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Litvinenko buried as second ex-Russian agent falls seriously ill

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Litvinenko buried as second ex-Russian agent falls seriously ill


Alexander Litvinenko has been buried after a service at a London mosque. About 30 family members and friends bid farewell to the former Russian secret service agent, poisoned with radioactive material. His father was accompanied by Akhmed Zakayev, the Chechen separatist leader.

The service took place as police confirmed his death from polonium 210 poisoning was now being treated as murder. “He turned against the crimes committed by his former colleagues,” said Zakayev, “just as Anna Politkovskaya did. She exposed them. He provided the proof. He had to be liquidated.”

In other developments, Dmitri Kovtun, one of the two former Russian agents who met Litvinenko in London has now fallen seriously ill. The other former agent, Andrei Lugovoi, is undergoing tests. Lugovoi was due to be questioned by police today, but the interrogation has been put off to a later date.

It has also been revealed today that seven staff at the London hotel where Litvinenko met two Russian contacts have tested positive for low levels of radiation poisoning. The health risk is said to be minimal, however. Moscow has also announced that it has opened its own criminal inquiry into the death, meaning suspects could be tried in Russia.

British officers have been in Moscow to watch the questioning of figures linked to the case. “From our side the Scotland Yard investigation does not effect political relations,” said the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. “ I can’t judge how it looks from the British side. I have already said that a campaign around this case, to make a political sensation out of it, has reached saturation point”.

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