Alexander Litvinenko Explained

Alexander Litvinenko
Александр Литвиненко
Allegiance:Soviet Union
Service:KGB, FSB
Birth Date:1962 8, df=yes
Birthplace:Voronezh, Soviet Union
Deathplace:London, United Kingdom
Cause:Radiation poisoning
Religion:Islam, Muslim
(previously a Russian Orthodox Christian for the majority of his life)

Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ва́льтерович Литвине́нко) (30 August 1962[1]  – 23 November 2006) was an officer who served in the Soviet KGB and its Russian successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB). In November 1998, Litvinenko and several other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding his authority at work. He was acquitted in November 1999 but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000. He fled with his family to London and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he became a journalist and writer.

During his time in London Litvinenko authored two books, "" and "Lubyanka Criminal Group," where he accused Russian secret services of staging the Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in an effort to bring Vladimir Putin to power. He also accused Putin of ordering the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

On 1 November 2006 Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalised in what was established as a case of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210 and resulted in his death on 26 November. The events leading up to his poisoning and death are a matter of controversy, spawning numerous theories relating to his poisoning and death. The British investigation into his death resulted in a failed request to Russia for the extradition of Andrey Lugovoy whom they accused of Litvinenko's murder, contributing to the further cooling of Russia–United Kingdom relations.

Early life

Alexander Litvinenko was born the son of physician Walter Litvinenko in the Russian city of Voronezh.[2] He graduated from secondary school in 1980 in Nalchik and was then drafted into the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a Private. After a year of service, he matriculated in the Kirov Higher Command School in Vladikavkaz. After graduation in 1985, Litvinenko became a platoon commander in an Internal Troops regiment that guarded valuables in transit and in 1988 moved to the KGB.[1] [3]


Soviet Union

Litvinenko joined the Dzerzhinsky Division of the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs. He was assigned to the 4th Company, where among his duties was the protection of valuable cargo. Litvinenko became an informant in 1986 when he was recruited by the MVD's KGB counterintelligence section. In 1988, he was officially transferred to the Third Chief Directorate of the KGB, Military Counter Intelligence. Later that year, after studying for a year at the Novosibirsk Military Counter Intelligence School, he became an operational officer and served in KGB military counterintelligence until 1991.[4]


In 1991, he was promoted to the Central Staff of the MB-FSK-FSB of Russia, specialising in counter-terrorist activities and infiltration of organised crime. He was awarded the title of "MUR veteran" for operations conducted with the Moscow criminal investigation department, the MUR. Litvinenko also saw active military service in many of the so-called "hot spots" of the former USSR and Russia. During the First Chechen War Litvinenko planted several FSB agents in Chechnya. Litvinenko also served as a foot soldier during the disastrous Russian operation in the Dagestani village of Pervomayskoye, where two of his comrades were killed by friendly fire from the rocket artillery.

Livtinenko met Boris Berezovsky in 1994 when he took part in investigations into an assassination attempt on the oligarch. He was later responsible for the oligarch's security.

In 1997, Litvinenko was promoted to the FSB Directorate of Analysis and Suppression of Criminal Groups, with the title of senior operational officer and deputy head of the Seventh Section.[5] Throughout his career he was not an 'intelligence agent' and did not deal with secrets beyond information on operations against organised criminal groups.[6]

Political activities

Criticism of FSB leadership

According to his widow Marina, during Litvinenko work in the FSB he discovered numerous connections between top brass of Russian law enforcement agencies and Russian mafia groups, such as Solntsevo gang. He wrote a memorandum about that to Boris Yeltsin. Berezovsky arranged a meeting for him with FSB director Barsukov and Deputy Director of Internal affairs Ovchinnikov to discuss the corruption problems;[7] however, this had no effect. Litvinenko gradually realized that the entire system was corrupted from the top to the bottom. He explained:

"If your partner bilked you, or a creditor did not pay, or a supplier did not deliver — where did you turn to complain? ...When force became a commodity, there was always demand for it. "Roofs" appeared, people who sheltered and protected your business. First it was provided by the mob, then by police, and soon even our own guys realized what was what, and then the rivalry began among gangsters, cops, and the Agency for market share. As the police and the FSB became more competitive, they squeezed the gangs out of the market. But in many cases competition gave way to cooperation, and the services became gangsters themselves."[7]

On 17 November 1998, during the period that Vladimir Putin was the head of the FSB, five officers of FSB's Directorate for the Analysis of Criminal Organisations appeared at a press conference in the Russian news agency Interfax. The five officers, including the director of the Seventh Department, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Gusyk, three senior operative officers — Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, Major Andrey Ponkin, and Colonel V. V. Shebalin, Lieutenant Constantin Latyshonok, and Gherman Scheglov accused the director of the Directorate for the Analysis of Criminal Organisations Major-General Evgenii Khokholkov and his deputy, 1st Rank Captain Alexander Kamishnikov of ordering them in November 1997 to assassinate Boris Berezovsky, a Russian businessman who then held the high government post of Secretary of the Security Council and was close to President Boris Yeltsin; Berezovsky later fled to the UK to avoid criminal charges (and later helped fund Litvinenko's work).[8] The officers also claimed they were ordered to kill Mikhail Trepashkin and to kidnap a brother of the businessman Umar Dzhabrailov. Mikhail Trepashikin was present as a victim of the planned assassination. Several other FSB officers were also present to support the claims.[9] This incident was later described by Sergey Dorenko, who provided The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal with the full video tape of the interview of Alexander Litvinenko and his fellow employees of FSB recorded by him in April 1998. Only some excerpts of the video had been shown in 1998.[10]

