Alexander Litvinenko's widow says Russia can no longer deny it killed her husband
Marina Litvinenko finally has validation.
For almost a decade, the widow of dissident Alexander Litvinenko has been saying that Russia's spy service assassinated her husband, poisoning his tea at a London hotel.
On Thursday, the British judge who led a public inquiry into the death of the former Russian spy and Kremlin critic issued his report. Judge Robert Owen agreed that two Russian men put a fatal dose of polonium-210 in Mr. Litvinenko's drink. And he implicated Russian President Vladimir Putin in the scheme.
Judge Owen said that there is a "strong probability" the FSB, the KGB's successor, directed the plan — and that the operation was "probably approved" by Putin.
"It was a very important day for all of us," Litvinenko tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "All of what we said before, we proved. And not simply by words. We proved this in an English court."
She says she hopes the report will send a strong message to the Russian people — that the truth can come to light in a democratic country.
She is also pleased that her son, Anatoly, who was 12 when Alexander died, heard a British court validate what his father said on his deathbed about his assassins. Her son was by her side today and during the court proceedings.
"[Anatoly] is now 21 and he was absolutely incredible in all this period and he should know about his father," she says. "It makes me feel very proud of him and I'm absolutely sure his father . . . would be proud of Anatoly right now."
The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as biased. "There was one goal from the beginning: slander Russia," ministry spokesperson Maria Zhakarova said at a news conference.
Dmitry Babich, who works for Russia's state broadcaster, tells As It Happens host Carol Off that the report was "baloney."
Litvinenko says she is not surprised that Judge Owen stopped short of saying absolutely that Putin gave the command to kill her husband, who accused the Russian president of having ties to organized crime.
"It's very lawyerly language and, if you don't have certain evidence . . .you can't say this in a different way."
The two people accused of carrying out the assassination are Andrei Lugovoi, who is now a member of the Russian parliament, and businessman Dmitry Kovtun. Russia has refused to extradite the men.
"They deny everything because they live a double-standard life," says Litvinenko.