VARIOUS: Poisoned former Russian Spy Alexander Litvinenko is laid to rest as an associate is reported to be...
- Title: VARIOUS: Poisoned former Russian Spy Alexander Litvinenko is laid to rest as an associate is reported to be critically ill from radiation poisoning
- Date: 8th December 2006
- Summary: (BN10) MOSCOW (RECENT - NOVEMBER 24, 2006) (REUTERS) WIDE OF EKHO MOSKVY RADIO STATION STUDIO/ ANDREI LUGOVOY AND DMITRY KOVTUN SEATED AT START OF LIVE INTERVIEW LUGOVOY SPEAKING DURING INTERVIEW (W4) MOSCOW (RECENT - NOVEMBER 24, 2006) (REUTERS) CLOSE-UP OF DMITRY KOVTUN WIDE OF LUGOVOY AND KOVTUN
- Reuters ID: LVAEM2HNV62FG6KIVE4H1LMBY745
- Duration: 00:00:45
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- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Obituaries
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- Story Text: Friends and family of poisoned former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko on Thursday (December 7) paid their last respects at a ceremony at a Mosque in central London.
Leaving the ceremony Litvinenko's friend and Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev said: "We all prayed to Allah to take care of our brother and all of us."
Litvinenko's father Valter said: "Thank you to the brothers for praying for my son and remembering him."
Ahead of his burial, police stood guard at the entrance of the cemetery.
He was then buried in a private ceremony in a secluded area at the rear of Highgate's West Cemetery.
Litvinenko's funeral came as Russian prosecutors launched their own murder investigation into his death, in parallel to a British probe already under way.
They also opened a criminal case into what they said was the attempted murder of Dmitry Kovtun, a Russian businessman who met Litvinenko at the time he fell ill.
On Wednesday (December 6), British detectives and Russian investigators interviewed Kovtun who, along with fellow businessman and ex-KGB spy Andrei Lugovoy, met Litvinenko in a London hotel on November 1.
Late on Thursday the Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying Kovtun, a contact of Litvinenko's, is in critical condition in hospital from radiation poisoning, .
Kovtun and Lugovoy are undergoing treatment in a Moscow hospital for radiation contamination.
The British police had been hoping to interview Lugovoy on Thursday, but the meeting did not take place for "technical reasons" and would be held later, his lawyer, Andrei Romashov, told reporters.
Litvinenko, a naturalised British citizen who was a sharp critic of the Kremlin, died in a London hospital on November 23 from poisoning with radioactive polonium 210.
Litvinenko claimed on his death bed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his killing, an accusation that has strained relations between Moscow and London, spawned multiple conspiracy theories and revived memories of the Cold War.
The Kremlin has denied any role in Litvinenko's death. Among the theories is that it could have been the work of rogue elements in Russia's intelligence services, working independently of the Kremlin.
Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday political ties between Britain and Russia were not being affected by the investigation of the poisoning of the ex-KGB spy, Interfax news agency reported.
"From our side the Scotland Yard investigation does not effect political relations (between Russia and Britain). I cannot judge how it looks from the British side," Lavrov said.
On Monday (December 4) Lavrov expressed worries that ties could be damaged if insinuations of high-level Russian involvement continued.
Meanwhile on Wednesday Italian Police seized the office in Naples of Mario Scaramella, an Italian contact of Litvinenko's.
According to judicial sources, Scaramella has been placed under investigation on four counts: breaching secrecy rules in the Mitrokhin affair, involvement in a waste management scam in Naples, arms trafficking and possible involvement in suspected smuggling of uranium bars from Rimini to San Marino - an alleged incident he himself reported.
Italian police raided the Naples offices of Scaramella's self-styled Environmental Crime Protection Program (ECCP) in what a magistrate called an "urgent action in connection with environmental crimes".
Scaramella suggested the Naples police were "really looking" for Mitrokhin Commission documents, for which Scaramella worked until earlier this year.
Set up by Silvio Berlusconi's former centre-right government, the Mitrokhin Commission trawled through the Italian part of a massive file of KGB contacts secretly compiled by Moscow archivist Vasily Mitrokhin.
The Italian contact of Litvinenko describes himself as an academic but has no current institutional affiliations.
He reportedly started out as an environmental consultant before becoming a security expert investigating former Soviet espionage and possible nuclear trafficking.
Scaramella emerged as a central figure in the Litvinenko case because he met him in a London sushi bar on November 1, the day the Russian fell ill.
Scaramella has been discharged from a London Hospital which had been monitoring him for radiation poisoning.
He had been admitted to hospital last Friday (December 1) after polonium 210, the same poison that killed former Russian agent Litvinenko, was detected in his body.
But doctors had said Scaramella had received a much lower dose than Litvinenko and was not showing any symptoms of radiation poisoning.
British television reported on Thursday that seven workers at a hotel where Litvinenko held a meeting have tested positive for low levels of polonium 210.
The Health Protection Agency is now asking anyone who was at the Millennium Hotel's Pine Bar between 31 October and 2 November to contact NHS Direct.
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- Embargoed:23rd December 2006 12:00