Goldfarb, Alex and Litvinenko, Marina: Death of a Dissident – The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB (2007)

Alexander LitvinenkoAlexander Litvinenko awaiting death

Death by pulonium-210. Pulonium in the blood is not a pleasant way to go. But then I guess quite a few ways of dying are rather unpleasant. What makes it a sensational death is that Litvinenko was poisoned and quite a few people suspect that it is a political death – like the death of Anna Politkovskaya.

So who was Alexander Litvinenko? Why was it necessary to kill him?

Some of Death of a Dissident is bleak reading. Unsurprising but bleak. The lengths to which some people will go to gain and retain power is frightening. It seems there is always someone who is willing to give up their integrity for gain.

Boris Berezovsky with bodyguards

Warning right away. As you read Death of a Dissident you might keep in mind that one of the writers of the book was Alex Goldfarb. Goldfarb was/is employed by Boris Berezovsky. Goldfarb admits to this relationship at the beginning of the book. Whether it is possible to trust all of the information in Death of a Dissident is something worth asking oneself.

DREPT I LONDON:  Alexander Litvinenko døde etter å ha fått en dødelig dose polonium-210 i kroppen.Alexander before poisoning

In 2000 Litvinenko decided that it was time that he and Marina ran from it before he was arrested once more. After the claims against the FSB leadership, it had become unsafe for him to stay in Russia. With the help of Boris Berezovsky and Alex Goldfarb they left and finally arrived in the UK.

During their drive across Turkey, Alex Goldfarb felt he got to know Sasja. His life had not been a dance on roses and Sasja felt that Marina was the one who ultimately saved him.

Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko was born in 1962 (so a year younger than my brother) in Russia. His route of service went from the Internal Troops of the Minstry of Internal Affairs to the Dzerzhinsky Division of the Soviet Minstry of Internal Affairs. From there he entered the KGB and finally the FSB. He had lived a long life of service to the system and it could not have been easy for him to betray that system.

Before marrying Marina, Litvinenko had been married to Nataliya. Together they had a son and a daughter. In 1994 they would divorce.

Litvinenko’s meeting with Boris Berezovsky changes Sasja’s life Even though he know how much Boris likes money, and that the ends justify his means, Alex sticks with him through thick and thin. This relationship is part of what brings so much trouble into Sasja’s life. When the system wishes to charge Boris with crimes, Alexander’s loyalty to the state gets challenged.

Along with all of the bad military experiences Sasja has in the Chechenian was, experiences with poorly equipped soldiers being asked to do impossible things, Alex is also influenced by the shifting power in the FSB. Deniability was becoming increasingly difficult. When Sasja was arrested after becoming a whistleblower (along with several others) his life in Russia becomes untenable and escape becomes a real option for him and Marina.

Once they get to London, Alexander Litvinenko begins telling his tale of power struggles in Russia – depicting Putin as Mr. Bad while Boris is often the alleged victim. When he is poisoned, one of the claims is that Putin is behind the poisoning.

How much of this book that is truth and how much of it that is fiction is difficult for me to say. Putin is indisputably a bad boy in a country where rules and regulations seem to have taken a vacation. This is a country where survival of the strongest and most brutal is a reality. It is a fascinating story of one man’s journey (along with all of the people around) and well worth reading.

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