Dmitry Kovtun is dead. The Russian was suspected of murdering in London a critic of the Kremlin and a former officer of the Russian special services Alexander Litvinenko, who died in November 2006 as a result of poisoning with radioactive polonium.
The death of Dmitry Kovtun was reported on Saturday by Reuters, citing the Russian state media. The Russian died due to a coronavirus infection.
According to the British authorities, Kovtun, together with Andrei Lugovoy, who is now a deputy to the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, gave Alexander Litvinenko tea containing a radioactive substance.
Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned
Litvinenko, a former KGB officer and later FSB and Kremlin critic, emigrated to Great Britain and held the country’s citizenship. In his publications, he accused the Russian services of crimes, incl. for the attacks that became the pretext for starting the second Chechen war in 1999.
The oppositionist died on November 23, 2006 in London, irradiated with radioactive polonium-210. On his deathbed, he was to convince the Metropolitan Police officers guarding him that the Russian president was behind the attack on his life. This accusation was also included in his last will, written with the help of his friends.
After his death, investigators also identified traces of polonium in two passenger planes at London Heathrow airport, in the British embassy in Moscow and in an apartment in Hamburg used by Kovtun, but no serious lesions were detected in any of the 700 people who came into contact with these traces.
A British investigation report published in 2016 stated that Lugovoy and Kovtun were behind the murder, who “most likely acted on behalf of the FSB as part of an operation that was probably approved by Nikolai Patrushev (the then head of the FSB) and the president of Russia ) Vladimir Putin”.
Moscow is denying it
Russia has always denied its participation in Litvinenko’s death.
In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for the murder of Litvinenko. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the ruling “groundless” and said that “the Kremlin is not ready to hear such decisions.”
Attacks on other opponents of the authorities
In recent years, there have been at least two high-profile attacks on opponents of the Russian authorities with the use of a chemical substance – Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, and the oppositionist Alexei Navalny.
London believes that the Kremlin authorities were also behind the attacks.
Main photo source: YURI KOCHETKOV / EPA / PAP