Personal relations with Vladimir Putin

On 25 July 1998, Berezovsky introduced Litvinenko to Vladimir Putin. He said: "Go see Putin. Make yourself known. See what a great guy we have installed, with your help."[11] Litvinenko reported to Putin about corruption in the FSB, but Putin was unimpressed. Litvinenko said to his wife after the meeting: "I could see in his eyes that he hated me."[11]

Vladimir Putin said later in interview to Yelena Tregubova that he personally ordered the dismissal of Litvinenko: "I fired Litvinenko and disbanded his unit ...because FSB officers should not stage press conferences. This is not their job. And they should not make internal scandals public."[12] Litvinenko also believed that Putin was behind his arrest. He said: "Putin had the power to decide whether to pass my file to the prosecutors or not. He always hated me. And there was a bonus for him: by throwing me to the wolves he distanced himself from Boris in the eyes of FSB's generals."[13]

Dismissal from the FSB

Litvinenko was dismissed from the FSB, and then arrested twice on charges which were dropped after he had spent time in Moscow prisons. In 1999, he was arrested on charges of abusing duties. He was released a month later after signing a written undertaking not to leave the country.

Flight from Russia and asylum in the United Kingdom

In October 2000, in violation of an order not to leave Moscow, Litvinenko and his family travelled to Turkey, possibly via Ukraine.News: Cowell. Alan. Alexander Litvinenko lived and died in world of violence and betrayal. New York Times via International Herald Tribune. 3 December 2006. 2009-02-02. Whilst in Turkey, Litvinenko applied for asylum at the United States Embassy in Ankara, but his application was denied. Plater-Zyberk opined that the denial of application may have been based upon on the American opinion that Litvinenko's knowledge was of little benefit and that he may create problems. With the help of Alexander Goldfarb, Litvinenko bought air tickets for the Istanbul-London-Moscow flight,[14] and asked for political asylum at Heathrow airport during the transit stop on 1 November 2000.[15] Political asylum was granted on 14 May 2001,[16] not because of his knowledge on intelligence matters, but rather on humanitarian grounds. Whilst in London he became a journalist for the separatist Chechenpress and a controversial author, and also joined Berezovsky in campaigning against Putin's regime.[17] In October 2006 he became a naturalised British citizen living in Whitehaven.[18]

Alleged career in MI6

On 27 October 2007, the Daily Mail, citing "diplomatic and intelligence sources," stated that Mr Litvinenko was paid about £2,000 per month by the MI6 at the time of his murder. John Scarlett, the head of MI6, was allegedly personally involved in recruiting him.[19]

Alleged blackmail activities

According to an article published in The Guardian, Litvinenko was involved in blackmail activities during his life in Britain. According to Julia Svetlichnaja, a Russian doctoral candidate at the University of Westminster's Center for the Study of Democracy, Litvinenko told her that he was "going to blackmail or sell sensitive information about all kinds of powerful people, including oligarchs, corrupt officials and sources in the Kremlin. He mentioned a figure of £10,000 that they would pay each time to stop him broadcasting these FSB documents. Litvinenko was short of money and was adamant that he could obtain any files he wanted."[20] According to Guardian, Litvinenko's access to such documents could have made him an enemy of both big business interests and the Kremlin. However, his claims are almost impossible to verify and some political analysts have gone as far as to dismiss him as a fantasist.[20]

Conviction in Russia

In 2002 he was convicted in absentia in Russia and given a three and a half year jail sentence.[21]


Henry Plater-Zyberk, a lecturer and Russian politics expert, in a report by the Conflict Studies Research Centre of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom described Litvinenko as a one-man disinformation bureau, who was at first guided by Berezovsky but later in possible pursuit of attention for himself. Plater-Zyberk notes that Litvinenko made numerous accusations without presenting any evidence to give credence to his claims, and these claims which became increasingly outlandish were often accepted by the British media without question. He also noted that Litvinenko would bombard his contacts with emails relating to his theories, and this was expanded upon by Julia Svetlichnaya, when she recalled meeting and talking with Litvinenko.[22]

According to Michael Mainville, Litvinenko loved conspiracy theories believed that the secret to good conspiracy theories is that they feed on the absence of proof, and the more outlandish the claim, the harder it may be to disprove.[23] While in exile in London would tell whoever would listen that his former employers at the KGB were involved in all kinds of cloak-and-dagger horrors.[23]

Armenian parliament shooting

See main article: 1999 Armenian parliament shooting. Litvinenko accused the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General-Staff of the Russian armed forces had organised the 1999 Armenian parliament shooting that killed Prime Minister of Armenia Vazgen Sargsyan, ostensibly to derail the peace process which would have resolved the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but he offered no evidence to support the accusation.[24] [25] [26] The Russian embassy in Armenia denied any such involvement, and described it as an attempt to harm relations between Armenia and Russia by people against the democratic reforms in Russia.[27]

Russian apartment bombings

See main article: Russian apartment bombings. Litvinenko alleged that agents from the FSB coordinated the 1999 Russian apartment bombings that killed more than 300 people, whereas Russian officials blamed the explosions on Chechen separatists. This version of events was suggested earlier by David Satter,[28] and Sergei Yushenkov, vice chairman of the Sergei Kovalev commission created by the Russian Parliament to investigate the bombings.

