Pt 1: Moscow Bombings - We get an update from a reporter on the ground in Moscow and discuss terrorism in Russia in the wake of today's subway bombings. (Read More)
Pt 2: Andrei Lugovoi - A rare interview with Andrei Lugovoi, a member of the Russian Parliament who also happens to be the prime suspect in Britain's investigation into the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London three years ago. (Read More)
Pt 3: Lydudmila Alexeyeva - A feature interview with one of Russia's oldest and most consistent, protesters. Meet, Lydudmila Alexeyv, an internationally recognized Russian dissident who has been protesting Russian government's for four decades. (Read More)
The Current comes to you from Moscow today with our special, Russia Revealed.
It's Monday March 29th.
A new nuclear arms treaty between Russia and the United States will still allow the two countries to have 3000 nuclear war heads.
Currently ... And, President Obama reminded Americans, third degree burns and radiation sickness are both now covered by the new health plan.
This is the Current.
Moscow Subway Bombings
They are calling it déjà vu on Moscow radio stations today, two suicide bombings on subway trains coming about 4 months after the bombing of an express train halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Still what happened this morning in Moscow was the first act of terror in the city for years and Muscovites who haven't lived with these tactics for a while are understandably shaken.
Yuri Maloverian is a reporter with the Russian service of the BBC. He has just come from the Lubyanka metro station where the first bombing occurred at 8am and the second bomb went off 45 minutes later six stops away at another station. He joined us from the ground with an update.
Alexey Malashenko is a fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center. He concentrates on Russians relationship with the Caucusus and Islamic extremism. And all of that is being talked about in the wake of these two bombings. He joined Anna Maria in Moscow.
The man on Interpol's most wanted list was ready to talk to us. He's got a reputation as a Russian spy, an elite bodyguard and now British authorities say he's a murderer. They allege Andrei Lugovoi killed former Russian Spy Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive tea. To get to the man you have to go through layers of security at the Russian parliamentary offices for a rare interview.
Now Andrei Lugovoi's reputation precedes him, so when he walks into the room unassuming speaking softly to his assistant, Anna Maria isn't even sure it's him. Right away, he makes small talk about the Olympics, the Russians and the Canadians. And what they say is true; he does resemble the James Bond of the actor Daniel Craig, the short-cropped hair, the piercing eyes not to mention the back-story. Andrei Lugovoi, after all is Britain's prime suspect in the murder that shocked the world. The slow and agonizing death of the former Russian KGB agent turned whistleblower, Alexander Litvinenko - the man who was poisoned by a rare nuclear isotope stirred into a pot of tea and served up in a posh London hotel four years ago.
We played a montage of news clips covering the Alexander Litvinenko murder. Alan Cowell, a New York Times reporter who covered the story back in 2006 has written a book, The Terminal Spy. It is a real-life spy thriller and the movie deal is already done. It's believed that Alexander Litvinenko was killed because he went public with accusations of corruption against the one Russian institution that though feared is also revered in many circles. He pointed a finger at the FSB ...what use to be the KGB, the training ground for a certain slice elite, many of whom including Vladimir Putin wield real political power.
And if there is any doubt of how iconic the KGB FSB still is, all you have to do is stroll through a park in south central Moscow on a Saturday. This park is littered with the toppled statues of Russia's revolutionary heroes, lots of Lenin's, a few Stalin's, Karl Marx and Felix Steginsky ... the man who created the brutal secret police. Anna Maria stopped and watched as his statue was pulled down from his pedestal outside KGB headquarters on a winter night 19 years ago. They toppled him then but today there are flowers lined up at Steginsky's new place of rest. For some he's still on that pedestal and remarkably some people miss what he stood for ... and that was the legacy that Alexander Litvinenko dared to confront.
The British gave Alexander Litvinenko asylum but his life was still tethered to disaffected Russians. Like so many other former spies he got into security and intelligence, he had rich clients, lots of secrets. And lovingly following him through this odyssey was his young son, Sacha and his wife, Marina. But in November 2006, all of that was on hold. Alexander Litvinenko was in excorticating pain, he was dying. For weeks, the doctors ran through every test they knew and got nothing. It was only when the doctors discovered polonium that the police were able to go back to hotels, offices and other places in central London mentioned to find traces of polonium. The most intense traces of Polonium 210 were found in the place where Alexander Litvinenko was believed to have ingested poison ... the polonium in a cup of tea in a hotel in Central London.
Sitting at that table in that hotel in Central London that day were two other Russian men on whom British police would concentrate, businessman Dimitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi - also in private security who had worked for the successor for the KGB and as a presidential bodyguard. The tea which only Litvinenko drank was sitting on the table waiting for him when he arrived. British police allege Lugovoi and Kovtun left a radioactive trail. German police found a radioactive trail corresponding to Dimitri Kovtun 's movements through that country but 4 months ago they dropped charges against him. And that left Andrei Lugovoi. British authorities want to extradite him for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko but there's more riding on this case then the death of one man.
Not surprisingly, Andrei Lugovoi doesn't see it this way. Anna Maria sat down with Mr. Luvovoi. He now sits in the Russian parliament. His detractors say that's to guarantee him immunity but he insists he is the victim here.
Andrei Lugovoi - cont'd
We continued our interview with Andrew Lugovoi, the Russian parliamentary deputy wanted for murder in Britain.
Lydudmila Alexeyva looks like a frail grandmother but she purposefully takes to the streets of the capital on the 31 st of every month to push for human rights. Anna Maria and our Sr. Producer showed up late in the evening and she sat in one corner of a vast couch, all dressed up ready to talk. Lydudmila Alexeyva won Europe's top human rights award last year, the Sakharov prize.
Last Word - Driving in Russia
Anna Maria shared her observations on cars in Russia. In 1990, when Anna Maria was reporting for CBC TV in Moscow she noticed how drivers were driving with only their parking lights on. No one used their headlights? How did anyone avoid hitting people? Today, everyone uses their car headlights and no one remembers a time when they didn't.