Exclusive by James Weatherup
THE ruthless assassin at the centre of the Litvinenko poison murder is a highly-trained veteran of Russia's deadly Spetsnaz special forces.
The News of the World knows the killer's full identity but for legal reasons we are just using his middle name Igor.
The 46-year-old expert in covert operations was dramatically fingered in a bombshell document passed to former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko at London's Itsu sushi bar before he was slipped lethal radioactive polonium-210.
The three-page dossier was handed to Scotland Yard by the victim and is now being analysed by the anti-terrorist branch. The News of the World has obtained a copy and can reveal it contains a chilling hitlist with Litvinenko, 43, as a prime target.
A security source who leaked the document to us said: "This is dynamite. It's clear there's a violent and ruthless campaign to wipe out anyone who gets under the skin of the new regime in Russia."
And as a massive police manhunt got underway to find Igor, understood to be deep undercover at a secret Italian hideout, health officials in London went on alert.
Following an emergency meeting of the government's COBRA comittee, an appeal was issued for anyone who used the Piccadilly sushi restaurant and the Millennium Hotel — both used by former KGB colonel Litvinenko on November 1, the day he was poisoned — to contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647. Both places tested positive for radiation.
It also emerged that the Sushi bar is to be decontaminated and that polonium traces have been found at two other separate addresses in the capital, and also at Litvinenko's home.
The extraordinary hitlist, which was originally given to Litvinenko by Italian academic Mario Scaramella, mentions the doomed poison victim FIVE times.
It reveals that Dignity And Honour, part of a group of ex-KGB spies, appear to be waging their own Cold War on dissidents trying to embarrass President Vladimir Putin.
After naming Igor the document describes his killing capabilities and expertise. He walks with a slight limp after an accident to his right leg, but is lean and muscular, six feet tall, with greying black hair.
He is said to be a "master in judo" who speaks perfect English and Portuguese as well as Russian.
The hitlist in the leaked document, which appears to be a whistleblowing report from an insider, details names in the firing line including:
- FEARLESS journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was shot dead in Moscow last month, after exposing Russian atrocities. (top left)
- PROFESSOR Mario Scaramella, who gave the document to Litvinenko and probed KGB infiltration for the Italian parliament. (top right)
- HUMAN rights activist and novelist Vladimir Bukovsky, who campaigned over attempts to dump radioactive material off northern Russia. bottom right)
- ANTI-PUTIN billionaire Boris Berezovsky, 60, who bankrolled a candidate to stand against Putin in the 2004 elections. (bottom left)
- CRUSADING Italian Senator Paolo Guzzanti who is in charge of an influential committee probing KGB links in Italy. (centre)
It has neem revealed that Litvinenko was poisoned with a massive overdose of the deadly polonium-210. A Whitehall source told the News of the World: "A few microbes would be fatal, but we think he had a TEASPOON'S worth—more than a billion times what was needed to kill him."
Experts believe the poison was delivered in a liquid solution in drink. After learning of the "worryingly high" levels of radiation discovered at the sushi bar, the government issued its plea for customers — and those of the Millennium Hotel's Pine Bar, which was yesterday sealed off — to contact NHS Direct.
By Saturday more than 300 diners had called in.
The experts fear that if, say, a waiter's finger came into contact with the poison it could be passed on in "a daisy chain effect", from person to person.
Itsu boss Clive Schlee insisted: "I understand the Health Protection Agency has to take all precautions. But I've not had a single report from our staff or customers of any illness related in any way to November 1."
In yet another twist to the drama, sources close to Litvinenko also claimed there was a connection between his murder and the mystery death of a British lawyer in a helicopter crash two years ago.
Stephen Curtis, 45, who died in 2004, was chairman of security firm ISC Global which worked for a group of Russian tycoons who had fallen out with Putin.
Our insider claimed: "The inquest recorded accidental death but two weeks before the tragedy Stephen said if something happened to him it would NOT not be an accident.
"He had told of threats and felt he was under surveillance. I'm told he also had a ‘hit list' similar to Lit-vinenko's and had passed it onto the authorities."
TIMELINE TO MURDER
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7: Journalist Anna Politkovskaya is shot dead. Litvinenko begins to probe.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1: Litvinenko meets Italian academic Prof Mario Scaramella at Itsu sushi bar London and receives hitlist papers. Then he meets two Russian men at the Millennium Hotel. Later falls sick and admitted to Barnet Hospital.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17: Transferred to University College Hospital.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20: Moved to Intensive Care. Kremlin denies any involvement.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23: Litvinenko dies at 9.21pm.