Russian secret service set up special kill units
The Russian secret service authorised the "elimination" of individuals judged to be enemies of the state living overseas and embarked on preparations to set up special units to conduct such operations, according to a document.
The directive refers to the EU and western Europe and goes into detail about the grouping of agents to be trained as well as the backroom teams providing documentation and research.
It appears to be signed by the head of the Russian FSB counter-intelligence unit, successor to the KGB, and dated March 19, 2003, four years before the killing of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London.
It sets a provisional deadline of May 1, 2004, for the new unit's work to begin. It is understood the document is in the possession of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command which is investigating the Litvinenko case.
A hearing is to be held next week into whether a full inquest should take place into Mr Litvinenko's death, as the Russian government has insisted that Andrei Lugovoi, the former KGB bodyguard who is a main suspect in the case, will never be extradited back to Britain.
Mr Litvinenko died in a hospital bed in London in November 2006 after allegedly being poisoned by a former FSB bodyguard using radioactive polonium 210.
The Russians have conducted controversial assassinations against Chechens in Dubai, Qatar, and Vienna. The latest was in Istanbul last week, when a gunman shot a Chechen rebel leader. (©Daily Telegraph, London)