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Litvinenko Linked to Senior Kremlin Figure

LONDON -- A friend of Alexander Litvinenko said he believed that the former Russian agent was murdered because he possessed allegedly damaging information about a high-ranking Kremlin figure, the BBC reported Saturday.

Yury Shvets, a former KGB agent, said he and Litvinenko had worked together providing confidential background information for international companies before possible investment in Russia.

Shvets told the BBC that his friend had been poisoned after a dossier compiled by Litvinenko -- which allegedly contained sensitive material and has now been given to Scotland Yard -- was leaked to the unidentified figure in Moscow.

Asked whether it was the reason for his death, Shvets said he thought it "triggered" the poisoning. "Yes. Well, I can't be 100 percent sure, but I am pretty sure," Shvets said. "Obviously there is always room for ... other suspicions, but in a tradecraft there is such a thing as most probable cause, most probable theory, and this is the one."

The Metropolitan Police would not comment on Shvets' theory.

Litvinenko died Nov. 23 in London after being poisoned with polonium-210. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in Litvinenko's death.

Also on Saturday, a British publishing house announced that it intended to publish, in English, Litvinenko's book, "Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within," which alleged that Russia's Federal Security Service was behind a string of bombings at Russian apartment buildings in 1999.

Previously, the book had been privately printed, but Gibson Square, the British publishers, said it was never sold.

Meanwhile, Litvinenko's death continued to have repercussions elsewhere in Europe.

One Russian described as a KGB defector was quoted on Friday as saying he feared for his life after receiving death threats following Litvinenko's murder.

Yevgeny Limarev, who lives in eastern France, has links with Mario Scaramella, an Italian who met Litvinenko in London the day he fell ill.

Another Litvinenko associate, Andrei Lugovoi, a former security service agent who is being investigated in connection with the killing, also said fallout from the killing was taking its toll.

Lugovoi told Interfax Sunday that he considered himself to be a victim in the case.

"It is emotionally draining," he said on the Vesti news program on Rossia television.

"I, my family and my reputation have been damaged, and I consider myself to be a victim irrespective of what Scotland Yard might think about it."

(The Moscow Times 18.xii.06)

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