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Poisoned Russian's Italian Contact To Undergo Tests

Aleksandr Litvinenko pictured days before his death (epa) November 28, 2006 -- Media reports say Mario Scaramella, an Italian academic who met the poisoned former Russian intelligence officer and Kremlin critic Aleksandr Litvinenko the day he fell ill, is to undergo medical tests in London.

Scaramella, who is believed to have close ties to Russia's secret services, is under the protection of British police and will reportedly be questioned.

Litvinenko died on November 23 after being poisoned with polonium-210, a highly radioactive element.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair today told a news conference in Copenhagen today that Litvinenko's death was a "very, very serious matter." He promised a thorough police investigation and said he would raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia denies involvement in Litvinenko's death.

Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office today said it is ready to assist London's Scotland Yard in its investigation.

(Reuters, AP, AFP, Interfax, ITAR-TASS)

The Kremlin's Fallen Foes

The Kremlin's Fallen Foes

Mourners in Moscow mark the 40th day after the killing of investigative journalist Anna Politkovsksya on November 15 (TASS)

DANGEROUS DISSENT. A surprising number of vocal critics of the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin have been killed or have died mysteriously in recent years. Although the Russian government has denied any involvement in any of the cases, some Kremlin watchers have begun speaking of a clandestine campaign to eliminate dissent.

April 17, 2003: Sergei Yushenkov, veteran liberal politician, Duma member, and leader of a staunchly anti-Kremlin party, is shot dead in Moscow.

July 3, 2003: Yury Shchekochikhin , liberal lawmaker and investigative journalist, dies of a mysterious allergic reaction. Many believe it was a case of deliberate poisoning, but the incident was never investigated as a murder.

February 13, 2004: Former acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev is killed in an explosion in Doha, Qatar. Two Russian security-service agents are later convicted of carrying out the killing.

September 2, 2004: Investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya falls ill mysteriously on a plane bound for the North Caucasus. Politkovskaya was heading to Beslan, North Ossetia, in a bid to negotiate the release of schoolchildren being held hostage there by Chechen militants.

December 2004: Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko , running for president as a pro-Western candidate against Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, is poisoned. He recovers and goes on to win the presidency, although his poisoning remains a mystery.

October 7, 2006: Investigative journalist and vocal critic of Russian policies in the North Caucasus Anna Politkovskaya is gunned down in Moscow.

November 23, 2006: Former Federal Security Service agent Aleksandr Litvinenko, a vocal critic of Russia's secret services, dies of a mysterious poisoning in London.


An annotated timeline of high-profile killings in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


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