Moscow theatre hostage crisis

See main article: Moscow theatre hostage crisis. In a 2003 interview with the Australian SBS TV network, and aired on Dateline, Litvinenko claimed that two of the Chechen terrorists involved in the 2002 Moscow theatre siege — whom he named as "Abdul the Bloody" and "Abu Bakar" — were working for the FSB, and that the agency manipulated the rebels into staging the attack.[29] Litvinenko said: "[w]hen they tried to find [Abdul the Bloody and Abu Bakar] among the dead terrorists, they weren't there. The FSB got its agents out. So the FSB agents among Chechens organized the whole thing on FSB orders, and those agents were released." This echoed similar claims made by Mikhail Trepashkin.[30] The leading role of an FSB agent Khanpasha Terkibaev (the "Abu Bakar") was also described by by Anna Politkovskaya, Ivan Rybkin and Alexander Khinshtein.Mysterious figure implicated in Russian theater tragedy[31] [32] [33] In the beginning of April 2003 Litvinenko gave "the Terkibaev file" to Sergei Yushenkov when he visited London, who in turn passed it to Anna Politkovskaya.[12] A few days later Yushenkov was assassinated. Terkibaev was later killed in Chechnya. According to speaker of Russian State Duma Ivan Rybkin, "The authorities failed to keep [the FSB agent] Terkibaev out of public view, and that is why he was killed. I know how angry people were, because they knew Terkibaev had authorization from presidential administration." [34]

Armenian parliament shooting

See main article: 1999 Armenian parliament shooting. In various interviews Litvinenko accused the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General-Staff of the Russian armed forces had organised the 1999 Armenian parliament shooting that killed Prime Minister of Armenia Vazgen Sargsyan,[35] ostensibly to derail the peace process which would have resolved the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but he offered no evidence to support the accusation.[36] The Russian embassy in Armenia denied any such involvement, issuing the statement "in connection with recent press articles about the alleged involvement of the Russian special services in the tragic events at the Armenian parliament on 27 October 1999."

Beslan school hostage crisis

Alexander Litvinenko suggested in September 2004 that the Russian secret services must have been aware of the plot beforehand, and therefore that they must have themselves organized the attack as a false flag operation. He spoke in an interview before his death with Chechenpress news agency, and said that because of the fact that the hostage takers had previously been in FSB custody for committing terrorist attacks, it is inconceivable that they would have been released and still been able to carry out attacks independently. He said that they would only have been freed if they were of use to the FSB, and that even in the case that they were freed without being turned into FSB assets, they would be under a strict surveillance regime that would not have allowed them to carry out the Beslan attack unnoticed.[37] Ella Kesayeva, co-chair of the group Voice of Beslan, formalized Litvinenko's argument in a November 2008 article in Novaya Gazeta, noting the large number of hostage takers who were in government custody not long before attacking the school, and coming to the same conclusion that Beslan was a false flag attack.[38]

Support of terrorism worldwide by the KGB and FSB

See main article: Allegations of state terrorism by Russia.

Litvinenko stated that "all the bloodiest terrorists of the world" were connected to FSB-KGB, including Carlos "The Jackal" Ramírez, Yassir Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Abdullah Öcalan, Wadie Haddad of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, George Hawi who led the Communist Party of Lebanon, Ezekias Papaioannou from Cyprus, Sean Garland from Ireland and many others." He says that all of them were trained, funded, and provided with weapons, explosives and counterfeit documents in order to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide and that each act of terrorism made by these people was carried out according to the task and under the rigid control of the KGB of the USSR.[39] Litvinenko said that "the center of global terrorism is not in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or the Chechen Republic. The terrorism infection creeps away worldwide from the cabinets of the Lubyanka Square and the Kremlin".[40] [41]

