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7526Convert/Revert: Former Russian spy to be buried according to Muslim tradition

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  • Zafar Khan
    Dec 7, 2006
      Former Russian spy to be buried according to Muslim
      London, The Muslim News:


      Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence
      agent poisoned in London, requested before his death
      that he be buried according to Muslim tradition, his
      father said in an interview published on Monday.

      He is due to be buried today in London. His funeral
      prayers will be held at London’s Central Mosque this

      Litvinenko, who will be buried in a sealed coffin,
      converted to Islam shortly before his death and was
      given the Muslim last rites in hospital.

      His father said his son converted to Islam shortly
      before his death on November 23.

      "He told me of his decision two days before he died,"
      Walter Litvinenko told Radio Free Europe.

      "He said, 'Papa, I have to talk to you about something
      serious. I've become a Muslim'." He added that his son
      had made an "important personal decision" that would
      be respected.

      The former agent and critic of the Kremlin expressed
      the wish as he lay dying in his father's arms, Valter
      Litvinenko told the Kommersant daily.

      "He said I want to be buried according to Islamic
      tradition. I said okay son. It will be as you wish. We
      already have one Muslim in our family. The important
      thing is to believe in the Almighty. God is one," he
      said in the interview.

      Spy's body 'too radioactive for mosque'
      Thursday, 7th December 2006, 13:09
      Category: Healthy Living


      The grieving father of Alexander Litvinenko was told
      today that his son's dying wish for a Muslim funeral
      could not be granted - because his body was too
      radioactive to be brought into the mosque.

      The former spy had converted to Islam ten days before
      he was admitted to hospital with radiation poisoning.
      An associate of the family said that he had asked his
      father on his deathbed to have a full Muslim ceremony
      and burial after his death.

      But today his father Walter was told by authorities at
      Regent's Park Mosque in central London that they could
      not accommodate the radioactive body and specially
      sealed coffin.

      Walter, along with Chechen dissident Akhemd Zakayev
      and critic of Putin Vladimir Bukovsky arrived at the
      mosque at 11.15 this morning to discuss with the
      mosque whether accommodations could be made for the

      However, in a final twist to his son's death,
      Litvinenko senior was told that no such accommodation
      could be made.

      Instead, he, along with a group of nine men, attended
      the mid day prayers during which he fought back tears
      as the Imam, who spoke in Arabic and English, held a
      special prayer for the dead spy.

      Dr Ghayasuddin Siddique, head of the Muslim Parliament
      who attended the service, said: "His father has been
      told that the body could not come here because of the
      special circumstances and because of the

      "Instead it will be taken to a private family cemetery
      at Highgate cemetery."

      The Imam read a passage from the Koran praying for the
      soul of the deceased. This was in addition to the
      normal afternoon prayers.

      Dr Siddique said: "I am told by the family that
      Alexander converted just ten days before he was
      admitted to hospital. It was his desire to be given a
      full Muslim burial.

      "The Imam said a special prayer for Alexander and
      asked Allah to pray for his soul."

      Zakayev took part in the 30 minute midday prayers
      while Litvinenko senior and Bukovsky stood at the back
      observing the proceedings.

      After the prayers the men were escorted through the
      main square by the mosque and out of the main gates
      past a crowd of waiting photographers.

      Outside the gates Bukovsky said he had no faith in the
      British government to bring the dead spy's killers to

      He said: "This is too big for the British police and
      for the British government. I have no faith in them
      whatsoever. It is too complicated."

      Copyright © 2006 National News +44(0)207 684 3000

      Russian spy Litvinenko buried by Marx
      By Jenny Percival and agencies
      December 07, 2006


      The murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was
      buried in the same London graveyard as Karl Marx today
      after the Muslim prayer service that he asked for as
      he lay on his deathbed last month.

      As prosecutors in Moscow announced that they had
      opened their own criminal investigation into his
      poisoning, around 50 of Litvinenko’s friends and
      family gathered for his burial at Highgate Cemetery in
      North London. Marx, the German father of Communism who
      also died in exile, is buried close by.

      The mourners were led by Litvinenko's wife, Marina,
      and 12-year-old son Anatoly. Joining them in the rain
      was his father Walter, his mother Nina Belyavskaya and
      first wife Natalia, as well as friends Alex Goldfarb,
      the exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky and
      the filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov.

      Litvinenko’s dark-stained coffinwas driven around the
      perimeter of the cemetery before being laid to rest at
      the burial site in a non-denominational service. The
      Health Protection Agency has been consulted on the
      necessary safety precautions for his coffin because
      his body remains radioactive.

      Earlier, Walter Litvinenko joined mourners at the
      Central London mosque in Regent’s Park for a Muslim
      service dedicated to the former spy. His father says
      he converted to Islam shortly before his death,
      although some of his friends say he was simply
      sympathetic to the cause of Muslim Chechens.

