(From Reuters)

President Vladimir Putin probably approved a 2006 Russian intelligence operation to murder ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 in London, a British inquiry concluded on Thursday, prompting a row with Moscow.

Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned with radioactive material
Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned with radioactive material

Russia, which had declined to cooperate in the inquiry, described Britain’s handling of the case as opaque and biased.

UK’s investigation was one-sided and conducted in a Cold War manner, Andy Brooks, the general secretary of the New Communist Party of Britain, told Sputnik on Thursday.

“The conclusion of the inquiry report is precisely based on the assumptions that are made by the British police… The Russian position and the Russian offer to cooperate with the British police has not been taken up,” Brooks said.

Litvinenko, 43, an outspoken critic of Putin who fled Russia for Britain exactly six years to the day before he was poisoned, died after drinking green tea laced with the rare radioactive isotope at London’s Millennium Hotel.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

An inquiry led by senior British judge Robert Owen found that former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun, carried out the killing as part of an operation probably directed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main heir to the Soviet-era KGB.

“The FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev, then head of the FSB, and also by President Putin,” Owen said.

“I have concluded that there is a strong probability that when Mr Lugovoy poisoned Mr Litvinenko, he did so under the direction of the FSB. I have further concluded that Mr Kovtun was also acting under FSB direction,” he said.

The death of Litvinenko marked a post-Cold War low point in Anglo-Russian relations, and ties have never recovered, marred further by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The British government said it would summon Russia’s ambassador.

“The conclusion that the Russian state was probably involved in the murder of Mr Litvinenko is deeply disturbing,” interior minister Theresa May told parliament.

“This was a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenets of international law and of civilized behavior.” Read More

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