 2 percent. Why?

There’s a level of violence that’s just inherent in football, and fans have always loved seeing those hard hits. Given what we know about the risks of brain injury, how would you like to see the sport change?

I’m not anti-football. If as an adult you know, ‘If I play football, there’s a risk I’ll suffer brain damage,’ and you still make up your mind to play, I would be one of the first to stand up and defend your right and freedom to play. It’s like smoking. If we tell you smoking will cause lung cancer and heart disease and you still as an adult make up your mind to smoke, I will defend your right to smoke if you want to. This is a free country.
But we need to protect children because they are still minors. If you start exposing yourself to blows to the head as a child, your risk of brain damage is greater. With smoking, alcohol, sex or driving, you need to reach the age of consent before we allow you to intentionally expose yourself to harm. If we have done it with smoking and drinking alcohol, why shouldn’t we do it for the risk of brain damage from repeated blows to the head?
Getting repeated blows to the head is more dangerous to the brain than alcohol. It’s more dangerous than smoking. So why do we continue to expose our children? As a modern society it’s our duty to protect our most vulnerable, most precious gifts of life: our children. This is where I stand.

Many people see the concussion issue as posing an existential threat to the NFL. But at the same time, no matter what scandal and controversy erupts around the league — whether it’s this issue or domestic violence arrests or Deflategate — football only seems to get bigger.

I have an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. There is no organization in this world that is too big to fail. Look at big industries of the past: Look at Kodak, look at steel. In the good old days of the steel industry, nobody would have believed that steel could become a diminished industry.
We as a society evolve, and any business entity that refuses to evolve with the society because of some kind of self-considered arrogance will fall by the wayside. This is a very basic business concept.

Knowing what you know and having been through what you’ve been through, do you ever actually sit down and watch a football game?

The last football game I watched was the Super Bowl. After the first play, the hitting — pow! — I just had goose bumps. What was going through my mind was what was happening to their brains on the microscopic level.
I switched off the TV and did something else. I just couldn’t take it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

President Mugabe speaks at the 26th AU Summit Opening Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


The 26th AU Summit is called to discuss Human Rights in Africa focusing mainly on the Rights of Women. But Africa's security concerns will dominate the two day meeting. AU Chair President Robert Mugabe thanks Ban Ki Moon got helping Africa tackle Malaria and all calamities. He also says migration of Africans is a concern and Africa will hold a summit to address the issue. However Pres. Mugabe could not stop pointing his views about the West, asking them to 'shut up' over his long rule.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder

Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder

This week, the inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko will deliver its findings. The former Russian spy was poisoned with a cup of tea in a London hotel. Working with Scotland Yard detectives, as he lay dying, he traced the lethal substance to a former comrade in the Russian secret service

Alexander Litvinenko in the intensive care unit of University College Hospital, London, on November 20, 2006.
Alexander Litvinenko in the intensive care unit of University College Hospital, London, on November 20, 2006. He died three days later. Photograph: Natasja Weitsz/Getty Images Contributor

The Millennium hotel is an unusual spot for a murder. It overlooks Grosvenor Square, and is practically next door to the heavily guarded US embassy, where, it is rumoured, the CIA has its station on the fourth floor. A statue of Franklin D Roosevelt – wearing a large cape and holding a stick – dominates the north side of the square. In 2011 another statue would appear: that of the late US president Ronald Reagan. An inscription hails Reagan’s contribution to world history and his “determined intervention to end the cold war”. A friendly tribute from Mikhail Gorbachev reads: “With President Reagan, we travelled the world from confrontation to cooperation.”
The quotes would seem mordantly ironic in the light of events that took place just around the corner, and amid Vladimir Putin’s apparent attempt to turn the clock back to 1982, when the former KGB boss Yuri Andropov – the secret policeman’s secret policeman – was in charge of a doomed empire known as the Soviet Union. Next to the inscriptions is a sandy-coloured chunk of masonry. It is a piece of the Berlin Wall, retrieved from the east side. Reagan, the monument says, defeated communism. This was an enduring triumph for the west, democratic values, and for free societies everywhere.
Five hundred metres away is Grosvenor Street. It was here, in mid-October 2006, that two Russian assassins had tried to murder someone, unsuccessfully. The hitmen were Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun. Their target was Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer in Russia’s FSB spy agency. Litvinenko had fled Moscow in 2000. In exile in Britain he had become Putin’s most ebullient and needling critic. He was a writer and journalist. And – from 2003 onwards – a British agent, employed by MI6 as an expert on Russian organised crime.

