Alexander Litvinenko: Putin 'probably' approved murder of russian spy, UK

The latest developments in the lengthy British public inquiry into the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

"The FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev, then head of the FSB, and also by President Putin", Mr Owen said.

"The report was not quite so categorical", adds Bullough, "about who exactly ordered them to do it. But it says it is probable that President Putin stood behind this murder".

It said: "We regret the only criminal case was politicised and overshadowed the general setting of bilateral relationships".

The former spy died of radioactive poisoning in November 2006 after drinking tea at a London hotel contaminated with the substance polonium-210.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says the report is neither objective nor impartial. "Yes, we do, but we do it with clear eyes and a very cold heart", he said.

"Russia was hoping for cooperation with the British in investigating this case.

The results of the inquiry published today are yet more proof of London's anti-Russian stance, its blinkered thinking and... unwillingness to establish the true cause of Litvinenko's death".

Among the many questions the inquest was directed to answer were these: "Possible involvement of Russian state agencies in Alexander Litvinenko's death." and "Possible involvement of United Kingdom intelligence agencies in Alexander Litvinenko's death".

A former intelligence officer with the FSB, Litvinenko became an outspoken critic of Putin and worked for British intelligence after he sought asylum in 2000. The British government also froze the assets of the suspected killers, Lugovoi and Kovtun, who now reside in Russian Federation.

Lugovoy was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the accusation was absurd.

The inquiry, convened following a long legal battle by Mr Litvinenko's widow Marina, took evidence from dozens of witnesses and examined a huge number of documents.

Zhakarova adds "clearly the decision to suspend the coroner's inquest and begin "public hearings" was politically motivated".

There was also "definitely an individual dimension to the antagonism" between Mr Putin and Mr Litvinenko, he explained.

Mr Litvinenko was close to leading Russian dissidents and opponents of Putin and his administration, whom he had accused of collusion with organised crime, and had made highly personal allegations about the Kremlin chief. British Prime Minister David Cameron will come under pressure to respond robustly to the state-sponsored assassination of a United Kingdom citizen on the streets of London, The Guardian reported.

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