The Interpreter

A special project of Institute of Modern Russia
Marina Litvinenko, the widow of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, arrives for the first day of a scheduled two-day Pre-Inquest Review at Camden Town Hall in London, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital in 2006, with the rare radioactive substance polonium-210 being found in his body. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Marina Litvinenko: “Explain to Me Where the Polonium Came From?”

An interview with Alexander Litvinenko's widow

British authorities have classified the documents of the investigation of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko; there will be no public judicial proceeding.

Below is an interview with Litvinenko’s wife, Marina. – Ed.


The judicial investigation into the case of the death in London in 2006 of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, has run into a dead end. Not because there isn’t enough evidence. In fact, there is evidence. In fact, it is the reason for everything. Now British authorities have finally prohibited Sir Robert Owen, the coroner, from reviewing key materials in the case – about the possible complicity of the Russian state in the poisoning of Litvinenko with radioactive polonium. Furthermore, authorities have prohibited the reviewing of this issue even behind closed doors without press. They have admitted that a determining role in this was the factor of international relations.
The possibility of a Russian footprint was officially mooted by Judge Owen himself during the preliminary hearings in court, after which the authorities asked him to keep these materials secret and exclude them from the inquest. The government seemed not to hear Owen’s explanations that without them, he could not deliver an objective verdict. Then Sir Owen sent a letter to the government with a request to change the current format of the investigation – an inquest* – to a “public inquiry” which would enable the review of secret documents in a closed regimen.

But the authorities also refused to change the format of the proceeding. As Home Secretary Theresa May said in a letter published 19 July addressed to the coroner, “It is true that international relations have been a factor in the government’s decision-making. An inquest managed and run by an independent coroner is more readily explainable to some of our foreign partners, and the integrity of the process more readily grasped, than an inquiry, established by the government, under a chairman appointed by the government, which has the power to see government material potentially relevant to their interests, in secret.

The British Home Secretary did not specify in her letter whether Russia was that foreign partner, but she made assurances that the international factor was not crucial, and cited another five reasons against the public inquiry. The general sense of four of them amounts to the fact that all the non-secret circumstances of Litvinenko’s death can be determined through an inquest, and all the secret circumstances will remain so in any event. Then there’s a fifth reason – a public inquiry would most certainly require much more time and money than a coroner’s inquest.

On the whole, Judge Owen did everything that he could. Now he has only to publicly express condolences to Litvinenko’s widow Marina and once again apologize to her for dragging out the process. A long chain of appeals is to come – Marina’s lawyers intend to appeal the government’s decision.

She herself does not rule out that she may simply withdraw from the inquest and that is all. Marina Litvinenko has given an interview to Novaya Gazeta about how the judicial inquiry began, what preceded it, and why the Russian authorities so fear it.

*An inquest presupposed a special judicial inquiry which a judge coroner conducts for the purpose of establishing the cause of death and the persons who are accomplices in the murder (if this was a murder). However, the coroner cannot pronounce anyone guilty and deliver a verdict, but can only transmit his decision for further investigation to the usual criminal court.

Vera Chelishcheva:  What will your next moves be and those of the judge coroner? Earlier you had both announced that if the government would not approve the public inquiry, you would leave the proceeding.

Marina Litvinenko:  Her Majesty’s Government cannot simply prohibit or simply close the case – everything is conducted within the framework of the law. We can appeal their decision – my lawyers are working on that. The difficulty consists of the fact that in the event that we lose, we will have to pay all the court cases, and the sum may be quite large. In any event, we can always return from the public inquiry to the usual inquest. After all, even if I withdraw from the process, it will continue, it is not within my powers to stop it. I can only initiate it.

Vera Chelishcheva: What is your explanation for why the British government is not allowing the public hearing to go forward?

Marina Litvinenko: It is very difficult for me to give any sort of assessment of this for now. Back in January and February of 2007, I had a discussion with my friends: will England go against Russia or not, and will the suspect be disclosed or not. Some had the firm conviction that the British will never give the name of the murderer. And suddenly, Lugovoy was declared the suspect.