Latterly, Litvinenko had been supplying Her Majesty’s spooks and their Spanish counterparts with hair-raising information about the Russian mafia in Spain. The mafia had extensive contacts with senior Russian politicians. The trail apparently led to the president’s office, and dated back to the 1990s when Putin, then aide to St Petersburg’s mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, worked closely with gangsters. In a week or so, Litvinenko was to testify before a Spanish prosecutor. Hence, it appeared, the Kremlin’s frantic efforts to kill him.
The men from Moscow were carrying what Kovtun confessed to a friend was “a very expensive poison”. About its properties he knew little. The poison was polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope, tiny, invisible, undetectable. Ingested, it was fatal. The polonium had originated at a nuclear reactor in the Urals and a production line in the Russian town of Sarov. A secret FSB laboratory, the agency’s “research institute”, then converted it into a dinkily portable weapon.
Lugovoi and Kovtun, however, were rubbish assassins. The quality of Moscow’s hired killers had slipped since the glory days of the KGB. Their first attempt, in a Grosvenor Street boardroom, had not worked. They had lured Litvinenko to a business meeting, where – the radiation stain later showed – they had tipped polonium into his cup or glass. But Litvinenko did not touch his drink. As of 1 November 2006, he was stubbornly alive.

Even modern CCTV has its limitations. Some parts of the Millennium were not covered by it – as Lugovoi, an expert in surveillance, and a former Kremlin bodyguard, would have noticed. One camera was fixed above the reception desk. Its footage shows the check-in counter; a bank of three computer screens; uniformed hotel staff. In the left of the picture is a part view of the foyer. There are two white leather sofas and a chair. Another camera – you wouldn’t notice it, unless you were looking – records the steps leading up to the lavatories.
The hotel has two ground-floor bars accessed from the foyer. There is a large restaurant and cafe. And the smaller Pine Bar immediately on the left as you enter through a revolving door from the street. The bar is a cosy wood-panelled affair. Three bay windows look out onto the square. In CCTV terms, the Pine Bar is a security black hole. It has no cameras; its guests are invisible.
On the evening of 31 October, camera 14 recorded this: at 20:04 a man dressed in a black leather jacket and mustard yellow jumper approaches the front desk. On either side of him are two young women. They have long, groomed blonde hair: his daughters. Another figure wanders up from the sofas. He is a strikingly tall, chunky-looking bloke wearing a padded black jacket and what resembles a hand-knitted Harry Potter scarf. The scarf is red and blue – the colours of Moscow’s CSKA football club.

The video captures the moment the Lugovois checked in – on this, his third frantic trip to London in three weeks, Lugovoi arrived with his entire family. He came from Moscow with his wife Svetlana, daughter Galina, eight-year-old son Igor, and friend Vyacheslav Sokolenko – the guy with the scarf. At the hotel, Lugovoi met his other daughter Tatiana. She had arrived from Moscow a day earlier with her boyfriend Maxim Bejak. The family party was due to watch CSKA Moscow play Arsenal in the Champions League the following evening. Like Lugovoi, Sokolenko was ex-KGB. But Sokolenko was not, British detectives would conclude, a murderer.
Litvinenko had first met Lugovoi in Russia in the 1990s. Both were members of the oligarch Boris Berezovsky’s entourage. Later, while living in exile in London, Berezovsky became Litvinenko’s mercurial patron. In 2005, Lugovoi recontacted Litvinenko and suggested they work together, advising western firms wanting to invest in Russia. At 11.41am, Lugovoi called Litvinenko on his mobile. He suggested a meeting. Why didn’t Litvinenko join him later that day at the Millennium? Litvinenko said yes; the plot was on.
Scotland Yard would later precisely fix Litvinenko’s movements on the afternoon of 1 November: a bus from his home in Muswell Hill in north London; the tube to Piccadilly Circus; a 3pm lunch with his Italian associate Mario Scaramella in the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly. In between, he fielded several calls from Lugovoi, who was becoming increasingly importunate. Lugovoi called Litvinenko again at 3.40pm. He told Litvinenko to “hurry up”. He had, he said, to leave imminently to watch the football.

Lugovoi would tell British detectives that he arrived at the Millennium at 4pm. The CCTV shows that he was lying: half an hour earlier, at 3.32pm, Lugovoi appears at the front desk and asks for directions to the gents. Another camera, number four, records him walking up the stairs from the foyer. The image is striking. Lugovoi seems preoccupied. He is unusually pale, grim, grey-visaged. His left hand is concealed in a jacket pocket. Two minutes later, he emerges. The camera offers an unflattering close-up of his bald spot.

