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Late Russian tycoon ‘had key interest’ in Litvinenko’s death, prosecutor’s office reveals

Litvinenko’s death could have been exploited as a new excuse for another round of anti-Russian hysteria, an adviser to the Russian prosecutor general assumed
Boris Berezovsky, 2005 Vladimir Starkov/TASS
Boris Berezovsky, 2005
© Vladimir Starkov/TASS

MOSCOW, April 9. /TASS/. Late Russian magnate Boris Berezovsky had the most to gain from the death of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko and the radioactive traces that turned up in his office confirm this, an adviser to the Russian prosecutor general Nikolai Atmonyev said.

The British police said the maximum degree of radiation contamination was detected in Berezovsky’s London office and also in the body of Italian citizen Mario Scaramella, Atmonyev told reporters.

According to the German side, Litvinenko met with Scaramella in November 2006, before meeting with Russian citizens Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun. "So, Lugovoy’s poisoning could have occurred either in Berezovsky’s office and as we believe, we have all grounds to consider that at that moment Berezovsky held a key interest in Litvinenko’s killing."

Before his death, Litvinenko could have testified against Berezovsky, Atmonyev said. "During the investigation we found out that by November 2006, when Litvinenko had died, his relations with Berezovsky had significantly worsened. Litvinenko could have given derogatory evidence against him."

Litvinenko’s death could have been exploited as a new excuse for another round of anti-Russian hysteria, he noted.

The prosecutors in Hamburg abandoned proceedings in this case due to the absence of grounds for pressing charges in November 2009. However, the British authorities continue making unfounded accusations against Russia and its citizens in connection with Litvinenko’s murder and make similar accusations in connection with the poisoning of the Skripal family in Salisbury.

He also recalled that the United Kingdom had refused to protect witnesses in the case of Boris Berezovsky and recommended that Russia resolve this issue through Interpol. The Russian prosecutors also sent 39 requests between 2006 and December 2011 to protect a defendant in the case, Vladimir Terlyuk.

Terlyuk, a native of Kazakhstan who had lived in the UK since 1999, turned to Russian prosecutors in July 2006. "Terlyuk testified against Boris Berezovsky and his accomplices. He had been persistently subjected to threats from them and due to the inaction of the competent British authorities, he was forced to turn to the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office to ask for state protection," he noted.

Alexander Litvinenko was an officer with the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB), but he fled to the UK where he was granted asylum. On November 23, 2006, Litvinenko died in London. Experts say a radioactive substance - polonium-210 - allegedly killed him, but the circumstances behind his death have not yet been established and remain a matter of dispute. Lawyers for Litvinenko’s widow admitted that he had been working for the intelligence agencies of the UK (MI6) and of Spain prior to his death. He was granted a British passport shortly before his death.

In late January 2016, London unveiled a report from the public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death. The document accused Russia of complicity in his death, and former FSB officer and Russian citizens Lugovoy and Kovtun were labelled the perpetrators of the murder. However, the court was unable to confirm the Russian origin of polonium, which was used for Litvinenko’s poisoning, according to British experts.

The Russian prosecutors launched their own investigation into Litvinenko’s death and over the attempt murder of Dmitry Kovtun. Lugovoy and Kovtun are considered as victims in the case.