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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lugovoi and Kovtun Will Ask for Aid

Two businessmen who met with Alexander Litvinenko in London the day he fell ill said Thursday that they would seek compensation from the charity created by his friends and widow.

Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun were questioned by Scotland Yard investigators in connection with the Nov. 23 death of Litvinenko, who died of poisoning with a rare radioactive substance, polonium-210, after meeting with them in a London bar. Both men deny any involvement in Litvinenko's death.

Lugovoi and Kovtun, who have been diagnosed with radiation poisoning, said Thursday that they would seek compensation from the Litvinenko Justice Foundation, created this week by self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky; Litvinenko's widow, Marina; and his friend Alex Goldfarb.

"We are going to ask for the foundation's assistance, because we have suffered serious damage from polonium and the issue in general," Lugovoi said in a statement, Interfax reported.

"We hope that Berezovsky's statement on the assistance to those stricken by polonium is a real move, not a populist gesture," Kovtun was quoted as saying.

Lugovoi and Kovtun were hospitalized with suspected radiation poisoning in December, and German authorities said they found traces of polonium-210 in locations in Hamburg visited by Kovtun just before he flew to London for the Nov. 1 meeting with Litvinenko.

Litvinenko, a critic of the Kremlin who had been granted asylum in Britain, blamed President Vladimir Putin for his poisoning in a deathbed statement.

The Kremlin has denied the accusations.

Marina Litvinenko said her husband's death resulted from "state-sponsored terrorism" carried out on the orders of Putin.

She vowed that the new foundation would pressure investigators in Britain and Russia to bring those responsible to justice.