/ 21 September 2021

Kremlin says European court’s ruling on Litvinenko killing is ‘unfounded’

Alexander Litvinenko in the intensive care unit of University College Hospital, London, on November 20 2006. He died three days later.

The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed conclusions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that Russia was responsible for the 2006 killing of dissident former agent Alexander Litvinenko.

“There are still no results from this investigation, so making statements like this is, at a minimum, unfounded,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, adding that: “We are not prepared to accept these decisions”.

Litvinenko died in 2006 after drinking tea laced with the radioactive substance polonium at a London hotel in a case that has weighed on relations between London and Moscow ever since.

The ECHR on Tuesday ruled that Russia was “responsible”.

Peskov told reporters the ECHR was unlikely to have “the power or technical capability to have information on this subject.”

Responding to a complaint filed by Litvinenko’s widow Marina, the rights court said it established “beyond reasonable doubt” that the assassination had been carried out by Russian citizens Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.

Lugovoi, who is now member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, told the Interfax news agency that the conclusion was “unjust, illegal and politically motivated”.

“If they made the decision based only on the words of Litvinenko’s widow, then this just undermines the reputation of the ECHR,” he said.

Critics of the Kremlin see the Litvinenko killing as one in a line of assassination plots ordered by Russia, including the attempted poisonings of former agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in 2018 and opposition leader Alexei Navanly in Siberia in 2020.

The Kremlin denies the charges.