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Dmitri Vladimirovich Kovtun (Russian: Дмитрий Владимирович Ковтун; b. 1965) is a Russian businessman and ex-KGB agent who met the poisoned ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko several times in London, the last time hours before Litvinenko fell ill. Kovtun was hospitalised with radiation poisoning in Moscow.
Early life and education
After graduation, Kovtun and Lugovoi began to serve at the KGB's ninth directorate that was charged with the protection of top Kremlin officials. After the collapse of the USSR, they became involved in the security business. He is also a business consultant.
Alexander Litvinenko poisoning
Kovtun met the poisoned ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko in London on several occasions, first in mid-October and later only hours before Litvinenko fell ill on 1 November. On 9 December 2006, German police report finding traces of radiation at Hamburg flat used by Kovtun. According to German investigators, the polonium traces were found on a couch where Kovtun is believed to have slept at his ex-wife's apartment in Hamburg (Altona-Ottensen) the night before he headed to London for a meeting with Litvinenko and according to British investigators, polonium traces were found on the airplanes in which Kovtun traveled between Moscow and London. Polonium traces were also found in Kovtun's car in Hamburg.
Both Russian and British investigators have interviewed Kovtun. Furthermore, German detectives investigated Kovtun's suspected participation to plutonium smuggling into Germany. Germany dropped the case against Kovtun on November 2009.
Kovtun was hospitalised in Moscow with radiation poisoning at the beginning of December 2006. On 12 December 2006, he told Russia's Channel One TV that his "health was improving." Kovtun said that he had only one explanation for the presence of polonium: "It is that I brought it back from London, where I met Alexander Litvinenko on October 16, 17 and 18." British detectives, on the other hand, believe Litvinenko was not contaminated until the meeting on 1 November.
Various theories of Dmitry Kovtun involvement have been progressed in the media. One theory is he may be the murderer or an accomplice of one of the murderers of Alexander Litvinenko and mishandling the substance used, polonium-210.
The Crown Prosecution Service accused Kovtun as being the second suspect of murdering Alexander Litvinenko based on the discovery of new evidence in 2011 and requested his extradition to England to stand trial in February 2012.
On 22 March 2015, Kovtun appeared on BBC News at Ten and announced that he would testify, by video-link, to the enquiry into Litvinenko's death. He told the BBC he had "heard a lot of statements which are easy to refute" and by participating he could "get access to the documents - including the secret material - so I can make my own conclusions".
January 2017 blacklisting
On 9 January 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.
- Harding, Luke (29 February 2012). "Alexander Litvinenko poisoning: move to extradite second murder suspect". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- Peter Finn; Mary Jordan (8 December 2006). "Russian Tied to Ex-Spy Also Ill From Radiation". The Washington Post. Moscow. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- "Radiation 'trace' at Hamburg flat". BBC News. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 9 December 2006.
- "German police confirm polonium traces". AP. 11 December 2006.
- "Interpol joins Litvinenko inquiry". BBC. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2006.
- Landler, Mark (January 9, 2017). "U.S. to Blacklist 5 Russians, a Close Putin Aide Among Them". New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- "Magnitsky-related Designations; Counter Terrorism Designations 1/9/2017, Office of Foreign Assets Control: Specially Designated Nationals List Update". Office of Foreign Assets Control. United States Treasury. January 9, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017.