Vera Chelishcheva:  How did the initial investigation go?

Marina Litvinenko: It went rather quickly: at first Scotland Yard conducted their own, and then immediately passed the case to the Crown’s prosecutorial service of Great Britain, and they then began to review the evidence collected, then on 22 May 2007, Lugovoy was officially declared the suspect and his extradition was demanded. And then Kovtun was also declared a suspect.

In general, the British behaved contrary to all our doubts. David Milliband (from 2007-2010 the head of the British Foreign Office-VC) entered into an open discussion with [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, and even said very bluntly, “if your Constitution doesn’t enable you to extradite criminals, then you need to change your Constitution.” That provoked a terrible reaction from Putin who replied: “You need to change your brains.” Then the expulsion of diplomats began to happen. The British cultural centers began to be closed in Russia…

I met with Milliband twice. He kept telling me how important this case was to him, that they are following everything, that when he meets with Lavrov, he always raises this issue. I felt a constant attention and desire to bring everything to closure. Although Sasha’s friends and mine immediately realized that London would never get Lugovoy.

Vera Chelishcheva:  But the government changed. And now the current head of the Foreign Office William Hague has an entirely different position regarding your case than Milliband did?

Marina Litvinenko: Yes, we began the inquest when the Labour Party was in power. Now it is the Conservatives. Their position is to improve relations with Russia. But you know, I would least like to think that the price of the improvement in these relations is the case of my husband. I don’t like to engage in conspiracy theories, but there have been a lot of consecutive events, some sort of strange coincidences. For example, a week before the coroner had to make a statement about the fact that he could not review the issue of the complicity of the Russian government in the murder, Prime Minister Cameron flies to Sochi, meets with Putin and they decide issues of the security of Olympic athletes, issues of Syria…And then I get a telephone call from the Foreign Office with explanations that this meeting will in no way affect the investigation of the death of my husband. But a week later, a letter appears in which the coroner says that he is unable to review the case. And now the government refuses to make the proceeding public. But previously, when William Hague met with Lavrov in London, again on issues of Syria, Lugovoy loudly withdrew from the proceeding.

Vera Chelishcheva:  I saw him speak about that at the press conference, you could sense some kind of nervousness in him.

Marina Litvinenko:  I watched it on TV as well. He wasn’t showing as much bravura as before – he really was nervous. I have my own suppositions in that regard. The thing is that in an inquest, if you become an interested party, you have an equal right to the materials of the case. That is, Lugovoy possibly managed to read the police dossier on him and saw something, some sort of evidence… And perhaps there was another reason – after all, no one intended to fight for him for free at the inquest, and all the barristers in England are highly-paid.  But since the Russian Investigative Committee became an interested party at the inquest as well, I think it was quite a burden to pay for both out of the Russian treasury. They decided: why do they need Lugovoy now, they will obtain the materials anyway. Evidently he was worried that he was not independent, that he was simply removed.

Vera Chelishcheva:  Where do you yourself get the money to pay attorneys?

Marina Litvinenko: We have an agreement with them that we can obtain so-called legal aid from the government.  There is a form where people who are taking part in a judicial proceeding may apply to receive a certain sum. In my case, this is realistic, because I am not filing material suits, I am not trying to obtain any profit. And the barristers all greed to work for now for free. Plus my friends and I created a fund where all those who wish may contribute money for the attorneys, and I am sincerely grateful for every amount.

Vera Chelishcheva: To come back to the Investigative Committee and the Russian authorities as a whole, what is their position regarding the inquest?

Marina Litvinenko: I think they fear this process. They don’t know what might surface, they realize that they cannot CONTROL it. And therefore they try in every way to discredit the process. This is obvious even from the amount of money which they’ve thrown at the counter-propaganda – all those awful television programs, starting with “The Individual and the Law” and ending with the film about Berezovsky. Boris himself called me after he had seen it and said, “Marina, can you imagine, the film went on for almost two hours, for the entire two hours they poured filth on me, but even so, the film isn’t about me. The film is in fact about the inquest. How afraid they are of that inquest.”

