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Russian investigators confirm 2006 murder attempt against Lugovoi

RIA Novosti

12:35 30/11/2011 MOSCOW, November 30 (RIA Novosti) - Former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi was a target, not a suspect, in the Polonium-210 poisoning that killed security service defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, the Russian Investigative Committee said.

Russian businessman and ex-KGB agent Dmitry Kovtun, another key witness in the Litvinenko case, was also a target, Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday a police source said that a criminal case into a murder attempt against Lugovoi had been opened. Lugovoi has declined to comment on the issue.

Litvinenko, a former KGB officer and outspoken critic of then-president Vladimir Putin, died in November 2006 in a London hospital after being poisoned with the radioactive substance polonium-210.

British investigators have until now accused Lugovoi of the murder and demanded his extradition, sparking a major diplomatic row between the two countries.

Russia has rejected British requests to extradite Lugovoi, citing its Constitution, which does not permit the extradition of Russian nationals. The row led to a drastic deterioration in bilateral relations. Lugovoi has denied all the charges.

Lugovoi, who is now a State Duma deputy for the right-wing LDPR party, faces re-election on December 4.

“Any information about a murder attempt on a politician ahead of the polls inevitably benefits him politically,” Alexei Mukhin, the head of the Center for Political Information said. “I have no doubt that the information about the murder attempt and the case opened into it is a thoroughly planned PR campaign.”

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