Moscow denies the conclusions of the ECHR, which expressed “a strong presumption” that the perpetrators of the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko “acted as agents of the Russian state”. A Russian judge of the ECHR deplores “flaws in the analysis”.
New rebound in the case concerning the ex-FSB (Russian Federal Security Service) officer Alexandre Litvinenko, who died in 2006 in London following poisoning with polonium 210, a radioactive substance. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered its decision on September 21, ruling in particular that the two alleged murderers of Litvinenko would have “acted as agents of the Russian state”, and that the investigation carried out by Moscow had not established the facts. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov reacted, deeming the ECHR’s allegations to be “unfounded”.
“It is unlikely that the ECHR is empowered or has the technological capacity to have information on this subject,” he said during a press briefing. “You know that this investigation still has no results, so such allegations are unfounded to say the least”, he added, adding: “We are not ready to listen to such decisions. [de la CEDH]. “
The ECHR relies on a British report disputed by Moscow
For its part, the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom said, quoted by the agency RIA Novosti: “Today’s decision of the ECHR concerning the Litvinenko affair will be carefully studied by the Russian side. At the same time, even superficial knowledge of the decision shows that it is based on the results of the UK “public inquiry”. ” “The assessments given by Russia of this non-transparent, non-competitive and politicized procedure from start to finish are well known,” she added.
Earlier in the day, the ECHR, seized by the widow of Alexander Litvinenko, had published a statement based solely on the content of the 2016 British public inquiry and which concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “probably approved” the elimination of Alexander Litvinenko.
Charges described at the time by Moscow as a “joke”. “We could not expect an objective and impartial report at the end of an extremely engaged and very opaque investigation which sought from the beginning to come to the desired conclusion”, had estimated the spokesperson for diplomacy Russian Maria Zakharova, after the publication of the report, stressing that her “obvious goal for a long time was to denigrate Russia and its officials”.
ECHR orders Russia to pay 100,000 euros to Litvinenko’s widow
In its document, the ECHR considers that there is “a strong presumption” that the two people accused by the British of having poisoned Alexander Litvinenko, namely Dmitri Kovtoun and Andrei Lugovoi, “acted as agents of the ‘Russian state’.
“If the Russian authorities were foreign to the actions of the duo, they would be the only ones to have the information required to prove it”, she adds, accusing Moscow of not having provided a “satisfactory and convincing explanation. […] nor refuted the findings of the British public inquiry ”. The ECHR therefore explains that “the assassination of[Alexandre] Litvinenko is attributable to Russia ”. In other words, the court in Strasbourg found Moscow guilty because of its inability to prove its innocence. A very singular decision, which seems to contradict the principle of the presumption of innocence.
The ECHR has found Russia guilty of violations of article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the “right of everyone to life” and of article 38 concerning the “adversarial examination of case”. It condemned Russia to pay 100,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage to the widow of Alexander Litvinenko, a sum that AFP defines as “particularly high in view of the Court’s case law”.
An ECHR judge evokes “flaws in the analysis carried out by the British investigation”
However, the conclusions of the ECHR are not unanimous within the institution. Dmitri Dedov, Russian judge of this Court, for his part declared himself opposed to the decision taken by the majority of judges (six votes to one). “I regret not being able to join the conclusions of the majority on the violation of both the procedural part and the material part of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I am not sure that these conclusions were made beyond a reasonable doubt. I have found numerous flaws in the analysis carried out by the UK investigation and the tribunal which raise reasonable doubts as to the suspects’ involvement in the poisoning and the fact that they acted as agents of the State ”, he argued, quoted by the TASS agency.
For his part, questioned by the Interfax agency on this decision, one of the two questioned by the British, Andrei Lougovoi, criticized a “politically motivated” decision, according to him, assuring that Russia had “done everything to establish the truth ”and calling into question the British justice system for not having, according to him, deigned to follow up on his requests.
The ex-Russian agent of the KGB, then of the FSB, Alexandre Litvinenko died on November 23, 2006 in London after being poisoned with polonium-210, a rare and undetectable isotope. Sacked by the KGB at the dawn of the 2000s, he fled to the United Kingdom where he was granted asylum in 2001.
This affair had contributed to straining relations between Moscow and London. The UK had restricted visas granted to some Russian officials and expelled four Russian diplomats. Russia responded to these retaliatory measures by expelling four British diplomats and ceasing its cooperation with the United Kingdom in the fight against terrorism.