Alleged Russia-al-Qaeda connection

In a July 2005 interview with the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Litvinenko alleged that Ayman al-Zawahiri, a prominent leader of al-Qaeda, was trained for half of a year by the FSB in Dagestan in 1997 and called him "an old agent of the FSB"[42] [39] Litvinenko said that after this training, Ayman al-Zawahiri "was transferred to Afghanistan, where he had never been before and where, following the recommendation of his Lubyanka chiefs, he at once ... penetrated the milieu of bin Laden and soon became his assistant in al Qaeda." [43] Former KGB officer and writer Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy supported this claim and said that Litvinenko "was responsible for securing the secrecy of Al-Zawahiri's arrival in Russia, who was trained by FSB instructors in Dagestan, Northern Caucasus, in 1996-1997" [44] . He said: "At that time, Litvinenko was the Head of the Subdivision for Internationally Wanted Terrorists of the First Department of the Operative-Inquiry Directorate of the FSB Anti-Terrorist Department. He was ordered to undertake the delicate mission of securing Al-Zawahiri from unintentional disclosure by the Russian police. Though Al-Zawahiri had been brought to Russia by the FSB using a false passport, it was still possible for the police to learn about his arrival and report to Moscow for verification. Such a process could disclose Al-Zawahiri as an FSB collaborator. In order to prevent this, Litvinenko visited a group of the highly placed police officers to notify them in advance." According to FSB spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko, Ayman al-Zawahiri was arrested by Russian authorities in Dagestan in December 1996 and released in May 1997.[45]

When asked in an interview who he thought the originator of the 2005 bombings in London was, Litvinenko responded saying[39] "You know, I have spoken about it earlier and I shall say now, that I know only one organization, which has made terrorism the main tool of solving of political problems. It is the Russian special services."

He later said:

On 1 September 2005, Al Qaeda members Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammad Sidique Khan claimed responsibility for the attacks on a video tape which aired on al-Jazeera.[46]

Danish cartoon controversy

According to Litvinenko, the 2005 controversy over the publication in a Danish newspaper of editorial cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed was orchestrated by the FSB to punish Denmark for its refusal to extradite Chechen separatists.[47]

Assassination of Anna Politkovskaya

See main article: Anna Politkovskaya assassination. Two weeks before his poisoning, Alexander Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and stated that a former presidential candidate Irina Hakamada warned Politkovskaya about threats to her life coming from Russian president. Litvinenko advised Politkovskaya to escape from Russia immediately. Hakamada denied her involvement in passing any specific threats, and said that she warned Politkovskaya only in general terms more than a year ago.[48] It remains unclear if Litvinenko referred to an earlier statement made by Boris Berezovsky who claimed that former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Boris Nemtsov received a word from Hakamada that Putin threatened her and like-minded colleagues in person. According to Berezovsky, Putin uttered that Hakamada and her colleagues "will take in the head immediately, literally, not figuratively" if they "open the mouth" about the Russian apartment bombings.[49]


In his book Gang from Lubyanka, Litvinenko alleged that Vladimir Putin during his time at the FSB was personally involved in protecting the drug trafficking from Afganistan organized by Abdul Rashid Dostum In December 2003 Russian authorities confiscated over 4000 copies of the book.[50]

Litvinenko commented on a new law that "Russia has the right to carry out preemptive strikes on militant bases abroad" and explained that these "preemptive strikes may involve anything, except nuclear weapons," Litvinenko said that "You know who they mean when they say 'terrorist bases abroad'? They mean us, Zakayev and Boris, and me."[12] . He also said that "It was considered in our service that poison is an easier weapon than a pistol." He referred to a secret laboratory in Moscow that still continues development of deadly poisons, according to him.[51]

In an article written by Litvinenko in July 2006, and published online on Zakayev's Chechenpress website, he claimed that Vladimir Putin is a paedophile.[52] Litvinenko also claimed that Anatoly Trofimov and Artyom Borovik knew of the alleged paedophilia.[53] The claims have been called "wild",News: Svetlichnaja. Julia. Strange stroll around Hyde Park that went nowhere. The Guardian. 3 December 206. 2008-11-11. and "sensational and unsubstantiated"News: Poisoned spy accused Putin of being a paedophile. Daily Mail. 20 November 206. 2008-11-11. in the British media. Litvinenko made the allegation after Putin kissed a boy on his belly whilst stopping to chat with some tourists during a walk in the Kremlin grounds on 28 June 2006. The incident was recalled in a webcast organised by the BBC and Yandex, in which over 11,000 people asked Putin to explain the act, to which he responded, "He seemed very independent and serious... I wanted to cuddle him like a kitten and it came out in this gesture. He seemed so nice...There is nothing behind it."[54] It has been suggested that the incident was a "clumsy attempt" to soften Putin's image in the lead-up the 32nd G8 Summit which was held in Saint Petersburg in July 2006.

Allegations concerning Romano Prodi

See main article: Italian Mitrokhin Commission.