And the story with Sasha’s father is from the same series. After Sasha’s death, [his father] Valter spoke out a lot – he blasted everyone around, including Putin. Then he realized that it was dangerous for him to remain in Russia and went to Italy along with his wife. In fact, not long before that, his daughter and her husband, who worked in the Kabardino FSB, were also let out. At the time, I didn’t ascribe meaning to this – who permitted them to leave so easily? But now I think that they were under control. Then Valter’s wife died. And soon his daughter invited a television crew to Italy to film Valter. And that reportage was like a bucket of water thrown on me (in the report, the Litvinenko senior asks forgiveness of Putin and calls his son a traitor and complains about his poor condition—VC). I couldn’t understand anything. Then similar reports began to appear. But what was it done this way? At first I wanted to call him, then I just felt sorry for him. We’re no longer speaking.

It’s an awful thing – not everyone can withstand a protracted inquest – some kind of breakdown happens with people.

EXPLAIN TO ME WHERE THE POLONIUM CAME FROM”

Vera Chelishcheva:  How did this inquest began, who initiated it?

Marina Litvinenko: When Sasha died, Berezovsky asked me, “Do you really want to know who murdered Sasha? Are you ready for that?” I replied, “Yes.” And at that moment, I resolved that I would initiate the inquest. And I was ready to request it in the very first year, but the police asked me not to hurry. They explained that they had to gather additional evidence, that they wanted to make the case very strong so that no one could unravel it. And I very much trusted them and still trust them, they really did work out every little thing, every detail from beginning to end. But two years ago, when five years had already passed since Sasha’s passing, I decided that it was time. Not long before that, I was introduced to a barrister (who represents me now in court), Ben Emmerson, a very strong attorney with enormous experience. And when I met with him I understood: now the moment has come, with this attorney I can go to court.

At the first meeting, he cited these reasons: even if someone is turned over and is brought to court, that doesn’t change anything, because the inquiry is limited only to the criminal component – they exclusively establish the cause of death, but they do not punish the guilty. In fact a coroner’s inquest always goes like that. Therefore when on the Russian side, something was said about a politically motivated criminal case, this was absolutely incorrect. The police had no political motives WHATSOEVER. For them, Lugovoy was only a man who was suspected of murder. And he was suspected not because he was Lugovoy as such, not because soon after the events he suddenly became a member of parliament for some reasons…No, for the police, none of this had any significance.

Yet, even so, everyone understand that a putative Lugovoy – even if we call this suspect Mr. X – did not personally have a motive to kill my husband using radioactive material. I am prepared to listen to all the theories of the case for murder, but I am always left with the last question: “But where did the polonium come from? Now explain to me, where did the polonium come from?” And then all the theories began to collapse immediately. Polonium is the fundamental reference point thanks to which you can understand who is behind this crime. An individual person by himself could not obtain polonium. Someone has to get this polonium for him. Naturally, the question arises: who is behind that Mr. X? We did not obtain a full answer to that question within the dimension of the investigation that Scotland Yard is conducting.

Vera Chelishcheva: Why, did the police interfere?

Marina Litvinenko: No, the police simply couldn’t go beyond the establishment of the cause of death. I think that some additional files of course exist but they aren’t accessible to us. We had hoped that they would manage to be opened in the course of the inquest. But from the very beginning, as soon as the first session passed in 2010, it became clear that the government would resist – they immediately insisted on a narrow review. But the narrow review is once again when they establish only the death of the person, the causes of death and that’s all. But the coroner who had taken this case – Andrew Leed – immediately said that the inquest would be considered in a broader format and would be open to the press. That was our first victory.

Vera Chelishcheva: But then that judge coroner left the case. Why?

Marina Litvinenko: Yes. Unfortunately. It was obvious that the case was important to him. But he had committed one professional lapse – he had put his wife as a lawyer on one of his cases. It turned out that she was working on a trial without a license. They removed the judge, and appointed the next coroner – Sir Robert Owen.

