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Public inquiry into Russian spy death formally opens

A public inquiry into the death of spy Alexander Litvinenko - who was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 - has been formally opened.

The current inquest into the Russian spy's death has been suspended by coroner Sir Robert Owen ahead of the inquiry opening.

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No.10: Litvinenko inquiry 'not linked' to Ukraine tensions

There is "no link whatsoever" between the announcement of a public inquiry into the death of former spy Alexander Litvinenko and the current tensions with Russia over the Ukraine, according to David Cameron's official spokesman.

Alexander Litvinenko shortly before his death. Credit: PA

The probe will begin on July 31st and is planned to be complete by the end of next year, they said, adding that it will hold most of its hearings in public, although it could go into closed session if national security was put at risk.

Under the Inquiries Act, Sir Robert Owen who is leading the investigation will have the power to demand the production of witnesses and papers within UK jurisdiction, including agents and documents from the security and intelligence services.

However, he has no such powers in relation to evidence from Russia.

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