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FBI probing U.S. link in spy's death

Dec. 3, 2006 at 1:35 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The FBI in Washington is investigating the death of a poisoned ex-KGB agent amid new evidence he planned to blackmail senior Russian spies, a report says.

Former Russian agent and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko planned to acquire damaging information about the Kremlin and its relationship with Russia's Yukos Oil Co., which a Russian court declared bankrupt Aug. 1, London's Observer newspaper reports.

Litvinenko wanted to blackmail Russian spies and business people to pay him thousands of dollars to keep the information secret, the newspaper quotes one expert as saying.

"He mentioned a figure of ($20,000) that they would pay each time to stop him broadcasting these (secret) documents," Russian academic Julia Svetlichnaja, who met Litvinenko earlier this year and received more than 100 e-mails from him, told the newspaper. "Litvinenko was short of money and was adamant that he could obtain any files he wanted."

The FBI is questioning former KGB spy Yuri Shvets in suburban Washington amid evidence he compiled a dossier for Litvinenko, the newspaper says.

Litvinenko died in a London hospital from radiation poisoning, which he blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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