tv Dateline MSNBC August 15, 2021 2:00am-3:00am PDT
because i know that she would it meant to her. the piece in her heart of being able to live there. i wouldn't have wanted her to miss that. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline", i'm natalie morales, thanks for watching. >> i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. this is dateline >> he said quote, he's got me. >> he was once a kgb agent that turned into a vocal critic of russia,. when he was poisoned in london, it made headlines around the world. >> a lethal toxin in a cup of tea. >> it was a tiny little dirty bomb. >> it's nuclear terrorism. >> why was he? kilter unravel the mystery, we follow the tale of a dark conspiracy. >> are you frightened for your life? >> will me and confront the pain prime suspect. >> did you put polonium in the
tea? >> and now, is a danger coming closer? >> we're two men may think waiting in the bushes. one man said shooting. >> an attack on the expert helping us with this story. >> people say it's never going to happen here. i know that can happen here, because it happened to my husband. >>, "dateline". alexander litvinenko former russian agent jim alexander litvinenko was a four critic of the russian government. -- but it could make a very rich man or a dead mat one. his murder set off an international investigation to discover who wanted in silence. here's richard engel with "spy games". >> a former russian agent, poisoned. a multi millionaire found dead in his bathroom. an investigative reporter,
executed in front of her home. their lives had been interconnected. but what about their deaths? random acts? or as some suspect, part of an international murder conspiracy. that stretches across two continents and several world capitals. we'll investigate who wanted them dead and why. the case will take us from moscow two rome, two london, into a world of spies and spy catchers. of corruption and those who dare to expose it. a world in which murder happens, often. was there a hit list in my? >> sure that there was. >> but our story begins closer to home. on a late, winter evening, paul
joyal, an intelligence analysts, was driving to his house just outside washington d.c.. it was quiet and dark. >> i got out of my car. there were two men waiting in the bushes. they jumped me. one man i fought with. and we ended up on the ground in a tussle. and this one man said to someone outside i didn't see, shoot him. so, i covered my heart with my arms and i turn to the side. and i was shot went through me. >> one shot? >> one shot and then i heard the click -- >> another? click >> right, and nothing happened. >> so your shot once, rolling to protect yourself. >> i hear a chamber to clear it. the gun jumped. at that point in time, the lights went on in my house. joyal's wife elizabeth heard the commotion. >> all of a sudden i hear a shot and that just flipped me
up. i knew it was a gunshot. i knew it was a gunshot and i knew it was close. >> she opened the door and saw her husband. >> he's wearing a raincoat, a suit, a hat. and he's doubled over and you can see that he is in pain. he looks at me and says, i've been shot. >> the assailants had four out fled. elizabeth got joyal inside and called 9-1-1. >> as soon as that 9-1-1 call was done, i asked my son to lift my legs up. because i wanted to make sure that the blood was stays in the body >> you don't lose consciousness. >> elizabeth is a registered nurse. her training kicked in. >> there was no signs of external bleeding at that point. so, that kind of freaked me out, to. as a nurse, i know if it's not bleeding on the outside it's bleeding on the inside. >> an ambulance arrived and rushed joyal to the hospital. the nine millimeter bullet had
torn through his bladder and intestines. they had to place him in a drug induced coma to see if his life. he was unconscious for a month. local law enforcement initially assumed the shooting was a botched robbery. but elizabeth joyal believed otherwise. >> i didn't want to seem like this crazy conspiracy theory woman. but i knew that it was not a carjacking. there's just no way. that it was just some random guy. it had to have been a planned attack. >> because nothing was stolen. the assailants had clearly been lying in wait. which is why when joyal came stumbling into the house with a bullet wound, he told his wife to call his business partner. a former russian spy master. >> i warned him, i was shot. >> so, if you're warning your
russian business partner that you've been shot. you clearly didn't think the this was a botched robbery or car jacking? you thought this was related to your work? related to your russian connections? >> i don't think there's any doubt. >> someone had tried to kill him, just like the other guy in london. >> the other guy? a former kgb agent and friend of joyal's killed three months earlier in london. assassinated with a weapon so frightening and exotic, investigators almost missed it. a weapon that raise the specter of state sponsored murder. >> coming up -- we trace the steps of a mysterious attack from bus to barr, to deathbed. he >> was going through unspeakable torment. >> when "dateline" continues.
