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Russia to conduct its own probe

Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: A Russian contact of the poisoned former security agent Alexander Litvinenko is suffering from similar symptoms of radiation poisoning, the office of Russia's Prosecutor-General said on Thursday.

The Prosecutor-General said in a press note posted on the official web site that his office will now conduct its own investigation into "the murder of Russian citizen Alexander Litvinenko and an attempt on the life of Russian citizen Dmitry Kovtun".

Litvinenko received a British passport shortly before his death, but he also remained a Russian citizen because he had not given up his Russian passport.

The Russian probe was opened hours after Mr. Kovtun was questioned by Russian and British investigators. A group of British detectives arrived in Moscow on Sunday to interrogate several people who had met Litvinenko on November 1, the day the he is believed to have been poisoned with the deadly radioactive isotope polonium-210.

Mr. Kovtun and his business associate Andrei Lugovoi have told the Russian media they went to London to watch a football match and met Litvinenko to discuss business matters. Both are now in a Russian hospital undergoing radiation checks.

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