Former Russian spy, defector, and activist-writer Alexander Litvinenko has died in a London hospital of suspected poisoning with radioactive thallium. [Subsequently, found to have been polonium]
Litvinenko’s friend Alexander Goldfarb read a statement prepared by the former spy on his deathbed just two days before he passed away. In that statement, Litvinenko lays the blame for his poisoning firmly at the feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin and says: “You may succeed in silencing me, but that silence comes at a price,” according to news reports, “You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics claim.
The Russian government has declared the claims as preposterous and suggests that infighting among Russians living in London is more likely to have led to Litvinenko’s death.
Preliminary post-mortem results suggest that a radioactive material – possibly a large dose of radioactive polonium-210 – may have been associated with his death. In our earlier report, it was suggested that thallium, then radioactive thallium, may have been implicated. Whether or not Litvinenko ingested this material was exposed to it in the environment is not yet known raising serious public safety concerns.
A UK press conference held this afternoon provided more information.