Putin likely ordered Litvinenko assassination says inquiry

A decade after ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was murdered by poisoning in 2006, an inquiry into his death has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely ordered the assassination.

Sir Robert Owen, a former High Court Judge in the United Kingdom (UK) and acted as Assistant Coroner in the case of Litvinenko’s death was the Inquiry Chairman and released his findings on Thursday.

In his conclusions, Owen said that Andrei Lugovoy, one of the men accused of murdering Litvinenko, had the support of the state and likely received the order to carry out the assassination from the highest levels.

“When Mr. Lugovoy poisoned Mr. Litvinenko (as I have found that he did), it is probable that he did so under the direction of the FSB (Russian intelligence),” Owens said in his report. “During the course of the Inquiry hearings, President Putin awarded Mr Lugovoy an honor for services to the fatherland,” he continued. ” President Putin’s conduct towards Mr. Lugovoy suggests a level of approval for the killing of Mr. Litvinenko.”

Russian Ambassador to the UK was summoned to a meeting with the British Foreign Office on Thursday.

“For us it is absolutely unacceptable that the report concludes that the Russian state was in any way involved in the death of Mr Litvinenko on British soil,” the Russian Amabassador said in a statement.

The British Foreign Office condemned Russia for both the murder of Litvinenko and their response to the inquiry.

“The Minister set out the UK Government’s deep concern regarding the findings of the independent Litvinenko Inquiry report,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said. “He made clear that the inquiry’s conclusion concerning the Russian State’s probable involvement in this murder was deeply disturbing, demonstrating a flagrant disregard for UK law, international law and standards of conduct, and the safety of UK citizens. The Minister said that this would further complicate bilateral relations, undermine trust, and damage Russia’s reputation internationally.”


[Reuters via Yahoo News] [BBC] [CNN] [Photo courtesy of the BBC]