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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Litvinenko Book Accuses FSB

ReutersAlex Goldfarb
The FSB, which received a direct order from President Vladimir Putin to kill Alexander Litvinenko, also had a hand in the 1999 apartment bombings, the Dubrovka theater siege and the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, according to a book being released Monday.

The 370-page "Death of a Dissident," authored by Litvinenko's widow, Marina, and close friend Alex Goldfarb, recounts Litvinenko's life from when he joined the KGB in the waning days of the Soviet Union until his poisoning in November.

The book, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times, portrays the Federal Security Service as "rotten to the core" and filled with guns for hire. "The point was not to make propaganda," Marina Litvinenko said by telephone from London on Sunday. "We just wanted to tell the story as it really happened."

The story begins with Goldfarb, who said he wrote about two-thirds of the book, describing how he helped the Litvinenkos escape to Britain via Turkey in 2000 -- the first time Goldfarb and the Litvinenkos met. The book then delves into Putin's relationship with businessman Boris Berezovsky, citing it as a catalyst for the security services' re-emergence in Russian politics and a factor that led to Litvinenko's murder.

The book says Putin and Berezovsky were close at the start of Putin's presidency. But the FSB -- locked in a power struggle with the oligarchs for access to the president -- was highly suspicious of Berezovsky and eventually won out, causing Berezovsky to flee to Britain.

Marina Litvinenko

Since then, the book says, the FSB has been essentially running the country under orders from Putin. It links the FSB to the 1999 bombings that killed about 300 people in Moscow and other cities and the 2002 seizure of Moscow's Dubrovka theater that killed 129 hostages. Both attacks have been blamed on Chechen rebels. The FSB is also implicated in the killing of reporter and Kremlin critic Politkovskaya in her apartment building in October and Litvinenko's death a month later.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who has not read the book, dismissed the accusations and said the notion that Putin had ordered Litvinenko's murder was "a continuation of theater of the absurd." "Goldfarb's role in the whole story is understood. After all, everybody knows whom he works for," he said.

Goldfarb heads a Berezovsky-funded civil liberties group. The Kremlin has repeatedly linked Berezovsky to Litvinenko's death.

An FSB spokesman refused to comment about the book on Sunday.

The book notes that Russia has linked Berezovsky to Politkovskaya's murder and Dubrovka but is silent on whether he played a role. Goldfarb said by telephone that he believed Berezovsky was not involved. "But he made a mistake by teaming up with Putin," he said.

While the book does not uncover any new developments in the Litvinenko case, it claims to have an insider perspective, including a purported 1999 conversation between Berezovsky and then-FSB head Putin in which Putin schemed "to get rid of" Litvinenko and then-Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov.

The book, which took about 4 1/2 months to write, is being released in English and French in London and Paris bookstores Monday. Goldfarb said he was trying to find a way to get it published in Russia. Colombia Pictures has acquired the rights to turn the book into a movie, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.