Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky sues over Alexander Litvinenko poison link

Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky today sued over a "savage libel" that he was behind the terrible murder of Alexander Litvinenko by radioactive poisoning.

The businessman has brought an action at London's High Court over an April 2007 broadcast about the murder on the TV channel RTR Planeta, which is available by satellite in the UK.



His counsel, Desmond Browne QC, told Mr Justice Eady that The Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (RTR), which had never suggested that what it broadcast was true, had declined to take part in the proceedings.



It had left Vladimir Terluk, who Mr Berezovsky alleges is the silhouetted figure called Pyotr who featured in the broadcast, "to face the music on his own" unrepresented by lawyers.



The judge, who is sitting without a jury, is trying the issue of damages in relation to RTR and that of liability and damages in respect of Mr Terluk, who denies he is Pyotr and also pleads justification.



Mr Browne told the court: "This case raises the ghost of Alexander Sasha Litvinenko, who four years ago stood in the witness box in this very court and warned of the long and murderous arm of the Russian state.



"That was in March 2006, and almost certainly this country's most notorious murder in recent times has been that of Mr Litvinenko in this capital city in November that same year.



"Certainly it was the most horrifying murder, since he died a prolonged and agonising death, the death throws being drawn out over three weeks as a result of being poisoned with radioactive polonium.



"But polonium is not only deadly - it has the characteristic of leaving an indelible trail.



"The Director of Public Prosecutions concluded, following that trail, that it led to Moscow and, in May 2007, he announced there was sufficient evidence to charge Andrei Lugovoi, a former KGB officer, with the murder.



"However Andrei Lugovoi, as we all know, is safely home in Moscow and the Russian authorities have declined to extradite him to face trial here.



"The story which you will hear in this trial is that of how Russian TV journalists, Russian diplomats and Russian prosecutors, in conjunction with a man who has been a long standing collaborator with the KGB and its successor, sought to blacken the name of a vociferous critic of the present Russian regime by suggesting he had knowingly been behind the murder of Mr Litvinenko.



"The name of that critic was, of course, Mr Berezovsky and the name of the collaborator was Vladimir Terluk.



"The motivation for this savage libel was not merely to undermine the security of the asylum Mr Berezovsky had been granted in 2003 on the ground of a well-founded fear of political persecution in Russia, but also to muddy the waters of the murder investigation and deflect attention from what the programme itself called the Russian trail leading back to Moscow."



He said that the libel which Russian state television broadcast, by its interview with Vladimir Terluk, was "as vicious as can be imagined".



"That was because not only did it accuse Mr Berezovsky of being a party to a terrible murder, but the defendants knew that the victim of that murder had been a long-standing friend of Mr Berezovsky's - indeed the evidence shows that Alexander Litvinenko was the man who had saved Mr Berezovsky's life on more than one occasion and had thereafter become a long-standing and trusted friend."



Mr Browne said that the programme at the heart of the case, Vesti Nedeli, was the equivalent of the BBC's Newsnight and had a very considerable audience in the UK, where there was now an "enormous" Russian expat community and a large number of Russian speakers.



The broadcast's audience was likely to have been in the tens of thousands at least.

Suggested Topics
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?