MADELEINE BRAND, host:
This DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.
ALEX COHEN, host:
And I'm Alex Cohen.
And now to the case of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy who was poisoned in London. A video made public this week shows him and two other Russian agents saying they were afraid they might be killed by their superiors for not carrying out a kidnapping.
BRAND: The video was made nearly a decade ago as insurance, and it starred Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium last fall in London. Another Russian, Andrei Lugovoi, has been charged with murder, and Britain is trying to extradite him from Russia.
Journalist Sergei Dorenko knew both men. In fact, he was there the night the video was made. You can see him sitting next to Alexander Litvinenko. And Sergei Dorenko joins me now from Moscow. Welcome to the program.
Mr. SERGEI DORENKO (Journalist): Thank you.
BRAND: Well, tell me what was going on when Litvinenko and the two others made this video, and why were you there?
Mr. DORENKO: They called me very late, at 1:00 a.m. probably. And Litvinenko called me and invited me to meet him urgently. Well, at this time I said you have to have some important thing. Yes. They was prepared to go at 9:00 o'clock in the morning to meet director of (unintelligible) secret service, and they said to me probably we will not come back to our homes. If we disappear, one of our wives will call you, and please broadcast this tape if we disappear. If not, please do nothing.
Well, they talked more than two hours about some problems they had with their chiefs. First problem with the operation. They prepared the operation to kidnap a famous Chechen, ethnic Chechen businessman living in Moscow for - to sell him to his parents for $2 million. And with this money, use this money to buy from Chechen separatists to FSB officers.
BRAND: Who were kidnapped by the Chechens?
Mr. DORENKO: Yes. Yes. Yes. So they prepared all the operation, but finally the bodyguards of this Chechen businessman was a policeman out of service but policemans. And they said we can't kill our friends. Litvinenko and Gusak and Ponkin, everybody of them said we can't kill Russian policeman. No doubts to kill Chechens, but not Russians. And they gone to speak to his general, and general said I will never give you written order. They asked for written order to kill persons when they kidnap this businessman. And no written order, so they wanted to speak to the director of secret service.
First. Second, Litvinenko said the chief, the general, asked him to kill Berezovsky.
BRAND: This is the oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, who now lives in London.
Mr. DORENKO: A businessman, famous businessman who was playing a big role in politics too. With this kind of businessman, we call them in certain '90s oligarchs. Well, so the general said you will kill him because they are competitors to illegal business of our generals. So they was used in illegal war between gangs. One of the gang, they supposed, was their general's gang. This is why they said we don't like this because we're honest officers and as officers we never will be a part of gang.
These three principal questions they wanted to discuss with the director. But they told me probably we will disappear after this meeting because it will be great scandal in our generals, our immediate chiefs, our (unintelligible).
BRAND: Well, their fears weren't founded. They weren't disappeared. Were you able, as a journalist, to confirm any of the things that they were saying?
Mr. DORENKO: Well, you know, I never had a confirmation from other persons, but - the only confirmation, I was expelled from my job. This was the only confirmation.
BRAND: I see. You lost your job.
Mr. DORENKO: Yes. I consider it as a confirmation it is true.
BRAND: A confirmation in Russia.
Mr. DORENKO: Yes.
BRAND: Well, okay, so this is now - the entire tape is being broadcast now or has been given to reporters now. Now that the inquiry is going on into Litvinenko's death by poisoning, do you think that it sheds any light onto his murder last fall?
Mr. DORENKO: Well, I think it was one of the episodes of his disagreement with the chiefs. But he had a lot of more. Later, he investigated explosions of homes in Moscow, Russian capital. In 1999 he was participant in this investigation and he accused secret services of preparation of these explosions, explosions which helped Mr. President Putin to come to power.
BRAND: And you also knew Andrei Lugovoi, who is accused by the British of killing Litvinenko by poisoning.
Mr. DORENKO: Yes. I knew him because he worked on first channel, on channel one on Russian television, and I was an anchorman there.
BRAND: Well, do you believe he killed Litvinenko?
Mr. DORENKO: You know, I'm not a person to have a judge of it, but I think the state, the government, is playing big role, because the material, polonium 210, is very difficult to be bought in a normal shop.
BRAND: Are you investigating this as a journalist there in Moscow or is it too touchy?
Mr. DORENKO: Very limited now. In Moscow I'm very limited in investigation of this kind because here the law doesn't permit any operative private activity. It's prohibited for us, you know? If I even try to do it, it will be conflict, and serious conflict with secret services in Russia. And with my situation, when I have a lot of conflicts with them, even more now with this tape broadcasted all around the world, I do not try to investigate because - well, I will not reach any result, I know, and it will be extremely conflictive and dangerous.
BRAND: Sergei Dorenko, a reporter for the independent radio Ekho of Moscow. Sergei Dorenko, thank you for joining us.
Mr. DORENKO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
A videotape has surfaced of Alexander Litvinenko, the one-time KGB officer turned Russian dissident who was killed with a radioactive poison last year, and two colleagues telling Russian journalist Sergei Dorenko in 1998 that they feared for their lives.
The dark story of Alexander Litvinenko, the one-time KGB officer turned Russian dissident who was killed with a radioactive poison in London last year, gets darker.
A 1998 videotape has surfaced of Litvinenko and two colleagues at the Federal Security Service telling Russian journalist Sergei Dorenko that they feared for their lives because they were ordered to perform crimes and abuse power.
Dorenko talks to Madeleine Brand.