British retired High Court Judge Robert Owen concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” ordered two former officials to poison ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
I am sure Mr [Andrei] Lugovoi and Mr [Dmitri] Kovtun were acting on behalf of others when they poisoned Mr Litvinenko.
When Mr Lugovoy poisoned Mr Litvinenko, it is probable that he did so under the direction of the FSB [Russia’s Federal Security Service]. I would add that I regard that as a strong probability. I have found that Mr Kovtun also took part in the poisoning. I conclude therefore that he was also acting under FSB direction, possibly indirectly through Mr Lugovoy but probably to his knowledge.
The FSB operation to kill Mr Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr [Nikolai] Patrushev and also by President Putin.
Owen came to the conclusion because Litvinenko died of radioactive polonium 210 “that had been manufactured in a nuclear reactor.” He could not find any personal reasons why Lugovoy and Kovtun would want the ex-spy to die.
In March, Lugovoi received a state medal due to “his contribution to developing Russia’s parliament.” The Moscow Times reported it is “for services to the fatherland” while The Guardian claimed it is “for services to the motherland.” He is also the deputy of the pro-Kremlin Democrat Party and the “deputy of the state Duma committee on security and countering corruption.”
Owen wrote that the honor showed a “deliberate sign of public support made by President Putin.”
Litvinenko fell out of favor with Putin after he accused his superiors of trying to assassinate tycoon Boris Berezovsky. In 2000, he took his family to London, where he was granted political asylum.
Litvinenko accused Putin of being a pedophile after he kissed a young boy on the stomach. He also claimed people who knew Putin at the Andropov Institute, a training ground for future KGB agents, said Putin was a pedophile. This is the reason why bosses did not accept him into foreign intelligence, he claimed, which “was a very unusual twist for a career of an Andropov Institute’s graduate with fluent German.”
He also blamed the FSB for bombing numerous apartment buildings in 1999, which killed 300 people. Authorities blamed Chechen militants, but it was Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who screamed and promised revenge. This allowed a “virtually unknown bureaucrat to sweep into the presidency months later.”
“They changed the situation by favoring a prime minister nobody knew, with a dubious, dark biography,” explained political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky. “Two things brought about Putin’s victory: the bombings and the phrase about wiping out terrorists in the outhouse.”
Before he died, Litvinenko pointed the finger at Putin one last time.
“You may succeed in silencing one man, but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life,” he said.
The United Kingdom opened the inquiry in July 2014. The Kremlin always refused to extradite Lugovoi and Kovtun to the government.
His widow Marina has maintained that Putin killed her husband.
“Now it is time for David Cameron,” she declared. “I am calling immediately for the expulsion from the UK of all Russian intelligence operatives, whether from the FSB or for other Russian agencies based in the London Embassy. I’m also calling for the imposing of targeted economic sanctions and travel bans against named individuals, including Mr. Putin.”
Russian officials dismissed the report.
“We regret that a purely criminal case has been politicized and has darkened the general atmosphere of our bilateral relations,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.