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U.K. Inquiry Buoys Widow Of Assassinated Ex-KGB Officer Litvinenko

  • RFE/RL

The widow of former Russian security service officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210, has said the ongoing public inquiry into the case is necessary to shed light on the incident.

"For me, it is extremely important that the gathered evidence is presented to the public," Marina Litvinenko said on February 13 in an interview with RFE/RL's Current Time television program.

She noted that her husband died without knowing what had killed him.

The case is the subject of a public inquiry in London that is examining evidence allegedly linking Litvinenko's killing to Russian authorities.

Aleksandr Litvinenko in London in 2004

Aleksandr Litvinenko in London in 2004

While on his deathbed, Litvinenko, a longtime critic of Vladimir Putin, accused the Russian president of ordering his murder.

Marina Litvinenko said this is the "first time in history a single individual was poisoned with a radioactive substance."

Former KGB agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun are suspected of involvement in Litvinenko's death but have refused to leave Russia for questioning.

Marina Litvinenko denied there was "anything political" in the investigation of her husband's killing, saying that police merely followed a chain of evidence from the crime scene back to Russia.

But she admits the case has changed the way British police look at cases concerning Russia.

"These days…whenever in England there is some sort of unexplained death involving Russians," she said, "I can say that the first thing they do is to check for radioactivity. That wasn't the case before."

In the eight years since her husband died, Marina Litvinenko has worked consistently for this inquiry. She says that she feels her husband is "always present."

"After three years, I took off my wedding ring," she said. "It wasn't because I was letting him go; he's still beside me. And what is more, I feel that everything that I am doing now, I do with his blessing."