- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MOSCOW — Late one night in April 1998, three government security agents met at a guesthouse outside Moscow to make an extraordinary video in which they claimed their bosses had ordered them to kill, kidnap and frame prominent Russians.

The tape, the Federal Security Service officers said, was a kind of insurance, to be released only if something happened to one of them.

Now one of them, Alexander Litvinenko, is dead. He was poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope in London in November.

British police on Tuesday accused another ex-KGB agent, Andrei Lugovoi, in the killing. No motive was stated. Mr. Lugovoi denied involvement, saying the charge by British officials was politically motivated.

The tape, though, suggests that from the time Mr. Litvinenko first blew the whistle on his bosses almost a decade ago. He knew he was a marked man.

It captures the moment when an anguished young agent first stepped out of the shadowy world of the Russian intelligence services and, perhaps, sealed his fate.

In the video Mr. Litvinenko and his colleagues sit on couches with Russian journalist Sergei Dorenko, speaking solemnly of being appalled by the violence and immorality they see in the Federal Security Service, or FSB, an agency they were once proud to serve.

More than six months later, Mr. Litvinenko repeated many of the same startling accusations at a press conference — including that he had been ordered to kill Boris Berezovsky, one of post-Soviet Russia’s most notorious tycoons and, at the time, a Kremlin insider.

Mr. Dorenko, now a talk-show host on the independent Echo Moscow radio station, showed a few excerpts of the tape on TV in 1998 after Mr. Litvinenko’s press conference, but the full video has not been broadcast. Mr. Dorenko made the tape available to the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal.

In the tape, Mr. Litvinenko also contends he was ordered to beat up or plant a weapon on Mikhail Trepashkin, another former FSB agent who was imprisoned several years later for revealing state secrets.

The videotape appears prophetic: Mr. Trepashkin, who investigated claims the FSB was behind a series of apartment building explosions that killed about 300 people in 1999, was arrested in 2003 after police said they found a gun in his car. His attorneys said the weapon was planted.

Mr. Trepashkin was convicted of disclosing state secrets, and is now in prison.

Another man in the tape identifies himself as Alexander Gusak, Mr. Litvinenko’s direct superior, and says there was talk in the FSB of kidnapping Umar Dzhabrailov, a wealthy Chechen businessman.

On the tape, Mr. Litvinenko is casually dressed, with a full head of thick hair and an intent manner — a haunting contrast to the photos of his last days, which showed him lying in a hospital bed, bald, listless and staring into the distance.

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