It started as a possible case of food poisoning but within weeks turned into a grim spectacle of enormous political proportions: Aleksander Litvinenko, former member of the Russian secret service, died in his place of residence London last November, after having been poisoned with a radioactive substance.
The search for the possible perpetrators lead to a political difficult situation that reminded us of the dark days of the Cold War.
Three years ago Aleksander Litvinenko told his life story to documentary maker Jos De Putter. It is a wild tale full of conspiracies, assassination attempts and imputations. Litvinenko talks about his time with the secret service, about his experience in Chechnya, and in particular about the series of bomb attacks on Russian territory that led to the seizure of power by Vladimir Putin. According to Litvinenko those attacks were the work of the secret service.
After Litvinenko's funeral in December 2006, Backlight spoke to Litvinenko's widow. Marina Litvinenko is writing a book about her husband. The book will be published in May 2007 and the film rights have already been sold to Columbia Pictures. In this unique interview, she speaks about how they first met, how they fled to England and she speaks about Aleksander´s death agony.
We also see Litvinenko's father Walter, with Chechen leader and Litvinenko's closest friend Akhmed Zakayev and the prominent Russian exile Vladmir Bukovsky, also a friend of Litvinenko.
The result is an impressive 55-minute portrait of a former spy whose death brought him worldwide fame.
Directors: Jos de Putter and Masja Novikova
VPRO Backlight 2007
For more info, please visit: http://www.vpro.nl/programma/tegenlicht/afleveringen/34834898/