Then, at 3.45pm, Kovtun repeats the same procedure, asking for directions, vanishing into the men’s toilets, reappearing three minutes later. He is a slight figure. What were the pair doing there? Washing their hands, having set the polonium trap? Or preparing the crime, a heinous one, in the sanctuary of one of the cubicles?
Tests were to show massive alpha radiation contamination in the second cubicle on the left – 2,600 counts per second on the door, 200 on the flush handle. Further sources of polonium were found on and below the gents’ hand-dryer, at over 5,000 counts per second. There was what scientists called “full-scale deflection” – readings so high they were off the scale.

Dmitry Kovtun arrives at the Millennium.
The multiplex system shows someone else arriving at 15.59 and 41 seconds – a fit-looking individual, wearing a blue denim jacket with a fawn collar. He is on his mobile phone. This is Litvinenko at the blurred edge of the picture; he calls Lugovoi from the hotel lobby to tell him that he has arrived. The CCTV tells us little beyond this. Apart from one important detail. Litvinenko never visits the hotel bathroom. He is not the source of the polonium; it is his Russian companions-turned-executioners who bring it with them to London, in this, their second poisoning attempt.

* * *

The Soviet Union had a long tradition of bumping off its enemies. They included Leon Trotsky (ice-pick in the head), Ukrainian nationalists (poisons, exploding cakes) and the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov (ricin pellet fired from an umbrella, on London’s Waterloo Bridge). There was a spectrum. It went from killings that were demonstrative, to those where the KGB’s fingerprints were nowhere to be found, however hard you looked. Such murders were justified by what you might call Leninist ethics: they were necessary to defend the Bolshevik revolution, a noble experiment.

Under Boris Yeltsin these exotic killings mostly stopped. Moscow’s secret poisons lab, set up by Lenin in 1917, was mothballed. After 2000 though, with Putin in the Kremlin, such Soviet-style operations quietly resumed. Critics of Russia’s new president had an uncanny habit of ending up ... well, dead. In power, Putin steered the country in an increasingly authoritarian direction, snuffing out most sources of opposition and dissent. The president’s fellow KGB comrades, once subordinate to the Communist party, were now in sole charge.
The murders of journalists and human rights activists could not be explained in terms of protecting socialism. Rather, the state was now synonymous with something else: the personal financial interests of Putin and his friends.

