‘Litvinenko’ Ending, Explained: Were Lugovoi And Kovtun Extradited By Russia?

“Litvinenko” is the latest miniseries authored by George Kay, helmed by Jim Field Smith, and produced under the banner of ITV Studios. The miniseries stars the likes of David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko, Margarita Levieva as Marina Litvinenko, Mark Bonnar as Clive Timmons, Neil Maskell as Brent Hyatt, Barry Sloane as Jim Dawson, Mark Ivanir as Alexander Goldfarb, Sam Troughton as DI Brian Tarpey, Nikolai Tsankov as Boris Berezovsky, Aleksandar Mikic as Dmitry Kovtun, and more. The miniseries is based on the true story of Alexander Litvinenko’s assassination and follows the brave officers of Scotland Yard as they try to unearth strong evidence to implicate those responsible. 


Spoilers Ahead

Martin Carlton, Aka Alexander Litvinenko, Aka Sasha

After six years of tireless waiting and living in fear, Martin Carlton receives a letter from the UK government informing him that he and his family have been granted citizenship and can now call themselves a British family. However, their happiness is short-lived as Martin is admitted to the hospital after he drops unconscious. Martin is visited by Detective Brent and his partner, who learn from Martin that he’ll be dead in a couple of days and wants the world to know his side of the story before he passes away. Mrs. Carlton was asked to leave the room, marking the beginning of the interview. Mr. Martin reveals to Inspector Carter and Detective Dawson that his real name is Alexander Litvinenko, aka Sasha, and Martin Carlton is just an alias he uses for protection. Litvinenko was a senior official of Sector 7 in Russia and was entrusted to kill the enemies of the state. However, he refused and was poisoned as a result. Sasha fled to London and wrote a book conveying the corruption in Moscow, which infuriated those in power.


Tracing Back The Itinerary, And Litvinenko’s Death 

Sasha accuses Vladimir Putin (then head of the Russian FSB) of signing his death warrant. Litvinenko draws a list of people he came into contact with after he arrived in London and informed us that Anna Politkovskaya was also murdered, given that Anna, like Sasha, heavily criticized the Russian President and the war in Chechnya. Sasha had received a call from an Italian intelligence man named Scarmella, who had ties with Russia and had offered to buy Sasha lunch. Sasha also met with his old pal, Andrie Lugovoy from KGB, who was in London on holiday, and his associate Demitry Kovtuv at Millennium Hotel and had drank three mouthfuls of leftover tea. Sasha also provided Inspector Brent with a file on his former colleague from Russia.

A Russian toxicologist reveals to Inspector Brent that Sasha was poisoned with a radioactive substance. The doctors have been scanning him with a Geiger counter that would’ve picked up thallium, and other heavy metals common in poisoning had they been there, but what a Geiger counter misses are things called alpha emitters, and that explains everything, including hair loss. Sasha was poisoned in the middle of London, in the middle of the working day, with a radioactive substance, but which one? Sasha’s urine report, which was later sent to the atomic weapons establishment in Aldermaston, reveals that Shasha was poisoned by Polonium, an extremely rare isotope that was at the time only available in Russia. On November 23, 2008, Alexander Litvinenko breathed his last and, in his final moments, asked Inspector Brent to bring his case to justice. The radiation was so strong that it required a lead casket to lower Litvinenko’s body into the ground. 


The Aftermath

Alexander Litvinenko has died; however, Scotland Yard is yet to discover who or what killed him. The report showed that there was a heavy amount of Polonium in Alexander Litvinenko’s system, giving Scotland Yard full authority to flag the death as “suspicious” and launch a full-fledged investigation into the matter. Litvinenko suffered pharyngeal damage, confirming the fact that the substance was ingested orally; his liver and kidneys were worse affected, and the majority of his organs suffered severe atrophy, turning them into sludge. Mrs. Litvenko is grieving for the loss of her husband, and is convinced that he was murdered, and is requested by Scotland Yard to vacate their residence to test for traces of Polonium. The detective in charge is Clive Timmons, and upon his suggestion, Scotland Yard partners with the Department of Health to scan and secure Polonium 2-10, the most dangerous substance known to man. The event was sure to cause a diplomatic stir as Alexander Litvinenko was a Russian defector who was granted asylum after he accused the Government of murdering Boris Berezovsky. The allegations were very heavy, and soon he was arrested. However, Litvinenko managed to escape Russia with his wife and children, then came to the United Kingdom and was granted asylum. During his time in London, Sasha developed as a major Putin critic, chastising the latter on every move, be it democratic, diplomatic, or military. So, it was obvious that the finger would be pointed toward Putin too. Polonium 2-10 is a very dangerous substance, and if it is inhaled, ingested, or enters a person’s bloodstream via a wound or a cut, it could be fatal. Now Scotland Yard is trusted to unearth Polonium, which is nearly impossible to spot given its lack of color and odor and to also figure out who used it on Alexander Litvinenko. 

