London, Nov. 24 (Reuters): An ex-KGB spy accused Vladimir Putin of his murder in a statement read out today after his slow death from radiation poisoning, but the Russian President brushed off the accusations as “political provocation”.
London said it had raised with Moscow the “serious matter” of Alexander Litvinenko’s death. Britain held a meeting of COBRA, its top-level cabinet team which gathers for civil emergencies.
British health officials said a rare radioactive isotope, polonium 210, had been discovered in the body of the 43-year-old Kremlin critic who died overnight in a London hospital.
“You may succeed in silencing one man. But a howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life,” Litvinenko said in the statement read out by friends.
“May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.”
Police were trying to work out how the radioactive poison entered the body of Litvinenko who wasted away over three weeks, losing all his hair.
Britain’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) said radiation was found at a sushi bar where Litvinenko met an Italian academic and at a hotel where he met another former Russian agent, both on the day he took ill. His home also showed traces of radiation.
“We know he had a major dose,” HPA chief Pat Troop said. Police were seen carrying metal boxes away from the sushi restaurant.
“My son died yesterday. He was killed by a little tiny nuclear bomb,” Litvinenko's weeping father Walter said.
The dead man’s allegation of what would be the first Kremlin assassination in the West since the Cold War dogged Putin at a summit in Helsinki. He said there was no evidence implicating the Kremlin.
“It is a great pity that even something as tragic as a man’s death is being used for political provocation,” Putin said.
Litvinenko, who became a British citizen last month, had been investigating the killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, also a vocal critic of Putin.