As an FSB officer in the 1990s, Litvinenko had been shocked to discover how thoroughly organised crime had penetrated Russia’s security organs. In his view, criminal ideology had replaced communist ideology. He was the first to describe Putin’s Russia as a mafia state, in which the roles of government, organised crime and the spy agencies had grown indistinguishable.
While serving with the FSB, where his role was akin to that of a detective, Litvinenko had also perfected his observation skills. It was part of his basic training. How to describe the bad guys: their height, build, hair colour and distinguishing features. What they were wearing. Any jewellery. How old. Smoker or non-smoker. And of course their conversation – from the major stuff, such as admissions of guilt, down to trivial details. For example, who offered whom a cup of tea?
When DI Brent Hyatt of Scotland Yard later interviewed Litvinenko, the Russian gave him a full and – in the circumstances, remarkable – account of his meeting with Lugovoi and Kovtun in the Pine Bar. Litvinenko said that Lugovoi approached him in the foyer from the left side and said: “Let’s go, we are sitting there.” He followed Lugovoi into the bar; Lugovoi had already ordered drinks. Lugovoi sat with his back to the wall; Litvinenko was diagonally across from him on a chair. There were glasses on the table – but no bottles. And “mugs and a teapot”.
As Lugovoi knew, Litvinenko did not drink alcohol. Moreover he was hard-up and reluctant to spend any money of his own in a fancy establishment. The barman, Norberto Andrade, approached Litvinenko from behind, and asked him: “Are you going to have anything?” Lugovoi repeated the question and said: “Would you like anything?”. Litvinenko said he did not want anything.
Litvinenko told Hyatt: “He [Lugovoi] said, ‘OK, well we’re going to leave now anyway, so there is still some tea left here, if you want to you can have some.’ And then the waiter went away, or I think Andrei asked for a clean cup and he brought it. He left and when there was a cup, I poured some tea out of the teapot, although there was only a little left in the bottom and it made just half a cup. Maybe about 50 grammes.
“I swallowed several times but it was a green tea with no sugar and it was already cold, by the way. I didn’t like it for some reason, well, almost cold tea with no sugar, and I didn’t drink it any more. Maybe in total I swallowed three or four times.” Litvinenko said he didn’t finish the cup.
Hyatt: The pot with the tea in it was already there?
Litvinenko: Yes.
Hyatt: How many mugs were on the table when you came in?
Litvinenko: I think three or four cups.
Hyatt: And did Andrei drink any more from the pot in your presence?
Litvinenko: No.
Hyatt: OK, and what happened next?
Litvinenko: Then he said Vadim [Kovtun] is coming here now ... either Vadim or Volodia, I can’t remember. I saw him for the second time in my life.
Hyatt: What happened next?
Litvinenko: Next Volodia [Kovtun] took a place at the table on my side, across from Andrei.
The three men discussed their meeting scheduled for the following day at the private security firm Global Risk. In previous months, Litvinenko had tried to supplement his £2,000-a-month MI6 salary by doing due diligence reports for British firms keen to invest in Russia. The bar was crowded, Litvinenko said. He felt a strong antipathy towards Kovtun. It was only their second encounter. There was something strange about him, Litvinenko thought – as if he were in the midst of some personal torment.
Litvinenko: Volodia [Kovtun] was – seemed to be – very depressed, as if he was very much hungover. He apologised. He said that he hadn’t slept for the whole night, that he had just flown in from Hamburg and he wanted to sleep very much and he couldn’t stand it any more. But I think he is either an alcoholic or a drug addict. He is a very unpleasant type.
Hyatt: Volodia, how did he know to come to the table? Did Andrei contact him and ask him to come and join you, or was there already an arrangement for him to join you?”
Litvinenko: No … he [Kovtun], I think he knew in advance. Even possibly they had been sitting before this and maybe he went up to his room.
Hyatt: Just going back to when you had some tea, you didn’t ask the waiter for a drink. It was mentioned that there was some tea left. How insistent was Andrei that you have a drink, or was he indifferent? Was he saying, “Go on, go on, have some?” Or didn’t he care?
Litvinenko: He said it like that, you know, “If you would like something, order something for yourself, but we’re going to be leaving soon. If, if you want some tea, then there is some left here, you can have some of this...”
I could have ordered a drink myself, but he kind of presented in such a way that it’s not really need to order. I don’t like when people pay for me but in such an expensive hotel, forgive me, I don’t have enough money to pay for that.”
Hyatt: Did you drink any of the tea in the presence of Volodia?
Litvinenko: No, I drank the tea only when Andrei was sitting opposite me. In Volodia’s presence, I wasn’t drinking it .... I didn’t like that tea.
Hyatt: And after you drank from that pot, did Andrei or Volodia drink anything from that pot?
Litvinenko: No, definitely. Later on, when I left the hotel, I was thinking there was something strange. I had been feeling all the time, I knew that they wanted to kill me.
There is no evidence to say whether it was Kovtun – an ex‑waiter, who once worked in a Hamburg restaurant – or Lugovoi who put polonium in the teapot. From Litvinenko’s testimony, it is clear that this was a joint criminal enterprise. Lugovoi would subsequently explain that he could not recall what drinks he had ordered in the Pine Bar. And that Litvinenko had insisted upon their meeting, to which he had reluctantly assented.
Subsequently, police tracked down Lugovoi’s bar bill. The order was: three teas, three Gordon’s gin, three tonics, one champagne cocktail, one Romeo y Julieta cigar No 1, one Gordon’s gin. The tea came to £11.25; the total bill £70.60. Lugovoi was a man who murdered with a certain breezy style.
By this point, Lugovoi and Kovtun must have concluded that their poisoning operation had worked. Litvinenko had drunk the green tea. Not much, admittedly. But, he had drunk. Surely, enough? The meeting lasted 20 minutes. Lugovoi gazed at his watch. He said he was expecting his wife. She appeared in the foyer and, as if on cue, waved her hand, and mouthed: “Let’s go, let’s go.” Lugovoi got up to greet her, and left Litvinenko and Kovtun sitting together at the table.
There was one final, scarcely believable scene. According to Litvinenko, Lugovoi came back to the bar accompanied by his eight-year-old son Igor. Lugovoi introduced him to Litvinenko. He said to Igor: “This is Uncle Sasha, shake his hand.”
Igor was a good boy. He obediently shook Litvinenko’s hand, the same hand that by now was pulsing with radiation. When police examined Litvinenko’s jacket they found massive contamination on the sleeve – Litvinenko had picked up and drunk the tea with his right hand. The party, plus Litvinenko, left the bar. The Lugovoi family and Sokolenko went off to the match. Kovtun declined to go, declaring: “I’m very tired, I want to sleep.”
Forensic experts would test the entire bar area, the tables, and crockery. They examined 100 teapots, as well as cups, spoons, saucers, milk jugs. Litvinenko’s white ceramic teapot was not difficult to discover – it gave off readings of 100,000 becquerels per centimetre squared. The biggest reading came from the spout. (The teapot was put in the dishwasher afterwards and unknowingly reused for subsequent customers.) The table where they sat registered 20,000 becquerels. Half that, ingested, was enough to kill a person.