WORLD COURT

It was obvious from the very beginning that Owen’s attitude to this case was also very serious. And in December 2012, we heard from him – for the first time officially in the court room – that the material reviewed enabled him to say: in the case of the murder of my husband there was the footprint of the Russian state.

And a few months later – in February 2013 – the letter from William Hague was to appear that he would like to make secret in the trial all materials related to the intelligence agencies “for the purposes of national security.”

Many people ask me: “Well, then, it turns out that in England, there is the same kind of politically-controlled people?” I tell them: no, but there are judicial rules according to which the government can indicate its interest. And thanks to them, the authorities have put the judge in an awkward position. On 17 May of this year he was forced to say: by virtue of the fact that I am prohibited from reviewing certain documents, I cannot study the question of the participation of the Russian government in this crime because I cannot prove that without evidence.

That is, they have placed obstacles around the judge. And to what extent must you be strong, experienced, and courageous to advance through all that… Even in this situation, he found a way out, saying in the end that he himself would decide what secret documents to review and what not. In reply, William Hague wrote a complaint against the coroner. A supervisory review was conducted. It was the clash of the titans. It wasn’t simply a case of one person pressured and the other fled. Here I want to say to you, Vera, there IS NO TELEPHONE LAW AT ALL here. None.

Vera Chelishcheva: Quite the ideal judge, Sir Owen….To be honest, having become used to Russian judges, I didn’t really believe in this much until I came to the trial myself.

Marina Litvinenko: He is very strong. It is not that I am credulous, but I believe in people’s sincerity despite everything. Owen’s sincerity was in the fact that twice, before there was pressure on it from the authorities, he came to me personally and said: “I will decide myself what secret documents we will review and what not. But in this case you have to trust me.” So he looked at me and he said “You will simply have to trust me.” I said, “I don’t have a choice.” And then he apologized to me. It was simply that the court essentially was supposed to begin 1 May, but in connection with the fact that the Russian Investigative Committee came into the case and brought with it 1,500 pages of Russian-language text, which still had to be translated for everyone…

Vera Chalishcheva: What was this text?

Marina Litvinenko: Well, it was their “investigation”… So Owen came to me – the court was filled with people – and he said, “I am very sorry that you will have to wait once again.” He tried to arrange everything so that justice would be attained after all. Thus, he immediately let us know that we had to apply for a public inquiry, and he himself wrote this request to the government (in which he has now been refused). After all, in a public inquiry, we could have reviewed the documents which today they are not allowing us make public.

“I THINK LUGOVOY HIMSELF BECAME FRIGHTENED WHEN HE LEARNED HE WAS PLAYING WITH POLONIUM”

Vera Chalishcheva: Even so, what is the British government trying to keep secret, what are these secret documents?

Marina Litvinenko: We can only speculate how these documents could be related to polonium and the secret services of MI-5 and MI-6. In particular, they may reference Sasha’s work in Spain; he consulted for local intelligence agencies regarding organized crime from Russia which was involved in money-laundering there (these were members of the Tambov gang from St. Petersburg, according to some information, which had contacts with certain Russian officials). Sasha explained to them what was really going on. He began consulting back in 2006. In fact, it was at that time that he got together with Lugovoy. I was there when they met – at the 60th birthday part of Berezovsky in London. I didn’t know who he was. Then Sasha told me: he knew Lugovoy back when he was the head of the ORT [Russian Public Television] security service, but in Russia, they had had no friendly contacts. But here they talked and exchanged telephone numbers, Lugovoy seemed to have an interest in an outlet to the West. They spoke on the phone a few times, Sasha tried to introduce him to the people he worked with in England in a private security business. In 2006, Lugovoy traveled to London. Then Lugovoy appeared in October, and 1 November is when the meeting took place at the Millennium Hotel.

Vera Chalishcheva: Even so – what is your theory? Is the hit-man for the murder, whoever he is, just a pawn?

