Litvinenko ‘poison’ Dmitry Kovtun, charged with murder of Putin critic in 2006, dies of Covid at age 56
An ex-KGB agent accused of poisoning Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London has died of Covid.
Dmitry Kovtun, 56, is alleged to have mixed the former spy and the British citizen’s green tea with polonium in 2006 by Britain.
Kovtun and associate Andrei Lugovoy had previously met Mr Litvinenko at Mayfair’s Millennium Hotel on November 1, 2006, the day he fell ill.
Traces of the radioactive substance polonium-210 were found on the plane seat Kovtun took home from London to Hamburg.
Traces of radioactive polonium-210 used to kill Litvinenko were found on Dmitry Kovtun’s plane seat (pictured during a 2006 Moscow Radio appearance). He denied involvement
Evidence of his involvement in the sensational murder was found in Kovtun’s car and in various places the couple traveled to, including offices and the Emirates Stadium.
German officials also found traces of polonium-210 on a couch in his ex-wife’s flat.
After three weeks in a hospital bed in London, Litvinenko died on November 23.
He was the world’s first confirmed victim of the deadly polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome.
Mr Litvinenko, a longtime critic of President Putin, accused the dictator of the assassination order.
Alleged killers Andrei Lugovoy (right) and Kovtun (left) pictured together in 2007
He said from his deathbed, “You may be able to silence one man, but the cries of protest from around the world, Mr Putin, will ring in your ears for the rest of your life.”
On hearing of his death, Putin said, “Unfortunately, Mr. Litvinenko is not Lazarus.”
Lugovoy described Kovtun as a “dear friend”.
He said: “Today we have the sad news that my good and faithful friend Dmitry Kovtun has passed away suddenly due to a serious illness related to a coronavirus infection.
“This is an irreplaceable and difficult loss for us.
‘From the bottom of my heart I extend my deepest condolences to all’ [wife] Dima’s family and friends.
mr. Litvinenko at University College Hospital, three days before his death in November 2006
‘Sleep well, dear friend! We will never forget you.’
Kovtun and Lugovoy, who is now an ultra-nationalist member of the Russian parliament, have consistently denied any involvement in the murder.
Kovtun developed his own radiation poisoning symptoms, Russian prosecutors said in 2007.
In September 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian state was responsible for the murder of Litvinenko.
It ordered the Kremlin to pay £105,000 to the deceased businessman’s family.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, was quick to dismiss the findings – calling them “baseless” and adding: “We are not prepared to accept such decisions.”
Lugovoy also rejected the ruling, calling it “definitely politically motivated.”
Vladimir Putin (pictured Thursday) is said to have personally ordered the assassination
Alexander’s wife Marina – who married then FSB agent Alexander in 1994 and had a son, Anatoly, with him – demanded £3 million in punitive damages for his death and loss of income.
As part of the ruling, the judges said Marina was not entitled to any money spent on “expensive lawyers” – including Kier Starmer, before becoming Labor Party leader.
Litvinenko fell out with the FSB leadership in the late 1990s when he backed employer and oligarch Boris Berezovsky against claims the agency ordered him to kill him.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov vehemently denied any Kremlin responsibility for the murder
The ex-spy was subsequently fired, arrested and appeared in court twice on charges of exceeding his authority – but both cases were quashed.
Fearing for his life, Litvinenko fled with Marina to London in 2000 and was granted asylum there.
He then moved to Boston, Lincolnshire, where he worked as a journalist, author and consultant for British intelligence.