Dec 11, 2006

Intrigue Over Spy’s Death Spreads to Germany

According to The New York Times, the German authorities announced Sunday that they had begun a criminal investigation of a Russian businessman after finding traces of polonium 210 around Hamburg that date back to Oct. 28 — four days before he met in London Alexander Litvinenko. It has added to suspicions that the case is connected to the shadowy world of agents and businessmen, defectors, spies and exiles let loose by the dissolution of the K.G.B., and still entwined with successor agencies.

The man the Germans have put at the center of scrutiny is Dmitri V. Kovtun, a 41-year-old Russian who was a student in the 1980s at the Supreme Soviet Higher Military Command School, where many students went on to serve in the K.G.B. He has been in a Moscow hospital since Dec. 7, suffering from exposure to polonium. There are conflicting reports about his health; Interfax, the Russian news agency, reported he was in critical condition, but his lawyer later disputed that.
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