Marina Litvinenko: I agree that a putative Lugovoy would have been too unprepared in order to conduct an operation with radioactive material. Well, how can you say to a person: “Here you have radioactive material in your hands” – and his hands will shake. Naturally, he was used as a courier, like a dummy. That is, he knew that he was doing something against Sasha, but he didn’t realize he was giving him radioactive material. They could only tell him that it was something poisonous, that he had to be careful… But the fact that it was not completely the conscious and personal wish of the putative Lugovoy enables him to deny that he was involved in this. I think he himself was frightened when he found out that it was polonium. He fled to the Embassy at first, they say that the chair that he sat on glowed strangely somehow. Then he and Kovtun fled to Ekho Moskvy and gave a press conference. Then they were hidden when police came to Moscow. They didn’t find Lugovoy at all, and they talked to Kovtun in the hospital like the movie “Man Without a Face” – he was entirely bandaged, with only one eye visible. The police said it was even funny.

THE POLONIUM WAS DISCOVERED SEVERAL HOURS BEFORE LITVINENKO’S DEATH

Vera Chalishcheva: Did those who thought up this crime not realize that the polonium would be discovered soon or later?

Marina Litvinenko: They had counted on the polonium not being discovered, that Sasha would die an unexplained death quickly. In fact, the British were not looking for polonium. It’s now that people say that Russia has brought itself to the point that with any unexplained death in England, the British would immediately look for polonium and would decontaminate the area first thing. But back then, they couldn’t understand anything at all.

At first, Sasha was treated for e-coli, bacteria disrupting the gastrointestinal system. When they gave this diagnosis, I immediately got on the Internet – it turned out that usually this bacteria is seen either in young children or in elderly people and they only get infected with it in the hospital. I didn’t understand anything. And nobody understood anything. But he was being treated with antibiotics against that bacteria. Then the doctors began to say that the antibiotics could provoke side effects. I said, “Don’t you want to test him for poisoning?”

They looked at me strangely and…kept trying to find out something about the antibiotics. Then they decided to test Sasha for AIDS. And Sasha began to get jaundice – his liver was failing but the doctors still didn’t want to see poisoning. All of his hair was falling out – I would stroke his head and his hair would remain in my hand. Plus, his mouth and throat were coated – not just his tonsils but everything, starting from his tongue, palate, his entire esophagus and mucous membranes.

I remember the moment when I came out of the hospital room and I just started yelling. “Do you understand what you’re doing?! I left yesterday, and my husband was in one condition, and now he’s in a completely different one…Does anyone intend to help him?” And only then did they conduct a consultation, and finally began to test his blood for poisoning. They brought in an apparatus to detect gamma radiation, they ran it over Sasha and nothing showed. The horror was that the symptoms of radiation were there, but it was impossible to understand the origin of the source. And Sasha was getting worse and worse…

The doctors supposed that this might be thallium poisoning but soon doubts emerged because, in that case, the nervous system would suffer first. Sasha of course grew very weak and lost weight but his nerve endings and reactions were normal. The doctors forced Sasha to drink an antidote. We rejoiced now; that meant that everything was past, that maybe he would be disabled but he would live. But Sasha grew worse and worse. He was put in the cancer ward and then two days later in the ICU.

Then our friend Alex Goldfarb got the idea to bring in Doctor Henry, he came and examined Sasha and asked, “Why is he being examined for gamma radiation? Why isn’t the theory being tested that it could be alpha radiation?” And on the last day, after Sasha had already been resuscitated in the night (his heart had stopped), the doctors tested the samples and literally in the last hours of his life they determined that this was polonium.

That is why I say: the people who did this did not expect that the polonium would be discovered. They wanted to kill him quickly so that no one would realize this.

Vera Chalishcheva: There are a large number of theories regarding who exactly killed your husband. What are your own suppositions?

Marina Litvinenko: I haven’t lived in Russia for a long time, of course, but I think the reason was Sasha’s activity in investigating the money-laundering of the Russian mafia in Spain. Sasha stepped on the interests of some corporation; I think very seriously stepped on them. Well, and a second theory…Many people have already noted that all those who were involved in investigating the explosion of the apartment houses in Moscow are no longer alive.

