Died At Age: 44
Also Known As: Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko
Born Country: Russia
Born in: Voronezh, Russia
Famous as: Secret Agent
Spouse/Ex-: Marina (m. 1994), Nataliya (m. 1981 - div. 1994)
children: Alexander, Anatoly, Sonia
Died on: November 23, 2006
place of death: Bloomsbury, London, England, United Kingdom
Cause of Death: Murdered
Who was Alexander Litvinenko?
Alexander Litvinenko was a former FSB secret service officer. He gave up allegiance to the Russian state and found political asylum in London. He publicly ridiculed the Russian government and Vladimir Putin for conducting and sponsoring domestic and foreign terrorism. He, along with a few other officers, publicly accused senior officers of the Russian secret agency to have ordered the assassination of the Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested for exceeding the authority of his position and finally dismissed in 2000, after which he fled to the UK. Alexander started working in London as a journalist and continued his campaign against Vladimir Putin. He also worked as a consultant for the British intelligence services. Litvinenko died in 2006 in London after being poisoned with Polonium. The murder case, though apparent to everyone, was unsolved for a long time due to a lack of evidence. Finally, a 2016 public inquiry concluded that he was poisoned in an FSB operation approved by Vladimir Putin and Nikolai Patrushev.
Childhood & Early Life
After his graduation in 1985, he became a platoon commander in the Dzerzhinsky Division of the Soviet ministry of internal affairs.
In 1986, KGB recruited him as an informant in the counterintelligence section.
In 1988, he was transferred to the Third Chief Directorate of the KGB, Military Counter Intelligence. He became an operational office after studying at Novosibirsk Military Counter Intelligence School for a year.
In 1991, Litvinenko was promoted to the Central Staff of the FCS (Federal Counterintelligence Service). He specialized in counter-terrorism activities and the infiltration of organised crime.
He received the title of "MUR veteran" for the operations he conducted with the Moscow criminal investigation department, the MUR.
He was actively involved in the ‘First Chechen War,’ and planted several FSB agents in Chechnya.
In 1994, Litvinenko met Boris Berezovsky to investigate the assassination attempt on the oligarch. Later, he was entrusted with the security of the business tycoon.
In 1997, Litvinenko was promoted as the Senior Operational Officer and deputy head of the ‘Seventh Section’ at the ‘FSB Directorate of Analysis and Suppression of Criminal Groups.’
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Conflict with FSB
During his time at the FSB, Litvinenko came to know about links between the top management of the Russian law enforcement agencies and mafia groups. When he reported this to the seniors at FSB and got no response, he became aware of the corruption that infested the entire system of the FSB.
In 1998, Vladimir Putin replaced Nikolay Kovalyov as the director of FSB with the help of Berezovsky.
On 13 November 1998, in an open letter to Putin, Berezovsky alleged that four senior officers of the ‘Directorate of Analysis and Suppression of Criminal Groups’ had ordered for his assassination.
On 17 November 1998, Litvinenko and four other FSB officers jointly appeared in a press conference at the Russian news agency ‘Interfax.’ They reiterated the allegation made by Berezovsky. The officers also admitted they received orders to kill Mikhail Trepashkin and to kidnap a brother of businessman Umar Dzhabrailov.
After the press conference went public, Litvinenko was dismissed from the FSB. Putin defended this action saying FSB officers should not stage press conferences.
In March 1999, Litvinenko was arrested on charges of exceeding the authority of his position. In November, he was absolved but re-arrested, before the charges were dismissed again in 2000.
Asylum in the UK
In October 2000, Litvinenko fled to Turkey and applied for asylum at the United States Embassy in Ankara, but his application was denied. Thereafter he travelled to London via the Istanbul-London-Moscow flight, and asked for political asylum at Heathrow Airport during the transit stop on November 1, 2000. He finally got political asylum in London on May 14, 2001.
In 2002, Litvinenko was convicted in absentia in Russia and given a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence on corruption charges.
In London, he began working as a journalist for Chechenpress. He continued his campaign against Putin along with his friend Berezovsky.
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In 2006, he became a naturalised British citizen and started living in Whitehaven.
Litvinenko helped the British agency ‘MI6’ by giving out valuable information on senior Kremlin members and their links with Russian organised crime.
In May 2006, he allegedly provided Spanish authorities with crucial information on several organised crime bosses with links to Spain.. He provided information on several "Russian" mafia figures with ties to Spain, which included Izguilov, Zahkar Kalashov, and Tariel Oniani.
Litvinenko authored two books in London- 'Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within' and 'Lubyanka Criminal Group.'In these books, he accused the Russian secret services of staging the Russian apartment bombings and other terrorist acts in an attempt to bring Vladimir Putin to power.
He accused Putin of ordering the murder of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006.
Allegations Made by Litvinenko
He alleged that the FSB-KGB was connected to all major terrorists of the world, including Carlos "The Jackal" Ramírez, Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, and many others. He explained how they are funded and trained In Russia to carry out acts of terrorism.
He also revealed information about at a secret laboratory in Russia that makes the deadliest of poisons.
He accused the Russian armed forces of organizing the 1999 Armenian parliament shooting that killed Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan.
He held the FSB responsible for the seizure of Moscow theatre that killed over 170 people and the Beslan School siege that killed over 334.
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In July 2005, in an interview with a Polish newspaper, Litvinenko alleged that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, was trained for half a year by the FSB in Dagestan in 1997.
Two weeks before he was poisoned, Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of ordering the extermination of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
In his book, ‘Gang from Lubyanka,’ Litvinenko alleged that Vladimir Putin was involved in the protection of drug trafficking from Afghanistan, organised by Abdul Rashid Dostum.
Litvinenko published an article on July 2006 on Zakayev's Chechenpress website in which he claimed that Vladimir Putin was a paedophile.
Poisoning & Death
On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was admitted to Barnet General Hospital two days later.
He was moved to the intensive care of the University College Hospital where it was later found out that he was poisoned with radionuclide polonium-210.
He died on November 23, 2006, as a result of heart failure.
His wife, Marina, accused the Russian government of setting up Alexander's murder.
During a London court hearing in 2015, a Scotland Yard lawyer concluded: "the evidence suggests that the only credible explanation is in one way or another the Russian state is involved in Litvinenko's murder."
Family & Personal life
In 1981, Litvinenko married his first wife, Nataliya. He had a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Sonia, with her.
His marriage to Nataliya ended in 1994, and he married a ballroom dancer and fitness instructor Marina with whom he had a son, Anatoly.
Litvinenko is the first known victim of polonium 210-induced acute radiation syndrome.
According to US diplomats, Litvinenko coined the term ‘Mafia State’.
Russia denied any involvement with Litvinenko’s murder.