Lugovoi and Kovtun at a press conference in Moscow, in 2006.Polonium was a miasma, a creeping fog. It was found inside the dishwasher, on the floor, till, a coffee strainer handle. There were traces on bottles of Martini and Tia Maria behind the bar, the ice-cream scoop, a chopping board. It turned up on chairs – with large alpha radiation readings from where the three Russians sat – and the piano stool. Whoever sent Lugovoi and Kovtun to London must have known of the risks to others. Apparently they didn’t care.

The most crucial piece of evidence was discovered several floors above the Pine Bar, in Kovtun’s room, 382. When police forensic teams took apart the bathroom sink they found a mangled clump of debris. The debris was stuck in the sediment trap of the sink’s waste pipe. Tests on the clump showed it contained 390,000 becquerels of polonium. The levels were so high that they could only have come from polonium itself.
After laying the poison in Litvinenko’s teapot, Kovtun had gone back upstairs to his room. There, in the privacy of the bathroom, he had tipped the rest of the liquid solution down the sink. No one else – other than Lugovoi and Sokolenko – had access to the room. Police concluded that Kovtun had knowingly handled the murder weapon, and afterwards got rid of it. It was an intentional act of disposal.
The science was objective, conclusive and utterly damning. It had the simplicity of undeniable fact. Back in Moscow, in numerous subsequent interviews, Kovtun would claim innocence. He was never able to explain away this piece of evidence: why was the polonium in his bathroom?
Polonium was a miasma, a creeping fog. It was found inside the dishwasher, on the floor, till, a coffee  strainer handle
The Russian operation to murder Litvinenko would have had a codename -– thus far unknown. It could finally be marked down as a success. It was the sixth anniversary of Litvinenko’s arrival in Britain: 1 November 2000. He did not know it yet, but he was dying. The substance used to kill him had been chosen because the killers believed it could not be detected. The plan was working. From this point on nothing – not even the most gifted medical team from the heavens – could save him.

* * *

Seventeen days later, Litvinenko was lying in hospital, mortally ill. His case had baffled medical staff. Eventually, they had alighted on a diagnosis of thallium poisoning. This late stage saw the arrival of Scotland Yard.
To begin with, the British police had a confusing picture – a poisoned Russian who spoke poor English; a baffling plot involving visitors from Moscow; and a swirl of potential crime scenes. Two detectives, DI Brent Hyatt and DS Chris Hoar, from the Met’s specialist crime unit, interviewed Litvinenko in the critical care unit on the 16th floor of University College Hospital. He had been admitted as Edwin Redwald Carter, his British pseudonym. He is a “significant witness” in the investigation. There are 18 interviews, lasting eight hours and 57 minutes in total. These conversations stretch out over three days, from the early hours of 18 November until shortly before 9pm on 20 November.
The interview transcripts were kept secret for eight-and-a-half years, hidden in Scotland Yard’s case file, and stamped with the word “Restricted”. Revealed in 2015, they are remarkable documents. They are, in effect, unique witness statements taken from a ghost. But Litvinenko is no ordinary ghost: he is a ghost who uses his final reserves of energy to solve a chilling murder mystery – his own.
Litvinenko was a highly experienced detective. He knew how investigations worked. He was fastidious too: neatly collating case materials in a file, always employing a hole‑punch. In the interviews, he sets out before the police in dispassionate terms the evidence of who might have poisoned him. He acknowledges: “I cannot blame these people directly because I have no proof.”
He is an ideal witness – good with descriptions, heights, details. He draws up a list of suspects. There are three of them: the Italian Mario Scaramella; his business partner Andrei Lugovoi, and Lugovoi’s unpleasant Russian companion, whose name Litvinenko struggles to remember, and to whom he refers wrongly as “Volodia” or “Vadim”.
Hyatt begins recording at eight minutes after midnight on 18 November. He introduces himself and his colleague DS Hoar. Litvinenko gives his own name and address.
Hoar then says: “Thank you very much for that, Edwin. Edwin, we’re here investigating an allegation that somebody has poisoned you in an attempt to kill you.” Hoar says that doctors have told him Edwin is suffering from “extremely high levels of thallium” and “that is the cause of this illness”.
He continues: “Can I ask you to tell us what you think has happened to you and why?”
Medical staff had pre-briefed Hoar that Litvinenko spoke good English. Hoar discovered that was not true. After this first conversation, an interpreter was brought in.
Litvinenko is still able to give a full account of his career in the FSB, his deepening conflict with the agency. He also talks of his “good relationship” with the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, another Putin enemy, and her fear that she was in danger. In spring 2006, they met in a branch of Cafe Nero in London. Litvinenko asked her what was wrong. She told him: “Alexander, I’m very afraid,” and said that every time she said goodbye to her daughter and son she had the feeling she was looking at them “for the last time”. He urged her to leave Russia. She said she could not – her parents were old, she had kids. In October 2006, Politkovskaya was shot dead in the stairwell of her Moscow apartment.
Politkovskaya’s murder left Litvinenko “very, very shocked”, he says, adding: “I lost of a lot of my friends”, and that human life in Russia is cheap He tells detectives about his speech in the Frontline Club, a press club in London, the previous month, in which he accused Putin publicly of having Politkovskaya killed.
From time to time, the interviews stop: the tape runs out; nurses come in to administer drugs; Litvinenko, suffering from diarrhoea, has to go to the bathroom. Mostly, though, he battles on. He tells Hyatt: “Meeting you is very important for my case.”
The journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a friend of Litvinenko, was shot dead in 2006.<br>The journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a friend of Litvinenko, was shot dead in 2000