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just a few months before joyal was shot. he was >> he was a law enforcement officer. work for the equivalent of the fbi. >> in counter terrorism? >> anti-corruption was what he was most interested in. >> his name was alexander litvinenko. sasha, to his friends. but his interest in fighting corruption had made him a lot of enemies. including in his own agency, the kgb, which was renamed the fsb. litvinenko was forced to flee russia with his wife and son. and seek asylum in london, where he quickly caught the attention of agents of the british intelligence service mi6. trenear - harvey was a former mi6 mi6 analyst -- the british wanted to for a find out what he knew about his former colleagues in the
russian secret service. was he credible? >> oh, yes he. was >> credible enough that mi6 eventually began paying him a monthly salary. trading information for money was one-way for a former russian agent to make a living and his new home in london. then suddenly, in 2006, litvinenko who had always been fit and healthy, got very sick. >> it was just incredibly strong and heavy sickness. just suddenly and not stopping. >> litvinenko wife marina marie watch him weak waste away in just a matter of days. >> oh, it was awful. his here started to -- >> to fall out? >> yes, and he started to look like cancer patient treated by chemotherapy.
>> i knew he was going through unspeakable torment. >> finally, they found in his blood. he might have been poisoned. >> why isn't. doctor suspected maybe he had ingested thallium. commonly found in rat poison and treatable with and antidote. >> finally. finally, we know what happened to sasha. and now we are all under control and he will be safe. >> but it wasn't under control. the antidote didn't work. did litvinenko it get better. he got worse. before long, even close friends like andrei nekrasov could barely recognize him. >> at possum point i said to myself, why should this be happening to this young, healthy, and some, athletic man?
what is going on? >> he's fighting for his life. >> a fight litvinenko would lose. >> we're sorry to announce that alexander litvinenko died at university college hospital at 9:21 on the 23rd of november, 2006. >> but in the days just before his death, litvinenko did something remarkable. he knew he was dying and decided to help scotland yard detective solve his murder. he gave them a series of deathbed interviews. the transcripts provide a remarkably detailed account of his movements on that day he was poisoned. litvinenko's i can't start at aa 10 am when he received a phone call from an italian contact, mario scaramella, who just arrived in london, and insisted he needed to meet litvinenko immediately. he said he had urgent news. they agreed to meet that afternoon. at 3:10 pm, litvinenko and
scaramella, were spotted on a security camera walking west on the street. they came to this sushi restaurant, where litvinenko ate lunch. scaramella said he wasn't hungry. litvinenko and scaramella parted ways after lunch, and at 3:48 pm litvinenko is caught on another security camera talking on his cell phone. litvinenko then walked about a mile to the millennium hotel, which is literally right across the street from the u.s. embassy. it's that modern looking building over there. this is one of the most secure neighborhoods in all of london. one of the hotel security cameras recorded litvinenko arriving in the lobby at 3:59 pm. he was there to meet andrei lugovoi, another former fsb agent. seen here wearing a black, leather jacket. lugovoi had his own security consulting firm. he and litvinenko have been talking about doing some
business together in london. the two had met several times over the past year. this time, lugovoi brought along a buddy. a man name dmitry kovtun. he's the one in the black turtleneck. it was a quick meeting. litvinenko drink just half a cup of tea then left. around 5 pm, he caught a ride home. that night, he fell ill. and three weeks later, he was said. so, who slipped litvinenko poison that day? putting his murder into motion. litvinenko told scotland yard detectives before he died, he didn't know when or who had poisoned him. but he had no doubt that one or more of the man he had met that day, the two russians or the italian, was his killer. naturally, we wanted to talk to all three. >> coming up -- we track down the first suspect litvinenko named.
