Most Notorious Assassins
Andrey Konstantinovich Lugovoy, also spelled Lugovoi, is a Russian politician and businessman and deputy of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, for the LDPR. He worked as a KGBbodyguard and as head of "Ninth Wave", a security firm. He is wanted by British police on suspicion of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB and later FSB officer. Russia has rejected the request for his extradition.
KGB and security services career
Born in 1966 in Baku, Lugovoy attended the elite Soviet military command academy in Moscow.
In 1987, he joined the KGB's 9th directorate which provided security for top state officials. He was a platoon commander for five years and then served as a commander in the Kremlin regiment's training company. In 1991 he was transferred to the Federal Protective Service of Russia until his resignation at the end of 1996. During this time he provided security for Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, the head of the presidential administration Sergey Filatov and Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev.
Lugovoy went on to work in the private security business. For several years he was head of security at the private television company ORT, then owned by now fugitive tycoons Boris Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili. In 2001, Lugovoy was arrested and charged with organizing the escape of Nikolai Glushkov, a former deputy director-general of Aeroflot arrested in 2000 on fraud charges.
Alexander Litvinenko poisoning
Lugovoy met with Litvinenko on the day Litvinenko fell ill (1 November 2006). Litvinenko died later in November from radiation poisoning caused by polonium-210, and, on 22 May 2007, British officials charged Lugovoy with Litvinenko's murder, announcing they would seek his extradition from Russia. Russia declined to extradite Lugovoy, citing that extradition of citizens is not allowed under the Russian constitution. Russia said that they could take on the case themselves if Britain provided evidence against Lugovoy but that Britain has not handed over any evidence. The head of the investigating committee at the General Prosecutor's Office said Russia has not yet received any evidence from Britain on Lugovoy. "We have not received any evidence from London of Lugovoy's guilt, and those documents we have are full of blank spaces and contradictions."
Lugovoy had visited London at least three times in the month before Litvinenko's death and met with him four times. Lugovoy met with Litvinenko on the day he fell ill (November 1). Traces of polonium-210 have been discovered in all three hotels where Lugovoy stayed after flying to London on 16 October, in the Pescatori restaurant, Dover Street, Mayfair, where Lugovoy is understood to have dined before 1 November and aboard two aircraft on which he had traveled. He was treated at a Moscow hospital for suspected radiation poisoning but declined to say whether he had been contaminated with polonium-210, the substance that led to Litvinenko's death on 23 November 2006.
Lugovoy accused British intelligence agents of being behind the killing, and claimed MI6 had tried to recruit him to spy on Russia. On 27 October 2007, The Daily Mail, citing unnamed "diplomatic and intelligence sources", stated that Litvinenko was paid about £2,000 per month by MI6 at the time of his murder.
Timeline of Lugovoy involvement in Litvinenko poisoning
- On 30 November 2006, Georgian tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili described Lugovoy as a "close friend" with whom he had been working for thirteen years. He said he hoped Lugovoy was innocent, but added that there is "no such thing as a former KGB agent."
- On 4 December 2006, Lugovoy visited a hospital in Moscow for medical tests.
- On 9 December 2006, Lugovoy was released from the hospital and declared to be in "satisfactory condition."
- On 26 January 2007, The Guardian reported that the British government was preparing an extradition request asking that Lugovoy be returned to the United Kingdom to stand trial for Litvinenko's murder.
- On 5 February 2007, Boris Berezovsky told the BBC that on his deathbed, Litvinenko said that Lugovoy was responsible for his poisoning.
- On 22 May 2007, Britain's Director of Public Prosecutions announced that Britain would seek extradition of Lugovoy and attempt to charge him with murdering Litvinenko. Russia has previously stated that it has no right to allow the extradition of any Russian citizen for trial in Britain.
- On May 28, 2007 the British Foreign Office formally submitted a request for Lugovoy's extradition to the Russian Government.
- On 28 May 2007 a formal extradition request was given to Russia by Britain. This was confirmed by both the British embassy in Moscow and the Russian prosecution office.
- Lugovoy is quoted as saying he is a "victim not a perpetrator of a radiation attack", and he has called the charges "politically motivated".
- The Constitution of Russia, like that of France, Germany, Austria, China, and Japan, forbids extradition of its citizens to foreign countries (Art. 61), so the request cannot be fulfilled. Russian citizens can be convicted of crimes committed abroad by Russian courts in case foreign law agencies provide necessary evidence.
- On 31 May 2007, Lugovoy held a news conference at which he accused MI6 of attempting to recruit him and blamed either MI6, the Russian mafia, or fugitive Kremlin opponent Boris Berezovsky for the killing.
- On 4 July 2007, Russia formally declined a UK request to extradite Lugovoy.
- On April 25, 2012, Lugovoy polygraph tests 'negative'. The Russian TV documentary Innocence Test shows the polygraph test and discusses it with Lugovoy.
Following the interest in Lugovoy in regards to Litvinenko's death, on 15 September 2007, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), announced that Lugovoy would be in the second place after Zhirinovsky on his party's candidate list for the Duma election. This meant that Lugovoy could become a Russian MP in December 2007 and acquire parliamentary immunity. Lugovoy himself confirmed that he would take part in the following Duma election and on 17 September 2007, during a Liberal Democratic Party of Russia meeting, has also said he would like to bid for the Kremlin run.
Upon reacting to Litvinenko's death, Zhirinovsky said: "Any traitor must be eliminated using any methods. If you have joined the special services to work, then you should work, but to betray, to run away abroad, to give up the secrets you learned while working-all of this looks bad." Sergei Abeltsev, Zhirinovsky's former bodyguard and State Duma member from the LDPR, also stated:
"The deserved punishment reached the traitor. I am sure his terrible death will be a warning to all the traitors that in Russia the treason is not to be forgiven. I would recommend to citizen Berezovsky to avoid any food at the commemoration for his crime accomplice Litvinenko."
On 10 December 2007, British Ambassador in Moscow Tony Brenton voiced regret over the election of Lugovoy to the Duma, saying: "It is a pity that a man wanted for murder gains political recognition. It does Russia no good at all to have Lugovoy there in the parliament. It continues the suspicion. If he steps a foot out of Russia he will be arrested. We want him." In December 2008 Lugovoy voiced support for harsher laws against dissent in Russia. He told the Spanish newspaper El País:
"If someone has caused the Russian state serious damage, they should be exterminated. [...] Do I think someone could have killed Litvinenko in the interests of the Russian State? If you're talking about the interests of the Russian State, in the purest sense of the word, I myself would have given that order." He then clarified himself: "I'm not talking about Litvinenko but about any person who causes serious damage."
Lugovoy named President Saakashvili of Georgia and the KGB defector Gordievsky as examples.
On 13 March 2009, the LDPR announced it plans to nominate Lugovoy for the elections of Mayor of Sochi. On 24 March, Lugovoy announced his decision not to run and instead to remain an MP in the Duma.
January 2017 blacklisting
On January 9, 2017, under the Magnitsky Act, the United States Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control updated its Specially Designated Nationals List and blacklisted Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, Andrei K. Lugovoi, Dmitri V. Kovtun, Stanislav Gordievsky, and Gennady Plaksin, which froze any of their assets held by American financial institutions or transactions with those institutions and banned their travelling to the United States.