BBC - Spy Dies In Hospital
Russian ex-spy dies in hospital
Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian ex-spy who said he was the victim of a poisoning, has died in hospital.
Mr Litvinenko, 43, died on Thursday evening and the cause of his condition is still being investigated, said University College Hospital, London.
Scotland Yard said officers were now investigating "an unexplained death".
Friends say the former KGB agent was poisoned three weeks ago because of his criticism of the Russian government. The Kremlin has denied any
Friend Andrei Nekrasov told the Associated Press agency Mr Litvinenko's wife Marina, father Walter and his 10-year son Anatoli were by his side when
Alex Goldfarb, speaking on behalf of Mr Litvinenko's family outside the hospital, said his death was a "terrible crime".
Russian dissident Oleg Gordievsky, a former KGB colonel and friend of Mr Litvinenko, maintained that the poisoning had been the work of the Russians.
The Russian security service had "sent a man with a poisonous pill to Britain", put a pill into Mr Litvinenko's tea and killed him, he told BBC
Since Mr Litvinenko's death, both the Kremlin and Russia's foreign intelligence service, the SVR, have said they have nothing to add to their
earlier denials of involvement.
Before Mr Litvinenko's death, police said they suspected "deliberate poisoning" was behind his illness. Anti-terrorism police are heading up the
Investigators have been examining two meetings he had on 1 November - one at a London hotel with a former KGB man and another man, and a later
rendezvous with Italian security consultant Mario Scaramella at a sushi restaurant in London's West End.
In an interview with Friday's Telegraph newspaper, former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi said he had met Mr Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel in
Grosvenor Square but vigorously denied any involvement in the poisoning.
Mr Scaramella, who is involved in an Italian parliamentary inquiry into Russian secret service activity, said he organised the meeting because he
wanted to discuss an e-mail he had received.
Mr Litvinenko defected to the UK in 2000, claiming persecution. He was later granted asylum and reportedly recently took citizenship.
He fell ill on 1 November after a series of meetings in central London.
What caused his illness and death is still unclear.
Initial reports from UCH at the weekend said he had been poisoned with the heavy metal thallium, but later it was suggested that some form of
radioactive material may have been used.
Head of critical care at the hospital, Dr Geoff Bellingan, has subsequently dismissed both of these explanations.
Mr Litvinenko had recently been investigating the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, another critic of the Putin government.
Speaking in Friday's Times, film-maker Andrei Nekrasov said that, before he fell unconscious for the last time, his friend had told him: "I want to
survive, just to show them. The bastards got me but they won't get everybody."
1 Nov - Alexander Litvinenko meets two Russian men at a London hotel - one a former KGB officer. Later, he meets Italian academic Mario Scaramella at
a sushi bar in Piccadilly. Hours later he falls ill
17 Nov - Mr Litvinenko is transferred to University College Hospital, London. He is placed under armed guard
19 Nov - Reports say Mr Litvinenko has been poisoned with thallium, a chemical once used to kill rats
21 Nov - A toxicologist treating Mr Litvinenko says he may have been poisoned with "radioactive thallium"
22 Nov - Mr Litvinenko's condition deteriorates overnight. Thallium and radiation are ruled out as the cause of his sickness
23 Nov - The ex-spy dies in intensive care
[edit on 24/11/06 by Liamoville]