Spy Was Killed 'On Orders Of Kremlin Stalin'

LONDON, UK -- A feared Kremlin boss, who has been likened to Stalin, has emerged as the key suspect in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, according to the murdered spy's former business partner.

Ex-KGB agent Yuri Shvets

Yuri Shvets, a fellow ex-agent, has told British detectives that he believes Mr Litvinenko was killed after compiling a dossier on the official for a British firm considering a deal in Russia.

The file led to the firm cancelling the deal, worth tens of millions of pounds, with a company thought to be linked to the official.

Mr Shvets's claims are being investigated by Scotland Yard, which has a copy of the dossier. The suspect, according to a Radio Four documentary by the journalist Tom Mangold, which was aired yesterday, is a senior figure in the Russian government and close to President Vladimir Putin.

The claims came as around 2,500 members of Russia's fragmented opposition movement, including the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, demonstrated in Moscow against President Putin yesterday. More than 40 people were arrested and police were out in force.

The documentary did not name the man but said he was viewed in Russian political circles as "belonging more to the Stalin era".

Asked how certain he was that the dossier had cost Mr Litvinenko his life, Mr Shvets told the programme: "I cannot be 100 per cent sure, but I am pretty sure." Mr Shvets lives in the United States, vetting potential business partners for companies interested in investing in Russia.

He said that Mr Litvinenko, who did similar "due diligence" work as a sideline, became involved with him as a partner last year and was offered $100,000 to check five Russian individuals by a risk-management firm in London.

The programme said that material Mr Litvinenko gathered on one individual fell into the hands of Kremlin officials, who were outraged at its contents. Not only did it wreck the deal, it also indicated that Mr Litvinenko had access to secret files and, possibly, contacts with agencies such as MI5 and MI6.

Fearing that he might make further damaging revelations, it was decided to kill him. The poison isotope polonium-210 may have been used to ensure that his murder set an example to other ex-KGB agents tempted to sell state secrets for business purposes.

Mr Shvets said that he talked to Mr Litvinenko in hospital and was sure the poison had been administered at the Millennium Hotel, London, last month, where he met three Russians, Andrei Lugovoy, Dmitri Kovtun and Vyacheslav Sokolenko.

Mr Shvets said: "He drank tea which was not made in front of him. He was agonised by the understanding that he had failed as a professional. He was always saying, 'I can identify my enemy a mile away'. But when it came to his own life, he failed."

Mr Lugovoy, Mr Kovtun and Mr Sokolenko, who were all interviewed by Scotland Yard in Moscow last week, have all denied any involvement. Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun claim that traces of polonium-210 found on them were an attempt to frame them.

Asked whether Mr Putin knew about such killings or approved of them, an unnamed Russian security expert said: "I believe he knows and understands it but he cannot do anything about it."

Russia, he claimed, was in the grip of a cabal of FSB and ex-KGB security figures, who, allied with organised crime figures, had filled the power vacuum left by the communists bureaucrats. "I see it getting worse, and I see it getting more sophisticated. These type of individuals, who 10 years ago were considered criminals, are now becoming public figures."

Last night Scotland Yard declined to comment on the claims in the documentary. However, while Russian analysts believed it had credibility, others cast doubt on whether Mr Litvinenko — who was known for making exaggerated claims about Kremlin-sponsored crime — would have been considered credible to vet businesses.

One Moscow analyst said: "Poisoning Litvinenko would have been a totally inappropriate punishment for the crime [of writing a bad due diligence report]. Secondly, this scenario presumes Litvinenko had incredible access to information — better than anyone else."

Source: Telegraph UK


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