Key quotes from inquiry into ex-spy Litvinenko's killing

21st January 2016, Comments 0 comments

A report into the radiation poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko concluded on Thursday it was a Russian secret service operation that was "probably approved" by President Vladimir Putin.

The report identified the perpetrators as former KGB bodyguard Alexander Lugovoi and former Red Army soldier Dmitri Kovtun, who were named as suspects by British police after the 2006 killing.

Here are some of the key quotes from the report and the statement read out at the Royal Court of Justice in London by the inquiry's chairman, Robert Owen:

State responsibility?

"The FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Putin".

The FSB is Russia's domestic security service, the successor agency to the KGB, and Nikolai Patrushev was its head at the time of the murder.

"The open evidence that I have set out above establishes a strong circumstantial case that the Russian state was responsible for Mr Litvinenko's death."


"There can be no doubt that Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun."

"I am sure that Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun knew that they were using a deadly poison (as opposed, for example to a truth drug or a sleeping draught) and that they intended to kill Mr Litvinenko. I do not believe, however, that they knew precisely what the chemical that they were handling was, or the nature of all its properties."

"There is no evidence to suggest either Mr Lugovoi or Kovtun had any personal reason to kill Mr Litvinenko. All the evidence points in one direction, namely that when they killed Mr Litvinenko, they were acting on behalf of someone else."


"There were powerful motives for organisations and individuals within the Russian state to take action against Mr Litvinenko, including killing him. Mr Litvinenko was, as a result of his actions both before and after leaving Russia, regarded as having betrayed the FSB... Mr Litvinenko was an associate of leading opponents of the Putin regime and he had repeatedly targeted President Putin himself with highly personal public criticism," including an accusation of paedophilia made in July 2006.

"There is evidence suggesting that in the years prior to Mr Litvinenko's death the Russian state had been involved in the killing of a number of opponents of President Putin's administration."

Origin of poison?

"The use of polonium 210 is at the very least a strong indicator of state involvement."

"The polonium 210 used to kill Mr Litvinenko must have come from a reactor and such reactors are, in general, under state control."

But Owen said it was not possible to conclude "without more evidence that the polonium 210 in question either must have come, or even probably came, from Russia."

Two poisonings?

"I am sure that Mr Litvinenko did receive a first, smaller, dose of polonium 210 some time before the fatal dose on November 1, 2006."

"The forensic evidence suggests that the earlier dose is likely to have been received at the meeting... on October 16" at a private security company in London where Lugovoi and Kovtun were also present.

© 2016 AFP

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