RUSSIA INTELLIGENCE EXPERT
Particulars of Attack Still Baffle
Saturday, March 17, 2007
The shooting of a Russia expert outside his Prince George's County home two weeks ago remains unsolved, but sources with knowledge of the investigation said this week they are increasingly convinced that the incident is the work of ordinary criminals rather than part of a wider conspiracy.
The March 1 shooting occurred four days after Paul Joyal, 53, spoke out against Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime on Dateline NBC. Two men shot Joyal, a business consultant and Russia specialist, in the driveway of his home in Adelphi about 7:30 p.m. after he had drinks with former KGB general Oleg Kalugin, a longtime friend and former business partner, at the International Spy Museum in Northwest Washington.
The identity of the gunmen is unknown, and police say their motive is unclear. Prince George's police spokeswoman Cpl. Diane Richardson said investigators are taking Joyal's background into consideration as they sort through the evidence.
"We are aware of the rumors and the conjecture surrounding this case, and that's certainly an important part of this investigation, but we are not in a position to disclose publicly details about the case," Richardson said.
Kalugin said this week that Joyal is in stable condition and has given a partial account of what happened to family members.
"He said he was attacked by two guys. They jumped at him from the bushes around the house, and he resisted. They shot him. In a panic, they ran away," Kalugin said. "It appears to be an ordinary criminal act."
A source with knowledge of the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing confirmed that a witness heard two men accosting Joyal before he was shot. That account has investigators looking into the possibility that the incident was an attempted carjacking, the source said.
Joyal's son spoke briefly with a Washington Post reporter last week, but subsequent attempts to reach Joyal's family at his home were unsuccessful. In an interview with the Associated Press, Joyal's wife denied investigators' earlier suggestions that Joyal's wallet and briefcase had been stolen, saying both had been found.
Under ordinary circumstances, Joyal's shooting might have generated little attention. But Joyal's background in Russian issues and his connections to intelligence circles in Washington prompted extensive coverage of the shooting in Russian and U.S. media.
The mysterious death of a Russian journalist in Moscow four days after the shooting in Adelphi fueled conjecture, provoking a spate of conspiracy theories on blogs and briefly alarming even serious Kremlin watchers.
"It's a little bizarre. All these things, these contract hits, seem to be taking place in a rapid fashion," said Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
Joyal said in his Feb. 25 Dateline NBC appearance that Putin's government was responsible for the recent poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent and critic of Putin who was investigating the death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya before he was killed with a lethal dose of polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope. Russian government officials deny having anything to do with the poisoning.
Joyal, described by acquaintances as a gregarious, blunt-spoken businessman with a knack for networking, befriended Litvinenko during several visits to London. Alex Goldfarb, an acquaintance of Joyal and Litvinenko and longtime business associate of exiled Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky, said he and Joyal had recently discussed the possibility of pushing for a congressional hearing on Litvinenko's murder. In fact, he said, Joyal left a message on his cellphone on the night of the shooting referring to plans to approach his contacts in Congress.
Joyal is vice president of National Strategies, a Washington-based government consulting firm. He served as director of security for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1980 to 1989. In that job, Joyal had access to intelligence information and was diligent about safeguarding it, said his former boss, retired senator David Boren, an Oklahoma Democrat.
Boren, the longtime committee chairman, said Joyal was fascinated by the cloak-and-dagger world of the KGB and became a student of the Russian intelligence organization's structure, familiarizing himself with many of its key players in the 1980s and 1990s.
"When I was chairman, he would sometimes say, 'See that person in the fourth row, two chairs down from the right? That's so-and-so, and he's rumored to have ties to the KGB,' " said Boren, now president of the University of Oklahoma.
Sources with knowledge of Joyal's background, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said Joyal at one time worked for the U.S. Capitol Police and worked briefly as a contractor for the CIA. According to Joyal's biography on the National Strategies Web site, he once worked as a federal law enforcement officer.
A CIA spokesman said last week that the agency as a rule does not confirm or deny whether someone works for it.
Joyal also worked as a lobbyist for the government of the Republic of Georgia, a job he secured after becoming acquainted with the late Georgian prime minister Zurab Zhvania and meeting deposed Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze in the 1990s, said David Soumbadze, the Embassy of Georgia's former deputy chief of mission and a close friend of Joyal's.