Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service, FSB and KGB, who fled from court prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdom. According to his wife and father, he was working for MI6 and MI5 after receiving the asylum.
Upon his arrival to London, he continued to support the Russian oligarch in exile, Boris Berezovsky, in his media campaign against the Russian government.
In the UK, Litvinenko became a journalist for a Chechen separatist site, Chechenpress. Litvinenko wrote two books, Blowing up Russia: Terror from within and Lubyanka Criminal Group, where he accused the Russian secret services of staging Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts to bring Vladimir Putin to power.
On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later, becoming the first confirmed victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome. According to doctors, “Litvinenko’s murder represents an ominous landmark: the beginning of an era of nuclear terrorism”.
Litvinenko’s allegations about the misdeeds of the FSB and his public deathbed accusations that Russian president Vladimir Putin were behind his unusual malady resulted in worldwide media coverage.
Subsequent investigations by British authorities into the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death led to serious diplomatic difficulties between the British and Russian governments. Unofficially, British authorities asserted that “we are 100% sure who administered the poison, where and how”, but they did not disclose their evidence in the interest of a future trial. The main suspect in the case, a former officer of the Russian Federal Protective Service (FSO), Andrei Lugovoy, remains in Russia. As a member of the Duma, he now enjoys immunity from prosecution. Before he was elected to the Duma, the British government tried to extradite him without success.
At the same time, Litvinenko’s father, now residing in Italy, believes Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Goldfarb were behind the murder.