A public inquiry will open today in London into the death of Alexander Litvinenko. The British government had initially resisted calls to open one and has denied the change of mind is related to the Ukraine crisis.
The inquiry will examine if the Russian state was involved in the 43-year-old’s death.
The former officer in the Russian Federal Security Service was poisoned by polonium-210 in November 2006. Since then his death has been the focus of conjecture.
The opening of the inquiry is a victory for the 43-year-old’s widow who has campaigned to get the truth behind her husband’s death. Litvinenko was a fierce critic of the Kremlin and accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder. Moscow denies the claim. The inquiry will examine if the Russian state was involved.
Traces of polonium were found at the London hotel where the former FSB officer had taken tea. He fell ill soon afterwards. A two month investigation led to the director of public prosecutions recommending Andrei Lugovoi be charged with the murder. The former agent along with Dmitri Kovtun had been in the hotel with Litvinenko. That heightened tensions between Moscow and London. The two deny any responsibility. The inquiry will conclude next year.