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Poisoned Spy on Deathbed: Putin Ordered My Murder

Litvinenko named Russian leader before death, public inquiry in Britain is told
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2015 9:10 AM CST
Poisoned Spy on Deathbed: Putin Ordered My Murder
A 2002 file photo of Alexander Litvinenko.   (AP Photo/Alistair Fuller, File)

(Newser) – Well, somebody put poison in Alexander Litvinenko's tea, and before he died, the former KGB agent told police in London that he had a pretty good idea who was behind it, reports the Guardian. And, yes, he named exactly who you think he named:

  • “Having knowledge of this system I know that this order about such a killing of a citizen of another country on its territory, especially if it is something to do with Great Britain, could have been given only by one person,” Litvinenko said from his hospital room in November 2006. "That person is the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin."

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Litvinenko's high-profile death is the subject of a public inquiry that opened today in Britain and is expected to last 10 weeks, reports the New York Times. The court heard his deathbed allegations this morning. The 43-year-old Litvinenko had been a KGB officer who fled Russia for the UK in 2000 and then became a fierce critic of the Kremlin. He died 22 days after having tea at a posh hotel with two Russians, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, both of whom are expected to testify by video. The Kremlin has long denied any role in his death. The BBC, meanwhile, reports that the poisoning via a radioactive isotope called polonium 210 may have actually been the third such attempt on Litvinenko's life using polonium. (Read more Alexander Litvinenko stories.)

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