A Russian talk-show host has released a video recorded in 1998 outside Moscow that shows three Russian security agents describing how their bosses had ordered them to kill, kidnap and frame prominent Russians.
On the video, seen by Western journalists, the Federal Security Service officers, including the late Alexander Litvinenko, said the video was only to be released if something happened to one of them.
Spy-turned-Kremlin critic Litvinenko is now dead, poisoned late last year in London with the radioactive isotope Polonium-210. British authorities announced Tuesday they are seeking to extradite another ex-Russian agent, Andrei Lugovoi, for the murder.
Lugovoi told journalists in Russia Wednesday that he did not poison Litvinenko. He did not say whether he would voluntarily go to Britain to stand trial. He has said the case is politically motivated.
In Washington Wednesday, the former head of KGB operations in the United States, retired General Oleg Kalugin, said he has no doubt that Litvinenko was killed on orders of the Kremlin. He told the Cable News network he could name a half-dozen cases where dissidents have been killed on Kremlin orders. The general, who lives in exile in the United States, also says he believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin was "not unaware" of Kremlin involvement in the poisoning. In a deathbed statement in November, Litvinenko also accused the president of ordering his poisoning. Both the Kremlin and the president have denied involvement.
In the 1998 video, Litvinenko told Russian journalist and talk show host Sergei Dorenko, of the then independent ORT television network "if these people are not stopped, lawlessness will flood the country." All three agents are seen voicing regret at the illegal violence they said had come to permeate the spy agency.
Litvinenko is also seen warning that the unchecked lawlessness would be worse than 1937, when Soviet leader Josef Stalin launched a series of purges known today as the "great terror." Another man in the tape identifies himself as Alexander Gusak, Litvinenko's immediate superior. Gusak says there was talk of the spy agency kidnapping a wealthy Chechen businessman, Umar Dzhabrailov.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.