An acquaintance of poisoned former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko says he planned to blackmail a wealthy Russian businessman.
Russian Julia Svetlichnaya told CBS television in an interview to be aired Sunday that she met Litvinenko while she was a graduate student in London. She says he told her that he was working on a "project for blackmailing" an exiled Russian businessman.
In the interview, Svetlichnaya quotes Litvinenko as saying that "it was an OK thing to do" because the businessman had a connection with Russian President Vladimir Putin. She did not name the alleged target. Litvinenko's widow, Maria, dismissed the claim that her husband was planning to blackmail anyone.
Litvinenko died November 23 in London as a result of poisoning by radioactive substance polonium-210. On his deathbed, he said President Putin was behind his poisoning. The Kremlin has denied responsibility.
British police have conducted investigations into Litvinenko's death both in London and in Moscow. They have treated his death as a murder.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.