2018-04-09 12:26:47 UTC
Russians accused of murder Moscow
Published time: 9 Apr, 2018 09:00, Edited time: 9 Apr, 2018 11:55
Polonium-210 was in London before the Russian citizens accused of
poisoning Aleksandr Litvinenko arrived there, and evidence pointed to
his patron Boris Berezovsky, Moscow has said, citing a German probe.
Russian prosecutors said this was proven by the UKs own data, which
it shared with Berlin.
The claim comes from the Russian Prosecutor Generals Office, which
shared documents relating to several high-profile crimes that happened
on British soil. Russia says it was unsatisfied by how Britain handled
them. Moscow officials pointed to what they see as flaws in relevant
probes on the British side, and have accused UK authorities of failing
to conduct proper investigations.
One of the cases was the poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinenko, a former
Russian intelligence officer and close associate of fugitive Russian
tycoon Boris Berezovsky. The standing narrative in the case in Britain
is that Litvinenko was poisoned with Polonium-210, a rare radioactive
substance, by two Russian citizens, Dmitry Kovtun and Andrey Lugovoy.
Neither stood trial for the crime, but British officials insist that
there was no other credible explanation for Litvinenkos killing.
Kovtun arrived in London before meeting Lugovoy and Litvinenko through
Hamburg, which involved German authorities in the investigation of the
case. Russian prosecutors on Monday showed a document issued in
November 2006 by the Hamburg city prosecutors office, which
contradict the narrative favored by London.
According to the conclusions of our German colleagues based on all
evidence collected by the Hamburg prosecutors, including that received
from Great Britain, including the tracking of trails of radiation left
by Polonium-210, the Polonium was in London before Lugovoy and Kovtun
arrived there on November 1, 2016, said Nikolay Atmoniev, an aide to
the Russian prosecutor general.
He added that, according to data received by the German prosecutors
from the British side, the highest level of radioactive contamination
was found at the London office of Boris Berezovsky and in the body of
Italian citizen Mario Scaramella.
Scaramella, a lawyer and nuclear expert, met Litvinenko on the day of
the poisoning and was exposed to Polonium-210. Media reports
conflicted about how serious the exposure was, ranging from just small
traces being found to Scaramella miraculously surviving a lethal dose.
Litvinenko was a confidant of Berezovsky, who among other things
provided evidence to British authorities that helped the fugitive
Russian businessman to receive political asylum in the UK. The status
shielded Berezovsky from criminal prosecution in Russia, where he was
accused of large-scale embezzlement.
According to Russian prosecutors, the two men had a falling out by
2006 and Litvinenko posed a threat to Berezovsky, because he could
expose the fraudulent nature of the case for the tycoons political
asylum, as well as the role played by British intelligence services in
protecting Berezovsky from Russian justice. Litvinenko was a paid
employee of MI6, according to the British media. Russian prosecutors
believe that Berezovsky may have had Litvinenko killed to protect his
status in the UK.
We have grounds to state that, at the time, Berezovsky was the person
with the strongest motive to kill Litvinenko; and the discovery of a
radioactive trace in his office is yet more evidence for the case
against him, Atmoniev said.
The media briefing was held in Moscow amid controversy surrounding the
poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his
daughter Yulia in Salisbury. The British authorities continue to
voice unsubstantiated accusations against Russia and its citizens in
the murder of Litvininko, and try to establish baseless parallels
between that case and the poisoning of the Skripals, the Russian
Much of the focus at the event was on Kazakh businessman Vladimir
Terluk. When Berezovsky was seeking asylum in Britain, Terluks
testimony that he was hired to assassinate Berezovsky convinced a
British judge that the Russian tycoon needed protection. Years later,
Terluk claimed in a TV interview that his 2003 testimony was false
and was targeted with a £150,000 ($211,300) libel lawsuit by
Last week, Terluk made a statement that was shown by the Russian
prosecutors. He claimed that he was approached by a Scotland Yard
officer in late January, whose name was redacted from the statement,
with an offer to make a public statement against Russia in exchange
for an extension of his residency permit in Britain. Terluk said he is
currently facing expulsion after his previous five-year permit
expired. The proposal reminded him of the experience he had in 2003,
when Litvinenko coerced him into giving false testimony to help
Berezovskys asylum case, he said.