Long-awaited British report to blame Kremlin for ex-KGB spy’s death

Alexander LitvinenkoThe long-awaited concluding report of a public inquiry into the death of a former Soviet spy in London in 2006, is expected to finger the Russian state as the perpetrator of the murder. Alexander Litvinenko was an employee of the Soviet KGB and one of its successor organizations, the FSB, until 2000, when he defected with his family to the United Kingdom. He soon became known as a vocal critic of the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2006, Litvinenko came down with radioactive poisoning after meeting two former KGB/FSB colleagues, Dmitri Kovtun and Andrey Lugovoy, at a London restaurant. In July of 2007, after establishing the cause of Litvinenko’s death, which is attributed to the highly radioactive substance Polonium-210, the British government officially charged the two Russians with murder and issued international warrants for their arrest. Whitehall also announced the expulsion of four Russian diplomats from London. The episode, which was the first public expulsion of Russian envoys from Britain since end of the Cold War, is often cited as marking the beginning of the worsening of relations between the West and post-Soviet Russia.

A public inquiry into the death of Litvinenko, ordered by the British state, has taken over six months to conclude. In the process, the judge in charge, Sir Robert Owen, has heard from 62 witnesses. The latter include members of the Secret Intelligence Service, known commonly as MI6, for which the late Russian former spy worked after his arrival in Britain. The release of the inquiry’s report is expected this week. But British media have quoted unnamed “government sources” as saying that the long-awaited document will point to the Russian state as the instigator, planner and execution of Litvinenko’s death. One source was quoted as saying that the report will identify “a clear line of command” and that “it will be very clear that the orders came from the Kremlin”.

It is not believed, however, that the report will point to Russian President Vladimir Putin as having had a role in the former spy’s murder. Nevertheless, there is speculation in London and Moscow about the British government’s possible response to the inquiry’s report. One unnamed source told the British press that the report’s findings would place Whitehall “in a difficult position”, given London’s current cooperation with Russia in Syria. However, the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to face renewed pressure from the public and from opposition parties to take action against Russia, should it be confirmed this week that the Kremlin was indeed behind Litvinenko’s killing.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 21 January 2016 | Permalink

2 Responses to Long-awaited British report to blame Kremlin for ex-KGB spy’s death

  1. spyculture says:

    I honestly doubt that David Cameron will face any pressure over this – this is a man who has presided over a system where people who are dying of cancer are refused help because they are declared ‘fit for work’. Why should anyone in the UK care about one dead spook?

  2. This case has always smelled to high heaven. Litvinenko had all the wrong friends/trusted all the wrong people. As sloppy as the hit on him was, with people the British have an ax to grind with (the Russians) purportedly to blame, Litvinenko’s MI6 employer should be every bit as suspect as anyone.

    Possibly Litvinenko’s *truly fatal* mistake was to begin working with Spanish authorities on the illicit heroin trade at a time when a British ambassador who had been recently fired subsequently penned an essay ‘Britain protecting the biggest heroin crop of all time’ coinciding with revelations both CIA & MI6 had been paying millions in off-record cash to the Karzai government in Kabul (noting Hamid Karzai’s brother, Walid, was both; renting a large compound to the CIA and concurrently playing kingpin in Afghanistan’s heroin trade)

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