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former russian agent, the man friends called sasha, died without knowing what killed him. the results from a battery of tests came into late. that they did come in. it turned out he was killed by something far more lethal than common rat poison. >> it's polonium. >> polonium 210, to be exact. a rare and deadly radioactive isotopes. the news shop the world even though most people were exactly sure what polonium was. but paul joyal knew what it was
and what it could do. that his friend effectively burned to death from redo activity. >> it's a horrible death. it's a gruesome death. he lived longer than any man normally would under those circumstances. and he lived just long enough, within 12 hours long enough, for them to finally determine that it was polonium versus something else. >> why if he had died 12 hours earlier would it had made any difference? >> because they wouldn't have found out. they would've marked the death certificate, as death unknown. he would've been put in the ground. it would've been just a mystery. unknown assailants. turn a page. move on. >> it's a key of this murder. polonium 210 was discovered. and now we exactly know what sasha was killed by. >> it's an almost perfect murder weapon. polonium has no smell, little
taste, and without specialized equipment, it's undetectable. the amount that killed litvinenko slipped into something he ate or drank, was no larger than a green assault. that still 1000 times the lethal dose. and that tiny bit of polonium would've been enormously expensive. >> eight to $12 million to be able to get the portion that went into him. >> the who could get hold of such an expensive and exotic weapon. and how did they deliver the fatal dose? when detectives went step-by-step with litvinenko through the day he was poisoned, he named three potential suspects. the two russians and the italian. the first one we found was the italian. in rome we're on our way to see mario scaramella who hopefully can shed some more light on who killed alexander litvinenko, and why. scaramella has been a hard man to pin doubt. first he wanted to meet us in
naples, then new york, then london he. finally agreed on rome and will have to find out why he has been so skittish. >> [speaking italian] >> how to describe scaramella? he's a lawyer. an academic. a security analyst. and also someone litvinenko never completely trusted. scaramella, you'll remember, is the contact litvinenko met at the sushi bar on the way day he was. poison >> litvinenko thought you poisoned him. >> yes. >> you didn't poison? him >> absolutely not. >> from his perspective, it does make sense. >> no, sure. everything is very strange. >> had scaramella been working for the italian government and sometimes used litvinenko as a source for investigations into the russian mob and spy rings. he was giving you names of russian mafia members? >> yes. >> you are connected to the intelligence service? >> exactly. >> something that was short to
upset both the mobsters and the fsb. scaramella told us that in october, 2006, the month before litvinenko was poisoned, he began receiving frightening emails. the final message arrived on the very day of his last meeting with litvinenko. and what did that message? >> look, there are people ready to kill you. >> the emails amounted to a hit list. the next name up -- >> alexander. >> as in, litvinenko. scaramella says that's why he met with litvinenko in london. to tell him about the hit list. to warn him. but he says litvinenko didn't buy it. >> he said, mario, don't care about that -- >> he says it's b.s.? >> i think it's just a provocation. but please check on. >> but after what happened to litvinenko, scaramella says he takes the hit list seriously. are you frightened for your life? >> well do you have another
question? [laughs] >> scotland yard questioned scaramella and eventually cleared him. why? because if you're looking for it, polonium is traceable. using specialized equipment, investigators were able to track it in people and in places. >> once polonium 210 had been identified, then across europe, like the slim from a slug all the way across, polonium was popping up everywhere. >> but not in scaramella. no polonium in his body or anywhere he had been. so, scotland yard took a hard look at the two russians, lugovoi and kovtun. when detectives retrace their steps, they found polonium contamination everywhere. >> we see the same fingerprints of the polonium in multiple places where they were. >> business offices.
hotels. a hookah bar, a strip club, a soccer stadium, and the millennium hotel's pine bar were they last met litvinenko. that's where investigators hit the jackpot. these 3d graphics put together by scotland yard show the entire pine bar was contaminated with polonium. with extreme hotspots on a table and cheer. and the levels found inside this teapot, off the charts. paul joyal wonders how many people were unwittingly expos. >> do we know ultimately what the final cost of this use of polonium is? someone who is washing dishes in the pine bar, or in a hotel cleaning crew? >> five months after's death, scotland yard issued an arrest warrant for lugovoi. kovtun would come later. the two responded with a press conference in moscow, stating their innocence. >> [speaking russian] . >> russia refused to extradite
them. so we travel to moscow to find the men who were wanted in connection with litvinenko's murder. >> coming up -- the stakes get even higher as we confront the top russian official. when "dateline" continues. s. collisions] [tires squealing] just think, he'll be driving for real soon. every new chevy equinox comes standard with chevy safety assist including automatic emergency braking. okay people. oh yeah. let us begin. people!!! less with the puns. more about the moms. they want healthy, affordable options. moms want to save that dough. hold onto that green.
