Russia rejects blame in death of ex-spy Litvinenko

MOSCOW Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:41pm EST

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia denied on Friday it had a role in the death of Kremlin critic and former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London six years ago, dismissing a statement made during a British inquest into his fatal poisoning with radioactive polonium-210.

A British lawyer told a preliminary hearing on Thursday there was evidence the Russian government was involved in his death, which soured relations between Moscow and London and still contributes to tension.

Allegations of Russian state involvement are unfounded and Moscow hopes an investigation conducted "transparently and without prejudice" will put them to rest, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

Litvinenko, who had been granted British citizenship and become a vocal critic of the Kremlin, died in November 2006 after someone slipped polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope, into his cup of tea at a London hotel.

His poisoning came a month after investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya was fatally shot in Moscow, another death that Kremlin critics said underscored the dangers of challenging the Russian government.

British police and prosecutors say there is enough evidence to charge two former KGB agents, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun, in the Litvinenko case, but Moscow has resisted calls to extradite them.

The high-profile hearings into murder plots surrounding Litvinenko's death could put further strain on London's already complicated ties with Moscow, with spy rows and tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions dominating relations.

Lukashevich acknowledged Litvinenko's death was still troubling relations.

"We hope that as a result of the investigation - on condition, of course, that it is conducted transparently and without prejudice - all the baseless allegations about some kind of Russian involvement in this affair will be dispelled once and for all," he told journalists at a weekly briefing.


Hugh Davies, an attorney acting on behalf of the British inquest, said on Thursday an examination of government material establishes "a prima facie case in the culpability of the Russian state in the death of Alexander Litvinenko".

Ben Emmerson, a lawyer for Litvinenko's widow, Marina, described his death as "state sponsored assassination."

He said the victim had been working for Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, for a number of years and was also employed Spanish security services.

The full inquest into Litvinenko's death, led by Judge Robert Owen, is expected to start on May 1, shedding light on the murky world of espionage.

Litvinenko was an associate of tycoon Boris Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider who became a critic of Putin and was granted asylum in Britain.

Some in Russia have pointed fingers at Berezovsky, who is frequently accused in the media of meddling in Russian politics from afar and trying to blacken the Kremlin's image.

Berezovsky's lawyer, Hugo Keith, has denied any involvement by his client In Litvinenko's death.

(Reporting by Steve Gutterman; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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Comments (2)
DeanMJackson wrote:
The article reads, “Ben Emmerson, a lawyer for Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, described his death as “state sponsored assassination.”‘

Firstly, since Alexander Litvinenko failed to alert the West that the “collapse” of the USSR was a disinformation operation under the “Long-Range Policy” (the “new” strategy all Communist nations signed onto in 1960 to defeat the West), that means he was still working for Moscow.

Secondly, radiation detectors located in London would have identified a polonium trail leading right to Alexander Litvinenko’s residence. By the time Alexander Litvinenko got home at approximately 6:20 PM (he is said to have been poisoned at 5 PM) he was profusely sweating polonium, as evidenced by the taxi he took (The taxi was so contaminated with polonium, it could not be used again). Naturally, radiation teams would have descended on Litvinenko residence within minutes, not wait to act until well after Litvinenko finally went to the hospital three days later!

Conclusion: It was the British intelligence services that killed Litvinenko because Litvinenko was an obvious false defector.

Dec 14, 2012 3:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
NeilMcGowan wrote:
Alexander Litvinenko was a senior KGB torturer. How a sack of scum like this got accelerated British citizenship for himself and all this family remains unexplained by the British scum who took him in.

During his career as a torturer, this worthless KGB scrote tortured and murdered scores of criminals. Every single one of them would have a motive for murdering him in revenge.

Good riddance to this sack of filth. He is missed by no-one. No-one.

Dec 17, 2012 5:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
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