BBG Watch

While this Voice of America report could have mentioned that Vladimir Putin is an ex-KGB spy, it is an example of some improvements in news reporting by several VOA services and correspondents in recent months. However, serious management and resource problems continue, with many services failing to update news and observe the VOA Charter as evidenced by the latest accusations by the Nigerian government that poor reporting by the VOA Hausa Service may inadvertently be helping Boko Haram terrorists.

The headline of the VOA report was not as newsworthy as it could have been if VOA focused instead on Mrs. Litvinenko’s statement that her husband was murdered because of his ability to investigate the connection of the Kremlin to the organized crime.

We were surprised that the same report about Alexander Litvinenko on the VOA Russian Service website did not include any video, either in English or in Russian.

Did the Russian Service interview Mrs. Litvinenko? If they did, why no video was added to the report posted on the Russian website? The report on the VOA Russian Service website was also shorter than the VOA English News report.

The Voice of America continues to work in strange ways. Good enough for government work description comes to mind.

We added a functioning link to the Sir Robert Owen’s “Report into the death of Alexander Litvinenko.” The link provided by VOA did not work.






Widow of Russian Ex-spy Calls His Poisoning ‘State-sponsored Crime’

Jonas Bernstein

March 15, 2016 6:40 PM

The widow of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence officer who was poisoned in London in 2006, says a recent British public inquiry shows that the Russian state was behind his slaying, and that his probes into alleged Kremlin ties to organized crime may have played an important role in the decision to kill him.

Speaking Monday at the Voice of America’s Washington offices, Marina Litvinenko stressed the importance of the British investigation, which was led by Robert Owen, a retired British High Court judge, and ended in January.

Owen, she said, did an “incredible job.”

“He not only investigated all the facts of Sasha’s [Alexander Litvinenko’s] death,” she said, “he found a connection of this murder with the Russian state. The Russian state sponsored this crime.”

Owen concluded there was a ” strong probability” the two men whom the British authorities accused of poisoning Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel in November 2006, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, were acting “under the direction” of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, Russia’s main security agency. Both men have denied involvement in Litvinenko’s death.

WATCH: Litvinenko’s Widow Discusses Probe of Husband’s Death

The retired judge also concluded that Litvinenko’s slaying was “probably approved” by then-FSB head Nikolai Patrushev and President Vladimir Putin.

Government corruption

A veteran first of the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency, and then the FSB, Litvinenko began speaking out against high-level Russian governmental corruption. He also made a number of accusations against Putin. He later gained asylum in Britain with his family.

Marina Litvinenko said her husband’s investigation of alleged ties between the Kremlin and the Russian mafia might have triggered the decision to kill him.

“Of course, what Sasha touched [on], and what became his last drop [the last straw] when he was killed, is difficult to say,” she said. “But it’s obviously his ability to investigate the connection of the Kremlin to organized crime. It was very important.”

London has called for both Lugovoi, who was elected in 2007 to the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, and Kovtun, a businessman, to be extradited, but Moscow has refused. Russia’s constitution prohibits the extradition of citizens to stand trial abroad.