The 2006 death of Alexander Litvinenko — a former Russian spy who got on President Putin’s bad side, has been linked to a radioactive cup of green tea that was served to Litvinenko with the personal approval, if not direction, of Putin himself. Litvinenko was a former officer of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation or FSB, the successor to the KGB.
The former federal agent was forced to flee to the United Kingdom after he publically criticized the regime for its close ties with the Russian mafia, and accused his superiors of orchestrating the assassination of prominent Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky (another critic of the regime).
In the U.K., Litvinenko became a journalist and a consultant for the British intelligence agencies.
In 2006, Litvinenko met with two former FSB acquaintances, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, in the Millennium, an upscale hotel in London, for tea.
According to a groundbreaking report issued this month by a British court of law, Litvinenko’s eventual death from radiation poisoning was sealed during this meeting, when, unbeknownst to him or any member of the hotel staff, a pot of green tea was contaminated with polonium, a radioactive substance.
According to the report, Litvinenko was suspicious enough initially not to drink any of the tea served during the meeting, but eventually acquiesced. “I swallowed several times, but it was green tea with no sugar and it was already cold by the way,” he later told investigators. “I didn’t like it for some reason.”
Litvinenko died in the hospital three weeks later.
Though Putin’s regime has denied any involvement in Litvinenko’s death, the six-month inquiry contends that “the forensic and other evidence strongly indicates that it was during this meeting that Mr. Litvinenko drank green tea poisoned with polonium,” and that President Putin “probably” approved the poisoning.
Radiation testing conducted at the Millennium Hotel later confirmed that one of its porcelain teapots had been used to pour polonium, and that there were traces of radiation throughout the hotel.