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largest aftershocks after 7.2 quake struck the island, saturday morning. according to the u.s. geological service. more than 300 people have been reported dead. and this morning, members of congress will receive and classified briefings from the white house on the situation in afghanistan. this comes after president biden authorize 5000 troops saturdays to afghanistan. the taliban has taken over multiple provincial states. now back to dateline.
multiple provincial st>> in the, we arrived in moscow, in effort to find out not only who killed former russian agent alexander litvinenko, but why. this is home to andrei lugovoi and dmitry kovtun. hunted by both scotland yard and interpol, suspected of killing litvinenko. around the world, they were villains in a tale of international intrigue and murder. yet here in russia, we found plenty of people who thought if the two did kill litvinenko, he probably had it come in coming. >> thank you very much for talking to us. >> in the duma, russia's parliament, the pugnacious leader of the ultra nationalist party has nothing but disdain for litvinenko. >> who needs this little petty
person? he was just a piece of rubbish. >> vladimir zhirinovsky told us that here in russia, litvinenko made plenty of enemies. going back years. back in the 1990s, russia was in chaos after the collapse of the soviet union. it was a time when enormous fortunes were created and outrageous crimes committed, sometimes by the very people sent to investigate them. back then, alexander litvinenko was a young fsb agent who claimed to be disturbed by what he saw. >> litvinenko specialized in organized crime investigations, but became obsessed with what he believed to be corruption within the fsb. crimes committed by the cops. he compiled a dossier, complete with flow charts, detailing his allegations. and presented it personally to the head of the agency. and the result was? >> opposite. >> surveillance on your family? >> exactly. >> and a rage litvinenko did
now do the unthinkable. he led a nationally televised press conference. a group of agents, several of them in disguise, claiming the fsb had become corrupted by russian mafia money. litvinenko even claimed he had been ordered to assassinate a prominent billionaire, boris berezovsky. but instead, warned him that his life was in danger. >> the essential motivation of this very simple man was his feeling that his country was being betrayed by the leadership. >> he believed he didn't do anything wrong. he was a good officer. >> he didn't think it would get him in trouble? >> he said, they will kill me or they will arrest me. >> he was jailed for nine months. but that billionaire he had warned, berezovsky, bailed him out. and helped litvinenko and his family flee to london. there, litvinenko kept up the
drumbeat of criticism against the russian government. he even wrote a book accusing the fsb of starting a war in chechnya. for political reasons. in response, russia branded litvinenko a traitor. his image used for target practice by russian special forces. this wasn't just symbolism. in march, 2006, eight months before litvinenko's murder, the russian parliament passed a law authorizing the liquidation of enemies of the state, anywhere in the world. >> they don't pass that just for the sake of passing it. you have to have somebody in mind. >> seven months after the law was passed, someone was liquidated. a prominent russian journalist shot in the head outside her moscow apartment. she was a friend of litvinenko. three weeks later, litvinenko himself was poisoned with polonium 210.
duma leader, zhirinovsky, certainly did shed any tears when that happened but last off the notion that the russian state with connected in any way. fourth one simple reason. he thinks russian agents would have done a better job. >> and surprised that the uk special services and the uk court accuses russia that with a bag of polonium they came to london and we're just throwing it around. >> it just doesn't make sense to a lot of people that russia didn't kill him. >> for 100 years, the russian special services have been using that kind of substances for killing people that you never will be able to recognize. why do we have to go into some kind of bar and put it in someone's tea cup and everybody is laughing at us? i mean, the state cannot be emboldened. >> litvinenko's friend paul joyal, who believes he was a target of a botched assassination, agrees that in some ways, litvinenko's killers were indeed clumsy and careless.
