Russia Responsible For Assassination Of Alexander Litvinenko, Court Rules

by : Julia Banim on : 21 Sep 2021 09:43
Russia Responsible For Assassination Of Alexander Litvinenko, Court RulesChannel 4/Alamy

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia is responsible for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko.

Former Russian FSB agent Litvinenko fled Russia in 1998, after going public about allegedly being asked to look into the possibility of assassinating a wealthy businessman. He was granted asylum in the UK along with his family as of 2001, and acquired British citizenship in 2006.


Litvinenko died in London in 2006 at the age of 43, three weeks after drinking tea that had been poisoned with the rare radioactive isotope, Polonium 210. Russia has always denied any involvement in the killing.

Grave of Alexander Litvinenko (Alamy)Alamy

The court has now ruled that ‘Russia was responsible for the assassination of Aleksandr Litvinenko in the UK’, and that a public inquiry had determined that ‘the assassination had been carried out by a certain Mr [Andrey] Lugovoy and a Mr [Dmitriy] Kovtun, who had been acting on behalf of someone else’.

According to this statement:


The Court found in particular that there was a strong prima facie case that, in poisoning Mr Litvinenko, Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun had been acting as agents of the Russian State.

It noted that the Government had failed to provide any other satisfactory and convincing explanation of the events or counter the findings of the UK inquiry.

It was found that, in October 2006, Lugovoy, a ‘long-standing acquaintance of Mr Litvinenko’, visited London a total three times, and was each time accompanied by Kovtun.

The first visit took place October 16, 2006, at which time a meeting took place between Lugovoy, Kovtun, Litvinenko and others, with the group going to dinner together.


Later that same night, Litvinenko vomited and was reportedly ill for the next two days. The day afterwards, Lugovoy and Kovtun checked out of their hotel room a day early, and it was later discovered that the room contained ‘significant polonium contamination, with signs pointing to the substance having been poured down the sink plughole’.

Lugovoy visited London for a second time from October 25-28, during which time he met with Litvinenko. Again, a ‘pattern of polonium contamination consistent with accidental
spillage was detected in his hotel room’.

The third London visit took place on October 21, with Lugovoy and Kovtun joining Litvinenko for tea in the bar of London’s Millennium Hotel.


As per a press release from the court, ‘extensive traces of polonium were found, including in the teapot and the men’s toilets, which had been used by the former two but not by Mr Litvinenko’.

Litvinenko became ill on November 2, 2006, suffering ‘vomiting, abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea’, and was admitted to hospital the following day.

He passed away on November 23, 2006, with the cause of death ‘established to be acute radiation syndrome caused by very high levels of polonium 210, which had entered the body as a soluble compound via ingestion’.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

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