It is the two Russians who are at the centre of his suspicions. Litvinenko recounts his meeting with them at the Millennium. He says that he had not been to the hotel before and that he had to find it on a map. He insists this “special” information remain secret – not to be made public or shared with his wife Marina. “These people, it’s interesting. Most interesting,” he muses.

With time running out, Litvinenko is working furiously to solve the conundrum. The transcript reads:
Carter [Litvinenko]: Only these three people can poison me.
Hyatt: These three.
Carter: Mario, Vadim [Kovtun] and Andrei.
There are moments when it appears that there are three officers hard at work: Hyatt, Hoar and Litvinenko, the punctilious ex-cop. After four or five hours of interviews, the case begins to cohere. The investigation gains new momentum. Information is passed back to SO15, the counter-terrorist command at Scotland Yard, headed by Det Supt Clive Timmons.
Litvinenko explains that his most important papers are kept at home, in the lower shelf of a large cupboard. The papers include critical information on Putin, and the people around him, from newspapers and other sources, as well as background on Russian criminal gangs. He gives the police his email password and bank account. He tells them where they can find receipts for two Orange sim cards, bought for £20 from a store in Bond Street – in a black leather wallet on his bedside table. Litvinenko explains that he gave one of the sims to Lugovoi; they used these secret numbers to communicate. He hands over his diary.
Ever helpful, Litvinenko phones his wife and asks her to locate a photo of Lugovoi at their home. Hyatt suspends the interview to secure the photograph. Lugovoi is now a prime suspect. Litvinenko describes him like this: “Andrei is a pure European, and even he looks a little bit like me, sort of. The same type as like me ... I am 1m 77cm – 1m 78cm, so he is probably 1m 76cm. He is two years younger than me, light hair.” He has a small, “almost invisible” bald patch.
The transcript reads:
Hyatt: Edwin, do you consider Andrei to be a friend of yours, or a business associate? What, how do you describe your relationship with Andrei?
Carter: ... He is not a friend. He is a business partner.
At the end of his second day of interviews, on 19 November, Litvinenko describes getting a lift home with a Chechen friend named Akhmed Zakayev: “Now the paradoxical thing is that I was still feeling very well but then somehow I had some kind of feeling that something might happen to me in the nearest future. Maybe subconsciously.” The detectives turn off the tape. It is a full and frank account of events leading up to Litvinenko’s poisoning – with one exception. During these two days he does not mention his secret life and his job working for British intelligence. It is only the next day that he speaks of his meeting on 31 October with his MI6 handler “Martin”, in the basement cafe of the Waterstone’s bookshop on Piccadilly. Litvinenko is chary – evidently reluctant to discuss his undercover role.
Carter: On 31 October at about 4pm, I had a meeting arranged with a person about whom I wouldn’t really like to talk here because I have some commitments. You can contact that person on that long telephone number which I gave you.
Hyatt: Did you meet with that person, Edwin?
Carter: Yes.
Hyatt: Edwin, it could be absolutely vital that you tell us who that person is.
Carter: You can call him and he will tell you.
The interview abruptly stops. It’s 5.16pm. Hyatt dials the long telephone number, reaches “Martin”, and tells him that Litvinenko is gravely ill in hospital, the victim of an apparent poisoning by two mysterious Russians.

