Russians sharply criticize UK spy death inquiry

A public inquiry has concluded that the murder of former spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 was likely approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Following the release of the investigation's findings on Thursday, Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, slammed the findings.

— Owen says that Litvinenko's vocal criticisms of the FSB, his association with leading opponents of the Putin administration and his alleged work for British intelligence meant that "there were powerful motives for organizations and individuals within the Russian State to take action" against him — including killing him.

Russia's ambassador to London says a British inquiry's findings into Alexander Litvinenko's death is a "provocation".

The chair of the independent inquiry was certain Mr Litvinenko was given tea laced with a fatal dose of radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel. The inquiry identified Lugovoi and ex-KGB agent Dmitri Kovtun as the likely perpetrators of the poisoning.

There was also "undoubtedly a personal dimension to the antagonism" between Mr Putin and Mr Litvinenko, he said.

Richard Horwell, the lawyer acting for London police, told the inquiry the Russian state might have wanted Litvinenko dead for many reasons, including his defection to Britain, his accusations of Kremlin corruption, his sympathy for Chechen separatists and his claims about Putin's lifestyle.

It was reported that after the poisoning took place 10 years ago at the Pine Bar in the Millennium Hotel, traces of the lethal radioactive substance were found in offices, hotels, planes and in a soccer stadium at London.

The murder came against a backdrop of a long running personal feud between Putin and Litvinenko who had accused the Russian President of being a paedophilia.

"We regret that what was a purely criminal case was politicised and has clouded the general atmosphere of our bilateral ties", she said. "The history between the two men dated back to their (only) meeting in 1998, at a time when Mr. Putin was the newly appointed head of the FSB".

Britain's government announced the Litvinenko inquiry in 2014 in what was seen as a punishment for Russia days after the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made missile. The report doesn't offer any direct evidence linking Putin to Litvinenko's assassination, but Owen concludes there is "strong circumstantial evidence of Russian state responsibility".

Moscow has always strongly denied involvement in Litvinenko's death, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zhakarova said Thursday that the government does not consider Owen's conclusions to be objective or impartial.

Marina Litvinenko, widow of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, reads a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. His cause of death was acute radiation syndrome.

She urged the United Kingdom government to expel all Russian intelligence operatives, impose economic sanctions on Moscow and impose a travel ban on Mr Putin.

LITVINENKO'S WIFE: IMPOSE SANCTIONS Marina Litvinenko said she was "very pleased that the words my husband spoke on his deathbed when he accused Putin of his murder have been proved by an English court".

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