From Russia With Love...
Alexander Litvinenko, a vociferous critic of the Russian government, suffered heart failure after days in intensive care at London's University College Hospital battling a poison that had attacked his bone marrow and destroyed his immune system.
A former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic blamed a "barbaric and ruthless" Russian President Vladimir Putin for his fatal poisoning by a toxic radioactive substance, polonium-210.
In a statement dictated from his deathbed, Alexander Litvinenko accused the Russian leader of having "No respect for life, liberty or any civilized value."
The former spy said: "You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed." "The howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life."
Anna Politkovskaya, another critic of Putin, who's death Litvinenko was researching was herself shot dead following a suspected poisoning attempt.
The British intelligence services have concluded that the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko must have been an operation of the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB.
This points the finger directly at Vladimir Putin in the midst of several suspicious deaths of Putin critics.
One of the big concerns when Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia was that he was a former KGB man, so it shouldn't be too surprising that they have returned to their old cloak and dagger tactics.
Intelligence services in Britain are convinced that the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko was authorised by the Russian Federal Security Service.
Security sources have told The Times that the FSB orchestrated a “highly sophisticated plot” and was likely to have used some of its former agents to carry out the operation on the streets of London.
“We know how the FSB operates abroad and, based on the circumstances behind the death of Mr Litvinenko, the FSB has to be the prime suspect,” a source said yesterday.
The involvement of a former FSB officer made it easier to lure Litvinenko to meetings at various locations and to distance its bosses in the Kremlin from being directly implicated in the plot.
Intelligence officials say that only officials such as FSB agents would have been able to obtain sufficent amounts of polonium-210, the radioactive substance used to fatally poison Mr Litvinenko only weeks after he was given British citizenship.
Some have speculated that the obvious nature of a polonium poisoning pointed away from Putin. Such a blatant use of a closely controlled substance would immediately implicate the Russian government, the argument goes, and therefore would never have been used by real FSB agents. However, the British say that the assassination was meant to send a clear message to Putin's critics and anyone tempted to offer information to Western nations about the activities of the Putin regime.
The Russians are not happy about the direction of the investigation. They're threatening the UK by suggesting that the probe has damaged diplomatic relations.
The British ought to point out that conducting assassinations in their country damages diplomatic relations as well.