“Bordering on raving madness” – that is the Kremlin response to accusations it was involved in the poisoning of a Russian defector in Britain. Poisoned or not, Alexander Litvinenko is now fighting for his life in a London hospital. He is thought to have ingested the deadly chemical Thallium at a secret meeting in a restaurant. One gramme of the drug can cause death; Litvinenko who has now lost all his hair apparently has a white blood cell count of zero.
Friends of the 43-year-old say he was targeted because of his vocal criticism of the Russian government. Scotland Yard has confirmed it is investigating a suspected case of poisoning. The former colonel in the Russian secret service sought refuge in the UK several years ago. He is said to have fled after revealing a plot to assassinate the Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who is also now living in Britain.
Litvinenko’s last movements before his alleged poisoning on November 1 have been pieced together. He is said to have held a meeting with a contact, at a Sushi bar in London’s Picadilly. It is believed he was slipped some top secret documents which claim to hold the names of the murderers of another strong Kremlin critic, the journalist Anna Politkovskaya.