THE SON of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko has told an inquiry he “never truly believed my father would die”.
Anatoly Litvinenko, 20, giving evidence to the public inquiry into Mr Litvinenko’s death said his father was proud to be a British citizen.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Anatoly, who was 12 when his father was poisoned, recalled visiting hospital on the day of Mr Litvinenko’s death.
He said: “Before this point I never truly believed my father would die. I was young and optimistic and I thought he would recover.”
Anatoly was told his father had died on November 1 2006 at University College Hospital.
“This hit me hard but at the same time I felt quite numb,” he said.
The boy was taken into the room where his father’s dead body was laid out.
He told the inquiry: “It was very painful to look at him in the state he was in.”
Anatoly was not aware his father had worked for Russian intelligence services before coming to the UK, nor that he had been working for British security services.
He believed his father was a journalist writing for the Chechen press, the inquiry heard.
He added: “I understood why he disliked Russia. I understood why he liked England and I understood his sentiments towards Chechnya.”
Asked by counsel to the inquiry Robin Tam QC about occasions when Mr Litvinenko spoke to him about Britain, Anatoly said: “He was always going on about the integrity of this nation. The honesty. The transparency with which judicial processes are carried out. The honesty of the police and the deep contrast with the regime in which he grew up in and the system in which he served.”
Earlier, Anatoly’s mother and Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina wept as she recalled the last words she heard her husband utter before his death: “I love you so much”.
Recounting the disturbing days spent in hospital before he died, Mrs Litvinenko said her husband converted to Islam from his bed so he could be buried in Chechen soil.
The inquiry was also shown a video clip of the spy publicly pinning the murder of a prominent Russian journalist on Vladimir Putin weeks before his own death.
Mr Litvinenko is seen addressing a meeting at the Frontline Club on October 19, in which he claims Putin opponent Anna Politkovskaya had been murdered at the orders of the Russian president.
A promotional video for the Russian military was also shown to the inquiry, in which soldiers are using images of Mr Litvinenko as target practice.
The former Russian spy, who worked for British intelligence services during his time in the UK, died at University College Hospital nearly three weeks after he consumed tea laced with polonium-210 on November 1 at the Millennium Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square.
Two men - former KGB bodyguard turned politician Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun - were named as the main suspects in 2007. Both deny any involvement and remain in Russia.