Alexander Litvinenko, a former KBG officer turned Russian dissident, died in 2006 after drinking green tea laced with polonium 210 in the company of two Russian men at a hotel bar in London. A British inquiry into his murder has found that Vladimir Putin “probably approved” it.
In the final inquiry report released today, author Robert Owen concludes that the men who were with Litvinenko the night he was poisoned, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, were “acting on behalf of others when they poisoned Mr. Litvinenko.” Lugovoi, now a member of Russian parliament, and Kovtun deny involvement in the crime.
“Taking full account of all the evidence and analysis available to me,” Judge Owen said in the report, “I find that the F.S.B. operation to kill Mr. Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr. Patrushev and also by President Putin.”
“I am sure that Mr. Lugovoi and Mr. Kovtun placed the polonium 210 in the teapot at the Pine Bar” on Nov. 1, 2006, Judge Owen’s report said. “I am sure that Mr. Lugovoi and Mr. Kovtun knew that they were using a deadly poison.”
He added: “I am sure that Mr. Lugovoi and Mr. Kovtun were acting on behalf of others when they poisoned Mr. Litvinenko.”
The report notes that there was personal “antagonism” between Putin and Litvinenko before the poisoning.
The BBC reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry has already called the report “politicized.” British Home Secretary Theresa May responded by saying that the U.K. will now place “asset freezes” on Lugovoi and Kovtun and keep the international arrest warrants for them in place. May added that British Prime Minister David Cameron will talk to Putin about the report at “the next available opportunity.”