Vera Chalishcheva: He himself had some theories, did he manage to tell them to you?

Marina Litvinenko: He tried to provide as complete testimony as he could to the police. In that sense it was a unique situation – the police were investigating a murder by obtaining information from the victim himself. In the last 4 or 5 days, the police would come out of his hospital room with tears in their eyes and tell me, “Marina, we don’t know how he can do this. Because he’s reached his limit… His lips don’t even work. But he’s trying to talk.” What he told them will naturally remain in the police file. One thing I can say: he did not really want to point the finger at Lugovoy right away. Only at the very beginning did he tell me that there had been tea and that he didn’t like it. Then he abruptly stopped talking about that. He didn’t think that the poisoning was fatal; he thought that he would find out everything himself later.

The topic of Lugovoy began to emerge in the media only after Sasha was completely ill. I told the former Soviet intelligence officer [Oleg] Gordievsky that Sasha had met with Lugovoy, that they had drank tea, and that he didn’t like it. And he then immediately gave an interview in which for the first time the name of Lugovoy was mentioned. And Sasha – he was still alive then – read that article and got upset because he had not wanted that information to get out prematurely.

ON BEREZOVSKY

Vera Chalishcheva: You were closely-acquainted with Boris Berezovsky. Does his death seem strange to you?

Marina Litvinenko: I couldn’t believe that Boris was gone. It seemed to me that he understood, as an interested party in the inquest, that he had to take Sasha’s case to the end. Against the backdrop of all his other recent failures, there was the impression that it was the inquest really holding him together. And his death was really a big blow for me. I wasn’t afraid. I was simply very uncomfortable, because some sort of petty intrigues arose; for example, rumors regarding meetings between Berezovsky and [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky in Israel where they, according to Zhirinovsky, supposedly spoke about me and supposedly Berezovsky “promised to give Marina instructions how to stop the inquest.” When I read all that, I thought that some sort of ill power was turning on me. And once again became convinced that the inquest was some very big sore point for someone. But Boris simply couldn’t promise this! I could no longer stop the inquest, the only thing I could do was to say, “I am tired, I’m leaving.” But the inquest will continue without me. The machine can’t be stopped. Those are the rules.

I didn’t give an interview about Berezovsky at all. I had my own relationship to Boris. My family and I spent part of our life with this person. He changed our life to some degree. I don’t know whether it was in a better or worse direction. But it is part of the history of our family. He remains in our life just as he was.

I personally find it very hard to believe that he committed suicide. I can concede that it could have driven him to suicide. Perhaps anti-depressants played a role. We had not seen each other after he lost the case against Abramovich. I spoke regularly with him on the telephone, and it seemed to me that after his depression there was still some sort of progress, some sort of interest in life. I blame myself that I didn’t insist on a meeting – I kept putting it off and putting it off. In our last conversation I told him: “Well, Boris Abramovich, I’m still standing.” It’s true that I recall this now – so many times I would fall into depression and become a vegetable. But I simply couldn’t allow myself to do this.

ON HER HUSBAND AND HERSELF

Marina Litvinenko: Back when Sasha was imprisoned [on charges of exceeding his official authorities—V.C.], my mother, who naturally was very worried for me, said, “Marina, how can that be? Everything was going so well for you…” I replied, “Mama, Sasha will be in jail for a while and then get out. Look how many women have husbands with them but they are unhappy for various reasons… I do not consider myself unhappy. Yes, I’m really upset that he was jailed. But I know that Sasha will get out and that nothing will change with him. He is the same as he was. And I will be with him.”

It just so happened that after I met Sasha, I acquired a real family hearth. A good period began in my life. Sasha knew that I had his back – and when he worked in the system and when he went against it. He knew that I will understand this and will not make any scenes. That of course I wouldn’t be happy, but I would accept this.

