European Court: Russia Behind the 2006 Poison Murder of Ex-Spy Alexander Litvinenko

The European Court of Human Rights finds it proven that Russia is behind the poison murder of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko. In 2006 he was killed by the radioactive substance Polonium 210, which was in his green tea. He died a few weeks later from the poisoning.


The Strasbourg court said in a case brought by his widow, Marina Litvinenko, that there is no doubt that the murder was committed on behalf of the Russian authorities by the two Russians, Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun.

Alexander Litvinenko (43) was an ex-agent of the KGB, the secret service of the Soviet Union. He also worked for the current secret service: FSB. Litvinenko had emigrated to Britain in 2000 after revealing the FSB’s working methods. He was naturalized as a British citizen in 2006 and lived in London at the time of the attack. After he drank the green tea with poisonous substance in the Millenium Hotel, it took weeks before Litvinenko died.

The European Court has only now found it proven that Russia was responsible for the death of the ex-spy.

A Kremlin spokesman rejected the Court’s conclusions, calling the ruling unfounded. He considers it unlikely that the court “has the power or technical capacity to have information on this subject”. The spokesman also said that Russia “is not prepared to accept such decisions”.

While Russia has always denied having anything to do with the assassination, a lengthy British investigation in 2016 found that President Putin ordered the FSB secret service to kill Litvinenko. The same investigation also revealed that former KGB operative Andrei Lugovoy and another Russian, Dmitry Kovtun, carried out the murder as part of the current Russian secret service operation.

After years of further investigation, the European Court found that these men carried out the murder. They found evidence in the arrangements made for them, such as the trip to England arranged by Russia and that they used a poison that is not common. The men have also tried to administer the poison several times, according to the investigation.

The Court concluded that a report in Moscow supports this information but that Russia has made no effort to submit the report to the Court.

Russia now has to pay the widow 100,000 euros in damages and 22,500 in costs. The additional compensation she had demanded was rejected. The verdict was handed down by seven judges. One of them, a Russian, has distanced himself from the verdict.

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