Polonium-210 was in London before the Russian citizens accused of poisoning Aleksandr Litvinenko arrived there, and evidence pointed to his patron Boris Berezovsky, Moscow has said, citing a German probe.
Russian prosecutors said this was proven by the UKs own data, which it shared with Berlin.
The claim comes from the Russian Prosecutor Generals Office, which shared documents relating to several high-profile crimes that happened on British soil. Russia says it was unsatisfied by how Britain handled them. Moscow officials pointed to what they see as flaws in relevant probes on the British side, and have accused UK authorities of failing to conduct proper investigations.
One of the cases was the poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer and close associate of fugitive Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky. The standing narrative in the case in Britain is that Litvinenko was poisoned with Polonium-210, a rare radioactive substance, by two Russian citizens, Dmitry Kovtun and Andrey Lugovoy. Neither stood trial for the crime, but British officials insist that there was no other credible explanation for Litvinenkos killing.
Kovtun arrived in London before meeting Lugovoy and Litvinenko through Hamburg, which involved German authorities in the investigation of the case. Russian prosecutors on Monday showed a document issued in November 2006 by the Hamburg city prosecutors office, which contradict the narrative favored by London.
“According to the conclusions of our German colleagues based on all evidence collected by the Hamburg prosecutors, including that received from Great Britain, including the tracking of trails of radiation left by Polonium-210, the Polonium was in London before Lugovoy and Kovtun arrived there on November 1, 2016,” said Nikolay Atmoniev, an aide to the Russian prosecutor general.
He added that, according to data received by the German prosecutors from the British side, “the highest level of radioactive contamination was found at the London office of Boris Berezovsky and in the body of Italian citizen Mario Scaramella.”
Scaramella, a lawyer and nuclear expert, met Litvinenko on the day of the poisoning and was exposed to Polonium-210. Media reports conflicted about how serious the exposure was, ranging from just small traces being found to Scaramella miraculously surviving a lethal dose.
Litvinenko was a confidant of Berezovsky, who among other things provided evidence to British authorities that helped the fugitive Russian businessman to receive political asylum in the UK. The status shielded Berezovsky from criminal prosecution in Russia, where he was accused of large-scale embezzlement.
According to Russian prosecutors, the two men had a falling out by 2006 and Litvinenko posed a threat to Berezovsky, because he could expose the fraudulent nature of the case for the tycoons political asylum, as well as the role played by British intelligence services in protecting Berezovsky from Russian justice. Litvinenko was a paid employee of MI6, according to the British media. Russian prosecutors believe that Berezovsky may have had Litvinenko killed to protect his status in the UK.