      In another twist to the saga, Dimitry Kovtun, a former
      KGB bodyguard who entertained Litvinenko at a London
      hotel on the day he fell ill, was also found to have
      an illness connected with radiation poisoning.

      British detectives, who are treating Litvinenko's
      death as murder, have already questioned Mr Kovtun, a
      businessman. Police have been following the trail
      across London left by Mr Kovtun and his close friend,
      Andrei Lugovoy. It includes a number of locations
      where the radioactive isotope polonium-210 has been

      But critics of President Vladimir Putin fear that the
      announcement that the Russian Prosecutor General’s
      office is to conduct its own investigation into both
      the Litvnenko and Kovtun cases could severely hamper
      the British one.

      The move would allow suspects to be prosecuted in
      Russia. Officials previously have said that Russia
      would not extradite any suspects in the killing of
      Litvinenko, who died in London on November 23.

      Several workers at the Millennium Hotel in London's
      Grosvenor Square where Litvinenko held a meeting also
      tested positive for low levels of polonium-210. Health
      officials are likely to ask anyone who was in the
      hotel's Pine Bar on 1 November to come forward.

      In a statement written on his deathbed, Mr Litvinenko,
      a 43-year-old former KGB officer, accused Mr Putin of
      being behind his poisoning, an accusation echoed once
      more by his father today.

      On Monday, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign
      Minister, expressed worries that ties could be damaged
      if insinuations of high-level Russian involvement

      But today he insisted that political ties between
      Britain and Russia were not being affected by the
      investigation into the poisoning. He said: "The
      Scotland Yard investigation is not affecting the
      quality of Russia-Britain political relations."

      Mr Kovtun was interviewed by Russian prosecutors
      yesterday in the presence of the British detectives,
      who arrived in Moscow on Monday. He and and Mr Lugovoy
      were in the same Moscow clinic being tested for
      contamination by polonium-210. Mr Lugovoy was still
      waiting for the results of his tests.

      Diplomats in the Russian capital also confirmed that
      traces of radiation had been discovered in the British
      Embassy, which the businessmen visited shortly after
      news of Litvinenko’s poisoning became public. The two
      men gave written statements to Embassy officials and
      expressed their willingness to co-operate in any
      British inquiry.

      The lawyer representing the two businessmen, Andrei
      Romashov, emphasised that they were being treated "as
      witnesses". He disclosed that Mr Kovtun had also been
      interviewed briefly on Tuesday about his two trips to

      A third Russian businessman, Vyacheslav Sokolenko, who
      also flew to London to watch a football match on
      November 1, is on the list of men British detectives
      want to meet.

      All three men met Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel
      in Grosvenor Square, London, and were among the last
      to see him before he succumbed to the effects of the
      radiation poison. They have all strenuously denied any
      part in his death.

      Mr Lugovoy, a former KGB officer whose company is
      worth £50 million, has said that he believes he has
      been framed and is worried about how seriously he has
      been contaminated by polonium-210. There were reports
      last week from Moscow that he had been tested and
      showed no signs of exposure.

      He denies he is trying to avoid a meeting with the
      detectives and says that he is fed up with allegations
      that he was involved in the poison plot.

      Detectives working on the London end of the murder
      inquiry are concentrating on identifying where Mr
      Lugovoy went and whom he met during three trips he
      made in the fortnight before his former colleague was
      fatally poisoned.

      What police have found startling is that at eight
      locations on the Lugovoy trail traces of polonium-210
      have already been found; experts are still testing
      other sites.

      Mr Lugovoy visited five of the sites with Litvinenko,
      including the Itsu sushi bar where friends of the
      former KGB colonel suspect that he was poisoned. Mr
      Lugovoy says that he went there on October 16 at
      Litvinenko’s invitation. He told The Times: "It was
      one of his favourites in London. He said it was a good
      place to talk."

      But the poison victim was never at the Arsenal
      football ground, where Mr Lugovoy and a party of
      wealthy Russians went to watch a match on November 1.
      Nor was he on either of the two British Airways Boeing
      767s on which Mr Lugovoy flew from Moscow and on which
      radioactive material was discovered.

      Police are surprised that polonium-210 was found in
      guest rooms at both the Millennium Hotel and at the
      Sheraton Park Lane, when Mr Lugovoy maintains that he
      met Litvinenko only in the public bars and the foyers
      of both hotels. Mr Lugovoy’s version of events is that
      whoever poisoned his former colleague also
      contaminated him to implicate him in the plot and draw
      police away from the real culprits.

      He and Mr Kovtun have been friends since their teenage
      days, when they went to the same military academy. The
      third man on their football trip to London, Mr
      Sokolenko, was with them at army college.

      Mr Kovtun says that together they built up the Pershin
      company and that they met Litvinenko to discuss a
      business proposal.


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