but he says, that's because they were probably just pawns in a much bigger game. >> you think that any of them do you want that substance was? you think that they knew that they were giving him polonium? >> why wouldn't they have known their handling. >> because you don't want them to know? >> but they could've done a better job of not spreading it over the case. >> if they knew, they also might see no. there's no way i'm going to do that. >> i don't want to handle this radio active -- >> i'm not going to kill myself in the process. >> to get closer to the truth about who killed litvinenko, we had to talk to the suspects themselves. andrei lugovoi and dmitry kovtun. in kovtun's case, it was an easy. a few weeks after litvinenko died of polonium poisoning, kovtun was hospitalized and lost all his here. he hasn't been seen publicly since 2012. that left lugovoi. when we got here, he didn't want to speak to us. but on the second day of our trip, he called and said he was
ready to talk. >> coming up -- we ask the question the world wants answered. >> did you put polonium in the tea? >> when "dateline" continues. yardwork... teamwork... long walks.... that's how you du more, with dupixent, which helps prevent asthma attacks. dupixent is not for sudden breathing problems. it's an add-on-treatment for specific types of moderate-to-severe asthma that can improve lung function for better breathing in as little as two weeks. and can reduce, or even eliminate, oral steroids. and here's something important. dupixent can cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. get help right away if you have rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, tingling or numbness in your limbs. tell your doctor if you have a parasitic infection,
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one of the men scotland yard believes conspire to poison former agent alexander litvinenko. we've been negotiating an interview for weeks. he agreed, then backed out, then finally, sat down with us. what did you think of litvinenko? were you friendly. would you consider yourself france? >> i have always said that we have never been friends. he was a very complicated person. slightly crazy, i would say. he was given to conspiracy theories. to blowing things up out of all proportions. >> he and litvinenko both used to work for the fsb. both had served time in jail. it was a bond between them. had lugovoi done very well in business after that and open a security consulting firm. he says he and litvinenko met
several times in london to discuss doing business there together. including that now infamous meeting in the pine bar, were scotland yard says litvinenko was poisoned. lugovoi says the meeting was no big deal. so what do you remember about sitting there at the table? >> i remember that we talked with litvinenko about nothing in particular. and now for eight years, i am under suspicion. >> your under suspicion because the investigation says there was polonium in that tea pot. did you put any polonium in the tea? >> of course not. i was tested for polonium and i tested positive. did i put polonium into myself? am i an idiot? am i crazy? >> but scotland yard's detectives don't believe lugovoi's denials. in fact, they think he tried to kill litvinenko more than once. that's because they found polonium on the table in a
conference room where he and litvinenko had met two weeks before the pine bar encounter. was anything spilled on the table? >> richard. you're asking questions. i remember some things. i don't remember other things. i cannot answer these questions because these can be used against me in a court, which is done frequently. >> as for his last meeting with litvinenko at the pine bar, lugovoi says there is no way he bought polonium on that trip because his wife and children were with him. >> a persons we can spot is his family. and i'm a rational man. even if i had taken part in an operation, even if i had known what was in a container, would i take my family along? i'm a rational man. i couldn't do it. >> not only did he continue to maintain his innocence, he offered his own theory about who poisoned the teeth. could someone have put something in there without you noticing?
>> no. why don't you think the polonium may have been put there into the cup after our meeting, the next day. or by a guy from mi6? he brings the polonium and pours it into the cup. that's agatha christie stuff. >> mi6 is british intelligence. lugovoi says perhaps the brits killed litvinenko to embarrass russia. retired mi6 analyst trenear - harvey says that's nonsense. if for no other reason because mi6 would never use such an expensive weapon to kill anyone. >> if the british wanted to kill him, they were he would've followed out of the hotel room. he would've been place in front of a car. we wouldn't we would've spell $12 million in a slightly more cost-effective fashion. >> you would've made it look like an accident? >> indeed. things are done less extensively, more cost effectively. the old fashion bullets and bodies, work rather effectively, quite cheaply. >> why not to shoot him?
