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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 17:38 GMT
Former KGB spy flees to UK
Boris Berezovsky
Boris Berezovsky: Alleged target of plot
The Home Office is considering whether to grant asylum to a former KGB officer who fled to the UK on Wednesday saying that his life was in danger.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, Tom King, confirmed that Alexander Litvinenko was in the country.

Mr King said that an application for him to stay was being processed.

The former Russian secret agent is reported to staying in a safe house close to London where he has been questioned by Special Branch officers and by the Home Office.

Mr Litvinenko said that his life had been threatened after he admitted in 1998 being ordered to assassinate Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky.

Mr Berezovsky, a media and oil tycoon, had reportedly helped Russian President Vladimir Putin in his rise to power.

Tales of kidnappings and murder

Mr Litvinenko said he had been forced to flee abroad "by permanent persecution on the part of the Russian special services", adding that he also had information about last year's terrorist bombing campaign in Moscow which claimed 300 lives and was blamed on Chechen rebels.

Mr Litvinenko accused his bosses in the security service - known by its Russian acronym as the FSB - of ordering kidnappings, extortion and contract murders.

It has emerged that his solicitors have retained the London-based public relations agency Clear to act for him and that he is considering holding a press conference in the next few days.

This has led to speculation that Mr Litvinenko is trying to put pressure on the Home Office to consider his asylum application favourably.

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