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March 26, 2014 3:57 pm

Jewish Canadian Parliamentarian Says He Was Poisoned by Russia in 2006

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Canadian MP and former justice minister Irwin Cotler. Photo: Irwin Cotler.

Irwin Cotler, a Jewish member of Canada’s parliament and the country’s former justice minister, said he became violently ill under strange circumstances during a 2006 visit to Russia, and learned later that his symptoms were the same as Soviet defector Alexander Litvinenko, who died from poisoning by polonium-210, according to Huffington Post Canada on Wednesday.

On Monday, Russia imposed a travel ban on him and 12 other Canadians in response to Canada and the U.S. imposing travel bans on members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s entourage following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region in the Ukraine. Cotler said he was proud to be on the Russian blacklist.

“I wear my exclusion from Russia as a badge of honor and am proud to be in such distinguished company,” Cotler said in a statement. “I have no intention of visiting Siberia. I have no investments in Sochi. I have no desire to visit Moscow and be poisoned as happened on my last trip.”

Huffington Post Canada followed up to learn the long story behind the non-lethal, though painful, poisoning, which Cotler learned was a Russian tactic that had also been tried on a Yale Law School classmate “who became a president of the European Court of Human Rights that he too was poisoned around the same time in Russia. So it didn’t appear to be coincidental.”

Cotler said that, in 2010, during the Intra-Parliamentary Conference to combat anti-Semitism, he was speaking with the Russian Embassy, in Ottawa, when he was asked, “‘Why don’t you come visit us in Russia?'”

“And I said, ‘You know, the last time when I was there, I was poisoned.’ And then, just like that, the answer was, ‘We’re sorry. That was a mistake, it won’t happen again,'” Cotler recalled in the interview.

“So I haven’t been back since then, but now I guess they made it official that I am banned from returning. But it is not the first time — I was arrested and expelled in 1979. I was banned at that time for defending political prisoners in the Soviet Union whom they accused of consorting with criminal elements in the Soviet Union and named them, like the great Andrei Sakharov, the human rights dissident.”

“Now I suspect, it has nothing to do with the Ukraine but probably because I tabled a Private Member’s Bill regarding Sergei Magnitsky.”

Magnitsky was a Moscow accountant and auditor who uncovered a corruption scheme and testified against several senior Russian officials, for which he was imprisoned and died in jail in 2009, aged 37. Cotler chairs an intra-parliamentary group on Magnitsky, and he says that is like a “red flag” to Russia.

“My sense is that’s probably the retaliatory reason in my case,” Cotler said.

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  • Jim

    Its good to know that Minister Cotler is there for the political prisoners in Russia. But why doesn’t Mr. Cotler speak out against the his own government for harboring nazi war criminals and yes, there are many still alive in Canada living a good life after participating in the killing of Jews during WWII. When Mr. Cotler was Justice Minister, his war crimes unit prosecuted only a handful of Jew murderers and the thousand or two who were investigated were never prosecuted and brought to justice. The innocent Jews of Lithuania/Latvia/Ukraine are entitled to see that their murderers who are still alive in Manitoba. Alberta and Ontario will be publicly arrested and brought to trial no matter how old they are now. Any comments, Mr Cotler?

  • Dov Meir

    Take in account that Russia was right anexing Crime. Ut was belonging to Russia and the Ukraine leader of SSSR tore it from Russia

  • ‘We’re sorry. That was a mistake, it won’t happen again,'” –
    must be understood so that the poisoning was an attempt, but will not happen again?

  • Paul Cerar

    Perhaps this is all part of the larger, long-term plan of the Soviet, I mean the Russian Empire’s goal for control of the Mediterranean Sea.

    Canada’s intelligence agencies should continue to keep an eye on the Cold War Canadian pro-Soviet “peace” activists, in case they are now collaborating with Russia – once a traitor, always a traitor!

    We should also examine if Canada’s Jew-hatred movement is secretly receiving Russian aid.

  • My Planet Israel

    There is no two ways about it: trusting any Russian govt is like trusting a sociopath with WMD’s. They have a long, long history of dirty doings and there’s nothing on the horizon to show any change. Perhaps by 2020 when ethnic Russians are a minority in their own country, there will be some headway mad against their snake-like, thuggish ways. But then again, it’s Russia so perhaps…NOT.

    • zeynep

      My planet Israel, you obviously don’t have much of an idea about the planet. For your first two sentences, a vast majority of the sober world today would apply to another national-political entity which you seem to have appointed as your eternal guardian ‘angel’.

      I am wondering if any coercion had been exercised to bring about this fatal ’embrace’? If yes, who coerced who, why and how? But in any case, don’t ever delude yourself to think that a clenched-teeth convenience marriage can last forever. If on the other hand, this is a ‘heart-felt’ voluntary coupling on your part, then the darkness reigning in planet Israel (and by extension in the whole planet)is deeper than anybody can possibly imagine.

      • Lynne T

        No doubt Zeynep’s “sane world” includes Syria where the death toll stands at about 140,000, and Iran, both ruled by tyrannical regimes that are clients/entities protected by Putin for assorted reasons.

        • zeynep

          Lynne T, you obviously are totally oblivious to the tyranny under the pretense of ‘freedom’, the very tyranny which creates the conditions for human tragedies such as those you mention in your not so relevant comment.

  • Sammy Eppel

    Dear Dr.Cotler, now that you mentioned Magnitsky, please don’t forget the growing list of political prisioners in Venezuela. And as long as you are in Putin’s black list, you are probably also in Maduro’s list…..Venezuela holds the world record for black lists, they have one with over 4 million names of the ones that exercise their constitutional right to sign for a referendum to recall Chavez….