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Former KGB officer Kovtun refuses to testify in ex-spy Litvinenko inquiry

July 27, 2015, 17:46 UTC+3 LONDON

Kovtun said several months ago he was ready to testify by videolink from Moscow

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Dmitry Kovtun

Dmitry Kovtun

© TASS/Anton Novoderezhkin

LONDON, July 27. /TASS/. Russian businessman Dmitry Kovtun has refused to give testimony in a UK public inquiry into the death of former Federal Security Service agent Alexander Litvinenko. The High Court of Justice in London restarted the inquiry on Monday.

Kovtun said in an interview with the BBC he had been unable to contact with the relevant Russian investigator to get permission to give evidence at the inquiry and his testimony was technically impossible so far.

"Even if the investigator, who I have not been able to reach, gave me permission he would still have to make a decision on how much information I could disclose," he told the BBC.

Kovtun said several months ago he was ready to testify by videolink from Moscow to refute the evidence in the UK linking him to Litvinenko’s fatal poisoning in 2006.

Kovtun was expected to be heard on July 27, 28 and 29. However, in mid-July, Kovtun sent a letter to the British investigative authorities, saying he felt bound by obligations of confidentiality and wanted guarantees that his testimony by videolink would not breach Russian or international laws.

The UK investigation into Litvinenko’s death was expected to be completed on March 30-31. However, the probe was extended on March 19 after the British investigators received a request from Kovtun whose extradition London has been seeking since 2012 for giving him the status of a key participant in the process.

This status was granted to Kovtun who insists that he is not in any way involved in Litvinenko’s death like another former Russian intelligence officer Andrei Lugovoi.

Lugovoi and Kovtun met with Litvinenko shortly before his death and were named as the main suspects in the case.

Litvinenko who had been an officer of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, defected to England where he received political asylum. He died in London on November 23, 2006. As an expert study found, he was poisoned with radioactive polonium.

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