Police investigate Litvinenko’s poisoning at the Millennium hotel in central London. Photograph: Alessia

Police investigate Litvinenko’s poisoning at the Millennium hotel in central London.Pierdomenico/ReuterIt appears to be the first time that MI6 – an organisation famed for its professionalism – learns of Litvinenko’s plight. Litvinenko, of course, was not a full-time employee. But he was a salaried informant, with his own encrypted mobile phone and MI6-provided passport. The agency appears not to have classified Litvinenko as being at risk, despite numerous threatening phone calls from Moscow and a firebomb attack on his north London home in 2004.

MI6’s reaction is unclear. The British government has still refused to release the relevant files. One can imagine panic and embarrassment. And the agency shifting into full-blown crisis mode. The transcripts show that after speaking to DI Hyatt, “Martin” scrambled to Litvinenko’s hospital bedside. He talked to his poisoned agent, and left around 7.15pm. The police interview then resumes; the final exchanges deal with earlier threats against Litvinenko from the Kremlin and its emissaries. The detectives ask if there is anything Litvinenko would like to add:
Hoar: Can you think of anybody else who may wish to do this sort of harm to you?
Carter: I have no doubt who wanted it, and I often receive threats from these people. This was done … I have no doubt whatsoever that this was done by the Russian Secret Services. Having knowledge of the system I know that the order about such a killing of a citizen of another country on its territory, especially if it is something to do with Great Britain, could have been given by only one person.
Hyatt: Would you like to tell us who that person is, sir? Edwin?
Carter: That person is the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. And if ... you of course know, while he’s still president, you won’t be able to prosecute him as the main person who gave that order, because he is the president of a huge country crammed with nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons. But I have no doubt whatsoever that as soon as the power changes in Russia or when the first officer of Russian Special Services defects to the west he will say the same. He will say that I have been poisoned by the Russian Special Services on Putin’s order.

* * *

Litvinenko’s condition was rapidly deteriorating. On 20 November, the same day as his last police interview, doctors moved him to intensive care. There it was easier to monitor him and, if necessary, to intervene. Litvinenko’s heart rate was becoming abnormal; his major organs failing.
The medics treating him were in uncharted territory. Litvinenko’s case was problematic: his symptoms were not consistent with thallium poisoning. He had severe bone marrow failure and gut damage, which fitted. But he lacked one key symptom of thallium poisoning – peripheral neuropathy, pain or numbness in his fingers and feet. “It was still a bit of a mystery,” one doctor said.
Meanwhile, those close to Litvinenko were reluctantly concluding that he was unlikely to survive.
The Kremlin would subsequently accuse Litvinenko’s friend Alex Goldfarb, and Boris Berezovsky of cynically exploiting him, as part of their long-running public relations campaign against Putin. In fact, Litvinenko made it abundantly clear – as the Scotland Yard transcripts show – that he held Putin personally responsible for his poisoning. And he wanted to send this message to the world.
Litvinenko’s lawyer, George Menzies, began drafting a statement on his behalf. Menzies later said that the ideas in it were wholly Litvinenko’s. “I was doing my best, in personal terms, to represent what I truly believed to be Sasha’s state of mind and sentiment,” he said. Its themes – Litvinenko’s pride in being British, his love of his wife, his belief as to the source of his illness – mirrored what his client thought, Menzies said.
Goldfarb and Menzies took the draft to the hospital. They showed it to Marina. Her reaction was negative. She believed her husband would pull through and that writing a last testament was tantamount to giving up on him. Pragmatically, they told her: “Better to do it now than later.”
Menzies consulted with Tim Bell, chairman of the London PR firm Bell Pottinger. Bell’s company had worked for Berezovsky since 2002, helping the exiled oligarch through various legal scrapes, and had assisted the Litvinenkos as well. Bell said he thought the text was too gloomy and read like a “deathbed statement.” “I didn’t think it was the right thing to do because I still hoped and believed Sasha would live,” Bell said.
Goldfarb read out the A4 sheet to Litvinenko in intensive care, translating it from English to Russian. At one point Goldfarb made a movement with his arms, mimicking the flight of an angel flapping its wings. Litvinenko endorsed the statement in its entirety, confirming: “This is exactly what I want to say.” Litvinenko then signed and dated it – 21 November 2006, his signature trailing off into a black swirl.
The statement accused Litvinenko’s one-time FSB boss of murder, and ended: “You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.”
TV cameras and media had gathered outside the hospital’s main gate, waiting for news.
Sixteen floors above them, Litvinenko asked Goldfarb if he was a big story. He was – but not much was known about Litvinenko, other than that he was a prominent critic of Putin’s, and desperately ill. Goldfarb said: “Sasha, if you really want the message to be seriously put across, we need a photo.” Marina was against the idea, and saw it as an invasion of privacy. But Litvinenko agreed, and said: “Yes, if you think it’s needed, let’s do it.”
Marina Litvinenko in 2012.Goldfarb rang Bell Pottinger and spoke to Jennifer Morgan, Bell’s liaison. Morgan in turn called a photographer she knew, Natasja Weitsz. Weitsz arrived at the hospital and was escorted upstairs past a police guard. She was with Litvinenko for mere minutes. He pushed his green hospital gown to one side so as to reveal the electro-cardiagram sensors attached to his heart. Weitsz shot a couple of frames of Litvinenko: bald, gaunt and defiant, staring with cornflower-blue eyes directly at the camera lens.
 The image was cropped around its haunting subject. It went round the world.

