The harrowing true story of Alexander Litvinenko’s death

The harrowing true story of Alexander Litvinenko’s death

December 15, 2022

Marina Litvinenko: Putin's attitude to spy poisoning proves "he did it"

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Litvinenko is a four-part series coming to ITV’s new streaming service, ITVX, on December 15. The series is a dramatisation of the 10-year fight of Marina Litvinenko (Margarita Levieva) and the London police as they fought to shame those responsible for the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. has all you need to know about what really happened to the former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service.

How did the real Alexander Litvinenko die?

In 1998, Litvinenko along with other Russian intelligence officers said they had been ordered to kill Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky.

Following this, the Russian government began to persecute Litvinenko and he fled to the UK.

While in exile, he worked with both British and Spanish intelligence, sharing information about the Russian mafia in Europe.

On November 1, 2006, he was poisoned and was taken to hospital.

He died on November 23 and was the first victim of acute radiation syndrome from polonium-210.

British authorities looked into the circumstances around his death and it led to tensions between the British and Russian governments.

Fifteen years later, in September 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for his assassination.

The country was ordered to pay Litvinenko’s wife €100,000 in damages plus €22,500 in costs.

The court found beyond reasonable doubt that Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun killed the former KGB officer.

He had suddenly fallen ill after meeting the two Russian ex-KGB officers earlier that day.

That evening, he started vomiting and could not walk without assistance.

As the pain got worse, he asked his wife to call an ambulance, and while in hospital, his condition deteriorated.

While on his deathbed, he told detectives he believed his assassination had been ordered.

It was later discovered that the poison was in a teapot at the Millennium Hotel’s Pine Bar, from which Litvinenko drank some green tea.

It was at this hotel where he had met Lugovoy and Kovtun.

On November 22 his heart failed and he died the following day at University College Hospital in London.

Andrey Lugovoy is still alive, but Dmitry Kovtun died in June 2022, aged 56.

He died at a hospital in Moscow after contracting Covid.

The synopsis for the ITVX adaptation reads: “During the police interviews, Alexander provided meticulous details from his hospital bedside about the events leading up to his illness, which he knew would prove fatal.

“His information would ultimately help detectives track down two Russians who had poisoned Litvinenko with Polonium-210, a highly toxic radioactive substance.

“The drama also focuses upon the story of Marina, Alexander’s fearless, dignified widow who fought tirelessly to persuade the British Government to publicly name her husband’s killers and acknowledge the role of the Russian State in his murder.”

Executive producer Patrick Spence said: “This is an international story that should send a shudder down everyone’s spine.”

Litvinenko airs on ITV from December 15

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