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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006, 11:21 GMT
Litvinenko affair
On Sunday 10 December, Andrew Marr interviewed Vladimir Bukovsky - former Soviet dissident and friend of Alexander Litvinenko

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Vladimir Bukovsky
Vladimir Bukovsky - former Soviet dissident

ANDREW MARR: ... Welcome Mr Bukovsky. Let me just start by asking the simple question if you like.

Do you think you know what happened? We, we discussed this as a mystery.

Do you think there is an explanation?

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Well if you're asking me about police investigations, I'm not great fan of detective stories and I'm not following whatever the trail they're pursuing.

It's their business, they're professions, they're [inaudible] But I can give you the whole story from political context and that is absolutely certain for me.

ANDREW MARR: Do you think still that he was killed on the orders of President Putin or the Russian government or do you think this was a freelance operation?

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: No.

ANDREW MARR: There's been talks of blackmail and ..

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: No it's complete nonsense. There is plenty of these informations thrown around by Russian secret services in London as well as in Russia.

The, the case is very clear. In July of this year Russian legislature called Duma passed a law enabling the president of Russian Federation to kill, to s..., to use his secret services as death squads to eliminate the, his political enemies anywhere, including outside of Russian territory. And as the law redefined the idea of who is enemy, including into it anyone who's engaged in libellous ..

ANDREW MARR: [inaudible]

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: ... of administration ...

ANDREW MARR: We have the law here, yes.

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: .. some translation. And right as the law was passed the number two in Kremlin [inaudible] is the Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov made a public statement saying that the list of potential targets is already composed. Now what else do you need?

Then follow the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, then Alexander Litvinenko and there will be others to follow.

ANDREW MARR: So all these stories about threats to blackmail people in the underworld, you just put all that to one side?

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: It's complete rubbish. I knew Alexander very closely for six years. All the time he lived in Britain. He was a good friend of me, of mine and ..

ANDREW MARR: His wife, his widow described you as his university.

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Yeah. Well he was my younger brother if you, if you know, I took him under the wing. Explained him the way of the West, tried to help him to adapt and his family as well. No he was very honest man, I mean very straightforward. He had some kind of boyish chivalry.

You know he, he told me a beautiful story when he got political asylum five years ago. He went to Tower of London, took his young son, seven year old at the time. Showed him the crown. And he said "Look and remember. This is the crown which protects us and secures us".

ANDREW MARR: Well it didn't protect him of course. Do you, do you feel under threat yourself?

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Well I'm, I'm ... threat all my life as you've described in your introduction. I am used to that. I don't care. No one can frighten me.

ANDREW MARR: I have to ask you ..

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: But, but there is a threat to everyone. I mean particularly it all depends now on the behaviour of British government. Now let's look at it from purely legal standpoint. A British citizen was cowardly and brutally murdered on British soil by the agent, agents of foreign power.

According to old traditions that is ... This is an aggression, blatant aggression committed against your country. Mind you strictly speaking nuclear aggression. It is direct challenge to your sovereignty.

ANDREW MARR: And yet when the British government protests or starts to act in a way that the Russian government dislikes they get into terrible trouble.

The British ambassador in Moscow says that he is being harassed and it's coming close to threats of physical force being used against him because he attended what was regarded ..

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Yeah that ..

ANDREW MARR: .. as a dissident conference.

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: That's not related to the Litvinenko case. He was harassed starting from July, August and so on.

ANDREW MARR: But nonetheless the Russian government is getting more aggressive.

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Absolutely. You, you have to understand what's happening in Russia today. We have a new Russian assertiveness. They do believe that they are sitting on the top of the world because of their energy resources and no one can do them anything at all. They become blatant.

They become very aggressive. And it is dangerous. We all know that appeasement is the worst policy you can take toward aggression.

ANDREW MARR: Do you think the British government has been nave about Russia?

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Was very nave. And probably worse. I mean we still don't know, let's be fair. The government still didn't pronounce a political decision. We don't know. They're waiting for final report from the police.

ANDREW MARR: [inaudible]

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: But the rumours we're getting, according to Sunday Times last week, Prime Minister said to his cabinet, our priority is to retain good long term relations with Russia. Sorry, that sounds like licence to kill.

ANDREW MARR: Of course ..

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Come, come, let's kill whatever you, whoever you like. As long as we have cosy relations on the top that's fine.

ANDREW MARR: The British government of course and many others would say this is all speculation. At this stage we still don't really know what happened and therefore it's too early to make progress.

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: It's absolutely clear what happened. And your services, MI5 and MI6 I'm glad to say are very clear on record saying yes, it is a murder sponsored by Russian government.

They're absolutely clear on that. I mean I can do the same, judging on the law and ... I'm an analyst, I'm not an intelligence officer but my conclusions are exactly that.

ANDREW MARR: That, that's, that's what you're sure about.

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: Now what we are worried ...

ANDREW MARR: And listen, just before you, just before you go I must ask you one thing cos everyone I've talked to, saying they're coming on the shows, are you, are you contaminated in any way? Have you had ..

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: No.

ANDREW MARR: You don't have any polonium ..

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: No.

ANDREW MARR: .. inside you ...

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: No unfortunately I couldn't go to London to see my friend in his death, on his death bed. So I am not contaminated.

ANDREW MARR: Well I'm even, I'm even gladder in that case if I may say so that you joined us today. Thank you very much ..

VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY: It's no problem.

ANDREW MARR: .. indeed Vladimir Bukovsky.

INTERVIEW ENDS


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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