'Russia authorised killing of enemies of state'
Cape Town: The Russian secret service authorised the “elimination” of people living overseas who were judged to be enemies of the state and ordered the creation of special units to conduct such operations, a leaked document has said.
The directive refers specifically to the European Union and Western Europe and appears to be signed by the head of counter-intelligence of the FSB, the successor to the KGB, The Telegraph reports.
The document, dated March 19, 2003 -- four years before the killing of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, sets a provisional deadline of May 01, 2004 for the new units' work to begin.
It is understood the document is also in the possession of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, which is investigating the Litvinenko case. Reports suggest that a hearing would be held next week into whether a full inquest should take place into Litvinenko's death, as the Russian government has insisted that Andrei Lugovoi, the former KGB bodyguard who is a main suspect in the case, will never be extradited back to Britain.
Labelled "Secret documentation. For internal use only. Do not copy", the leaked document refers to a law on "countering extremist activities" passed eight months earlier, although that law does not refer to the use of force.
The objectives, the directive says, are "observation, identification, possible return to the Russian Federation" of their targets.
But it also allows for "under special directives" the "elimination outside of the Russian Federation in the countries of Near Abroad former Soviet states and in the European Union, of the leaders of unlawful terrorist groups and organisations, extremist formations and associations, of individuals who have left Russia illegally and are wanted by federal law enforcement".
Other potential Russian targets in Britain include the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was the subject of a suspected assassination plot in 2007, and the Chechen dissident Akhmed Zakaev.
Zakaev said: "I knew anytime that something like this could happen to me. They want to eliminate me before 2012 when Putin comes back to the Kremlin [as president]. They need to solve these 'problems’. That is what they call us and it doesn't matter where we are."
Berezovsky said: "I knew this a long time ago and there were several attempts to kill me. I was lucky, I was warned and I am safe."
He said he had been told again only a month ago not to travel abroad.