I can’t say that I am quiet by nature. I’m not a girl out of a Turgenev story. But I was never among the activists, I was never a fighter for something. When we lived here and Sasha traveled around to various places to speak, it was not interesting for me. When Sasha got sick and people began to ask me for interviews, I would also refuse. And then Sasha himself said, “Marina, you will give interviews now.” And I agreed.

…Sasha and I spent 7 years together before we left Russia. When we left, we overcame the difficulties together – a different language, a completely different mentality, and we had to get ourselves settled. And that brought us together even more. When we left, it was very difficult for Sasha to change to some new form of activity. After all, he had been in the system for 17 years.

They say Berezovsky ceased to fund us at some point and that this somehow psychologically influenced Sasha. No. There was a reduction in the budget on the part of Berezovsky’s office. But that was a prod for you to do something yourself. Until you have a reduction in assistance, you always feel relaxed. That happened with Sasha. He began to think, and began to work independently. And he had experience, knowledge and a unique memory. He watched how British security firms worked, and he realized that he himself could do this gradually, and in time he began to acquire some clients.

On the whole, changes occurred in Sasha that could never have occurred in Russia. I said as much to him: “Although we did leave, you have found yourself in a different way, you have another environment, you have other friends, you have another attitude toward life.”

ON HER SON

I always realized that no matter what happened in life, my son would remain the priority. When Sasha was dying, he said that I must do everything so that Tolya would grow up and everything would be fine.

At the moment his father died, Tolya was 12 years old, and he asked me then, “Mama, you aren’t going to get depressed, are you?” I replied that I didn’t have the right to. He himself suffered very hard from what happened. I was incredibly sorry for him. That in his small life, such a collection of crises had occurred. At the age of 4, his father was put in prison, for a year I told him stories that his papa was on a business trip, and later he told me, “Mama, but I knew.” That is, the child deceived us for a year himself… Then at age 6, he was uprooted and taken to another country, and then at age 12, there was the horrible death of his father…

Today, he says to me, “Mama, you know, I am much more grown up than my peers, I understand a lot more of what is really valuable in life.” This year, he has applied to a high school with the majors “political science” and “East European economics.” Perhaps if such terrible things had not occurred in his life, he would have chosen different topics.

In everything that has happened with me, there is a completely crazy plus. I have met SUCH people. Only for that reason I don’t have the right to say that I’m tired, that I can’t do this, that I’m sick of it. It’s simply not possible. Ben Emmerson – that’s a completely separate story. At the moment when the trial began, I didn’t have any funds for lawyers, although under the rules, you must provide a clear guarantee to the lawyers that they will be paid. Emmerson and the others agreed to go to the inquest without that guarantee. Furthermore, Emmerson said that I must be confident that he would not drop me.

I have had wonderful relations with the police. They support me. They say, “Marina, if something happens, you can always call us.” Because they remember Sasha. They all saw HOW he died.
A very famous British organ performer once made a contribution to our fund to raise money for lawyers. He became so sincerely touched by this story, that he galvanized all of his students around the world to help. Recently, he marked his 70th birthday in Venice, and I went to visit him. And I found myself in a completely different world.

My case touches people of completely different walks of life, and in some way unites them. In fact, after that birthday, the musician sent an email to all the guests that Marina was going to face the next session of the inquest on such-and-such a date, that it was an important day for her, and that we must all be concerned for her on that day.

It was amazing…

Note from Novaya Gazeta

Former FSB Agent Alexander Litvinenko obtained political asylum in Great Britain and died in London on 23 November 2006. He began feeling sick on 1 November. He was hospitalized with symptoms such as jaundice, hair loss and lesions of the bone marrow. Specialists at the British Health Agency announced after his death that a significant amount of the radioactive element polonium-210 was found in his body post-mortem. According to the investigation by Scotland Yard, Russian citizens Andrei Lugovoy, a former FSB official, currently a deputy in the State Duma, is suspected of the murder of Litvinenko, along with Dmitry Kovtun. Great Britain has sought the extradition of Lugovoy for several years. Moscow is categorically opposed, and itself continues to insist on its innocence.