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Former Russian Spy Under Guard After Poisoning

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Here's a story that takes one back to the Cold War. British police are investigating the poisoning of a former KGB agent. Colonel Alexander Litvinenko is a fierce critic of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin. The former Russian spy became ill following a meal he was having with a contact at a sushi restaurant in London earlier this month. According to Litvinenko, the contact claimed to have information about the slaying of a Russian journalist who was gunned down last month in Moscow. Anna Politkovskaya was also an outspoken critic of Putin.

Litvinenko has been living in Britain for several years after being granted political asylum. He's under armed guard at University College Hospital in London. Litvinenko's condition was listed as serious but stable. Tests showed that he was poisoned with a toxic metal found in rat poison. A spokesman from Scotland Yard said a special crime unit is investigating. A Kremlin spokesman called suggestions that Russia's government is involved in the poisoning, quote, sheer nonsense. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.