>> i didn't say they would've then. could possibly. we can do that sort of. thing >> also remember, litvinenko was working for mi6. and it was lugovoi at his partner dmitry kovtun who left a radioactive trail all over london. especially at the pine bar. lugovoi is hardly hiding here in russia. he did our interview in one of the restaurants that he owns. he's a member of parliament. and he's even become something of a pop culture icon. hosting his own tv show. the program program, appropriately enough, called "traitors". it names and shames individuals who are supposedly enemies of the russian state. lugovoi's high profile here is just one reason that many people who suspect him of murder don't think he acted on his own. another reason, all of the polonium 210 in russia is under the control of the state. >> it's impossible to use a state controlled substance like
this without the knowledge of the very top of the country. >> because you're unleashing a radioactive substance? it's almost a tiny little dirty bomb. >> it's nuclear terrorism. >> of all his enemies, litvinenko may have infuriated one more than any other. coming up -- >> i have said that this is a very dangerous thing to do because your personalizing this. >> when "dateline" continues. how i feel ♪ ♪ breeze drifting on by you know how i feel ♪ [man: coughing] ♪ it's a new dawn, it's a new day... ♪ no matter how you got copd it's time to make a stand. ♪ ...and i'm feelin' good ♪ start a new day with trelegy. no once-daily copd medicine has the power to treat copd in as many ways as trelegy. with three medicines in one inhaler, trelegy helps people breathe easier
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hastily arranged meetings with another man who is convinced his life is in danger. akhmed zakayev is a wanted man in russia. a rebel leader from the breakaway chechen republic and a close friend of the former kgb agent, may alexander litvinenko, who he says give him an important piece of advice. never trust old friends. >> he said, some will will come from your past. but you shouldn't trust him. because he will be your killer. >> sasha told you? that >> sasha told me. >> which maybe what happened to litvinenko. after all, andrei lugovoi was a person from his past. but as we've seen, there were a
number of people in litvinenko 's past who may have wanted him dead. the fsb colleagues he denounced. the russian mobsters he was investigating. perhaps someone who thought he was a traitor for working with british intelligence. for years now, litvinenko widow, marina, has been asking how big was a conspiracy? who was behind it? how high did it go? dangerous questions that she knows better than anyone? >> you think you play chess, but they play russian roulette. >> those who were closest to litvinenko believe the kill order may have come from the very top. because litvinenko picked a fight with the wrong person from his past. none other than russian president, vladimir putin. >> sasha was on a mission. he was trying to prove that is that putin is as corrupt as anybody. >> the mission may have started
years before when litvinenko made that flow chart of corruption in the fsb. the head of the agency at the time was putin. after litvinenko fled to london, and putin became president of russia, litvinenko attacked him, relentlessly. and by name. >> i and others said that this is a very dangerous thing to do because your personalizing this. >> you told him that? >> yes. >> but marina and others believe that the ultimate motive may not have been personal at all. rather it was all about money. we learned that in 2005 and 2006, litvinenko made multiple visits to spain, helping prosecutors take down a major organized crime ring. one that litvinenko publicly claimed had financial ties to president putin. putin's office has never responded to that allegation. anne applebaum, a pulitzer prize-winning author, an expert
on russia. >> i think that anything litvinenko was doing that came close to the source of putin's personal wealth, would have been by far the most dangerous thing that he could do. >> in addition to a possible motive, there was also the means. paul joyal says the fact that polonium was used to kill litvinenko, leaves little doubt as to who authorized the murder. >> so, does that mean it would have to be putin? it could've been someone else with access to -- ? >> come on, you're not going to engage and an active nuclear terror lower terrorism in downtown london without knowledge of the president. >> we begin the open hearings into the inquiry into the death of alexander litvinenko. >> in january, 2015, a public inquiry opened in london. it was a victory for marina, who along with her attorneys, for an eight year legal battle to make it happen. on the opening day, her attorney argued the evidence leads to one disturbing
conclusion. which litvinenko himself reach before he died. >> mr. litvinenko came to the awful awful realization that he had been the victim of a political assassination by agents of the russian state. >> an expert witness testified the polonium that killed litvinenko could only have come from russia. president putin's spokesman declined our request for an interview. and in march, 2015, putin gave lugovoi a metal. the order of merit to the fatherland, second class, for his work in the duma. you think russia will ever come clean and this will be known? >> i believe, one day we will know this. it will be very obvious for people to decide. >> and there years she's been looking for answers, other questions have multiplied, other deaths have been recorded. there was boris berezovsky, the russian oligarch litvinenko said he refused to assassinate.
