Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who was murdered in 2006, is the subject of a new ITV series, Litvinenko, and isplayed by Scottish actor David Tennant.
Much has been said of Mr Litvinenko’s death, with a later inquiry finding that Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably approved” his murder, there being “undoubtedly a personal dimension to the antagonism” between the pair. The report contained myriad allegations and intelligence on both Mr Litvinenko and Putin.
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The Sir Robert Owen inquiry, held at the High Court in London, concluded in January 2016, found that one of the reasons the Russian government might have ordered his assassination was because Mr Litvinenko accused Putin of being a paedophile.
In July 2006, just months before his death in November of that year, Mr Litvinenko wrote and published an article on the Chechenpress website which was described in the report as the “climax” of his repeated attacks on Putin.
In the article, the late 44-year-old describes Putin walking from the Grand Kremlin Palace to his residence, meeting some tourists at one of the Kremlin squares.
There, Mr Litvinenko said the 70-year-old encountered a four or five-year-old boy. After Putin asked the boy’s name, Mr Litvinenko wrote: “Putin kneeled, lifted the boy’s T-shirt and kissed his stomach.
“The world public is shocked. Nobody can understand why the Russian President did such a strange thing as kissing the stomach of an unfamiliar small boy.”
In 2016, the boy in question, Nikita Konkin told the MailOnline as a 15-year-old that the kiss was not “ticklish at all” and that he “felt something good,” adding: “I went to him. Putin asked me who I am — and then kissed me. That was it. I was surprised a lot.”
Mr Litvinenko goes on to claim that the explanation for Putin’s actions can be found in the “blank spots” of his biography.
He continued: “After graduating from the Andropov Institute, which prepares officers for the KGB intelligence service, Putin was not accepted into foreign intelligence. Instead, he was sent to a junior position in KGB Leningrad Directorate. This was a very unusual twist for a career of an Andropov Institute graduate with fluent German.”
He claimed that Putin’s bosses had learned that he was a paedophile, according to those who knew the Russian President as a student.
The former agent of the Federal Security Service [FSB], which succeeded the Soviet Union’s KGB, wrote that when Putin became the FSB director and was “preparing for presidency”, he sought and destroyed any “compromising materials” collected against him – including a videotape.
Marina Litvinenko campaigned for justice following his death (Image: Getty)
Mr Litvinenko claimed: “Among other things, Putin found videotapes in the FSB Internal Security directorate, which showed him [having] sex with some underage boys.”
Sir Robert, speaking of the unproved allegations, wrote: “It hardly needs saying that the allegations made by Mr Litvinenko against President Putin in this article were of the most serious nature. Could they have had any connection with his death?”
The 300-page report found that Mr Litvinenko and Putin only met once in 1998 when the now President was the newly appointed head of the FSB. Mr Litvinenko — described as a “leading opponent of the Putin regime” — had hoped that he might implement reforms. But in the subsequent years, he made “repeated highly personal attacks” on Putin, which culminated in the allegation of paedophilia.
Two years after their first and only meeting, Mr Litvinenko fled Russia and claimed asylum in London along with his wife Marina. Then, in 2003, he was put on the MI6 payroll and in 2006 was killed after drinking tea containing radioactive polonium-210 at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, London.
Sir Robert wrote: “I am satisfied that in general terms, members of the Putin administration, including the President himself and the FSB, had motives for taking action against Litvinenko, including killing him, in late 2006.”
Marina Litvinenko was pleased that the report found Putin ‘probably approved’ her husband’s murder (Image: Getty)
Marina told the inquiry that her husband — whom she called “Sasha” — blamed Putin for his murder on his deathbed, with him famously declaring “you may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price”.
A new ITVX drama – called Litvinenko – was written by George Kay, who read 18 hours of deathbed statements with the Litvinenko family and the MET police’s approval. The show, starring Mr Tennant as the former spy, depicts both the murder and Marina’s campaign for justice, a story the 51-year-old actor claims Putin never wanted to be told.
Mr Tennant told The I paper: “The story feels important on a geopolitical scale. It reveals the terrible truth of what was attempted by this gangster who happens to have all this power. It also shows the wonderful victory — and I use that word advisedly — that exists within this.
“What Putin set out to do was to make sure this story was never told. So it feels that the most important thing we can do is to tell the story again and again and again because that way, Putin loses.”
All episodes of Litvinenko will be on ITVX on Thursday, December 15.