According to Litvinenko, FSB deputy chief, General Anatoly Trofimov said to him "Don’t go to Italy, there are many KGB agents among the politicians. Romano Prodi is our man there",[55] [56] meaning Romano Prodi, the Italian centre-left leader, former Prime Minister of Italy and former President of the European Commission. The conversation with Trofimov took place in 2000, after the Prodi-KGB scandal broke out in October 1999 due to information about Prodi provided by Vasili Mitrokhin.[57]

In April 2006, a British Member of the European Parliament for London, Gerard Batten of United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) demanded an inquiry into the allegations.[55] [56] According to Brussels-based newspaper, the EU Reporter on 3 April 2006, "another high-level source, a former KGB operative in London, has confirmed the story".[58] On 26 April 2006, Batten repeated his call for a parliamentary inquiry, revealing that "former, senior members of the KGB are willing to testify in such an investigation, under the right conditions." He added, "It is not acceptable that this situation is unresolved, given the importance of Russia's relations with the European Union."[59] On 22 January 2007, the BBC and ITV News released documents and video footage, from February 2006, in which Litvinenko repeated his statements about Prodi.[60] [61]

Shooting practice controversy

In January 2007, Polish newspaper Dziennik revealed that a target with a photo of Litvinenko on it was used for shooting practice by the Vityaz Training Centre in Balashikha in October 2002.[62] The centre run by Sergey Lyusyuk is not affiliated with the government, and trains bodyguards, debt collectors and private security forces, although in November 2006 the centre was used by the Vityaz for a qualification examination due to their own centre being under renovation. The targets, which Lyusyuk says were bought in the Olympic Market, were also photographed when the chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Sergei Mironov visited the centre and met Lyusyuk on 7 November 2006.[62] When asked why the photographs of Mironov's visit were removed from the centre's website Lyusyuk said that Mironov didn't see targets and knew nothing about them.[63]

Former FSB officer Mikhail Trepashkin stated he warned in 2002 that an FSB unit was assigned to assassinate Litvinenko.[64] In spite of this, Litvinenko often travelled overseas with no security arrangements, met with the Russian community in the United Kingdom, and often received journalists at his home.[26]

Illness and poisoning

See main article: Alexander Litvinenko poisoning and Litvinenko assassination theories. On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalised. His illness was later attributed to poisoning with radionuclide polonium-210 after the Health Protection Agency found significant amounts of the rare and highly toxic element in his body.In interviews, Litvinenko stated that he met with two former KGB agents early on the day he fell ill - Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi, though they deny any wrongdoing. The men also introduced Litvinenko to a tall, thin man of central Asian appearance called 'Vladislav Sokolenko' who Lugovoi said was a business partner. Lugovoi is also a former bodyguard of Russian ex-prime minister Yegor Gaidar (who also suffered from a mysterious illness in November 2006). Later, he had lunch at Itsu, a sushi restaurant in Soho in London, with an Italian acquaintance and nuclear waste expert, Mario Scaramella, to whom he made the allegations regarding Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi.[65] Scaramella, attached to the Mitrokhin Commission investigating KGB penetration of Italian politics, claimed to have information on the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, 48, a journalist who was killed at her Moscow apartment in October 2006.

Marina Litvinenko, widow of the deceased, accused Moscow of orchestrating the murder. Though she believes the order did not come from Putin himself, she does believe it was done at the behest of the authorities, and announced that she will refuse to provide evidence to any Russian investigation out of fear that it would be misused or misrepresented.[66]

Conversion to Islam

Two days before his death Litvinenko informed his father that he had converted to Islam. According to his father, Litvinenko had become increasingly disenchanted with the Russian Orthodox Church and had been contemplating conversion for "some time." Litvinenko's conversion to Islam and the related wish for Muslim funeral rites were recognized by his father. However, his widow, Marina, as well as his close friend (and press spokesman during his illness), Alexander Goldfarb, preferred a non-denominational ceremony. Goldfarb stated, "Unfortunately some people appeared and against the explicit wishes of the widow performed Muslim rites over the funeral. We had a choice to turn it into an unseemly situation, but Marina asked us to respect the memory of Alexander and let these people do what they did. Let God be their judge." Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, head of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, contended that Litvineko actually converted to Islam 10 days before he was poisoned.[67] [68] [69]

Akhmed Zakayev, Foreign Minister of Chechen government-in-exile who lived next door to Mr Litvinenko and considered him "like a brother,"[70] said: "He was read to from the Qur'an the day before he died and had told his wife and family that he wanted to be buried in accordance with Muslim tradition."[71]

Death and last statement

On 22 November, Litvinenko's medical staff at University College Hospital reported he had suffered a "major setback" due to either heart failure or an overnight heart attack. He died on 23 November, and Scotland Yard stated that inquiries into the circumstances of how Litvinenko became ill would continue.[72]

On 24 November, a posthumous statement was released, in which Litvinenko directly accused Vladimir Putin of poisoning him. Litvinenko's friend Alex Goldfarb, who is also the chairman of Boris Berezovsky's Civil Liberties Fund, claimed Litvinenko had dictated it to him three days earlier. Andrei Nekrasov said his friend Litvinenko and Litvinenko's lawyer composed the statement in Russian on 21 November and translated it to English.[73]

Putin disputed the authenticity of this note while attending a Russia-EU summit in Helsinki and claimed it was being used for political purposes.[74] [75] William Dunkerley, in a briefing from May 2007 for a round table which discussed Litvinenko's case and the way it was handled by the Russian and Western media, called into question the authenticity of the statement, noting that the statement did not read like a statement made on one's deathbed and was typed in English, a language which Litvinenko was far from proficient in, with the signature and date handwritten.[76] Goldfarb later stated that Litvinenko instructed him to write a note "in good English" in which Putin was to be accused of his poisoning. Goldfarb also stated that he read the note to Litvinenko in English and Russian, to which he claims Litvinenko agreed "with every word of it" and signed it.[77]

