7526Convert/Revert: Former Russian spy to be buried according to Muslim tradition
- Dec 7, 2006Former 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 Londons 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
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
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 Litvinenkos 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.
Litvinenkos 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 Regents 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 Generals
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 Litvinenkos poisoning became public. The two
men gave written statements to Embassy officials and
expressed their willingness to co-operate in any
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
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
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
Litvinenkos 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 Lugovoys 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
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