another prominent critic of putin. in 2013, he was found dead in his london home. originally called a suicide, a judge said he couldn't rule out murder. >> the way he killed himself -- >> he hanged himself with a scarf? >> a scarf, in the bathroom. and the fact that his bodyguard was not there. it raises questions. >> in february, 2015, another putin critic, boris nemtsov, was gunned down in the shadow of the kremlin. the victim was about to lead a major rally against putin. it went on without him. five chechnya nationals were arrested and put on trial. they have denied denied involvement in the murders. >> nemtsov's party colleague, vladimir kara - murza suspected putin loyalists were behind the assassination. >> people should not be killed for their political activity, because they happen to disagree with the government.
the leader of the russian opposition, boris nemtsov was killed, gunned down, because he opposed the putin regime. for no other reason. >> putin's office has denied involvement in nemtsov's killing. less than three months after nemtsov's murder, kara - murza himself became the target of an assassination attempt. in may 2015, kara - murza suddenly became violently ill. what was initially thought to be heart problems turned out to be poison. kara - murza recovered. but in 2017, he was poisoned again. >> i woke up because my heart was racing. my heart because just getting faster and faster and faster. >> you will cut to this? feeling >> yeah. >> i don't think there are words to describe this. to describe how you feel when you're trying to breathe and you cannot. when you just slowly feel your whole body just giving up.
>> this time, he barely escaped with his life and spent almost two weeks in a medically induced coma. he has never found out how he was poisoned. who do you think was responsible? >> i can only presume that this is -- this was done by people with at least, with connections to the russian special services. >> the kremlin has denied any involvement in kara - murza's poisoning. since the 2016 u.s. presidential election, a number of russian diplomats and operatives have been killed or died under mysterious circumstances around the world. in march, 2017, the u.s. senate held hearings on russian involvement in the election. >> the american people need to fully understand the threat that we face and what we must do to protect ourselves in the future. >> the former fbi agent clint watts was called to testify before the committee. >> follow the trail of dead
russians. there is been more dead russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation, who have assets in banks all over the world. they are dropping dead, even in western countries. >> so much of this intrigue and violence may seem very far away. that when nbc news consultant paul joyal was shot just a few miles from the capitol, he and his wife immediately thought it was a hit. a big reason? the timing. >> it's four days after of accused the president of being responsible for the horrible murder of litvinenko, on your network. >> in early 2007, joyal appeared in a dateline report on the litvinenko case. >> did putin ordering? >> did he know it. can't say that. i would find it hard to believe that this information would ever, has not filtered its way to the top. >> just four days later, he was almost murdered himself. do you think the related?
>> i don't think there's any doubt. >> people out in the general public say, oh, that's russia, it's never going to happen here. >> but i know that can happen here, to. i know that can happen here because i happen to my husband. >> there is no proof the joyal all right. but paul's assailants have never been caught. and elizabeth joyal admits at four she was angry when he agreed to be interviewed again for this program. >> i said, what are you thinking? why do you want to bring notice once again? but then when the man in russia was shot, i had kind of an epiphany. i was like, wait a minute. someone needs to talk about this. someone needs to say, this is not right. >> can i ask you an obvious question? why are you still doing this? why are you talking to me now against -- >> against the advice and counsel of my family? well, it may be foolish, but i think it's the right thing to do.
>> that's all for this edition of "dateline". i'm natalie morales. thanks for watching. ks for watching. >> breaking on msnbc. the taliban claims it now holds every major city and afghanistan leaving the capital and all the u.s. forces there surrounded. now an additional 1000 troops will make their way to cavill as the security situation to deteriorate with jaw-dropping speed. a very real possibility of a full taliban takeover eminent. >> powerful aftershock. adding to haiti's meter misery this morning. >> i saw dead bodies on the streets. the hospitals are full.