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Poisoning Russia-UK relations The responses in Moscow to a British inquiry that says Putin likely approved Litvinenko's murder

Meduza
Photo: Matt Dunham / AP / Scanpix

In the UK, public hearings on the murder investigation of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko have concluded. Litvinenko died on November 23, 2006, after drinking tea laced with a radioactive poison. The inquiry into the killing, which began in July 2014, concluded that the operation to eliminate Litvinenko was most likely carried out by the Russian Federal Security Service with the approval of both the agency's director and President Vladimir Putin. Meduza summarizes the reactions from Russia, following these serious allegations in Britain.

Russia's Foreign Ministry

After the publication of the report, Russia's Foreign Ministry announced that the investigation into Litvinenko's death “is clearly politically motivated.” In a statement, the ministry faulted the inquiry, saying it “wasn't transparent for the Russian side, or for the public, in light of the closed review of materials under the pretext of ‘secrecy.’” 

The men said to have killed Litvinenko: Kovtun and Lugovoi

Businessman Dmitry Kovtun, who is accused of acting with Andrei Lugovoi to poison and kill Litvinenko, says the evidence reported to the inquiry was fabricated, claiming that British officials considered the same “phony data” in closed sessions of the review process that they received during the public hearing.

Andrei Lugovoi, now a deputy in the lower house of the Russian parliament, calls the accusations against him absurd, linking the conclusions of the report to the “anti-Russian hysteria” that began after events in Ukraine in 2014.

The Kremlin

Vladimir Putin's official spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called the inquiry “a joke,” saying it “can be attributed to that elegant British sense of humor.” In a curious choice of words, the Kremlin's spokesman also accused Britain of “poisoning” bilateral relations between Russia and the UK.