Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of many crimes; from stealing a super bowl ring from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to fighting an undeclared war on Ukraine using troops without insignia. Now he is being accused of ordering the assassination of a former Russian agent in London, reports BBC News today.
Mr Litvinenko was lieutenant colonel for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). He became a pain to Russian President Vladimir Putin for publicly decrying corruption from within the government. He even published a book, Blowing up Russia: Terror from within, in which he alleges Russia’s own agents were responsible for the apartment bombing in Moscow in 1999. Those bombings killed over 200 people and wounded another 1,742. Chechen terrorists were blamed for the attack and ultimately it led to Russia’s war against Chechnya. In 2000, Litvinenko fled to the UK seeking asylum-fearing persecution from the Russian state. He became a British citizen and was believed to work as an informative with MI6.
In 2013 Litvinenko met with two former Russian agents Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun at his hotel for tea. He died three weeks later and his post mortem examination confirmed he was poisoned by a radioactive substance polonium-210.
The high concentrations of the nuclear substance found in his body led scientists to believe it was a state orchestrated assassination since the high concentration of polonium-210 can only come from a nuclear reactor or a particle accelerator, facilities that only a government would have access to.
The UK attempted to extradite Andrei Lugovoi from Russia with enough evidence to charge him with murder. However, Putin denied it, stating it was against Russian law to hand over any Russian citizen to a foreign country. He also blatantly denies any involvement in Litvinenko’s murder by him or his government. Andrei Lugovoi also states he is completely innocent and is confident the UK has no evidence to prove otherwise.
In his deathbed statement read by Litvinenko’s friend Alex Goldfarb to reporters, Litvinenko addressed Putin directly.
“You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price, you have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.”
His wife Marina Litvinenko hopes these finding by the British court will lead to more actions by the UK against Russia. In a statement to the press outside London’s Royal Courts of Justice she said:
“My husband was killed by agents of the Russian state in the first-ever act of nuclear terrorism on the streets of London, this could not have happened without the knowledge or consent of Mr. Putin. Now it is time for David Cameron. I am calling immediately for the expulsion from the UK of all Russian intelligence operatives and I’m also calling for the imposing of targeted economic sanctions and travel bans against named individuals, including Mr. Putin.”