Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of Alexander Litvinenko. The New Statesman has a brilliant memoir by one of Litvinenko’s closest friends. Although the British efforts to demand justice have been stonewalled by the neo-Soviet Kremlin, the matter is far from over, as the BBC reports:
The friends and family of the murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko today confirmed they were taking the case to the European court of human rights. Legal papers were filed [Thursday] accusing the Russian government of complicity in the murder and of failing to carry out a proper investigation into the death. Litvinenko died a year ago, three weeks after drinking tea from a pot laced with polonium-210 at a central London meeting with the ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi and his associate Dmitry Kovtun. The UK director of public prosecutions recommended the extradition of Lugovoi on murder charges in May but the Russian authorities refused to comply.
Speaking on the anniversary of her husband’s death, Litvinenko’s widow, Maria, accused the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of protecting and endorsing her husband’s killer. She said: “By doing so, Mr Putin has tainted his office, his government and himself with this horrendous crime. He turned a murderer into a national symbol. “At the very least, this makes him an accessory after the fact. And it adds credence to my husband’s last statement alleging that it was Mr Putin who ordered his murder in the first place.” Mrs Litvinenko said she still hoped the British authorities would succeed in extraditing Lugovoi to face justice in London. “It’s still a very personal case for me. I lost my husband and I want to know who was behind the killing,” she said. “I promise we will find who is responsible for this. Without this knowledge, we just cannot feel we are safe.”
The solicitor, Louise Christian, said a US nuclear expert had traced the radioactive isotope used to poison Litvinenko to the Avangard plant in Russia. She said the expert believed that it was “almost certain” the Russian state was behind the poisoning because the substance was kept in such high-security conditions. “We believe that, if the Russian government were serious about this matter, they would be cooperating with the British investigation and the request for extradition,” she said. Christian warned that the European court action would be a “long and drawn-out procedure” which could take many years. The London-based Russian exile, Boris Berezovsky, whose £500,000 donation started the Litvinenko Justice Foundation, insisted he would never give up the fight. “Western governments know perfectly well that Mr Putin’s regime carried out this nuclear terrorist attack in London in November last year,” he said. “But they chose not to back British sanctions with their own. Appeasement will only encourage Mr Putin’s criminal habits. “If he gets away with this murder, I predict he will continue his terror campaign.”
Alexander Litvinenko’s father, Walter, branded his son’s murderers “gangsters” who thought they could “get away with anything”. “As a reward, the chief executioner of my son, Mr Lugovoi, has now been given a seat in the Duma,” he said. “The main executioner, Mr Putin, is afraid to leave his position, as he wants to maintain his power in order to cover up this crime.” He also called on European and western leaders to take the situation in Russia “extremely seriously, because the gas and oil they buy from Russia may turn into something rather more sinister”.
“I trust my son did not die in vain, and the truth and justice for which he was fighting will prevail in the whole of the world, including Russia,” he said.
A reader points out the travesty that is state-controlled propaganda outlet Russia Today’s coverage of this matter: