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Poison trail leads back to Moscow

The Kremlin was at the centre of another poison mystery last night after the family of a Russian former Prime Minister claimed that he had been struck down by unknown toxins.

Yegor Gaidar, who is linked to the former spy Alexander Litvinenko, was at a conference in Dublin when he began vomiting blood. “This was an unnatural poisoning,” an aide said. “Doctors do not see natural causes of poisoning involving any substance known to them.” Mr Gaidar’s daughter, Maria, said that her father had succumbed to “a poison unknown to civilian medicine”.

The new focus of the poison drama came as British Airways received 5,500 calls on an emergency hotline and 60,000 hits to its website from passengers concerned at the risk of radiation poisoning after traces were found on its aircraft.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and Lord Sebastian Coe are among those who travelled on the affected planes when they undertook an Olympic fact-finding mission to Barcelona on November 16. Both have been told there is no need to be tested. Twenty-four people have also been sent for testing after the radiation alert in London.

Mr Gaidar’s health sparked a fresh round of intrigue about whose interests were best served by the death of Litvinenko. Mr Gaidar is a free-market critic of Mr Putin. Some of the former Prime Minister’s friends said that any attack on him was designed to discredit the Kremlin and destabilise Mr Putin.

Scotland Yard will examine Mr Gaidar’s case to see if it is linked to Litvinenko’s death. The move came as the FBI confirmed that it had been asked to help the British investigation into his death.One of the last people to meet Litvinenko before he fell ill was Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB bodyguard to Mr Gaidar. He has denied any involvement in the poisoning.

Mr Gaidar fell unconscious last Friday after complaining of being unwell after having fruit salad and a cup of tea at his hotel in Dublin.


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