Russian accused of killing Alexander Litvinenko reportedly dies from Covid-19

One of the men accused of killing former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London has died of Covid-19 in Moscow, according to reports.

Dmitri Kovtun was one of two men who a UK inquiry ruled had poisoned Litvinenko’s tea with a rare radioactive substance back in 2006.

Reports from state-owned Russian news agency Tass said Kovtun contracted coronavirus before dying in a Moscow hospital.

Kovtun, along with Andrei Lugovoi, was accused of being behind Litvinenko’s assassination 16 years ago at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Reports said Tass cited Lugovoi, now a member of Russia’s parliament, as saying that he was mourning the death of a “close and faithful friend”.

A British public inquiry concluded in 2016 that the killing of the outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, who died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210, had “probably” been carried out with the approval of the Russian president.

The inquiry found the two Russian men had deliberately poisoned Litvinenko by putting the radioactive substance into his drink at the central London hotel, leading to an agonising death.

The European Court of Human Rights also ruled last year, following a case brought by the deceased’s widow, Marina Litvinenko, that Russia was responsible for his killing.

Russia has always denied any involvement in the death and had refused to comply with international arrest warrants issued for Kovtun and Lugovoi.

Sir Robert’s Litvinenko inquiry said the use of the radioactive substance was a “strong indicator” of state involvement and that the two men had probably been acting under the direction of the Russian security service the FSB, which Litvinenko used to work for.

Possible motives included Litvinenko’s work for British intelligence agencies after fleeing Russia, his criticism of the FSB, and his association with other Russian dissidents.

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