A PUBLIC inquiry investigating the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 has found evidence of ´probable´ Russian state involvement in the death-by-poisoning.
Mr Litvinenko fled Russia in October 2000 and sought asylum in the UK on the grounds of ´persecution´ in his homeland. In his adopted country he worked as a journalist and wrote two books exposing highly confidential aspects of Vladimir Putin´s less-than-conventional route to power.
On November 1, 2006, after attending meetings in London, Mr Litvinenko became seriously ill and was hospitalized until his death three weeks later. After which the Health Protection Agency (HPA) found significant amounts of polonium-210 in his body, a highly toxic substance which can only be produced in a nuclear reactor.
Two days after his death a posthumous statement was released, in which Mr Litvinenko named Vladimir Putin as the man behind his poisoning.
Sir Robert Owen is the British judge behind the inquiry into his death. His long-awaited report implicates two Russian men – Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun – who, the report states, were “probably acting under the direction of Moscow´s FSB intelligence service, and approved by the organisation´s chief, Nikolai Patrushev, as well as the Russian President.”
It also confirms that the poisoning took place in the Pine Bar at London´s Millennium Hotel, where Mr Litvinenko drank tea.
British Home secretary Theresa May has described the murder as a “blatant and unacceptable” breach of international law, while the Russian Foreign Ministry has brushed off the inquiry as “politicized” and said it “overshadowed the general atmosphere of bilateral relations.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said that future relations with Russia would continue but be conducted with “clear eyes and a very cold heart.”
Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun are wanted in the UK for questioning, but Russia has refused to extradite them until now. Both men deny killing Mr Litvinenko.