Find The Poison, Find The Poisoner

As it has already been established that Sasha died due to Polonium poisoning, Scotland Yard is hard at work to find who supplied the Polonium. Sasha’s family vacated their residence so the department of health officials, along with police, could swoop over the place for any traces of radiation. The only lead Scotland Yard has is Sasha’s interview tapes, which he recorded before his death where he was convinced he had indeed been poisoned. However, the cops found zero traces of Polonium at Litvinenko’s residence and decided to extend their search to all the places he had visited, from hotels to restaurants. Scotland Yard finds heavy traces of Polonium at ITSU, a sushi restaurant—a place where Sasha has been with Mario Scaramella. Clive requests an audience from Mr. Scaramella to inquire about the Polonium and asks him to explain how he, Sasha, and Polonium were all present at the sushi restaurant. Even Sasha, in his tapes, has mentioned that there’s a possibility that Scaramella might have poisoned him, giving Scotland Yard enough grounds to test Scaramella and the places he has been for Polonium. However, the tests came back negative, and Scotland Yard shifted their attention to Lugovoi when they learned from his credit card details that he was present at the sushi restaurant two weeks prior to Litvinenko’s death and also at the men’s room he went into with Dmitry Kovtun. As per Scotland Yard, Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi were both present at the restaurant two weeks ago but failed to kill Sasha, and later they came back again, this time with their families, to not appear suspicious. Scotland Yard plans to secure the evidence linking Kovtun and Lugovoi, and only them, to Polonium to have enough to arrest them for interrogation. Scotland Yard investigates the flight both Kovtun and Ligovoi took to arrive in London and successfully uncovers traces of Polonium on their seats. However, given that there’s no extradition agreement between the United Kingdom and Russia, Clive decides to take an unofficial route and sends Tarpy and Dawson to Moscow. 


A Trip To Russia

Tarpy arrives in Moscow along with Inspector Dawson and reaches out to Timmons’ contact, Ingrid Campbell, hoping she will help them gain an audience with Kovtun and Lugovoi or with someone who can. Tarpy and Dawson are in Russia, asking for their help to prove two Russians have committed murder in the middle of London. The duo has no guarantees of getting anything; they’re simply here because there’s a chance. To put it bluntly, the odds are what we call “Ludicrously Slim.” Meanwhile, Scotland Yard is hard at work trying to uncover the item the Polonium was held in and link it to Kovtun and Lugovoi. Because if these two are indeed responsible for Litvinenko’s death, the Russians will do anything in their power to pin the blame on someone else, so additional data would help Scotland Yard contradict Moscow’s story. 

Back in Moscow, Ingrid introduces Dawson and Tarpy to Nika Privalova from the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office and reveals their intention to interview their suspects. The duo also learns that Kovtun’s days are numbered, as he like Litvinenko, is suffering from Polonium poisoning. But there’s a catch! The prosecutor labels Kovtun as a victim who, during his trip to London, was poisoned by none other than Alexander Litvinenko. Meanwhile, the Russians are deliberately trying to run the clock out on Dawson and Tarpy, leaving them very little time to question Kovtun. The interview was a total waste of time, as Kovtun answered, “I do not recall,” to every question asked. In London, an insider from Scotland Yard tipped the media that Alexander Litvinenko’s death is no longer being treated as a suspicious death but as a full-fledged murder inquiry.


Lugovoi also tries to pin everything on Litvinenko, saying he’s the one who orchestrated the meeting and maintaining that the Polonium came from Sasha. Even the recordings and transcripts of the interviews provided by the prosecutor’s office were blank, proving Russia’s involvement in Litvinenko’s death. However, Scotland Yard manages to find the light at the end of the tunnel by unearthing the teapot laced with Polonium, linking Lugovoi and Kovtun directly to Litvinenko’s murder. 

‘Litvinenko’ Ending Explained – Were Lugovoi And Kovtun Were Extradited By Russia? 

Scotland Yard submits its report along with the tonnes of evidence, making CPS press charges on the suspects and request extradition. Meanwhile, Marina Litvinenko requests a meeting with Scotland Yard and demands a public inquest into her husband’s death. She believes that the inquest will maintain public awareness, expedite matters, and have a far better chance of establishing Russian culpability. Even though CPS had filed charges and submitted an application for extradition, it was highly unlikely that Moscow would extradite one of their own. Vladimir Putin addressed the media and called Sasha “an insignificant target,” whom the FSB would not have bothered murdering, and denied any requests for extradition, leaving Marina no choice but to move forward with the inquest. Marina decides to keep fighting for as long as it takes to prove Russia’s guilt.


Years passed, and there was still no development in the case. Boris Berezovsky, Sasha’s friend, was also found dead in unexplained circumstances, days after he openly blamed Vladimir Putin for ordering Sasha’s death. Not just this, Marina’s requests for a public inquest were also denied on the grounds of international relations, which, in layman’s terms, translate into trade opportunities. Marina also wrote to then-Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to restart the investigation but was refused again. However, cornered by the public and the world, the British Government was forced to restart the hearing. The head witnesses during the hearing were members of SO15 Counter Terrorism and detective Timmons, who led the murder investigation himself. According to Clive Timmons, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by a radioactive substance named Polonium at the Millennium Hotel at the table where he sat with Andrei Lugovoi and Dimitry Kovtun, who were acting on the orders of the former FSB leader, Vladamir Putin. Detective Tarpy and Inspector Brent also maintained the same. 

On January 21, 2016, Sir Robert Owen published his 328-page inquiry report, and later that day, Home Secretary Theresa May, who initially refused an inquiry, addressed the House of Commons, revealing to the world that Kovtun and Lugovoi had been acting on behalf of the Russian Domestic Service, the Federal Security Service, and President Vladimir Putin. Both Andrey Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun strongly denied any involvement in the death of Alexander Litvinenko until the day they died. The Russian Government rejected every finding of the inquiry, declaring them “biased” and “politically motivated.”


After a lengthy trial and inquiry, the European Court of Human Rights concluded in September 2021 that the Russian Government was to blame for Litvinenko’s death. Russia’s role in Litvinenko’s assassination can’t be discounted despite denials, and there’s a mountain of evidence implicating Moscow and Vladamir Putin in Sasha’s murder.

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Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh considers himself a superhero who is always at work trying to save the world from boredom. In his leisure time, he loves to watch more movies and play video games and tries to write about them to entertain his readers further. Rishabh likes to call himself a dedicated fan of Haruki Murakami, whose books are an escape from his real being.

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