Russian accused of Alexander Litvinenko murder dies of Covid-19

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Russian businessman Dmitry Kovtun in 2006 (REUTERS)
Russian businessman Dmitry Kovtun in 2006 (REUTERS)

One of two Russians suspected of murdering Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko has died of Covid-19, according to reports.

UK authorities accused Dmitry Kovtun of fatally poisoned former Russian spy Mr Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Mr Kovtun died at a hospital in Moscow, the Tass state news agency reported on Saturday.

Another suspect in the killing Andrei Lugovoi wrote on social media that his “faithful friend” had died.

Mr Litvinenko, a former KGB officer who became a British citizen and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was poisoned with a radioactive substance at a London hotel where he had met the two men.

He fell ill shortly after the meeting and was admitted to hospital. His condition worsened and he died weeks later on 23 November.

A UK public inquiry conducted 10 years later concluded that the killing was “probably approved” by Putin. From his deathbed, Mr Litvinenko accused the president of ordering his killing.

Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko lies fatally poisoned
Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko lies fatally poisoned

Russia has always denied any involvement in the murder.

The UK inquiry said Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun, both former KBG officers, deliberately poisoned Mr Litvinenko by lacing his cup of green tea with the potent substance Polonium-210.

British investigators found traces of the substance at sites across London where the two men had been, including in offices and hotels.

Separately, the European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that Russia was responsible for the killing, ordering Moscow to pay €100,000 (£85,000) in non-pecuniary damages to his widow, Marina.

Both men denied carrying out the murder and Russia refused to extradite them to face trial in the UK.

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