Luke Harding is an award-winning foreign correspondent with the Guardian. Between 2007 and 2011 he was the Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief; the Kremlin expelled him from the country in the first case of its kind since the cold war. He is the author of Mafia State and co-author of WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken (nominated for the Orwell Prize) and The Snowden Files. Two of Harding’s books have been made into films; The Fifth Estate and Snowden.
A very expensive poison
1 November 2006. Alexander Litvinenko is brazenly poisoned in Central London. Twenty-two days later he dies, killed from the inside. The poison? Polonium – a rare, lethal and highly radioactive substance. His crime? He had made some powerful enemies in Russia.
This is the inside story of the life and death of Litvinenko. Harding traces the journey of the nuclear poison across London, from hotel room to nightclub, assassin to victim; it is a deadly trail that seemingly leads back to Vladimir Putin.
Litvinenko’s assassination marked the beginning of a decade of geopolitical disruptions and the Russian president’s defiant rejection of a law-based international order. Harding argues that with Russia’s covert war in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, Europe and the US face a new cold war, but with fewer certainties.