22 January 2016

What We Know: Key takeaways in case of poisoned spy

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President's aide Andrei Fursenko attend a meeting of the presidential education council in the Kremlin in Moscow, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. Putin probably approved a plan by Russia's FSB security service to kill a former agent turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko who died after drinking tea laced with radioactive poison, a British judge said on Thursday in a report that led Moscow to accuse Britain of souring bilateral relations.
A British judge has concluded that two Russians, acting at the behest of Moscow's security services and probably with approval from President Vladimir Putin, poisoned ex-KGB agent and fierce Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko. Here's what we know:

— Judge Robert Owen cited abundant evidence that Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun placed radioactive polonium-210 in Litvinenko's tea at a London hotel on Nov. 1, 2006. He died on Nov. 23.
— Owen concluded there is a "strong probability" the poisoning came under the direction of Russia's FSB spy agency, and that the operation was probably approved by then-FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev and by Putin.
— Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the inquiry as a "quasi-investigation" that would "further poison the atmosphere of our bilateral relations" with Britain.
— British Prime Minister David Cameron said the evidence in the report of a state-sponsored killing is "absolutely appalling," and Britain summoned the Russian ambassador for a dressing-down and imposed an asset freeze on Lugovoi and Kovtun.
Marina Litvinenko, widow of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, centre, with her solicitor Elena Tsirlina, leaves Matrix Chambers on Gray’s Inn following a press conference and media interviews in London, Thursday Jan. 21, 2016. President Vladimir Putin probably approved a plan by Russia's FSB security service to kill former agent Alexander Litvinenko, a British judge said Thursday.

— Interpol has issued notices calling for their arrest, although Russia refuses to extradite them. U.K.-Russian relations have been chilly, but the report comes as the countries are cautiously trying to work together against the Islamic State group in Syria, and neither wants a major new rift.