Europe Court Blames Russia For Killing Ex-Spy Litvinenko
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has blamed Russia for the killing of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko. The former Russian spy died in London in 2006 after drinking tea laced with a radioactive substance.
Tuesday’s ruling came while British police charged a third Russian suspect in the 2018 nerve agent attack on another ex-Russian agent in England.
The Strasbourg-based ECHR effectively backed the conclusion of a British inquiry that Russia was responsible for killing Litvinenko.
The former agent for Russia’s secret service KGB and the post-Soviet successor agency FSB defected from Russia in 2000 and fled to London. While in Britain, Litvinenko became involved in exposing corruption and links to organized crime in the Russian intelligence service.
He fell violently ill on November 1, 2006, after drinking tea with two Russian men at a London hotel. Litvinenko spent three weeks in the hospital before he died at age 43. His tea was found to have been laced with polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope.
The British inquiry concluded in early 2016 that Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun had killed Litvinenko.
Investigators also concluded that President Vladimir Putin had “probably approved” the operation.
Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, took the case to the ECHR, which backed the British conclusion in its verdict on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Court stressed there were strong indications that “in poisoning, Mr. Litvinenko, Mr. Lugovoi and Mr. Kovtun had been acting as agents of the Russian State.”
It also noted that the Russian government had, in its words, “failed to provide any other satisfactory and convincing explanation of the events or counter the findings of the U.K. inquiry.” Both Lugovoi and Kovtun deny any involvement in the killing.
Marina Litvinenko’s said the ruling about the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death sent a strong message. “The most important what we received now is that the Russian state is responsible for this crime.”
She added that the ruling “is a message not just for my circle. This is also a great message for people inside of Russia, Europe, and other parts of the world not to decide to give up their fight against this anti-democratic regime in Russia.”
The Court ordered Russia to pay her 100,000 euros ($117,000) in damages and 22,500 euros in costs. But the Kremlin brushed aside the European Court’s verdict with a spokesman saying they were “not ready to take such rulings on board.”
Tuesday’s ruling came while British police charged a third Russian suspect with poisoning another former Russian agent in England. Scotland Yard said prosecutors believe there is sufficient evidence to charge Denis Sergeev, who went by the alias “Sergey Fedotov,” with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, possessing and using a chemical weapon, and causing grievous bodily harm.
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were targeted in a nerve agent attack in March 2018 in the English city of Salisbury. British authorities said the attack had almost certainly approved “at a senior level of the Russian state.”
Moscow has vehemently denied the allegations.
The Skripals survived, but the attack later claimed the life of a British woman and left a man and a police officer seriously ill.
Police previously charged two other Russian military intelligence agents, known as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. Police said they traveled to Britain for the poisoning operation then flew back to Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the suspects were civilians.
The two suspects later appeared on Russian television, claiming they had visited Salisbury as tourists.
On Tuesday, police said they had evidence that the third suspect, Sergeev, was also a member of the Russian military intelligence service known as the GRU.
Arrest warrants have been issued for all three men.
Police said they would apply for the international police grouping Interpol to issue notices for Fedotov.
However, British prosecutors said they would not apply to Russia for Sergeev’s extradition because the Russian constitution does not permit the extradition of its nationals.
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