His postmortem took place on 1 December at the Royal London Hospital's institute of pathology. It was attended by three physicians, including one chosen by the family and one from the Foreign Office.[78] Litvinenko was buried at Highgate Cemetery in north London on 7 December.[79] The police are treating his death as murder.[80] On 25 November, two days after Litvinenko's death, an article attributed to him was published by The Mail on Sunday entitled "Why I believe Putin wanted me dead".[81]

In an interview with the BBC broadcast on 16 December 2006, Yuri Shvets said that Litvinenko had created a 'due diligence' report investigating the activities of a senior Kremlin official on behalf of a British company looking to invest "dozens of millions of dollars" in a project in Russia. He said the dossier was so incriminating about the senior Kremlin official, who was not named, it was likely that Litvinenko was murdered out of spite. He alleged that Litvinenko had shown the dossier to another business associate, Andrei Lugovoi, who had worked for the KGB and later the FSB. Shvets alleged that Lugovoi is still an FSB informant and he had spread copies of the dossier to members of the spy service. He said he was interviewed about his allegations by Scotland Yard detectives investigating Litvinenko's murder. Shvets has also doubted Litvinenko's capacity to perform honest unbiased due diligence.[82] The poisoning and consequent death of Litvinenko was not widely covered in the Russian news media.[83]

According to Mary Dejevsky, the chief editorial writer of The Independent, the view that the British public had of Litvinenko's illness and death was essentially dictated by Berezovsky, who funded an expertly conducted publicity campaign.[84]

Criminal investigation

On 20 January 2007 British police announced that they have "identified the man they believe poisoned Alexander Litvinenko. The suspected killer was captured on cameras at Heathrow as he flew into Britain to carry out the murder."[85] The man in question was introduced to Litvinenko as 'Vladislav'.

As of 26 January 2007, British officials said police had solved the murder of Litvinenko. They discovered "a 'hot' teapot at London's Millennium Hotel with an off-the-charts reading for polonium-210, the radioactive material used in the killing." In addition, a senior official said investigators had concluded the murder of Litvinenko was "a 'state-sponsored' assassination orchestrated by Russian security services." The police want to charge former Russian spy Andrei Lugovoi, who met with Litvinenko on 1 November 2006, the day officials believe the lethal dose of polonium-210 was administered.[86]

On the same day, The Guardian reported that the British government was preparing an extradition request asking that Andrei Lugovoi be returned to the UK to stand trial for Litvinenko's murder.[87] On 22 May 2007 the Crown Prosecution Service called for the extradition of Russian citizen Andrei Lugovoi to the UK on charges of murder.[88] Lugovoi dismissed the claims against him as "politically motivated" and said he did not kill Litvinenko.[89]

A British police investigation resulted in several suspects for the murder, but in May 2007, the British Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, announced that his government would seek to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the chief suspect of the case, from Russia.[90] On 28 May 2007, the British Foreign Office officially submitted a request to the Government of Russia for the extradition of Lugovoi to face criminal charges in the UK.[91] On 5 July 2007, Russia officially declined to extradite Lugovoi, citing that extradition of citizens is not allowed under the Russian constitution. Russia has said that they could take on the case themselves if Britain provided evidence against Lugovoi but Britain has not handed over any evidence. The head of the investigating committee at the General Prosecutor's Office said Russia has not yet received any evidence from Britain on Lugovoi. "We have not received any evidence from London of Lugovoi's guilt, and those documents we have are full of blank spaces and contradictions.[92] However the British ambassador to Russia, Anne Pringle, stated that London has already submitted sufficient evidence to extradite him to Britain.[93]

See also



His books

Yuri Felshtinsky, Alexander Litvinenko, and Geoffrey Andrews. Gibson Square Books, London, 2007, ISBN 978-1903933954

Books and Films about him

"The Terminal Spy: A True Story of Espionage, Betrayal and Murder", Random House, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7393-7054-4

"The Litvinenko File; the True Story of a Death Foretold", Publisher: Macmillan (2 April 2007) ISBN-10: 0230531547 ISBN-13: 978-0230531543

"", 2007, Dreamscanner. Banned in Russia. Official site:

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Alexander Litvinenko obituary. 2006-11-25. The Independent. 2006-01-19.
  2. Web site: Alexander Litvinenko birth date. 2006-11-25. The Daily Telegraph. 2006-11-25.
  3. Web site: Alexander Litvinenko birth date. 2006-11-25. The Times. 2006-11-25.
  4. Web site: Офицер ФСБ дает показания. Александр Подрабинек. 2002-10-10. Агентство ПРИМА.
  5. Web site: Радиоактивные политтехнологии: смерть Литвиненко осложнила проведение саммита Россия-ЕС. 2006-11-30. Пресс Дозор. 2006-11-30.
  6. News: Russian authorities likely behind Litvinenko's death, his wife says. International Herald Tribune. 2006-12-10. 2006-12-23.
  7. Death of a dissident, page 39-41.
  8. Profile: Boris Berezovsky
  9. Web site: Березовский и УРПО / дело Литвиненко. "Агентура.Ру". 27 November 2006. 2006-11-30.
  10.,,-6654170,00.html 1998 Tape Shows Russian Ex-Spy Fearful
  11. Death of a Dissident, page 136
  12. [Alexander Goldfarb (microbiologist)|Alex Goldfarb]
  13. [Death of a dissident]
  14. Web site: Александр Литвиненко: ярлык предателя не радует. Российская Газета. 30 March 2002. 2006-11-24.
  15. Web site: Литвиненко получил убежище в Британии?. BBC. 15 May 2001. 2006-11-24.
  16. Web site: Заявление Александра Литвиненко. 15 May 2006. 2006-11-24.
  17. Book: Sakwa, Richard. Richard Sakwa

    . Putin, Russia's choice. Richard Sakwa. 2008. 2nd. Routledge. 978-0-415-40765-6. 158-159.

