British report finds Russian leadership behind 2006 killing of ex-KGB agent
Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:35PM
Britain's Foreign Office has summoned the Russian ambassador to London after a British public inquiry alleged President Vladimir Putin behind the 2006 murder of former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko in the UK.
Home Secretary Theresa May told parliament on Thursday that the likely state involvement in the killing was 'a blatant and unacceptable breach of the most fundamental tenets of international law'.
'It is not the way for any state, let alone a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to behave,' a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
Following the report into the murder of Litvinenko, London has imposed asset freezes on the two Russians identified as key perpetrators.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has rejected the report that blames Putin as likely behind signing off the poisoning due to his personal differences with Litvinenko.'We regret that the purely criminal case was politicized and overshadowed the general atmosphere of bilateral relations.'
The ministry added that the inquiry had 'not been transparent' thus unbiased process could not be expected.
Litvinenko worked for Russian intelligence before he fled to Britain in 2000 where he turned a fierce critic of the Russian leadership. He died at the age of 43 in London in 2006 after he took tea that was found with radioactive substance.
The British report has found Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, two Russians deliberately poisoning the tea, a charge both deny.
Meanwhile, Litvinenko's widow has welcomed the report. 'The words my husband spoke on his deathbed when he accused Putin have been proved by an English court,' she said.
In a statement, Marina Litvinenko also urged London to expel all Russian intelligence operatives and impose economic sanctions on Moscow.
The UK is not expected to punish Russia for fear of damaging relations. But the Home Office has said that international arrest warrants against the two men remained in place.
The British government had originally rejected the idea of an inquiry. It was later set up by the government at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in January 2015, led by Sir Robert Owen.
According to Owen, the two suspects Lugovoi and Kovtun probably acted under the direction of Moscow's FSB intelligence service.
But responding to the report, Lugovoi, who is now a politician in Russia, said the accusations against him were 'absurd'. 'As we expected, there were no surprises,' he was quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax as saying.
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