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Russia responsible for killing Litvinenko, EU court rules

Russia responsible for killing Litvinenko, EU court rules

dpa
London
Russia was responsible for the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.
Former Russian spy Litvinenko died after being poisoned with a rare radioactive substance in London in 2006.
A statement on the court’s ruling on Tuesday said: “Russia was responsible for assassination of Aleksandr Litvinenko in the UK.” Russia has always denied any involvement in his death.
The case was brought by his widow Marina Litvinenko, who had vowed to get justice for her husband and pursue the Kremlin through the international courts.
His widow said it was a “very important day” as the findings highlighted Russia’s “brutal regime”.
She told Britain’s Sky News: “It’s important that Russia takes responsibility,” adding: “We must not give up the fight against this anti-democratic regime in Russia.”
A British public inquiry concluded in 2016 that the killing of Litvinenko - an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin - who died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210 - had “probably” been carried out with the approval of the Russian president.
The inquiry found two Russian men - Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun - had deliberately poisoned Litvinenko by putting polonium-210 into his drink at a London hotel, leading to an agonizing death.
According to the statement on the European court’s ruling: “The Court found in particular that there was a strong prima facie case that, in poisoning Litvinenko, Lugovoy and Kovtun had been acting as agents of the Russian State. It noted that the Government had failed to provide any other satisfactory and convincing explanation of the events or counter the findings of the UK inquiry.”
The court found no evidence that either man had any personal reason to kill Litvinenko and would not have had access to the substance “if acting on their own behalf”.
State involvement is the “only remaining plausible explanation”, the findings said, adding that the Russia government had made “no serious attempt” to counter the findings of the British authorities.
“The Court found it established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the assassination had been carried out by Lugovoy and Kovtun.
“The planned and complex operation involving the procurement of a rare deadly poison, the travel arrangements for the pair, and repeated and sustained attempts to administer the poison indicated that Litvinenko had been the target of the operation,” the statement added.
Russia has been ordered by the court to pay Litvinenko’s widow 117,000 dollars in damages and 26,000 dollars in costs and expenses.
Litvinenko said she did not know whether she would be paid the money, but that she still hopes to bring the people responsible for her husband’s death to justice in Britain.
The 2016 inquiry said the use of the radioactive substance - which could only have come from a nuclear reactor - was a “strong indicator” of state involvement and that the two men had probably been acting under the direction of the Russian security service the FSB - which Litvinenko used to work for, as well as the KGB.
Possible motives included Litvinenko’s work for British intelligence agencies after fleeing Russia, his criticism of the FSB, and his association with other Russian dissidents, while it said there was also a “personal dimension” to the antagonism between him and Putin.

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