Putin accused from deathbed

By | November 24, 2006

Putin accused from deathbed

A former Russian spy who died in an apparent poisoning signed a statement on his deathbed blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin and labeling him “as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.”The British government said Alexander Litvinenko‘s death was linked to a radioactive substance, polonium-210, in his body. Home Secretary John Reid, the country’s top law-and-order official, said experts had been called in to search for “residual radioactive material” at a number of locations.

Litvinenko’s statement, read to reporters outside the hospital where the former spy died, accused the Russian leader of having “no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value.”

Litvinenko’s friend and spokesman Alex Goldfarb said the former spy had dictated the statement before he lost consciousness Tuesday, and signed it in the presence of his wife, Marina.

Putin’s government strongly denied involvement. … “It’s so silly and unbelievable that it’s not worth comment,” said Peskov in Helsinki, Finland, where Putin is at a summit with European Union leaders. … Doctors said the cause of his illness remained a mystery, discounting an earlier theory that the 43-year-old father of three had been poisoned with the toxic metal thallium or a radioactive substance.

… Friend Andrei Nekrasov, who spoke to Litvinenko just before he lost consciousness, said he had accused Russian intelligence services of poisoning him. Friends said Litvinenko had been on a quest to uncover corruption in Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, and unmask the killers of another trenchant critic of the Putin government, journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

“He was completely convinced it was the FSB. There was no doubt in his mind who it was,” Nekrasov told Associated Press. He said Litvinenko had told him: “The bastards got me, but they won’t get everybody.” Litvinenko told police that he believed he had been poisoned November 1, while investigating the slaying of Politkovskaya.

His hair fell out, his throat became swollen and his immune and nervous systems were severely damaged. – standard

See also: TimesUK

Scotland Yard confirmed that traces of the element, an extremely rare chemical that is relatively harmless unless ingested, inhaled or otherwise introduced to the bloodstream, had been found at Litvinenko’s home in Muswell Hill, North London, and at the sushi bar in Piccadilly and the Millenium Mayfair hotel in Grosvenor Square, where the former spy held two meetings hours before falling ill. … The identity of the poison dramatically catalysed the investigation into Litvinenko’s death. Chemists said that a fatal dose of polonium could only be produced artificially, by a particle accelerator or nuclear reactor.

“This is not some random killing. This is not a tool chosen by a group of amateurs. These people had some serious resources behind them,” Dr Andrea Sella, a lecturer in chemistry at University College London, told Reuters.

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