President Putin ‘Probably’ Approved Litvinenko Murder | WakaWaka Reporters
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President Putin ‘Probably’ Approved Litvinenko Murder

The murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 in the UK was ‘probably’ approved by President Vladimir Putin, an inquiry has found. Mr Putin is likely to have signed off the poisoning of Mr Litvinenko with polonium-210 in part due to personal “antagonism” between the pair, it said.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the murder was a “blatant and unacceptable” breach of international law.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry said the public inquiry was “politicised”.

It said: “We regret that the purely criminal case was politicised and overshadowed the general atmosphere of bilateral relations.”

Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina welcomed the report, calling for sanctions to be imposed on Russia and a travel ban on Mr Putin.

Her husband died aged 43 in London in 2006, days after drinking tea poisoned with the radioactive substance.

The former Russian spy – who is believed to have later worked for MI6 – had been a fierce critic of the Kremlin.

The long-awaited report into his death found two Russian men – Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun – deliberately poisoned Mr Litvinenko. They both deny killing him.

Sir Robert Owen, the public inquiry chairman, said Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun were probably acting under the direction of Moscow’s FSB intelligence service.

Giving a statement to the House of Commons, Mrs May said the UK would now impose asset freezes on Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun and that international arrest warrants for the pair remained in place.

Prime Minister David Cameron would also raise the findings with President Putin at “the next available opportunity”, Mrs May added.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the report’s conclusions were “extremely disturbing”, saying: “It is not the way for any state, let alone a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to behave.”

Speaking earlier outside London’s High Court, Mrs Litvinenko said she was “very happy” that “the words my husband spoke on his deathbed when he accused Mr Putin have been proved by an English court”.

She urged the UK government to expel all Russian intelligence operatives and impose economic sanctions on Moscow. (BBC)