  18. Web site: Litvinenko was told that he was marked for death. Times. 22 November 2006. 2006-11-24.
  19. Web site: Daily Mail. Revealed: Poisoned ex-Russian spy Litvinenko WAS a paid-up MI6 agent. 2007-10-27. 2007-10-27.
  20. Revealed: Litvinenko's Russian 'blackmail plot'
  21. Alexander Litvinenko
  22. News: Svetlichnaya. Julia. Strange stroll around Hyde Park that went nowhere. The Guardian. 3 December 2006. 2008-02-03.
  23. From Russia with lies
  24. News: Список киллеров ФСБ. 29 April 2005. Реальный Азербайджан. 2009-02-16.
  25. News: Shooting of the Armenian Parliament was organized by Russian special services. 3 May 2005. AZG Daily. 2009-02-16.
  26. Book: Monaghan, Dr Andrew. Plater Zyberk, Henry. The UK & Russia — A Troubled Relationship Part I. Misunderstanding Russia: Alexander Litvinenko. 9–12. 9781905962150. Conflict Studies Research Centre of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. 22 May 2007. PDF. 2008-11-11. (Archived at WebCite)
  27. News: Russian embassy denies special services' part in Armenian parliament shooting. 12 May 2005. ITAR-TASS. 2009-02-16.
  28. Web site: The Truth About Beslan. 29 November 2006. 2006-11-13.
  29. Web site: Lazaredes. Nick. Terrorism takes front stage — Russia’s theatre siege. SBS. 4 June 2003. 2008-11-13.
  30. Dissident lawyer jailed on trumped up charges
  31. Where is "Abubakar?"
  32. Russian Authorities Hedge Over Special Services Involvement In Moscow Theater Siege
  33. The Moscow Hostage-Taking Incident (Part 1)
  34. [Anna Politkovskaya]
  35. Web site: Russia Denies Involvement in 1999 Armenian Parliament Shooting. 12 May 2005. 2007-03-25.
  36. Book: Monaghan, Dr Andrew. Plater Zyberk, Henry. The UK & Russia — A Troubled Relationship Part I. Misunderstanding Russia: Alexander Litvinenko. 9–12. 9781905962150. Conflict Studies Research Centre of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. 22 May 2007. PDF. 2008-11-11. (Archived at WebCite)
  37. A. Litvinenko: "The identities of the terrorists prove 100% the participation of the FSB in the seizure of the school in Beslan"
  38. Terrorists or Agents? Strange facts about the Beslan tragedy
  39. The originator of the acts of terrorism in London was standing near Tony Blair
  40. Web site: The originator of the acts of terrorism in London was standing near Tony Blair. 19 July 2005. 2006-11-30.
  41. Web site: Alexander. Litvinenko. The KGBism, Terrorism and Gangsterism are Triplets. Chechen Press. 23 March 2005. 2006-12-07.
  42. Web site: Nyquist. J.R.. Kremlin Poison. Financial Sense Online. 20 November 2006. 2006-11-21.
  43. Web site: Nyquist. J.R.. Is Al Qaeda a Kremlin Proxy?. 13 August 2005. 2006-11-29.
  44. Russia and Islam are not Separate: Why Russia backs Al-Qaeda
  45. Web site: Khalil. Gebara. The End of Egyptian Islamic Jihad?. The Jamestown Foundation. 10 February 2005. 2006-12-07.
  46. London bomber: Text in full
  47. From Russia with lies
  48. Web site: Ирина Хакамада о партийном строительстве и экономической ситуации в России. Svoboda News. 4 December 2006. 2006-12-07.
  49. Live interview with Berezovsky by Evgenia Albats, Radio Echo of Moscow, 11 June 2006. Transcript in Russian, computer translation.
  50. Web site: Russian editor questioned over seizure of controversial book (BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, text of report by Russian news agency Ekho Moskvy). Terror 99. 29 January 2004. 2006-12-23.
  51. Litvinenko's Poisoning: Detailed Unfolding of Events
  52. Web site: Litvinenko. Alexander. The Kremlin Pedophile. Chechenpress. 5 July 2006. 2008-11-11.
  53. Web site: Litvinenko. Alexander. Кремлевский чикатило». Chechenpress. 5 July 2006. 2008-11-11.
  54. Web site: Putin recalls kissing boy's belly. BBC News Online. 6 July 2006. 2008-11-11.
  55. Web site: Gerard Battem, One-minute speeches on matters of political importance. European Parliament, Debates. 3 April 2006. 2008-03-13.
  56. Web site: Former FSB General, Wife Shot Dead in Moscow. 11 April 2005. 2006-11-21.
  57. Death of a Dissident, page 342
  58. Web site: Donnelly. Cillian. Prodi Accused Of Being Former Soviet Agent. EU Reporter. 3 April 2006. 2006-11-21.
  59. Web site: Batten. Gerard. 2006: Speech in the European Parliament: Romano Prodi. Gerard Batten MEP. 26 April 2006. 2006-11-21.
  60. Web site: 'Multiple attempts' on Litvinenko. BBC. 22 January 2007. 2007-03-01.
  61. Web site: Litvinenko footage emerges. ITV News. 22 January 2007. 2007-03-01.
  62. Russian special forces shot at Litvinenko
  63. Litvinenko Shooting Gallery
  64. Web site: Ex-Spy Claims Litvinenko Was Targeted. Washington Post. 1 December 2006. 2006-12-01.
  65. Web site: Batten. Gerard. Gerard Batten MEP - "60 second speech to the European Parliament "Romano Prodi" - Strasbourg. United Kingdom Independence Party. 3 April 2006. 2006-11-21.
  66. Web site: Dead spy's widow accuses Russian authorities. CNN. 10 December 2006. 2006-12-10.
  67. Web site: Litvinenko's Father Says Son Requested Muslim Burial. 2006-12-05. 2006-12-06. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
  68. News: Poison probe visits Russia. 2006-12-05. 2006-12-06. Washington Times.
  69. Jonathan Brown, "Enemies of Putin gather for a burial in exile," The Independent, 8 December 2006, p. 2
  70. News: Key figures in the Litvinenko affair. The Associated Press. 22 May 2007. 2008-07-18. USA Today.
  71. Web site: Spy's contact and wife also poisoned. Duncan. Gardham. Steele, John. The Daily Telegraph. 2 December 2006. 2006-11-23.
  72. Web site: Poisoned Russian former spy dies. CNN. 23 November 2006. 2006-11-23.
  73. An interview with Andrei Nekrasov by Yury Veksler, Radio Liberty, 28 November 2006.
  74. Web site: Ex-spy's death should not be used for provocation — Putin. Novosti. 24 November 2006. 2006-11-26.
  75. Web site: Press Conferences, Meetings with the Press, Press Statements. Kremlin. 24 November 2006. 2006-11-26.
  76. Web site: Dunkerley. William. The Essence of the Alexander Litvinenko Story. Russia Profile. 25 May 2007. 2008-11-13. (Archived at WebCite
  77. News: Jordan. Mary. Poisoned Russian Had Sought Entry to U.S., Book Says. Washington Post. 10 June 2007. 2008-11-13. (Archived at WebCite
  78. Web site: No signs of Poisoning. Sky News. 1 December 2006. 2006-12-02.
  79. Web site: 'Solemn' burial for murdered spy. BBC News. 7 December 2006. 2006-12-08.
  80. Web site: Ex-spy's death to be treated as murder. BBC News. 7 January 2007. 2006-01-22.
  81. Web site: Litvinenko. Alexander. Why I believe Putin wanted me dead.... The Mail on Sunday. 25 November 2006. 2006-12-05.
  82. News: Litvinenko murdered over damaging file on Russian business partner. DNAIndia. 2006-12-16. 2006-01-22.
  83. News: Russian media shun poisoning case. BBC. 2006-11-20. 2006-12-26.
  84. The Litvinenko files: Berezovsky
  85. Web site: Police match image of Litvinenko's real assassin with his death-bed description. Times Online. 20 January 2007. 2006-01-22.
  86. Web site: Murder in a Teapot. "The Blotter" on 26 January 2007. 2006-01-26.
  87.,,1999128,00.html UK wants to try Russian for Litvinenko murder
  88. Web site: Russian faces Litvinenko charge. BBC News. 22 May 2007. 2007-05-22.
  89. Web site: Spy Murder Charge "Politically Motivated". Sky News. 22 May 2007. 2006-05-22.
  90. News: British Prosecutors to Press Murder Charges in Litvinenko Case. Voice of America. 2007-05-22. 22 May 2007.
  91. Web site: UK requests Lugovoi extradition. BBC. 2007-05-28. 28 May 2007.
  92. RIA Novosti - Russia - Wrap: Lugovoi says innocent, Berezovsky behind Litvinenko murder
  93. British envoy will press Russia on Litvinenko case
  94. News: Mitrokhin, spunta il traffico d'armi Sospettato il consulente di Guzzanti. La Repubblica. 29 November 2006. Italian. 2008-03-29.