7th May 2016
Sallis Benney Theatre
In 2006 Alexander Litvinenko - journalist, Kremlin critic, and undercover MI6 spy - was poisoned in central London. The murder weapon? Polonium: rare, lethal and highly radioactive. His crime? He had made some powerful enemies in Russia.In January 2016, a high level British inquiry into the killing not only established that the Russian state was involved, but that a link could probably be traced to Vladimir Putin himself. The Guardian's former Moscow correspondent, Luke Harding, has written the definitive story of the life and death of Litvinenko. He will be in conversation with Litvinenko's widow, Marina, who has spent years fighting for the truth about her husband's murder, and the role of the Russian state, to be uncovered.
A Very Expensive Poison traces the journey of the nuclear toxin across London, from hotel room to nightclub, assassin to victim. Along the way, he explores the deaths of other prominent Russians - in exile and at home. He argues that Litvinenko's murder marked the beginning of the crisis in relations between Moscow and the west. With Russia's covert war in Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea, and bombing of Syria, Europe faces a new Cold War, with fewer certainties.
This is a shocking story, with corruption and subterfuge at every turn and walk-on parts from the Russian mafia, the KGB, MI6 agents, dedicated British coppers and Russian dissidents. At the heart of it all is an individual and his family torn apart by a ruthless crime.
Chaired by Oliver Bullough, journalist and author of The Last Man in Russia and Let Our Fame Be Great.