Crítico de Putin, fugiu da Rússia em 2001
Ex-agente do KGB envenenado em Londres
A polícia britânica e a Scottland Yard estão a investigar a doença de um ex-agente secreto russo, exilado no Reino Unido, possivelmente envenenado. Alexander Litvinenko, antigo coronel do KGB e critico do Presidente Putin adoeceu a 1 de Novembro, após um encontro num restaurante de sushi de Londres
Uma análise revelou que Litvinenko, de 43 anos, recebeu uma dose potencialmente mortal de tálio, um metal altamente tóxico usado para matar ratos e insectos. O tálio não tem sabor, cor ou cheiro, tendo um aspecto semelhante a sal fino. Uma pequena dose pode ser suficiente para matar uma pessoa.
A situação do ex-agente é estável, mas muito complicada. À porta do quarto do hospital onde ele está, permanece uma guarda armada constante.
Litvinenko afirmou recentemente estar a investigar a morte da jornalista Anna Politkovskaya, que muitos pensam ter sido eliminada por Putin.
Na semana passada, o ex-agente disse à BBC ter recebido um telefonema de uma possível fonte para as suas investigações, que ter-lhe-á dado os nomes de pessoas implicadas no assassinato de Politkovskaya.
Segundo os médicos, Litvinenko, que fugiu da Rússia em 2001, tem 50% de probabilidades de sobreviver. Segundo um amigo, ele «parece um fantasma». Não tem cabelo, não come há 18 dias, e tem o rosto envelhecido. O mesmo acredita que o envenenamento é culpa dos serviços secretos russos.
Boris Berezovski, magnata russo que vive no Reino Unido há vários anos, diz que o tálio é muito difícil de arranjar, sendo acessível apenas a serviços secretos. Também ele teme ser envenenado ou morto.
Mr Litvinenko is renowned for his critique of Russia's security services
Mr Litvinenko is thought to have been close to journalist Anna Politkovskaya, another opponent of the Kremlin who was shot dead last month, and said recently he was investigating her murder.
It was after being handed documents relating to the case that he was taken ill more than two weeks ago, he said.
But he is perhaps best known for a book in which he alleges that Federal Security Service (FSB) agents co-ordinated the 1999 apartment block bombings in Russia that killed more than 300 people.
He now appears to have fallen victim to the kind of plots which he wrote about.
Mr Litvinenko, 43, first became a security agent in the FSB's predecessor, the Soviet-era KGB, later rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
He is reported to have fallen out with Vladimir Putin, then head of the FSB, in the late 1990s, after failing in attempts to crack down on corruption within the organisation.
In 1998, he first came to prominence by exposing an alleged plot to assassinate the then powerful tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who himself now lives in self-imposed exile in the UK.
He was subsequently arrested on charges of abusing his office and spent nine months in a remand centre before being acquitted.
Later he wrote Blowing up Russia: Terror from Within, in which he accused FSB agents of carrying out the 1999 Russian apartment block bombings.
The attacks, which Moscow blamed on Chechen rebels, helped swing public opinion behind Russia's second war in the breakaway republic, which began with a huge Russian military offensive later that year.
Complaining of persecution, in 2000 Mr Litvinenko fled to the UK where he sought, and was granted, asylum.
But after settling in an unnamed London suburb, the former spy continued to behave as if on the run, constantly changing his contact details.
The Times newspaper reported that over the summer someone tried to push a pram loaded with petrol bombs at his front door.
Appearing alongside high-profile opponents of President Putin, he has continued to make allegations about his former bosses.
Perhaps most notably, he alleged that al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri was trained by the FSB in Dagestan in the years before 9/11.