Marina Litvinenko in 2012. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

By the next day, Wednesday 22 November, doctors treating Litvinenko had scrapped their diagnosis. Their notes read: “We DO NOT feel this gentleman has or had inorganic At midday, a top-level meeting was convened at the Met’s counter-terrorism command. It involved SO15 detectives, led by Det Supt Timmons, medical staff, a scientist from the UK’s atomic weapons establishment, the forensic science service and Dr Nick Gent from Porton Down, the UK’s military science facility. The latest urine test had revealed the presence of a new radioactive isotope – polonium-210. But this was marked down as an anomaly, caused by the plastic container used to carry the sample.thallium poisoning.”
According to Timmons, the specialists discussed five theories that might explain Litvinenko’s baffling poisoning. Most were esoteric. The experts decided to investigate further and to send a litre of urine to Aldermaston.
Back in the intensive care ward, Litvinenko was drifting in and out of consciousness. The Russian-German film-maker Andrei Nekrasov visited him. Nekrasov had previously conducted several interviews with Litvinenko; he shot the video on condition that it would be released only with Marina’s approval. Litvinenko lies on his bed, a vanquished soul, around whom the world is darkening. A drip is attached to his nose; his cheeks are hollow; his eyes are open – just. There is pale afternoon light.
“He was conscious, but was very, very weak,” Marina said. “I spent almost all day sitting close to him, [to] make him just be calm and more relaxed.” At 8pm Marina got up to leave, and told her husband: “Sasha, unfortunately I have to go.”
She said: “He smiled so sadly, and I started to feel I’m guilty because I’m leaving him, and I just said: ‘Don’t worry, tomorrow morning I will come and everything will be fine.’”
Litvinenko whispered back to her: “I love you so much.”
At midnight the hospital called to say that Litvinenko had gone into cardiac arrest, not once but twice. The medics managed to resuscitate him. Marina returned to University College Hospital, getting a lift with Zakayev, and found her husband unconscious and on a life-support machine. She spent the following day, 23 November, at his side; Litvinenko was in an induced coma. That evening she went back to Muswell Hill. An hour after arriving home the phone rang. It was the hospital telling her urgently to return.
Litvinenko suffered a third cardiac arrest at 8.51pm. The consultant on duty, Dr James Down, tried to revive him but at 9.21pm pronounced him dead. When Marina and Anatoly arrived at the hospital they were taken not to the ward but to a side room. Ten or 15 minutes later, the doctor told them that Litvinenko had died. He added: “Would you like to see Sasha?” to which Marina replied: “Of course.”
For the first time in several days, Marina was allowed to touch and kiss her husband; Anatoly ran from the room after half a minute.
Six hours before Litvinenko’s death, at about 3pm, Timmons received a phone call from the atomic weapons establishment. It had the results from the latest tests. They confirmed that Litvinenko was “terribly contaminated”, as Timmons put it, with radioactive polonium.
A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding will be published in March by Guardian Faber (£12.99). To order a copy for £7.99, go to or call 0330 333 6846. Luke Harding will be in conversation with Marina Litvinenko at a Guardian Live event on Thursday 17 March. Tickets £10. His previous non-fiction books include Mafia State and The Snowden Files.   ORIGINAL



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