Russia responsible for killing Alexander Litvinenko in London, European court rules

21 September 2021, 09:48 | Updated: 21 September 2021, 11:34

The former Russian agent was poisoned in London, and died weeks later
The former Russian agent was poisoned in London, and died weeks later. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

Russia was responsible for killing Alexander Litvinenko in London, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.

In a statement, the ECHR said it "found that Mr Litvinenko’s assassination was imputable to Russia".

The ruling "established beyond reasonable doubt" that the assassination was the work of former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun - something that a British inquiry also concluded in 2016, and that both men have always denied.

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Moscow has long been accused of orchestrating their former agent's agonising death.

The assassination was suspected to have been signed off by Vladimir Putin himself, another conclusion by the 2016 inquiry.

It also suggested his work for Britain and his criticism of the Russian regime as possible motives.

Mr Litvinenko's tea was poisoned with Polonium 210, a rare radioactive isotope, in 2006.

He died in hospital 22 days later.

Russia has always denied involvement in his death.

The 43-year-old ex-KGB officer fell ill after a meeting with former contacts in London 15 years ago at the Millennium hotel in Knightsbridge.

He had previously been an officer with the Federal Security Service - the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB - but he fled to the UK and went on to work with MI6.

He was also a vocal critic of the Russian state, and of Mr Putin himself - including a number of personal attacks, such as an allegation of paedophilia just months before he was poisoned.

Mr Litvinenko accused Mr Putin of his poisoning from his hospital bed.