In November 2006, a former Soviet spy who became an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin showed up in a hospital in England with a severe case of radiation poisoning. The element found in his body, polonium-210, was extremely rare. It is also extremely toxic to humans and, within three weeks, Alexander Litvinenko was dead.
Suspicion immediately fell on the KGB, and two people Litvinenko met with, who left traces of polonium pretty much everywhere they went. British investigators found it in the cars they used and the hotel they stayed in, a couple Russian Bros just leaking radiation.
In a statement left behind and opened after his death, Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of being behind his assassination. Putin denied it, but a long-awaited inquiry by British officials just released found that, yup, Putin ordered it. From The New York Times.
A high-profile British inquiry into the poisoning of Alexander V. Litvinenko, a former K.G.B. officer turned critic of the Kremlin, concluded in a report released on Thursday that his murder “was probably approved” by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the head of the country’s spy service.
Judge [Robert] Owen did not provide any direct evidence linking Mr. Putin or any other high-level Russian officials to the killing, and he acknowledged that he had based his findings on “strong circumstantial evidence of Russian state responsibility.” That included the likely origin of the polonium that was used to poison Mr. Litvinenko being a Russian reactor, and the fact that there were “powerful motives for organizations and individuals within the Russian state to take action” against him.
Basically, duh. People don’t just get to go into reactors in Russia, grab some polonium, and say BRB. Of course, all Russia had to say to this was LOL whatever.
“We regret that the strictly criminal case has been politicized and has darkened the general atmosphere of bilateral relations,” said Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Moscow, the news agency Interfax reported.
Right. Oh, by the way, one of the men accused of killing Litvinenko, Andrei K. Lugovoi, is now a member of parliament in Russia and received a medal from Putin for “things.”
Mr. Lugovoi, now a member of Parliament in Russia and the recipient of a medal from Mr. Putin, said the accusation that he murdered Mr. Litvinenko was “absurd.”
Russia’s great, man.
Britain would like the two men to return to England to be tried for their crimes, but I’m guessing that ain’t happening.
[Via The New York Times]