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The former KGB agent, the sushi-bar meeting and a suspected poison plot. Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko is tonight fighting for his life at a London hospital. ITV News at Ten
He continued to be highly critical of the Russian authorities ... The incendiary accusation that the FSB and Putin himself were behind acts of terrorism and assassination. Murders that Shocked Britain
On the day of his poisoning he had met a contact to discuss the case in a sushi-bar in central London. ibid.
As Litvinenko lay ill in hospital the story with its plot straight from the pages of a Cold War spy novel sparked the imagination of the media. ibid.
Posthumous tests revealed that the poison used to kill him had been a rare radioactive substance Polonium 210. ibid.
Attacks by poisoning are possibly even more common in Russia than assassinations by gunfire. Most famously, Alexander Litvinenko, a secret-police whistle-blower, was killed by polonium in London, in 2006. Last week, British newspapers reported that a Russian businessman who dropped dead while jogging in a London suburb in 2012 had been killed by a rare plant poison. He had been a key witness in a money-laundering case that had originally been exposed by the Moscow accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured to death, in 2009, in a Russian jail. Masha Gessen
‘If I go back to Russia, I won’t live long. Better to die in England in the fresh air.’ Putin, Russia and the West II: Democracy Threatens, Litvinenko, BBC 2011
[Alexander] Litvinenko became a British citizen. Ten days later he was poisoned with radioactive polonium. ibid.
The one-time officer with the successor to the KGB fled to the UK where he became a fierce critic of the Kremlin and worked for security service MI6.
A public inquiry into the London death of the 43-year-old opens on Tuesday.
Mr Litvinenko’s widow says the inquiry will give people ‘a chance to understand who killed my husband.’
Marina Litvinenko says he blamed the Kremlin as he lay dying in hospital but Russia denies any involvement.
Her lawyer has described his murder as ‘an act of state-sponsored nuclear terrorism on the streets of London.’ BBC online article 27th January 2015, ‘Alexander Litvinenko 'killed on third attempt’
American spies secretly intercepted communications between those involved in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and provided the key evidence that he was killed in a Russian-backed ‘state execution’, The Telegraph can disclose.
The National Security Agency (NSA) obtained electronic communications between key individuals in London and Moscow from the time that the former spy was poisoned with radioactive material in central London. The evidence was passed to the British authorities.
A source familiar with the investigation confirmed the existence of American ‘intelligence material’. They said it would have been ‘inadmissible’ in court, but that the British authorities were ‘confident that this was a state execution’. Telegraph online article 23rd January 2015, ‘Litvinenko inquiry: the proof Russia was involved in dissident’s murder: National Security Agency (NSA) obtained communications between key individuals in London and Moscow from the time that Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive material’
The death of Alexander Litvinenko, the former senior KGB officer poisoned in his London exile in late 2006, revealed how confused the relationship between the KGB and private security services had become. Misha Glenny, McMafia
2006: Alexander Litvinenki, former officer in the Russian Secret Service, died of poisoning in what turned out to be a rare radioactive substance. In Memoriam: Alexander Litvinenko, 2007
Two years before, Alexander Litvinenko spoke about his work and life as intriguing as the death he foretold. ibid.
‘I saw no difference between the officers and the gangstas.’ ibid. Litvinenko 2004 interview
‘I realised those people [top brass] were just robbing my nation. ibid.
Spies, covert operations, rumours of dark influence, as the world wonders how far Russia will go there’s a clue in a shocking case from a decade ago … The murder of a British citizen on British soil using the deadliest poison known to man. Hunting the KGB Killers, Channel 4 2017
‘I have meeting with Putin face to face. I bring to Putin material about criminals inside FSB.’ ibid. Litvinenko bedside interview with rozzers
He alleged the KGB was behind the bombing of a Moscow apartment block as a justification for the second Chechen war which sealed Putin’s grip on power: Putin dismissed the claims. ibid.
‘He mentioned his meeting with Lugovoy and Kovtun in the Millennium Hotel.’ ibid. wife
It was supposed to be the perfect crime. The victim Alexander Litvinenko a Russian dissident, former secret service agent and relentless critic of Vladimir Putin … The attack would take place November 1st 2006 at the Millennium Hotel on Grosvenor Square, London. The Polonium Plot, CBC 2016
‘Having knowledge of this system I know that this order about such a killing of a citizen of another country on its territory, especially if it’s something to do with Great Britain, could have been given only by one person …’ ibid. Litvinenko in hospital
Why Alexander Litvinenko? ibid.
The poison attack was a warning to others: if you step out of line, there is no safe refuge. Radioactive polonium destroyed Alexander Litvinenko over 22 agonising days. KGB: The Sword & The Shield III, BBC 2019