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Independent: Who killed Litvinenko?

Alexander Litvinenko was a man who could be taught little about the seamy side of modern Russia. A KGB agent for 18 years, he occupied a world where intrigue, betrayal and ruthless trickery were the tools of working life.

But even a man whose job was to fight organised crime and counter subversion in the name of the Kremlin would have been surprised at an event as mired in low chicanery, high drama and cold-blooded cunning as his own passing. The spy novel saga of the life and death of the 43-year-old secret agent turned vehement critic of Vladimir Putin entered its most extraordinary phase yesterday when it was revealed that he died from exposure to a radioactive poison.

Last night, the Government was dealing with a public health alert and diplomatic crisis after traces of polonium 210, a by-product of uranium, were found at Mr Litvinenko's home as well as a sushi restaurant and London hotel he visited on 1 November.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed that traces of the heavy metal, which is lethal if ingested in tiny quantities, were found in Mr Litvinenko's urine.

Until he died from heart failure on Thursday night, doctors had failed to pinpoint the cause of symptoms that reduced a man who ran five miles every day to a "ghost" with a crippled immune system and a useless liver. A post-mortem will not be carried out until it is deemed safe for hospital staff to do so.

by Fran on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 01:07:02 AM EST
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It appears that the poison used was Plutonium.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:25:24 AM EST
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Polonium not plutonium

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 05:51:33 AM EST
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The fact that he was poisoned in such a way was evidently intended to send a message. But to whom ?

Polonium is pretty damn rare, extremely hard to get hold of and dangerous to use. All of which is intended to say that this was State-sanctioned assassination. Even thallium would not be so explicit, and if they simply wanted him dead there are loads of ways to do it, many of which would not leave state-fingerprints on it.

Which makes me seriously question that this was anything to do with Putin, if anybody has seriously suggested it. Russia simply does not need this, even Chechnya, once so useful domestically, is proving to be an international embarrassment they don't need.

And like the killing of Politskskaya, I think the obviousness of the trail pointing at the Govt is a reason to say it isn't. It's too clumsy and ham-fisted.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:08:57 AM EST
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